The meaning of life and associated questions...

Hello everyone,
Interesting title don’t you think?  As I have ample time on my hands, I often have time to ponder questions of such gravity and magnitude.  Most of the time though, the associated questions are enough to occupy me; questions such as, is it true that no matter what height you drop a cat from, it will survive?!

Occasionally however, I have a conversation which starts with innocent enough beginnings but culminates in my consideration of far loftier topics.  A particular friend of mine has a unique talent for challenging thoughts which for years have been cast in stone.  I was so challenged earlier this evening.  Prior to the conversation, I felt fatigued, cold and with the onset of what could have been a sore throat. During the conversation I felt misunderstood, upset, frustrated and on occasion angry.

Now I am feeling invigorated, satisfied, completely understood and not a hint of a sore throat. The content of our conversation is not for public consumption, as it is not pertinent to the thought I wish to leave you with. I merely want to convey that asking and being asked questions of a probing and personal nature, particularly ones which are emotionally difficult to pose or answer, are necessary in order to live a full and honest life. I sincerely hope that all of you have such a person that can help you in the search for the meaning of your life. The gems of revelation are often quite surprising.

If you want to ask me anything now is the time.
Much love,
Neil x

P.S Answers to the cat question on a postcard!


Neil had started to ask for private conversations with family and friends, he wanted to have a final one-to-one. His diagnosis affected all of those who loved him in different ways. Some people would come to the house and cry with him, some people would laugh with him and cry their tears at home. Some people had difficulty in understanding the reality that was unfolding and looked to me for hope. I couldn’t give it to them. Others just got it, accepted it, and tried to help Neil on his way to accepting it, but sadly this never happened. Neil would never accept leaving us.

There started to be a lot of talk of ‘acceptance’ in the house, from friends, from family and from health professionals. Had Neil found acceptance yet? The next word that kept appearing was ‘permission’. Had I given him my permission to go? Had I told him that I didn’t want him suffering for me and let him know that he was free to go?

Again, if it were just Neil and myself in a bubble with Oscar, then maybe these things would not have occurred to me, maybe the fact that we understood each other would have been enough, and these questions would never have been necessary. It felt a little like someone else had set the morning alarm clock and it would have been nicer to sleep in a little longer and wake up naturally.

Each and every conversation in the house at this time had it’s place; with tears or laughter, questions or a wild stab at answers. There are lots of ways to let someone know you love them, Neil recognised them all no matter what form they took. – Louise (2013)

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@breathingfilm tweeted this page. 2013-06-12 21:01:00 +0100
Today's #Plattitude revisited: Neil starts to have final one-to-one conversations with family and friends. #MND #ALS
commented 2013-06-12 21:00:30 +0100
Original comments:

February 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm
Hi Neil,
I find the answer to both meaning of life and the cat problem a very easy subject for an insomniac like myself.
An strangely enough the answer is the same in both cases. (for me anyway)
That is to say,
its not from how high the cat is dropped from,
( or how, when and were we are born in to the world)
nor is it the inevitable suddenness of the stop! (for us or the cat that’s important)

The answer to both questions is,

What’s important is what we
have children,
live, while we and the cat are waiting for the inevitable etc,
Its the journey in-between start and finish,
that’s what’s important.
Not the race itself.

Though, sometimes its better to not know the answer, for it’s the question that drives us onwards.
Hope I haven’t spoiled the plot for any one.

My love and best wishes to you all as always.

February 16, 2009 at 12:42 am
2 things:
Firstly, the cat question- yes it’s true although you really have to drop the cat from somewhere above 4 storeys as this gives it a chance to turn itself around if it needs to.
Secondly, apart from raising awareness for MND I think that your blogs are posing some of the questions (for me at least) that you’re talking about. Keep it up

Oh, it also matters what surface you drop the cat onto- onto concrete would be ok; into a volcano would not.

Tootle pip

Sandy & Alison

February 16, 2009 at 9:44 am
morning gorgious:)

Just a quick hello afore I pull into charing x- have a lovely week, thinking of you x

Oh and 42 :p

February 16, 2009 at 9:46 am
Cats do better falling from a height of 7 stories or more. Any less and their ability to right themselves isn’t able to kick in on time. Thank you QI and Steven Fry.

I know far too much nonsense.



February 16, 2009 at 10:44 am
I’ve never thought of that but how true – I realise that I do have such a friend who I don’t see often enough these days and I should do something about that… Thank you for this Neil.

(I’m not sure about the cat question but it might be true – and it will always manage to regain composure immediately and look as if it knew that was going to happen all along)


Amanda Stevenson
February 16, 2009 at 12:41 pm
Hi you guys, it seems a while since we’ve seen you but we think about you always.

I hope you received the invitation to Ruby’s christening, if you cant make it you’ll still be there in our thoughts.

Im currently doing a fundrais for MND i’ve raised about £50 so far, im doing a sponcered slim so i need all the support to reach my goal. come on!!!!

love to you all

Amanda, Mark and Ruby

February 16, 2009 at 8:20 pm
I did wonder what happened to your cat…


February 17, 2009 at 12:46 am
Tears and pain, from a different perspective. but has an important messege.

hope you post it.
love Neil.
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