Is That All There Is?

This is a follow up blog to “What’s It All About?” posted on March 21st.


I opened my front door and there he was…

“It’s your Long Lost Cousin, again,” he proclaimed.

My cousin came “funeral marching” in, singing:

“Is that all there is? Is that all there is?

If that’s all there is, my friends,

then let’s keep dancing,

lets break out the booze and have, a ball,

if that’s all, there is!”

“You’re singing another song today?”

My LLC had a grim look on his face.

“The lyrics are scary and I’m disillusioned. Birth, a period in between, then death, is that all there is?”

“Oh cousin, you’re trying to figure out another profound question. Remember, it’s that period in between that’s important.”

“Do you ever think about disillusionment?”

“My dear LLC, of course I think about it, as I’ve said before, I’m a WRITER!”

“What is the point of striving and struggling when life is so short and death so final? I feel like I’m in a rut.”

“Relax cousin, you must try to get out of that rut because the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth!”

LLC looked at me wide-eyed!

I continued: “As long as you’re living you want to grow. Striving is part of growth. The good life is full of positive change and growth.”

“What do you mean?”

“Change and growth are part of being human, so is living your life creatively and productively.”

LLC was rolling his eyes.

“Listen cousin, your happiness is the harmony between you and the life you lead. This harmony is achieved by doing things that contribute to society and doing things that you do best.”

“Oh, I get it, I created my own recipe for meatloaf. So now, everyone that I make it for, loves it. I’m happy, they’re happy! I’ve put the recipe on the internet, now I’ve left something for the world, my legacy! I’ve got satisfaction and meaning in my life.”

“I think you’re beginning to get the gist of this. You are also constantly experimenting with new recipes, so you are growing.”

“Oh cousin, you always make me feel better!”

“We all are on a journey, a quest, for meaning. There is creative meaning: where we give ourselves to the world, through our creative efforts, in my case, my writings, in your case, your recipes. We can also strive for positive attitudes towards situations that are out of our control, like our death!”

“If you can survive death, I guess you can probably survive anything,” my cousin was laughing out loud, now.

I smiled and said: “My wonderful LLC, I can always count on you to lighten things up.”

LLC was beaming from ear to ear.

“Finally, have you heard of the happiness and great pleasure of Disillusionment?”

“No, I haven’t. That’s a very odd phrase.”

“Well, when you asked, is that all there is, you had an illusion of some pie in the sky wonderful life. Now, the word “dis-illusion” means NOT to be deceived by illusion. You need to think about what is REAL, a rational view of things. So, disillusionment actually can be a positive motivator.”

“That makes sense to me, cousin.”

“Now, get out of here and I don’t want to see you “funeral marching” around again!”

“Don’t worry, I’m going to avoid funerals, I’m NOT A MORNING PERSON!”

What’s It All About?

Knock, knock!

“Who’s there?”

“It’s your Long Lost Cousin!”

My cousin came waltzing into my house singing:

“What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it just, for the moment, we live?”

“Hey cousin, what’s with the singing?”

My LLC had a big grin on his face.

“I like the lyrics and I’m trying to figure out, “What’s It All About?”

“Oh cousin, you mean you’re trying to figure out the greatest puzzle of all time? What Is The Meaning Of Life!”

“Yes, I am. I mean you and I are getting on, don’t you think about it?”

“My dear LLC, of course I think about it, I’m a WRITER!”

My cousin had a confused look on his face.

“I don’t understand life, at times it’s so hard and then you’re reincarnated!”

“Ha, ha, I think you’re joking now.”

“No, I’d like to live forever!”

“Well, my friend, you can!”

My LLC looked amazed at my statement.

“You’re not talking about red wine and Manuka honey, are you?”

“No, but they will take you a long way down the road.”

“Give it to me straight, cousin.”

“Well, you will never really die because every person you meet and in my case, everyone that reads my writings, is affected by us in some way!”

“What do you mean?’

“The people we meet carry that effect on to everyone they meet. So, our ideas and values will last forever to some degree!”

“Wow cousin, I never thought about it like that. So, we are being remembered forever!”

“You’ve got it, cousin!”

“What about the “meaning” then?”

“Well, you and I are responsible for creating our own meaning and purpose in our lives. It’s a very personal thing.”

“Oh, I get it! What I do with my life is my responsibility and it has meaning and purpose to me.”

“Yes cousin, we are mortal and we are trapped in the present moment. So we have to make our present meaningful and purposeful. I other words, Carpe Diem, seize the day!”

“Oh cousin, I love it when you talk like that!”

“It’s the truth, my friend.”

“So, my ideas and values will be remembered and passed on. So, I don’t have to physically live forever even if it was possible.”

“That’s right, cousin.”

“That’s great news because if I had to live my life over again, I don’t think I’d have the STRENGTH!”

Inspiration Regained

It was a dark and stormy night and I was a writer lost in a strange city! I had also, lost my inspiration. My writing wasn’t selling. All of a sudden a building came out of the gloom. It was completely lit up. Every window had light. It was like a welcoming beacon. The door was open, I walked in, and it slammed behind me. Every wall was lined with bookshelves with ladders zigzagging up to the ceiling, which must have been at least 50 feet high!

There was not a person in sight. I was alone with all those books!

Then, I heard voices, they seemed to come from the books!

All the greats were there: Hemingway, Twain, Fitzgerald, Woofe, Maughan, Sheldon, Shakespeare and many, many others. Their voices were all around me.

“How are you?’ A deep voice said.

“I feel like Hell, can you show me Heaven?’ I said.

“In Hell, writers are chained to their desks and whipped.”

“And in Heaven?”

“In Heaven, writers are chained to their desks and whipped.”

“Hell and Heaven are the same!”

“No, my friend, they’re not,” said an unseen voice. “In Heaven your work gets published!”

“I don’t write so good,” I said.

The voice continued: “If you can tell stories, create characters and devise conflict and have passion, it doesn’t matter how you write.”

“I find it hard to play God in my stories!”

“My friend, a blank piece of paper is the way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”

“I’ve lost my concentration, I can’t focus!”

“Your words are your lens to focus your mind,” said a woman’s voice.

“I’m not sure what people want to hear from me.”

“Don’t try to figure that out, just think about what you have to say. It’s all you have to offer.”

“My stories don’t seem to come alive.”

A voice from the very top shelf said: “The unread story is not yet alive. The reader, reading it, makes it live!”

I shook my head, my eyes were blurring. The books seemed to be dancing!

“But, I write such hopeless stories.”

“There’s no point in doing that, we all know we are going to die: what’s of prime concern to you is the kind of man you are in the face of this.”

I was trying to soak up all this knowledge that was being bantered about the walls of books!

“I struggle to find ideas.”

“My writer friend, everybody walks past hundreds of story ideas everyday. The writers are the ones who see two or three of them. Most people don’t see any.”

“I wonder, some times, if I have anything of interest inside of me?”

Many voices in unison said: “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, all his qualities of mind are written in his stories.”

“Some times I feel so drained after a long writing session.”

“Three or four hours of fiction writing can leave you drained. Because, for that period of time you have been in a different place with different people!”

“I want to write stories the whole world will read, stories that people will react emotionally to, stories that will make them happy, stories that will make them scream and cry in pain and anger!”

“You will, my son, you will!” The voices started to fade away.

I walked out the door singing: “ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE!”

Irrational Ideas

“ I feel very protective toward my Long Lost Cousin. We lost contact for 50 years and then we got connected again. We are only 11 years apart but I feel like a father to him. When we first met, I was 21 and he was 10. So I first knew him as a boy. But now, when he has a problem, and he has quite a few, he comes to me for sorting out.

One day he came to me with the problem of the moment.

“Cousin, I feel like my thoughts are all jumbled up in my head. I need clarity!”

“On what issues are you looking for clarity?” I said, sympathetically.

He thought for a moment.

“I’m not really sure!”

I shook my head.

“What have you been doing to alleviate this stress?”

“I find popping plastic bubble wrap very helpful!”

There was a problem here!

“Cousin, I like to do things that I want to do, and I like to get things I want. But people tell me it is bad and wrong to be selfish! I’m confused.”

“My dear LLC, no one knows your needs and wants better than you and you have a great interest in seeing them fulfilled. Your happiness is up to you. Be selfish!”

“That’s a load off my mind,” said my cousin, smiling.

“Anything else jumbled up?”

“I interrupted some one the other day and they said they disapproved of me. This bothered me.”

“This remark shouldn’t bother you. You can’t please everyone, and don’t give yourself chronic anxiety by trying. Just because of one specific fault, don’t put down your whole being.”

“Thanks for that, cousin, I feel better already.”

Did I sort him out for today?

“One more thing, I got angry yesterday defending one of my opinions and I felt bad about it.”

“Your anger was an honest communication of your feelings, it was not an attack on anyone.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you, cousin.”

“That’s what I’m here for. Too bad we lost 50 years!”

I thought I was finished for the day, when…

“One more thing, cousin, sometimes I think there are people under my bed!”

As I walked him to the door, I said:

“Well, go home and cut the legs off of your bed!”