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Danny's Advanced Level Reading Practice - Life

Average: 3.9 (8 votes)

They say that life is too short, and d’you know what?

They’re right.

Today finds me in one of my rare philosophical moods, so you’ll have to bear with me. Regular readers of these articles may by now be used to my rantings and ravings, grumbles and moans, and therefore may be a little disappointed to learn that that’s not going to happen this month. I apologise in advance, but hey… if you don’t like it, then pick up a pen and write your own article about just how much Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Harry Potter, cats in general, and the Twilight saga suck (and, wow, do they suck – but more about that some other time…)

As I said… life’s too short.

It seems to me that we spend most of our lives living one step ahead. The minute we start school, we’re encouraged to think of what we want to be when we’re grown-up, and then we spend one-third of our lives trying to get there. We leave school and get a job, and start concentrating on making that job a career by climbing the ladder one rung at a time until there are no rungs left to climb. Before you know it, another third of your life has gone by, and then we start dreaming of retirement. Somewhere in between we meet the love of our life, get married, settle down and have kids. Grandkids. Weddings. Birthdays. A funeral. And that, in a nutshell, is your life.

And in this mad race towards the finish line, we never seem to have the time to stop, look around, and enjoy the ‘right here, right now’.

The problem with chasing the future is that it doesn’t exist. By the time it gets here, it becomes the present, and a split second later, it’s the past and it’s over and done with. So, instead of trying to catch up with an elusive future that’s not going to hang around long enough for us to actually enjoy it, I guess the trick is to plan a future that makes the past worth having…

We all seem to be hell-bent on the concept of ‘one day’. ‘One day’ is that magic day when everything is perfect and everything we’ve ever dreamed comes true. One day I’ll have a great job and I’ll be making more money than I could ever spend. One day I’ll get round to doing what I really want to do, just as soon as I’ve finished what I really have to do. One day… one day… one day…

And while waiting for that ‘one perfect day’, billions of perfect seconds, minutes and hours pass by unnoticed.

So just stop. And look around. And enjoy where you are right here, right now.

‘Ah, but life isn’t that simple!’ I hear you cry. (Well, okay… I don’t actually hear you cry anything… I’m sitting in my office, typing this out with a black coffee for company on a mellow Sunday evening, and you’re half a planet away a week or two later, but you know what I mean…). “Life isn’t that simple!”


Life is simple. Not easy, but definitely simple. They’re not the same thing… ‘easy’ means that there are no problems, ‘simple’ means that there are problems, but you can deal with them. Life is simple…

… people are complicated. Just ask any child.

This morning I watched my three-year-old son studying his hands for a good ten minutes. I have no idea what was going through his mind, but he was totally absorbed. He walked the fingers of one hand up and down the palm of the other, and vice versa. He flipped them over, and held them out at arm’s length, and clapped them. He held his thumbs out and bumped them together a couple of times. Gradually, he became aware of me watching him, and looked up.

“Jake, what are you doing?”

“Can I have a pear juice please?” he asked.

So no deep, philosophical revelations there, I’m afraid. After giving him a cup of orange juice (we were out of pear, but he didn’t care – juice is juice), I studied my own hands for a few seconds, in an attempt to see whatever it was that was so fascinating.


I walked my fingers of one hand up and down the palm of the other, and vice versa, then flipped them over, held them out at arm’s length and clapped. I held my thumbs out and bumped them togeth…

“What on earth are you doing?” said my wife, who had walked into the room at some point while I was lost in my finger-reverie.

I blinked. The clock on the DVD player informed me that I’d been at it for a good ten minutes.

“How about a cup of coffee?” I said.

The problem with being all philosophical is that it comes across on paper like the ravings of a lunatic. I have no idea why I even typed out this slice of life, although it seemed like a good idea fifteen minutes ago. Maybe I should’ve stuck to ripping the Twilight saga to shreds

But I guess that what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it’s just nice to get lost in the moment. A perfect moment, where you don’t have to worry about chasing a future that doesn’t exist. A moment where you can just forget about birth, school, work and death, and remember that you’re a human being, not a human doing…


So… Twilight. What is going on with that guy’s eyebrows? And doesn’t Bella ever smile? Honestly…


1. bear with me - to be patient and wait while someone does something
2. in a nutshell -
using as few words as possible; concisely
3. to hang around -
to wait or spend time somewhere, usually for no particular reason
4. hell-bent -
very determined to do or achieve something
5. to rip to shreds
- to strongly criticise someone or something.

Link: Danny's Advanced Level Reading Practice - "Shopping"

Danny teaches English at EC Malta English language school