ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

that, while you know death is The Only Ab­so­lute Cer­tainty, you must live as if it will never hap­pen, i.e. ig­nore those smug, ir­ri­tat­ing ‘Dear 30-year-old me’ pri­vate-pen­sion ads on the ra­dio, be­cause, ditto, you can deny you’ll ever need a pri­vate pen­sion. In fact, you have to deny it, be­cause there isn’t, frankly, a spare cent to go in that di­rec­tion — so bug­ger off, smug ads.

As you ad­vance through the years, though the im­pend­ing OAP poverty is a bum­mer, the ret­ro­spec­tive per­spec­tive is fas­ci­nat­ing: you might find your­self go­ing, ‘Boo hoo, I see I could have made so much more of my vi­tal younger

We’re all go­ing to die. But so what? While death is life’s

only cer­tainty, you must live as if it will never hap­pen

years. Truly, youth was wasted on the young me.’ OR, you may de­cide to put a smile on it and think, ‘Thank God for all that ex­pe­ri­ence, good or bad, and please give me the wis­dom to learn from it, and live those lessons in what­ever years You deem I have left.’

See, I put God in there? The idea of Him, Her, Them or It — what­ever God is to us earth­lings — can help en­gen­der some mean­ing in life, some find. I in­voke Him be­cause it’s part of the cul­ture I was raised in, the idea of God hav­ing been of great (if delu­sional?) sig­nif­i­cance to our an­ces­tors. But I, in tan­dem with many in these times, don’t be­lieve in a beardy man in the clouds keep­ing a judge­men­tal eye on all of His cre­ation. Per­son­ally I couldn’t care less if there’s an after­life; I want to em­body a deeper per­sonal moral­ity than one which re­quires the threat of eter­nal damna­tion.

So I, like many now, whilst ap­pre­ci­at­ing the hu­man need for some sense of the spir­i­tual, have no pat cat­e­chism to an­swer life’s big ques­tions: Why am I here? What is the point of it all? What’s the right way to live? Are carbs evil and why am I pay­ing a for­tune for ca­ble TV, when I come in late at night from a gig, flick through 142 chan­nels, and the only thing I find vaguely in­ter­est­ing is a re­run of BBC Ques­tion Time?

And they’re talk­ing about im­mi­gra­tion con­trols and I’m think­ing, ‘Thank Christ I do com­edy for a liv­ing and just have to be pro­fes­sion­ally con­cerned about laugh­ter — and not about de­lin­eat­ing the le­gal rights of the des­per­ately poor, in this des­per­ately di­vided global vil­lage of which we’re all cit­i­zens.

In con­clu­sion, here are some big an­swers that I (a clown!) have stum­bled upon:

Do unto oth­ers as you would have done unto to your­self: all re­li­gious teach­ing can be sim­mered down to that sin­gle in­struc­tion that is found, one way or another, across faiths. Try to live and act in love, not fear. You don’t need ca­ble. In gen­eral, an egg is bet­ter than dirty toast. Smile, laugh, give, and take it all with a pinch of salt, be­cause re­mem­ber, es­pe­cially in your dark­est hour: the long­est length of time you could pos­si­bly ex­ist is but a frac­tion of a grain of sand in the sandy beach of all eter­nity.

If that doesn’t work, you could try sero­tonin­nore­pinephrine re­up­take in­hibitors.

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