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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Voices: With the world the way it is right now, we need to stop saving things for tomorrow and seize the day.

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Excitement overtook West Ham’s Ukrainian striker Andriy Yarmolenko and me (Getty)

I bought a new pair of sunglasses last May, they are in their little bag on my nightstand and I have never worn them. It’s not even like they’re expensive.

Every time it’s sunny here in Manchester, let’s be honest, it’s not very often, I pull out the old ones, bought on sale in a small American mall. You know the boy. The metal has gotten wet one too many times so there’s that weird green rust on the frames, the arms fall back on themselves and now there’s an extra curve around the nose piece so they’re not even symmetrical in my expensive.

I tell you all this in great detail because, for unknown reasons, I have decided that the new ones are for special occasions. You know how you have a pair of “better” jeans that you haven’t needed to wear for two years because we’ve all lived in joggers? Yes, like this. Only here’s the thing: I really don’t know what I’m waiting for.

I hit that magical age of 35, so maybe it’s kind of a mid-life crisis, just without the Aston Martin, because I can’t afford one. There are women he could have dated who are now engaged or happily married and pregnant or with young children. I am tossing and turning, trying to figure out what to do with my life and apparently hoping for some sort of divine intervention.

Over the past five years, I’ve thought about mortality, both my own and that of people I love, more than I probably should. I’m a good person? Could you do better? What will be my legacy? What will I do without my mom? Is marrying Jennifer Aniston just a pipe dream?

All those big existential questions have obviously been sped up a bit by a global pandemic and now a vicious war in Europe that I really can’t begin to fathom. More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine, described by the UN as the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II, and yet here I am, writing over my sunglasses. I understand the absurdity of that.

The scandalous insignificance of it all right now is not lost on me. In fact, more than ever, I realize that our time here is short. However, there is also the feeling that the most important things in life are being lost. we stress we work we worry. We sweat the little things. We overcomplicate. We seek instant gratification. We compare ourselves. We value the wrong things.

There is poverty, hunger, disease, death, social injustice and environmental annihilation. Life is brutal and horrible. It is magical and beautiful. It’s that stark contrast and dichotomy all the time, and everything right now feels like it couldn’t be happening. Soon we will all wake up and realize that this was all some kind of dystopian nightmare of epic and biblical proportions.

It turns out that politicians can be trusted; corruption is not deep in all the cracks of society; money is not dirty; Kindness, peace and humanity are valued above money and power. I know I know Just like the Jennifer Aniston part, I’m delusional.

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I am also more emotional than ever. Yeah, even more so than my college emo days. I was listening to West Ham on the radio last weekend when Andriy Yarmolenko, the Ukraine international, came off the bench to score a pearl to put the Hammers 1-0 up against Aston Villa.

I had a small moment of celebration, a mini punch and then (not unlike him), I realized the meaning of that moment, that I was overcome with emotion and I cried appropriate tears. Horror and beauty – again.

Biffy Clyro once sang that “Living is trouble because everything dies.” Simon Neil sings, “I pray to God you’re right before my eyes/Bathed in white light, with halos in your eyes,” and I think those Scottish rockers were right.

There is a fine line between normality and tragedy. The distinction between black and white blurs and everything turns gray. What is this all about? Why do bad things happen and how can people continue to be so deeply affected? They have to. Life doesn’t slow down; it just rattles without flinching. Impassive.

Life is Beautiful. It is overwhelming and uncertain. It is not insured. It’s here and then it’s not. So when I’m lucky enough to pack up my things at the end of the month and take my first vacation in over two and a half years, guess what’s the first thing I put in my bag? yes Those new sunglasses.


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