The full magnitude of my stupidity over previous weeks, in that I had failed to realise the consequences of placing long-hour employment above personal health – and family too, it must be stressed, – lay with the countless hours I was in and out of sleep – coupled with many, almost nonsensical reveries which I dreamed up in my mind during this never-ending spell of slumber.

There were two specific phantasm’s that I shall remember for the remainder of my life – the first being frighteningly real and nightmarish beyond compare, I actually dreamed that I was at the Pearly Gates in the company of the goodly St Peter – he asked me to look back down to Earth, at which point I saw an open coffin…with me in it!

My kin, together with numerous family friends, were dejectedly gathered round the casket and looking about as bad as I felt at that time. St Peter then asked of me what things I would like to hear my wife and offspring say about me as they tearfully gazed at my lifeless frame – I responded by saying to him, “Oh look, he’s moving!”

My adult daughter thought this was a enormously humorous account of my brief visit ‘upstairs’ – I didn’t – and still don’t, I mused on this heavenly encounter for many days after the event, in fact, I still do – too realistic by far!

On the second occasion, I actually visualised the dark, heavily hooded figure of the Grim Reaper positioned at the foot of my bed, indicating that one’s demise was tragically close – soon, I was to be lifted into the hereafter – with no chance of saying goodbye…to anyone!.

He then disappeared from view, but I ascertained that he was around somewhere, loitering in the hospital corridors possibly, just waiting for me to finally expire in order that he may complete his gruesome task. I eventually mustered-up the energy to forcefully whisper to this invisible messenger of death, to take a hike; I simply was not ready to share his company…anywhere!

My somewhat Anglo Saxon language in his general direction apparently had the desired effect as I didn’t register his unwelcome presence ever again – and then I started to gradually improve – As a footnote to this bizarre experience, one young nurse did come up to me when I surfaced from the depths of comatose hallucination – indicating that whilst I was in a deep sleep the previous afternoon, she approached my bed to make an appraisal of my condition – and was met with a tirade of bad language coming from my mouth – bad timing I guess, her arrival unquestionably coinciding with my altercation with one cloaked invader – but chuckle she did – happily.

Now thankfully on the mend and en route to full fitness, I am heading in the right direction to regain my long-lost feelgood factor – one’s rehabilitation process represents a marathon as opposed to a simple sprint – however, given where both my mind and body have been placed over recent weeks, I’m more than content to abide by the rules laid down my new advisors, those white-coated masters of medicine who undeniably have worried more about me than I [previously] worried about myself – I have too agreed to act my age and rid myself of foolish notions that I am still 21.

As I lay in my [considered] near apoplectic position on that firm hospital bed, I came to see life in a completely different light. My in-depth, if not enforced analysis of human kind, graphically illustrated that the modern-day feelgood notion is in actual fact a confidence trick. Feeling good about oneself cannot possibly be the norm, not least because we are constantly reminded via saturation-level television advertising, a myriad of internet sites, Twitter and Facebook – that you cannot feel good unless you are young – and if you can’t actually be young, then it is necessary to look young and act young – wow, whatever happened to the notion of growing old gracefully?

We are too, endlessly informed that feeling good is associated with everything that’s superb about youth – good looks before the lines of age ultimately crease our skin, your hair falls out and the pot belly emerges, sexual freedom before you settle down and the libido declines – and should we buy-in to this point of view, we don’t have to be overly concerned about any of that nasty stuff happening to us – uninitiated and misinformed drivel at best, the same uninitiated and misinformed drivel that myself – and millions of other fifty/sixty-plusses worldwide, enthusiastically, if not inanely embrace.

Our 21st century culture frequently attempts to sweep under the carpet, the untidy and inconvenient truth that it will all end one day, with old age ceasing to be viewed as an inevitable part of life’s complex structure, but as something distasteful – not to be discussed and thus resisted at all costs – deluding the misguided that our inevitable death is the ultimate enemy of feelgood.

The modern interpretation of the feelgood culture makes each of us passive and erodes utterly, the sense of responsibility we should have for ourselves at this stage of life. Self-absorption in a quest for feeling good distracts us from identifying the many of the things we desire, or want to happen, or attempt to prevent. From my own regretful experience, this can be a truly corrosive exercise – cloaked in unnecessary anxiety, deep unhappiness and unavoidable illness.

Irrespective of one’s recent ‘discomfort’ through unforeseen infirmity, twinned with the distasteful strains of Wagner and the unconscious annotations of Germanic violence many years ago, courtesy of a more physically afflicted specimen than I, plus that of my brief hiatus from the real world with Messer’s Reaper and Peter, I would readily volunteer that the entire experience should be assessed as worthwhile, life-lengthening expediency, I am now enjoying a renaissance in my life, an overdue rebirth of general outlook in which a has evolved a fresh appreciation of family, faith and one’s inherent fortitude in resisting the inevitable at this all too early stage of existence.

A lesson has been learnt and my flag remains raised, and shall continue to flutter right through to the very last endeavor of my existence – many years hence, God willing.

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