When it comes to spirituality in the sense that I mean it, I could pick almost any song by Jacques Brel. That’s what I love about him: his songs are all about real people and their relationships. But the song that really sticks out to me is “Les Bourgeois” off the album of the same name. The singer tells the story of his friends and him mocking the older notaries, “The older they get, the stupider they become.” But in the last verse, the young men are now older — middle class, now notaries themselves, drinking in the bourgeois bar. And the new generation of young men mock them with the same refrain.
What’s interesting is that there is some wisdom gained — even if it is drowned by resentment. But the men are still who they always were. Jojo is still Voltaire in his mind; Pierre is still Casanova; and the narrator just as narcissistic as ever. There is a continuity of life — a cycle. But we only appreciate it as we look back. If we lived to be 500, we would look back wryly at the silliness of ourselves in our 90s. We never arrive at enlightenment. We seek it. Maybe we even move toward it. But enlightenment is as elusive as the universe itself.