Continuing on the theme of last week’s post, I thought I might share this beautifully simple take on the meaning of life by the Russian concert pianist Andrei Gavrilov. I came across it a couple of years ago on Paulo Coelho’s blog, and it served me well during my darkest periods of retroactive jealousy.

The trick is to balance setting intentions with non-attachment to the outcome. As I talk about in my book, we must commit to living an intentional life devoid of expectation if we are to overcome retroactive jealousy. Gavrilov sums up his experience of this way of living below:

I asked myself at an early age, why does everybody live as though they were on an enormous skating rink?
Why does an invisible force make everyone race around in a circle without looking back until the day they die?

People who have no wish to run with everyone else are viewed as losers. Those moving in the opposite direction are considered crazy, dangerously arrogant or dissidents.

I ran with everyone in the “only right” direction. I triumphed in various competitions, won gold medals, plates, discs, gramophones, silver spheres…
I had the courage necessary to put an end to the hideous race. I stopped. Then I set off along my own path.
My sense of reason, poisoned by fear, tried to push me back. I resisted and fought as hard as I could.

I smothered the eternal terror of the modern individual of being surplus to requirement.
For a long time I had no success.
After a decade of intensely difficult work and prayers at my instrument, musical revelations started to appear. Not illusory ones, but genuine.
More and more people started to discern in my music every intention of the composer I was performing.
My music stopped humming, jangling, crackling and giving off sparks. It started to talk unobtrusively about what was really important.
I ceased to be aware of time; it lost all meaning for me. The so-called “meaning of life” opened up before me.

It turned out to be infinitely simple – give love and seek no reward.
Reciprocal love is your reward and the meaning of life in its entirety.


Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, The Sun, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.