The ephemeral nature of things

We arrived at what is intended to be a two-day break of relaxation and refreshing the soul and the mind. I was supposed to have been here alone, but I did not trust myself, I needed a support system…

Phillip J. Clayton
6 min readDec 31, 2022

I invited some close friends to come with me, but they were not able to. Another close friend was coming to visit Jamaica and asked if he could stay with me while on the island, I said absolutely — There is something interesting about pain, I was hurting, and he was hurting, emotionally… but there we were, two friends experiencing similar pain from two different positions. But pain is pain, and we both needed a moment to regroup, a moment away from it all, a moment to think — It was only months prior that I entered what felt like the end, complete abandonment. I had turned my phone off, all external communication was turned off, I felt betrayed by the entire world, and I told myself I could survive alone, “I can do this I said…” with a false sense of confidence. I was going to at the very least, lock myself away for six months, “they all abandoned you, never forget it” were the words written on my mirror, to remind me never to trust anyone again.

It was not long after, reality came knocking, I was hurt, my approach was not sustainable, of course, it could not be, it was impractical. I entered hell, or the underworld I suppose would be more accurate, because I walked through the gates, and I befriended Cerberus. I was going to remain angry and hateful; these were not unfamiliar to me; I know this place. Reality would set in, and for the first time in my life, I felt lonely, years of boldness and being alone had suddenly found me primitive and fragile, I had experienced something new that was ripped away from me. The world was dark and barren now, there is no one here… It feels like I have nothing left to lose, lost somewhere between Whiskey and death. Whiskey is my dog…

Whiskey having a moment. Who by the way, fell into the pool having not seen one before… Yes, he walked as if it was not there and fell right in. Thank goodness dogs know how to swim!

I started playing music on Spotify, I hear a song, and it speaks to me…”One day I’m going to say goodbye because I know I’m already gone.” I have not turned the music off since that day, the silence gets too loud, and the music is on 24 hours a day. I felt as though I was finished living, but I suppose I survived, sleep brings relief.

What can feel like razors dragging across the skin is ephemeral because a new moment drives out the old. A new experience replaces the current, this was something I have come to understand through what I call my thirty-nine years of winter. At thirty-nine years old, you’re either too young to really offer any wisdom, or too old to participate in ignorance, forty is on its way and you’re assessing yourself, and life.

We arrived at night, we got out of the car, and looked around, took in the sea air, we both smiled as we unpacked the car. For a moment, we embraced what was to come, what we anticipated the weekend to be. We had arrived at my uncle’s villa on the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica. I needed this, and by the looks of it, so did my friend, we lived in the capital, Kingston, and it was hot, busy, noisy, and smelt sometimes… it was all business and evening drinks, the alcoholic kind. With not much to do, and being everywhere, nightlife was mundane and routine, and expectations of an interesting day were minimal. Or, perhaps, it’s all fine and we had simply become too familiar with it all, change was beckoning to us, it’s time.

We chose the rooms we wanted, dropped our bags, and sat by the pool for the rest of the night, eventually making our way to bed as if we did not want to lose the moment, but the body does what the body does, and sleep was calling…

The next morning was absolutely beautiful, that bright blue sky, palm trees blowing in the wind, brilliant sun, the pool practically said, “get in here!” and I did, I got in the pool and embraced everything. My friend enjoyed the patio, looking out at everything, if there was a picture to be taken, this was it, it would tell a story of thought.

We eventually drove out and explored the area, we were on the hunt for food, but nothing in the city was appealing, one place, in particular, felt more like an abuse on the pockets and lacked the happy ending margaritas are infamous for. We eventually found a hidden gem by the sea, a beach shack of sorts, with great food, scenery, and a quirky owner who was an absolute delight, he worked in the movie industry many years ago, returned to Jamaica, and built his dream. He had a prolific collection of interesting things and an autographed photograph of Chevy Chase.

My friend and I sat by the beach, enjoying everything, we had our beers, ordered our food, and spent the rest of the day sitting by the beach, and I mean the rest of the day… We did not move, we left at night. We had spent hours just sitting and making friends with the resident cat.

But, all things come to an end, Monday arrived, and it was time to go, and with great rebellion, we gallantly fought against the thought of leaving, two grown men behaving like children, the words “I don’t want to leave, it’s not going to be the same…” were said all the way back into Kingston, like children driving back to bordering school. But all things come to an end…

A running theme for my entire 2022 experience was this, all things come to an end. How things end is a variable, but they do end, and they don’t always end with the most charm. I can’t actually think of anything that ends with charm, you never want the song to be over, you don’t want the movie to end. And living to old age with someone you love, does not mean you will both die at the same time holding hands looking at the sunset, friendships that end hurt, an intimate relationship ending hurts.

I suppose there is a victory to be found when work ends, everyone most likely likes that…

However, perspective, and mindset matter, and this depends on how we perceive things, an ending is not the end of everything, certainly, most likely, it is not the end of your life.

Life is like a cigarette…

No, I am not advocating for smoking. The cigarette is an interesting metaphor for life. It — life — got lit the moment you were born and has been constantly burning, what you do before it burns out makes all the difference. When a cigarette is lit however long it takes to smoke it, it’s all you have, you have no more.

They, whoever they are… treat you how you allow them to. Spend your time with quality people, people who accommodate your presence, your voice, and your time as much as you would theirs. Don’t burn yourself out trying to make people accommodate you.

Some of my friends have seen me at my worst, both in the past and in 2022. I have experienced great dynamics in kindness and the opposite. In many ways, I am the richest man in the world, and in many other ways, the loneliest, the poorest, or at least that’s what it felt like for a while. I always arrive at endurance, we must endure, it is our only true key to survival in both professional and personal life.

Life is ephemeral, a new moment drives out the old, and a new experience replaces the current. We are in a constant experience of change, we must learn acceptance, observation, and how to get back up when we fall.

Two things that got my attention some time ago:

  1. “People who are uncomfortable with their own emotions will be uncomfortable with yours too. That’s why they shut you down, change the subject, or tell you to be positive.” — Nidhi Tewari, LCSW, Keynote Speaker | Mental Health Strategist | Mental Health Expert
  2. There is love in friendship. Friendship is greater than life. The one who wins the heart of a friend, has won the world. — Vyasa
My feline friend at Memorabilia (Bar and Restaurant), WHiskey must never know of this day — Iron Shore in Montego Bay Jamaica.

My champagne calls… Have a fantastic eve, and a phenomenal 2023 — “May joy, prosperity, and good fortunate plague you in the new year.” — A WhatsApp message I received from a friend, and I wish the same for you.

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Phillip J. Clayton

Brand consultant | Strategic advisor | International brand & marketing design judge: pac-awards.com | Writer | Creative director