There is no way for me to measure how much time this day was coming, but it seems to have been destined to arrive to me since always. There are no means left to escape it, and I recognise that even if I had them, I would only be postponing what will never go away, and I accept the need to face it. There is nothing but my conscience and my self now left to live with. It is time to take account – this once and always. However as I start to take account I find it difficult to know where to begin, if not the fact of my forgetting what it was that I would like to come to terms with. For perhaps it is this very lack of memory that I need to take account of. Not the memory of my deeds – although those deeds may be remembered in the course of my account to cause me many hours of shame and wishful thinking – but the memory of the reason I was given this existence, my forgetting of which cause has been the cause of my regrettable behaviours.
I am of course referring to the Contract, which has given me my life. It would however be impossible to speak about the terms that have enabled me to live my life, because my life has come in consequence, and not because I chose them. Perhaps the only way those terms may ever be referred to by the consciousness that owes its own awareness to those terms is as a lapse to which may never be returned. My forgetting is in other words not only in relation to that past, but to the fact of my forgetting. And it is here that I can recognise my fault. For it is here, in wilful ignorance of what it means to be and to enjoy the many fruits of what may never be remembered, that my life has been in vain, and all wrongdoing. My enjoyment of those fruits, without my ever having stopped to take account in recognition of the fact that I was given them on loan, has led to exponential appetite for more than just my share, and this has led me to manipulate, spread lies, and even steal the lives of others. Even with the people I have loved, my forgetting of the Contract has prevented me from paying them attention, and conceiving what it was they had to say, instead of interrupting them with preconceived ideas that only helped me to protect what I had taken as my own, and thereby take the life from where it was emerging. It is no wonder my relationships have only ever failed. I think if I had only kept my will to be alive in my awareness of the Contract – of which nothing may be said with any justice, but by means of which what is would have been given in the light of its own being – I may well have both enjoyed the life of others and enabled them to live. But I have not, and I have no-one. I have nothing left to show for my self-interest. I cannot even trust what I am saying, after all these selfish years, because I cannot help but think that there are motives at the back of my expressing this account that are related to the prospect of some good to be procured in my own interest. But perhaps it is acceptable to say this, and perhaps it is acceptable to have such motivations, if I find a way to hear them.
For perhaps this is the start of an interminable account, and all I have to do now is to listen. I can offer no fixed promise for the future, but perhaps what I have said may be perceived to hold a promise to believe in. I would like to think it does. As I would like to think I will be able to adhere to the conditions of the Contract, and to live my life from this day forward solely paying off my debts and taking care.
Christopher Clifton’s treatise Of the Contract is published by Punctum Books