At our annual meeting concerning year end accounts, Simon would allow me glimpses of his obvious frustration. It was as if a year's worth of numbers and columns and bottom lines had exhausted him of the ability to maintain a charade; that over the seasons of calculating profit and loss, all the while with bigger questions racing about his head, he'd decided to just come out with it.
Every year, without fail, he'd tip back on his cowhide executive chair. Tilting his head towards the ceiling, looking for answers in the light dancing on his closed eyelids, he'd question me on a recurring theme:
"Why do we experience things now but only remember the past? What is the present, and what is the process of metamorphosis that causes this shift from a stream of experience to memory of experience? What is experience and what is memory? Is time the absolute that governs all aspects of the physical and the intellectual?"
Then, leaning forward across the wide kauri desk, first blinking and then staring at me as if I had the answers, he'd sigh and slump his shoulders before apologising and returning to the figures on the spreadsheet in front of him.
I believe that he truly believed that I had the answers. He was fascinated that I was comfortable with the living I made as an existentialist literary voice suffering from an identity crisis. Fascinated yet perplexed. He struggled internally with the idea, and then expressed it every year on March 31. As if by stumping me with metaphysical conundrums I'd see the error of my woolly-headed ways, eventually committing to a career that involved fixed income and projected dividends. As if my tax return was a personal affront to his entire world view.
I saw the young me in him. Sadly, he was twice my age.