Getting it out of the way, I bloody love Norwich. It is my city, a fine city, filled with history, stories, and a wonderfully bolshy state of mind. But sometimes, the weight of history gets a little much. And if you’re already taking The Black Dog for a walk, strange things can happen. Strange things like sitting in the castle keep, alone, for an hour, thinking too much about things after looking at the chapel. And having a weird, fatalistic rant into your notebook. I'd appreciate a visit from someone in possession of a wet fish. My face is sorely in need of a slap.
All these images, all these people, all these stories, these scratchings. All of those lives, lived, experienced. Laughter (muted?),tears (infrequent?), passions, arguments, all that was felt and hoped for, cared about, all of that, every moment, every precious moment that meant too much and was so important. People cared enough to record their existence, to tell people, to leave a mark, to try to express something to the people they lived amongst, and to the people who came after.
Something tangible, an absolute marker of their existence, a tiny scratching left to act as a reminder, a statement. A warning? We might consider ourselves important take ourselves too seriously. Believe that our thoughts and lives matter, but ultimately, what we see on the walls of buildings informs us that we are ephemeral and transitory. None of this will matter in 100 years. Perhaps none of this will matter in 10 years. 10 days.
So, really, all that striving, all that caring, all of that effort, it counts for nothing. We’re born, we live, we die. And for all of the energy that we put into things, it’s really only sound and fury, signifying nothing. Once you’re gone, that’s it. One might argue that if you have children, some part of you retains a link to the world. But that suggests you see children merely as extensions of their parents, not people in their own right.
Create a masterpiece? A work of art, or some other monument to the creative intensity of the human mind? But, truly, what does that achieve? You may be lauded, garlanded, the toast of the people whose praise you desire. But things change, the world moves on, and your words will fall by the wayside.
There is no mileage in immortality, no way of sustaining life beyond what is in the here and now. And whilst we might care about the present, our family, our friends, what the immediate future holds for us in a personal sense, we are no more significant than a pair of initials scratched into stonework 500 years ago.
We can be safely ignored and our feelings forgotten.
(Seriously, someone tell me to stop being such a twat. If you don't feel able to do so to my Massive Face, then just buy me a coffee).