Meditation is the answer;
Not 42 as it turns out.
Although 42 is the answer to many things, including what age Elvis Presley was when he died. Two of my heros, Elvis Presley and Douglas Adams linked in the dance of life and death. Like many people, i remember where i was when the news of Elvis’ death broke – i was staying in a B&B in Donegal Town, a B&B that still exists. When i called looking for accomodation that evening, it was already full but the kind landlady put me up in a fold-up bed in the sitting room. That was the summer my love of Donegal developed. I was working as a student geologist taking soil samples and cycling around the county staying in B&B’s – happy days climbing mountains and splashing through streams.
That was 1977, different times.
Not music either
About the same time that Douglas Adams was developing the plot and characters for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which was broadcast as a radio comedy on the BBC in 1978 and published as a book in 1979. I fell in love with the book immediately and reread it and the other books in the trilogy many times over the years. Those days i used to do a lot of hitchhiking too, though never got beyond Ireland, never mind the boundaries of our planet.
Not reading either, or travel, even intergalactice travel;
I was in a car one sunny morning about that time, hitching from Killarney back to college in Galway and we were listening to a phone-in quiz show on the radio. The presentator was Larry Gogan and the quiz was the ‘Just a Minute Quiz’; callers had one minute to answer questions. This morning the question which was proving to be a sticking point was “As happy as ???”, and the contestant was struggling – Monday morning is probably not a good time to enter a radio quiz. Larry, as was his way, tried to be helpful and gave clues about himself and his name, expecting the struggling quizzer to understand and give the correct answer which was, of course, ‘Larry’. Our contestant though was on a different track and suddenly had a gleam of genius, ‘As happy as a pig in shit’, was his answer, a saying well known in Irish circles, not just agricultural, but not what you would expect to hear on Irish radio in those by-gone days. The nation burst out laughing, as did my driver, so heartedly indeed that we swerved off the road and very nearly crashed. Larry with great aplomb suggested that ‘Larry’ would be more correct and a new entrant joined Irish radio folklore.
Alcohol is used as an answer for many, both individually and culturally. I used, and abused it for many years and it ultimately put paid to another of my escape routes, sport.
Not alcohol, or any other form of drugs.
Sport, of course, is a great escape route too, similar to intergalectic hitchhiking in may ways, and helped me preserve my sanity for many years.
Each of these things are wonderful in their own way, and in moderation and in good company and if uplifting and positive. But they are not the answer to life and if consumed to excess than represent a waste of a life rather than a life well lived.
The answer to life, the universe and everything, including happiness is ‘meditation’.
And i’m only beginning to understand it now.
Unless you are a pig of course, in which case the secret to happiness may be found in an answer to an Irish quiz show some forty years ago.
My meditation journey is still only starting, a bit like my journey to be a runner.
Try meditation my friends, and running of course, try running too.