The Point Of Living


 After eighteen months spent working in a call centre among people who were sometimes exuberant, but looking at a different version of ambition to my own, I went off to university or my life’s idea of sanctuary. About two terms into my journey some student said, “It’s so boring here” and I looked at him with amazement and said “Come with me.”

I took him to the library and, pointing in the direction of the books, whispered, “Here, on every shelf, you can connect with the finest minds published throughout the history of man. You can discuss any subject you choose and those most nuanced and aware in their field will share their insights with you, and you have all the time you want to enjoy that conversation: is that not a wonder and a privilege?”

My voice, no doubt, was earnest and engaged, but my friend looked at me as if I was an undiscovered fanatic, clearly deranged, who should be avoided as politely as possible and with a nod he left the building. My purpose then was to “Understand life,” and eating, clothing and careers came a poor second to that obsession. No lecture or seminar was missed, and I became a favourite with my tutor; the one student in my year who confirmed the purpose of his calling: I had discovered my home and this was my element.

In that first year I was a person of note, but by the second and then third years, when other students attached themselves to ambitions, or became more vocal in expressing goals already understood, I drifted from being a noted celebrator of knowledge to a curio: a man whose euphoria was removed from his circumstance.

Half way through my second year, still celebrated by those among the staff, and through a series of misunderstandings, I ended up alone but for my tutor’s wife: a lady about twelve years older than myself. She was a sculptor with dreams that did not match her reputation but she had expressed the desire to make a carving of my head “If I would sit with her.” I looked towards her husband who nodded his assent but even at that moment there was a cadence to his agreement too subtle for me to understand: possibly, in hindsight, “resignation” is the word I seek.

Sure enough, I sat for her and she, dressed in some flowing gown of sorts, marked with stains and tears giving testament to its age, started chopping, chiselling and then sanding at a block of wood with frenetic energy. At last she said, “I must get something to drink” and when she returned she was holding a large glass of wine and had cast aside her gown to reveal a figure free of garments, “Too hot” was all she said, taking a second slurp from the glass and then returning to her sculpturing as if it were a normal interview.

Finally, when the session was over, and she had “refreshed her glass” on a number of occasions, I said goodbye somewhat awkwardly, managing, as I later realised, to insult her by rejecting her advances, and thus not allowing her to demean the husband she despised. Still, I became too embroiled in the undertones of my tutor’s marriage to remain his friend.

I was still celibate at the time, more by lack of strategy than intent, and without the clarity to either accept or reject her offer and preserve her dignity. Needless to say, she soon disliked me, and rumours came to my ears that I had attempted to behave inappropriately in her company.

Finally, released from my studies, and with a sadness I still cannot contemplate, I took those jobs which paid the rent but, as my life progressed, became increasingly at variance with my interests, reputed intelligence and some aspects of awareness.

At one point I became a married man: bound to a woman who spoke with wonder of my kindness but, over time, became impatient with my lack of urgency. She returned home one day to find me deliberating on the concept of “Obsolescence.” Interrupting my thoughts with minimal preamble, she told me she had met someone else and would I leave? The men I admire always act without self-interest and so I determined to do the same.

Walking out of her life, free of possessions, because how could I claim with any honesty, what she had earned, I saw a sadness in her eyes, but then I lived with a manner of un-strategic curiosity she could no longer accommodate. Somehow she wished herself to be more gentle than she was, I like to think, as she left me to enjoy her certainties with a man better grounded than myself: we are not all travellers, someone told me, or willing to suffer in the attempt to be so.

I became that polite oddity: a seeker of obscure profundities, obsessed with illuminating observations which had no practical usage until I am arrived at my current destination: still filled with wonder and that desire to understand which has dogged me throughout my life but now asking, “Did I miss the point?”

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Life, Peter Wells, Reputation, Romance, Talent, values, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The Point Of Living

  1. abuamirah says:

    I am in awe! Peter, you do have a way with words. I must confess; phrases like “seeker of obscure profundities” gave me a metal hard on!

    Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Did I miss the point?,” you ask…

    “I don’t know,” I respond, seriously. “Define ‘the’ in this question.”

    😉

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  3. Al says:

    Just wondering, does she still sculpt and does she need subjects?

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  4. He may have found the point, but he seems to have issues with the application. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mikesteeden says:

    A cracking read indeed…mind, could have sorted it out succumbing to sculpture lady! Splendid stuff

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bloggeray says:

    This is the kind of post that provides an intellectual orgasm. The first paragraph and I was hooked. I don’t have enough good words to explain how great I felt.
    The way you explained the disconnect between book lovers and others with that anecdote was amusing and spot-on.
    Have a great day ahead. God bless. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Funny because throughout the story I was convinced that it was everyone else that missed the point…or was that part of the irony?

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    • I think that was part of the irony. In terms of economic survival he had missed the point of education and life, but in terms of inner growth and awareness perhaps he was one of the few on the right track which may be hard to remember if you are now suffering considerable hardship as a result of your intellectual curiosity

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  8. ksbeth says:

    no, he did not, indeed.

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  9. “I was still celibate at the time, more by lack of strategy than intent.”
    As often applies 😉

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  10. nelle says:

    Perhaps everyone around him missed the point.

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  11. I’m rather certain he and I can be friends.
    By the way you do magic with words. I got disrupted five times while reading but I just had to come back – nothing could keep me away from this piece!

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  12. What a closing sentence – it sort of sums up life as well as this sad and poignant tale, Peter. I guess, with reflection, one will see that there is always a trade off between the intellectual and emotional and the material in life, but who is qualified to comment on the best way to live. As ever a quality piece of writing.

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  13. Pingback: The Point Of Living | The Diligent Dilettante

  14. gotham girl says:

    Oh gosh…so good!!

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  15. Beautifully, vividly told, Peter. “Did I miss the point?” an even better question than the meaning of life (which of course we now know to be 42). However, I don’t think we have missed — simply because we actually ask. The point is always changing, and ever jabbing us in the back of the neck. 🙂 Huge hugs.

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  16. There are as many points as there are people – and I”m in awe of your ability to resist sculpture lady. For me, much as I love thinking and writing, my relationships seems to be the key to my happiness. I wouldn’t like to have to choose – cuddles or books, ‘love’ or abstract thought. To me, living is one huge interesting experiment, so to confine myself to just one aspect of it – the cerebral – would be disappointing. Still, I’ve missed out on so many aspects anyway, by necessity – being only one person, and with likes (books, intellectual argument, sex) and dislikes (physical risk taking, football). The question is, do you feel you might have missed the point because others imply that you have, or because there are aspects of life you yourself think are missing?

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  17. Quite seriously – is there a point? Does there have to be?

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    • Loved this, and possibly there is no point. Of course to DNA travelling through our bodies to the next generation bearing dreams of evolution we are little more than carriages and regardless, in a millennia or two the solar system will burn out and we and our various fabrications will become unrecorded phenomena.

      For some life is about a spiritual awakening and a sharpening of conduct and outlook protecting us against the sordid temptations of life. For others it is about getting a house with more bedrooms than you need together and with a seat at or near the top table. For some of us its just to be smiled at and have drinks with our friends, or smile at our children or whatever. For my hero, he possibly never really “defined” his point, and lack of definition of often leads to disaster. I could go on, but thank you for prompting a further outpouring of my eccentricities.

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  18. Rainee says:

    Beautifully written Peter. Is there another book in the pipeline? cheers 🙂

    Like

  19. olganm says:

    Yes, I was wondering if there is a point. For me being aware of even wondering is the point, but not for a lot of people. Love it. Thanks, Pete.

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