17/01/2014 05:31 GMT | Updated 18/03/2014 05:59 GMT

The Long and Winding Road, Things I Saw in the Woods Today

The Long and Winding Road

A favourite song of mine and for me the best interpretation of this ultra romantic tune is by George Michael. I used to joke about George being a bit accident prone on my radio show and must say that his ordeals, trials and tribulations in life have added a large dash of pathos to his style of singing.

It's the bad stuff that makes us better people and its the bad stuff that teaches us courage. In my hopeless attempt to learn Latin I have been pouring over school books and memorising phrases such as this pearl: Vulnus non penetrat animum. A wound does not pierce the soul. - Macrobius. That single phrase got me thinking about two things. One is Milan Kundera's conclusion in The Unbearable Lightness of Being that life is a straight line towards something. The second is the poetic and beautiful thought that no matter what happens in this life, our soul remains intact.

We speak less of our soul life than we do of our materialistic yearnings, wishes and wants. I frequently read the online rags to see what absurdity passes for humanity. I don't consider myself superior or better than others neither do I believe that I've the right to make fun of anyone. Who am I anyway? But I do require a frequent dose of the latest celebrity gossip just to remind myself how pointless life actually is. Not hopeless, but rather, pointless.

I stopped arguing years ago simply because there is a moment in any relationship be it with friends or family or lovers, when words cannot fill the vacuum between two people. The incessant point-making and over-analysing and flogging and re-flogging a seriously dead horse, serve no purpose whatsoever except to engender hard feeling and the idea that the person who didn't get the last word in, is the loser. In fact, every time we confront someone to have that final say, we are in fact damaging that precious soul life that wishes to fly rather than be bogged down with the mechanics of daily life which is tedious in the extreme. Many a creative type has found solace in too much booze or drugs or inappropriate liaisons in order to get themselves into a more tolerable frame of mind to face the monotony of existence. The realisation that everyday life is a drag interspersed with moments of joy, happiness and silliness which we crave in vast doses but receive never enough of, is what drives us to find sense and add meaning to our lives. By knowing something is missing, we strive to find it. However beware: that old adage about searching for Mr. Right but never finding him is a good example. The more we look, the more Prince Charming eludes us. Pure contentment is not dissimilar. We cannot force ourselves to be happy. Some days we don't find puppies cute at all. Life is a game of chance. Time and chance. Bribes and debts.

I once met a Chinese doctor who was very wise and she imparted the following advice to me: if we consider that the people we meet in our lives probably have crossed paths with us in a previous life and the reason we're encountering them again is in order to fulfill a karmic debt and once that debt has been paid, we move on.

Human beings will spend their entire lives crossing paths and making amends. I do believe also that the mere fact that we are here is because we must endure and prove our mettle. Hence the road is long and winding but it does lead somewhere.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

Things I saw in the woods today:

The humble flint sparkles like a rare gem in the mud:


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

A pigeon meets an untimely end:


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

And finally:

On the way back from the woods, I came across this recycle bin and burst out laughing. This man and I could never, ever be more than friends.... Amazing what a recycle bin says about you...


Photo copyright S. van Dalen