I remember when I was nothing more than a young squirt, barely knee-high to a sea cucumber, and I was visited by my great uncle, who was a well-known explorer. He had dropped by unexpectedly to have a bit of a talk with me. ‘My boy,’ he said to me, ‘whatever else you do in life make sure you don’t make a complete prick of yourself. Obey the laws of the land and always respect your elders.’ I promised him that I would follow his wise advice and that was the last I ever heard of him. I learned later that he had been torn to pieces by a pack of dogfish shortly afterwards. We lived in a rough neighbourhood, you see. Needless to say, I took no heed whatsoever of what my unfortunate great-uncle had to say to me – I became a rowdy and a braggart and spent my time terrorising the whole district. I was a bully and a ruffian and to say that I had made a complete prick of myself would have been the understatement of the century! This went on for many years until one day I got my just desserts and ended up in a juvenile detention centre.
Things only got worse after that, as you might expect. Things went downhill in a big way – I graduated from being a rowdy to being a petty hoodlum, bringing shame upon my family with my disreputable exploits. I developed unpleasant personal habits such as spitting and swearing and hitting people for no reason. I took no interest in matters of personal hygiene. Somehow, I had taken a wrong turn in life and my chances of ever making anything of myself seemed to be zero. No one had any time for me. Then one day, shortly after my sixtieth birthday, all of that changed. I was listening to one of my old albums in my bedroom, smoking a big reefer, when all of a sudden a missing piece in the jigsaw of my brain seemed to come back to me from where ever it had got to and as it fell silently into place I realised that I’d wasted my entire life being a gobshyte and that I had utterly ignored my inner potential. I realised that I was in fact in a very bad place, spiritually speaking. ‘What on earth had I been thinking of,’ I berated myself, ‘what kind of a jerk was I?’ After I got over the inevitable self-recrimination I resolved to put matters right and to do my very best to be a better person. I would endeavour to be a more useful member of society and repair – as much as I was able – the wrong that I had done. First – however – I would need a teacher or spiritual guide to help me and so with this in mind I straightaway set off to find one, with a bit of jaunt in my step. At long last I was going to turn my life around!
Of course that never actually worked out for me. It never really worked out for me but it was a nice moment all the same. It was a moment of hope, a moment of optimism in an otherwise grubby and unexceptional existence. It was a brief flicker of light in the darkness. Moments like this we will always cherish and we must be thankful for them. Well, that’s if we are willing to make the effort to take the positive out of our life-experience. It’s always good to look for the positive. There’s no sense in being consumed by regrets, after all. There’s no sense in beating oneself up unnecessarily. So now I have ended up living in a kind of cave – a cave in reality, you might say. The cave in question is my own private world that I have designed for myself, my own little cubbyhole. Sometimes I sit facing the opening to the cave – facing the light as it were – and I watch the world go by. These are pleasant times for me. Relatively pleasant, at least. At other times however I forget about the world. I forget that it even exists and I sit facing one of the walls of my cave instead, brooding morosely on my own dark thoughts, dwelling incessantly on matters of no conceivable interest to anyone else other than myself. I dwell on personal matters that only I can be bothered to dwell upon. Half the time even I have no interest on dwelling on them, if I were to be honest, but I suppose the positive here is that it does at least pass the time.