Life hands you metaphors for the phases you’re going through in life at the weirdest times and in the weirdest forms. It’s usually a couple of times each year that you get one of these eye-opening moments. One of the greatest and most exciting things in life is the fact that you never know when life will impart you one of its next bits of wisdom. You’ll get these mini-epiphanies in the weirdest of places and in the aloofest of moments. Be it in a Chinese fortune cookie, a poster above a strip-club urinal or on a hotelroom doorsign.
The first time life shared one of these metaphors with me this year was during a friend’s bachelor party in Warsaw. In typical Polish fashion, upon entering the room I was greeted by a complimentary bottle of Vodka which was adorned with what I suppose was a card that should have been hanging on the door handle and which read ‘Feed my Soul’. This came about a time in life where I was actually contemplating life, and what feeds ones soul to state it poetically. It is no coincidence the words of Seneca, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius resonated in my head. So what are the odds of having those exact same words greet you in a hotel abroad?
I have no clue whether or not they had been alerted beforehand about the purpose of our stay in the hotel or if it was a practical joke from the cleaners. Suffice it to say, a higher spirit knew what we were up to, and aswe were sipping our hangover-dissipating Bloody Mary’s the morning after, trying to reconstitute the night before using discovered credit card receipts a la The Hangover I couldn’t help but smile at the synchrony with that hotelroom message. I don’t know if it was due to an subconscious desire to satisfy and obey that card or just pure luck, but we ended that night doing exactly what the card had told us to, howling at the moon like a bunch of wodka-fueled wolves. If feeding my soul was indeed meant to be done this way, as the card suggested, it felt a great deal more pleasant than what Seneca portrayed feeding your soul to be like. In any event, I quickly relocated the card to a more suitable location, such as the bathroom mirror.
It’s funny isn’t it? How some things are exactly the way you expect them to be and others the exact opposite? You realise things aren’t what they seem to be, more often than not. We had been quite hesitant about the wardrobe our dear bachelor would have to parade in during the weekend because Poland is supposed to be a very Catholic country. Our initial apprehension at dressing the bachelor up like the Pope for this weekend quickly evaporated however when we were asked in the lobby of our hotel if ‘the man dressed in white was the son of the Pope’ by a charming couple of elderly Polish people. Clearly, if you’re asking these kind of questions it means that you have no idea how the Catholic Church functions and that Poland isn’t all that religious. Then again, the decorated vodka bottle confirmed all the clichés on that end.
Another great analogy for life was imparted on me soon thereafter by our very own sun. Last week I took out my copy of E.E. Cummings’ 100 Selected Poems. The habitual red cover had started developing a purplish tint at the borders, and the cover was all dried up and crackled.All my books on my bookshelf had constantly been exposed to the sunlight for the last six months and they all had developed similar symptoms. Once the initial OCD-related split-second brain hemorrhage passed, I instantly took a liking to these newly-decorated books. The solar disfiguring that they had suffered gave them a funky vibe. They were funny looking. Personalised. There’s nothing worse than a book that still looks brand new, because it means it’s probably never been read. It’s like that saying : a knight in shining armor probably never had his metal tested’ I rearranged the books (obedient to my true OCD-style according to respectively color, size and author) back in my library and went about my business until later that night I realised those discolored, used books are actually a great metaphor for what life is. As we spend more and more time under the sun, we get a little bit discolored and crackled, our outer shell gets tested and has to withstand both the elements of nature and time, but the contents remains good. They might even get arguably better as they age. In any case, there is no way to stop the decay. The sooner you make your peace with it, the sooner you’ll be happier. Those pages are going to get more yellow, and that cover is going to get more purple, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Vergil said it perfectly : “Irrestorable, time flies”. Life under the sun. Fly too close to it and you’ll burn your wings. Fly just far enough from it and you’ll have a jealousy-inducing tan and live without the excruciating agony that is (sun)burn.