Meaning, Schmeaning

The lounge in the Qatar airport is a sanitised public space like any other. The beige tiled box a reprieve for weary passengers drifting in and out for free booze and bite-sized sandwiches. The white glow of the travellers’ smart phones illuminate their apathy. Waiting. I feel like I am nowhere. With the lingering remnants of a gin haze, intermittent WIFI, and 19 hours of travel still ahead of me, I have finally exhausted my reasons not to write.

In truth, I have been paralysed by the sheer volume of what I want to say and how to organise my thoughts and feelings into a coherent narrative. That, and a gentle simmer of fear. Fear that I will not be able to convey the complexities and subtleties of everything and everyone; fear that my tale is not worthy; and fear that it might be.


A year or so ago I asked a particularly wise person whether things in life happen for a reason, or whether we attribute meaning to events in an effort to make ourselves feel better when we are hurting? To which she pragmatically replied, if believing in meaning makes you feel better then does it matter if it is a construct?

The idealist in me wilted.

My initial response to this was: absolutely it matters! Feeling less pain should not come at the expense of an agreed reality. Followed closely by: you can’t answer a question with another question. Everyone knows that those are the rules. So nergh! (This did make me question my choice of ‘particularly wise person’).

I wanted her to reassure me, to agree with my world view, and to basically reaffirm my matteredness. I feel safe and purposeful in the belief that hundreds of chance encounters end up making a messy, glorious, connected whole. I feel soothed when I can draw links between experiences, or when they seem to be beautifully timed, universally speaking. This is a kind of magic to me.

So, in the experiences I hope to share, there will be a sprinkling of magic (real or imagined, you can decide), some can-you-believe-its, plenty of heartache, and a small portion of poetic licence.

As my best friend once said, “can we just pretend this isn’t your life and laugh about it?”

Sure, why not.

After all, a ‘glad that isn’t my life’ chuckle is a perfectly acceptable pastime.

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