Possessions and collecting – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

I am sitting here in my study. I give it a grandiose title for what is a room crammed with my stuff; all the stuff that Liz doesn’t like cluttering up the rest of the house. There are a few thousand books, thousands of CDs and a few thousand vinyl albums, some photos, a sound system, computer and desk and my books – the 30 or so that I have written.

I collect. I don’t know why. It is something like hunting, finding bargains, and filling in gaps. I am surrounded with my possessions like extensions of my personality. They say something about me – insane perhaps? Child-like probably? Who knows? These possessions are important to me. I have built up the knowledge and content through the decades. Some are actually precious to me.

When I am gone they will be sold, given away, distributed and the importance I placed on them will be of no value to anybody else.

And what of my 30 books? The work of a lifetime, written in the precious hours gleaned, usually through the early hours of the morning, from a cluttered day. What value will they have? A trunk of faded, tattered wads of paper, 26 letters and a dozen symbols with 10 numbers, endlessly rearranged into stories, ideas and memories, so personal they mark a telescope into the neurones of a cerebrum. When I’ve gone, and the connections are broken, there will only be the echoes in the words, with no one to value them or understand what they really meant to me, what I was trying to say.

Will my children take them for nostalgia’s sake? I somehow hope so. Maybe they will read these words, maybe my grandchildren will read these words, and find a little of me trapped within the symbols.

‘Hello. I speak to you from beyond the grave, down the eras. I have a message. The message is that there are no answers. There are not even any questions. There are no short cuts. There are no reasons and there is no purpose.’

I suppose that all sounds depressing. Let me elaborate further. ‘There is a lot of mystery, a lot of fun to be had, the discovery that fulfilment is more fun than fun, and a whole universe to discover. The journey is all. The journey is all there is. Enjoy it. There are no answers but there are plenty of partial solutions and reasons.’

There. I have spoken. Will these books moulder in their trunk or be thrown into some landfill site, or be burnt or read? What the hell difference will any of it make anyway?

By writing it down, or reading, or experiencing, there is an outside chance that some of this life can make sense – without the religious bigotry and drivel – without the despair at our politicians and leaders. We can learn to build a better world for all living creatures, to share and to love. There are worthy causes to take up, whether there is a purpose to this process of living or not.

But then all this love stuff is just old hackneyed cliché after all. You’d think I would have grown out of it by now.



It is human beings that want everything to be tidy. We are programmed to seek purpose in chaos, order in random patterns. It is a survival characteristic that results in religion.


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