I was sitting in the hairdresser's reading The Week - (the magazine that summarizes all the news in 35 pages, and, so they claim, can be read in an hour) - and I came across this quotation. I don't know the circumstances in which Wilde said originally this, but one can readily imagine that he was referring to the fact that, though by nature a homosexual, he had married and had children, so giving himself an acceptable public image and social status.
I began to think about what the words might mean for me, and the kind of circumstances in which it would be appropriate to use them. I came up with five possibilities:
- We might find ourselves being prevented from living our 'real life' by circumstances, or others' expectations of us, or our own weaknesses.
- We might choose deliberately to lead a different life from that which we believe to be the right one, though I have not been able to think of an example as yet.
- Or, to mitigate the dullness of an unsatisfactory lifestyle, we might create a fantasy or ideal life which we try to believe is real.
- It might be that the opportunity does not present itself for us to fulfil our true and proper role, or what one might call God's, or nature's purpose for us.
- And we might find ourselves contemplating our lives, from our approaching end, and regretting things we have never done, and that know we could, or more importantly, should have done.
I can associate myself with several of these. Most particularly, the second last. I am inclined to believe that whatever the Creative Principle of the Universe may be, it will often present us with opportunities to take up a role which is right for us, and also serves those around us; it may be a short-term or a long-term role, but it is one in which we will be at our best and most effective, and we shall learn and grow as a result of playing it. I consider that I have been lucky in having had three such opportunities in my life, all of them occurring after I had turned 60, and the role I played is one I would loosely describe as "troubleshooter". But more of that another time .....