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Recently, I’ve been re-watching the series, “Foyle’s War,” revolving around a police investigator during WWII, but it’s interesting, in life, how wars can rage all around us. Life can throw a myriad of bombs our way. Determining what to do with the fragments can be difficult, but they and that decision are major catalysts in our lives. It can alter our course, and, for many of us, said changes are not something that comes naturally. I’ve described myself as anachronistic – a description that’s pretty set in stone – and, as a result, my outlook, too, is pretty straightforward and simple. The kids call it “Victorian,” but beyond the Victorian era, I’m like anyone else. There are things I want to accomplish in life and places I want to go, both figuratively and literally, and those expectations serve as a progression toward the divine direction of life, an embracing of natural inclinations. Maybe to a fault, I have found myself striving to share those experiences, children and family ranking highly. Needless to say, much to the chagrin of those that call themselves “friend,” I do not always make decisions solely with myself in mind, but rather think as a collective whole, convincing myself that it sprung from a phenomenon called maturity. Those decisions, once they’re made, can be finite, and we live with the consequences, though I suspect it’s human nature to reflect on what might have been. I’ve found myself doing that a lot lately – my purpose, both good and bad decisions, and where exactly I should be, not wanting to fully embrace but haunted by the words of Aristotle: the saddest of all tragedies, the wasted life.
Aristotle’s is a theory that’s been explored throughout literature and entertainment, involving the dos and don’t, the shoulds and should nots in life, pleasures and regrets, as well as the timing that interweaves them all. In 1994, the film “Four Weddings and a Funeral ‘’ premiered to worldwide acclaim, catapulting its lead, Hugh Grant, to international stardom, exploring the way lives interchange. On its soundtrack, the song “Love is All Around ‘’ eclipsed even the film, remaining so identifiable from near constant radio play that, a decade later, it became something of a joke in the film, “Love Actually.” Like on celluloid, lives weave themselves together in fascinating ways. There is something very human about that. Whether love, as the film details, really is all around – or is, at times, fragmented – may be up for debate, but as an all-consuming emotion, upon which we base so many decisions, we often find that there is something earth-shattering when we, in human frailty, discover our value to others, which has served as a hard lesson the past few years; a sentiment that comes with an acknowledged war wound, though not requiring the assistance of Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, much to ITV’s chagrin.
To put others above yourself is an admirable form of altruism that’s largely lacking in our world. It’s a knowing and laudable self-sacrifice. The idea of love and the multitudes of interactions with others – be they platonic, romantic, or familiar – is really just a one-way street. It is by design. We offer ourselves and our sacrifices willingly and without any guarantee of return. There’s a haunting emptiness in that, even when we try to deny it; even as we guard against becoming Aristotle’s wasted life.