Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Warning – Spoiler Alerts Following
"I was lost because I had no place to go; none of us do."
In the opening line to A Decent Life the main character narrates his thoughts. I felt (and still feel) I ought to deliver short, sharp, punchy lines filled with meaning from the opening line. Whatever the minimum number of words were to bring this story to life, that’s what my aim was.
I believe we all feel lost some time, or at least everyone I have ever spoken to has related to this concept. I also believe it’s a natural part of our life. To contemplate ourselves, who we are (its own intense debate) and how we fit into this world is overwhelming.
For example, a God creating a world, or a world made by chance; that is one path to lost in a spiritual sense. What are we supposed to be doing with our time, our life and our gifts? This is another past to a philosophical lost.
The character references a life lesson delivered by the physical world learned in his childhood:
“Everything dies. Death didn’t start and death didn’t finish. Death lived forever.”
Again, this line is meant to be short, sharp and punchy especially as this lesson is repeated many times throughout his story. Time is a central theme to this book and of course, the themes of time and lost are naturally interlinked.
I believe there is a social expectation of people achieving things by a certain ‘time.’ Some examples may be getting married by a certain age, or once married having children immediately. I am sure there are many, many other examples such as workplace/career goals, academic achievements, even sports such as skateboarding being for ‘young’ people. Please add your ideas in the comment sections. I would love to weave through people’s thoughts.
My character looked internal, knowing his time is limited due to the force of death.
“I could have done more, been more, so why was I not more? Mediocrity is underwhelming—unfulfilled potential, wasted opportunity, fear—these things are the descent to evil.”
This philosophical idea is extremely complex and requires debate, analysis and contemplation. However, a basic take on his view is essentially whatever talent or skill you have, if you were not to pursue that skill and choose safe, lazy or mediocre, the world is not bettered by the doing of your own hands.
“My time limited, I owed the world my potential. I had ought to pursue the talents I possessed and create a world better for my existence. And to this pursuit I was failing ... but I did not know how to transform. I became lost.”
So here we come back to his ideas linking with the opening line. For this character, he can’t accept his perceived failure (failure has its own chapter which I will analyse in coming weeks) as he chose safe, to conform, he didn’t pursue his talents or better the world. Given his time was finite due to the power of death, he perceived his waste of time a failure.
This is extremely important to the story as this idea ferments and ultimately leads to the escalation of the stories end. For the opening chapter—his reflection—he sees himself as seeking:
“repressed comfort. I created a part of myself we all have—our hidden, guarded void of lost possibilities. Those hidden emotions, neglect, our stories of lies and deceit, those unpursued dreams, fear, what if ’s, sentences starting with I wish yet forever fearful to let others know our desires.”
This is taken from my own life, in fact my own dream of pursuing writing. Of course, many people warned me that I would fail, I won’t make it, so too I met people who said to me things like ‘I wish I had of ... insert lost dream here!’
I heard a speech by comedian Jim Carey where he explained his fathers lost opportunity to become a comedian and pursue a passion. Mr. Carey went on to say he watched his father fail at something he didn’t want to do and that idea sunk deep into my thoughts.
You can fail at something you don’t want to do. That is not cool; in fact, that is terrifying. Why don’t I try the thing I do want to do? So, I did and here we are.
I am loving everyone’s reviews and different takes on my first title. I will continue to break down and revisit key concepts in coming weeks. But for now, this is my take on the concept of lost.