Three excerpts from 'Reaching Out ~ Reaching In'

(Copyright©2009 Geraint Ellis)

Frontispiece

‘You can read me like a book you say? 

But how can you, while my inner pages are still uncut? 

Never mistake the part played for the person underneath …’

Page 1:

‘Until then, every day seemed like summer. Life glittered: And we ever easy in the cosiness and abundance of all that was. Until then we focussed only on that green light up ahead, and there was never a space in our lifestyle for amber or red. That’s how it was, until then. 

And I suppose the bulk of our satisfactions came from the conviction we all held, that if you reach out, you reach in: Simple as that. It’s hardly rocket science. It’s the sort of thing our Vice Chancellor churns out to raw undergraduates every October. (With that his work is done for another year: Tough life, I hear you think) 

To be fair, his point is good. You wonder about something. You’re itching to find more. You do. You feel better for the experience. The trip was great fun. Come on, you nearly reached the sky. 

This is what draws us on in life I suppose: The need to know. Not dry academic issues, but things of such significance to your existence they afterwards leave you tingling with excitement. So when you meet a like-minded person, you latch on, fast. It’s the only way forward I think. And it’s for their benefit as well as yours: A kind of dowry, one to another. The pace can be hot: Your feet hardly touch the ground. But it’s the feel-good factor of living. And in-between meeting your friends you can’t wait to see them again. In my case, four women and one other man: Six people in search of themselves, you might say… 

Robert Louis Stevenson writes about this kind of thing. He talks about the lantern each of us has to light our way though: The light that gives satisfaction to all minds. I’ll bring that notion up-to-date, the nineteen seventies, and talk instead about signage. Yes, it’s as if we’re governed by directional arrows. And like roadway signs these find the route for each and every one of us. 

It’s not always easy. There are lots of roundabouts ahead. Slow down! they scream: You can’t stay here forever! You have to think fast: Navigate. Turn left? Turn right? Straight on? The choice is there. Or, if like one or two of the guys in the philosophy department, you slow down. You slow down a lot. You stick with the roundabout. Round and round in circles you go. And to enable you to do that you reinvent language. (Every hour of their timetable is marked ‘Games Period’) Cool move. Never call a philosopher stupid. They’ve only one obstacle in life – meaning. With the reinvention of language they can talk without the hindrance of meaning. Game Set and Match … Ah well, happy days. 

We don’t do that, my friends and I. We hurtle together on the same carriageway of course, but when we get to the roundabout we suddenly disperse in different directions: Up, up and away, like a spectacular display by the Red Arrows aerobatic team. Then after a while we meet up again, full of cheerful slants and newfound views. We fly in tight formation: Wingtips nearly touching. And like birds in flight we even take it in turns to lead. Then we touch-down to refuel of course. But we’re soon off again on some sortie or other. The sky’s a pretty big place … 

As I said, that’s how it was, until then. Since then, which is only a …’


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