Thursday, 29 November 2012


It is a disturbing film, especially for one approaching old age. It left me feeling the terror of being unable to communicate my needs, being cared for by people who don't care.

Pondering what resources I have to cope with such a situation, what struck me was the title of the film 'Love'. This couple had an apparently blissful marriage, no lack of money, and a rich cultural environment. They had shared interests, and had been good companions. He still found her attractive. This is what stands for 'love' in our society. When these elements are taken away they find not only their love fades, but, even more crucially, they have nothing to live for.
 The film appears to be a dispassionate look at losing physical faculties, the terror of illness and growing old. Death is seen as a welcome relief from suffering. But it is actually an indictment of what we take to be 'love' – the idea that finding happiness in loving another can obviate the need to develop our own understanding of what life means to us.

So for a while I connected with that experience of the emptiness of life, identifying with the couple, and feeling the terror at the possibility of losing my physical capacities. What would I have if I couldn't move my limbs, dress myself, feed myself, or express my needs. Could I rely on my loving daughter to provide for me? Supposing I was stuck in a hospital with staff too busy to respond to my needs.

What saved me from this paranoid fantasy was coming into the Now. Bringing myself back to where I am, with the insight that I have no idea what the next moment will bring, re-instates the adventure of life. Thinking I know something about the future or the past is the most deadening thing.

This couple had lost touch with the Now. But they had lost it years before. They never became conscious of needing it because they had each other. There is a telling little cameo when they are sitting to a meal, and he holds up the saltcellar and says-there is no salt. She doesn't respond so he fills it himself. She would normally have jumped up to fill it, and at that moment he realises something is wrong. 

That is what their 'Love' was based on, their routines, their shared interests, their culture, and their money.  But when it comes to the crunch these things are not enough. If my life is inherently meaningless to me then all the add-ons do not significantly alter the result.  If my life is zero, then no matter how many zeros I add the result is still zero. However if my life is 1 then all the add-ons – in themselves of no value, ie 0, will contribute to the richness of my life, ie 1 plus 0000 ad infinitum.


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