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What’s the meaning, what’s the meaning of life?

3 Simple Steps to Get You Through Your Day while you're Waiting for Enlightenment

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Nick Cave fans wait eagerly for enlightenment
Nick Cave fans wait eagerly for enlightenment

On my way to my hometown of Aberystwyth in West Wales recently, I stopped for lunch with my old soccer boss. As we were schoolmates, our conversation was bound to be a touch nostalgic, and indeed we soon found ourselves reminiscing on songs from our school years – and how we now hear the lyrics differently from our current position of middle age (rather than midfield, in my case).

So the rather melodramatic words for Mike & the Mechanics’ Living Years for example, which concentrate on a conversation Mike – or possibly the Mechanics – wished to have had with a by-now-deceased father seem rather more relevant now that our parents are actually Old Aged Pensioners, rather than just the Keymasters to a possible Friday and/or Saturday night out.

Back then, The Meaning of Life was a serious of sketches by Monty Python that mysteriously took the form of a film, as well as a a refrain from urban music’s Soul II Soul that asks that very same question:

What’s the meaning of life?

There are plenty of good books – and probably quite a few not so good ones – that deal with The Big Questions, so rather than provide a bibliography, I thought it would be quite constructive to share some advice from a man who knows how to Get Through The Day: Nick Cave.

In the Cave

Now Nick wasn’t often on America’s Top Twenty or Saturday morning’s ‘Going Live’ during the late 80s, so wasn’t necessarily my go-to-guy for advice during my teens, or after that even. However, a spare ticket mix-up by my parents (perhaps they thought Eliza Day was a ballet?) meant that I got to sit with plenty of people who had doubtless always held the opinion that Mr Cave is the man who can see through the darkness of reality.

Nick Cave fans wait eagerly for enlightenment in Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru, Cardiff. pic: @dailingual

To be fair to Nick, whereas most of us are rather resigned to the prospect of burying – or burning* our parents one day, no-one expects to have to bury one of their children. Nick Cave and his wife have had that happen to them, so of all the people in the world who offer advice on The Meaning of Life…well in my view, having already had the worst of the worst happen to him, he has to be right up there in terms of knowing a thing or three about getting through the day. [ see below]

Questions, and Answers

In his one-man show featuring his music with piano accompaniment and some Q&A sessions, Nick declared that he wasn’t prone to depression – although perhaps a little to heroin during the time that he was lucky enough to go out with the very talented PJ Harvey (when he was still working through his critical life choices).

Here then was a truly great artist sharing his experiences and his wisdom with a Welsh crowd who for the most part just wanted his blessing and/or playlists. I was genuinely fascinated by his answer to the question regarding The Meaning of Life, which was not only good, but also applicable to most of us mere mortals, which makes it great:

Living Your Best Life Tips via Nick Cave

  1. Think good thoughts. (Nick Cave did mention Transcendental Meditation, but let’s break that down to thinking about the good stuff…and if that’s good enough for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, it’s probably good enough for me.)
  2. Seek out the good stuff. (On a daily basis. He may have taken this from – or indeed inspired – the Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh film at this point, but it’s all good stuff)
  3. Work on something you’re good at. (Turns out, he thinks of himself as a writer rather than a recording artist, or at least he’s most confident about the writing words part of it.)

If you manage to work towards those three simple goals then you’ll be getting the Important Stuff right, and all the rest can look after itself.

Speaking of the good stuff, I lost 2lbs this week…here’s to the weekend and its inevitable weight gain.

*= which is now euphemistically titled cremating, a tradition with Welsh roots which apparently attracted Robert Downey Jnr into trying a Welsh accent in his current half-term holiday film Dr Dolittle, as inspired by neo-druid William Price!

Nick Cave’s stage show was partly inspired by his Red Hand Files blog site where he answers questions, any questions.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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