Meditation by comparison

Paper towel rolls. The moment I open up the plastic foil that keeps the two or three rolls together, I feel happy. As if I was allowed to witness a beginning. A deflowering of sorts. I am granted the favour of being the one to decide when to tear the package open, when to set the twin rolls apart. I am like an all-powerful being who decides the fate and the life length of the paper towel rolls.

When the first sheet comes off, I feel happy. I peel off gently until the adhesive is conquerend and I avoid wasting even the very first one. There is happiness when the roll is allowed freedom – the illusion of freedom and the reality of the loosening of the pressed paper. I am always glad at this time and it feels like a small inner party begins, with fireworks and cheers.

After the first few towels are used up, I realise my exhuberance diminishes and my fits of jubilation get shorter and shorter.

With every single sheet I pull off the roll, I feel sadder and sadder. Reaching the cardboard core is not the joy I am looking forward to. It is the climax I shun. Yet, I am always aware it is coming. However, when my fingers hold the last piece of the roll there is a huge jumble of sensations. The one that comes initially is despondency. I am partly angry, partly dejected that the fun has come to an end. It’s a parting I’m never quite ready to make, a good-bye I’m never ready to utter. On the other hand, I also feel enthusiastic since the end of one roll coincides (usually, but not always) with the beginning of a brand new roll. The prospect of a reiterated joyful experience glimmers in a muted light and my senses are tingled into unexpected and unlikely cheerfulness.

Strange enough, what I feel about paper towel rolls relates to what I feel for the people around me. I am happy for every moment, day, year and decade we get to share, for every joined happening. I count the years that pass by and I fear the inevitable. I appreciate more and more the persons who are close to me and when I love them most I am more afraid than ever for what might wait in check just around the corner. The older my family members are, the more I love them, the more careful do I handle them. When I witness their finaly moments (as I have been seeming to do so far) I see them light and fragile and I feel vile and menacing. There is joy in the fact that I believe they have ridden themselves of their earthly burdens and I hope they get to relish an unknown well-worth life. And at the back of my mind there is always an afterthought than when one passes away, another is born and thus the balance is never tipped over. When one mourns, another cries for mirth.

The blank paper towel rolls of our lives unfold and we press them into new shapes, we crease them into confused bundles of uncertain value. Some of us are not allowed to reach the cardboard core and a number of sheets are left fluttering in the wind. Some of us are superficial and we tear off too many sheets at a time and we hurry ourselves towards the end. Some of us just stain the surface and leave the paper behind. Some of us, though, manage to make crafty origami of our feeble existence sheets and then beauty is avaiable to others as well. Some of us manage to improve the life of the twin rolls and we are therefore worthier.

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