I don’t like funerals. Despite the fact that the folks who deliver the services are always keen to point out that they are a celebration of the dearly departed person’s life, I see little reason to celebrate. Weddings might be marginally happier affairs, but then only marginally.
Aside from the miserable ceremonies themselves, there’s one event common to both funerals and weddings that I always find punishing – the inevitable party that follows the service.
More specifically, it’s the subject of conversation at these parties that drives me to distraction. Perhaps it is because I am of a certain age, but I seem to attract individuals determined to tell me what I should be doing with the rest of my life – inevitably while I’m attempting to negotiate a wilting cucumber sandwich.
Such conversations start off innocuously enough. But then they turn into a diatribe in which I’m told in no uncertain terms that life isn’t a rehearsal and that we all have to make the most of our time on this earth while we can.
Not content with uttering such bland rhetoric, these individuals then feel obliged to illustrate how they have taken their own advice to hand, deciding that the answer to life, the universe, and everything involves visiting as many far-flung places across the globe as they possibly can during their lifetime.
After years of questioning why such folk believe that aimlessly wandering the planet is the only path to enlightenment, I have now come up with an answer. It is simply because none of them are involved in creative pursuits that provide any intellectual stimulation or satisfaction. Their jobs are simply a means of making money that can be spent on travel. And they look forward to the day they retire just to do more of the same.
I can honestly say that I’ve never met any creative individual who would subscribe to the same foolish doctrine. Indeed, last week I heard that one engineer in his eighties was still working for one of our more reputable engineering firms here in the UK helping the company develop a new line of products. Not for him the retirement cheque and the place in the sun. He obviously has more intelligent, imaginative things to do.
Now I have nothing against travelling to nice sunny climes, especially considering the perfectly despicable weather that we have been treated to in England this past month or so. But being involved in an inspiring pursuit such as engineering, or indeed writing, is much more satisfying than merely plotting an escape from a humdrum routine to spend a few weeks’ holiday in some exotic location.
On the other hand, with so many people telling me otherwise, maybe I’m the one that’s got it all wrong. So in the not too distant future, I think I too may put on my travelling boots and take a trip to Vienna for one last ride on the Riesenrad with my dear friend Holly. As we travel high in the air, it will provide us with the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the unimportant lives being led by the uninspired masses beneath us.
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