Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sun, son, bangs & whimpers

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
-- TS Eliot, The Hollow Men

I don't know much about bangs or whimpers or how things end. I suppose these things aren't apparent until you're in them, beating down their doors, if you know what I mean. All I know is it's a feeling. A feeling you can't get rid of. I've been accused of being led by emotion, of thinking too emotionally, of being unable to be objective, but I do find that objectivity in the midst of domestic disputes is, well, quite tricky. I can be objective when I roast a chicken or when I write a strategy but in this new life of mine -- the one that I ignore for most of the week while I'm at work and which returns to bite me in the arse at the weekends -- I'm buggered.

Remember these things, my sage friend says, remember what is said and write it down and when you are having a weak moment, when you feel that you should jump back in, just read those things, read the horribleness, remember the horribleness you can be. You're better than this, she says, you're a nice person. I'm not so sure today. The sun was out, sure, and we sat in the driveway in the sun, the dogs and I, watching my son trying to start the dirt bike, blinking into the light, because the trees are too tall for the winter sun in the garden and so the warmth is mottled and patchy on the deck and there's not enough for sunning. So in shorts, we sat in the sun, me, not the dogs, and tried to drink in some light and some faith and some renewal. "Come not to me for solace, but strength and renewal" said Barry in the Eucharist this morning, the first day of Advent. And so I prayed for strength and renewal, but I'm not sure it worked. Between God, and spotted dogs, and my children (whom I'm no longer allowed to call children)  and the sun's vitamin D and Thanksgiving leftovers, I tried a lot of things but I came back to one thought: at the weekends I'm a bit weak and frail.  So I try to remember these things and remember that I'm better than this and remember that I am Good. Or that I try to Be Good. I think of Thelwell and treating others as you would wish to be treated with ice cream cones and ponies. But others need Other Things that maybe You can't provide. It's confusing.

So there's sun, full-on sun, and there's the son -- buff and tall and now running every day. And there are the spotteds, forming a triumverate of pied strength around me. And someone calls me lambent.  But then there's the wall -- the one that Can't Be Climbed -- and it defeats me every time, but still I try to climb it.  And the eucalyptus leaves are blowing and the sun bursts through and for a moment everything is okay, the whole of the world is blowing through those trees. And then, there is the reality and the pain.

Not very keen on the pain. It's an English thing, I know, not to be very comfortable with pain. Pain is decidedly un-English and certainly doesn't fit into the "Keep Calm and Carry On" way of doing things. English people drink gin and tonic and whack each other on the back and laugh and say "bugger him if he can't take a joke" and American people, especially here, are earnest and sweet and kind, and worry -- oh my gosh how they worry -- if things aren't going well. I'm grateful for that. The slapping on the back thing is, well, difficult for me. I'm not good at hiding my emotions (see the first paragraph).

And then someone said to me "it's not easy to be a warrior for optimism but that's you" and I thought about that for a bit and I felt sunny.

So here I am, being a warrior for optimism, and yet feeling mightily unsure of myself, wobbly on my legs, not sure what comes next or where I go from here.  I'm a sucker for love.  Ridiculous, really.  I'd jump into an isolation tank at the slightest provocation and quote Timothy Leary to anyone who'd listen. And Huxley. And even Eames. Yes, we're all connected, and when we become disconnected, that's when the trouble starts.

Today I'm grateful for sun, the son, the spotteds, Barry the pastor and his earing, Sandy who eats hard-boiled eggs and bread with me on Sunday mornings, to Minky, to Luc with her advice, to the shooting stars, the big bed we all fell asleep in yesterday while watching The Help (me, son, daughter, 3 dogs snoring), the leftovers in the fridge, the job I love, and to Cameron Crowe, whose film "We Bought A Zoo" makes me believe in the non-cynical loveliness of the world again.


Tania Kindersley said...

You know what I've really missed is your writing. You've put up so much from other people lately, but you are so good at words and it is sheer pleasure to have your sentences back. The bugger them if they can't take a joke thing made me shriek, because this is ALWAYS what I am saying, although it's usually fuck 'em rather than bugger. Also the thing of being no good with pain. One friend actually said, after my father died: 'I don't do death'. Oh, the dear British. But then, I do love stoicism as I grow older.

I send you all love in your weekend fragility. Tiny, tiny steps, is all I can advise, if advice is even needed. More important: I know so much of what you describe. I love the optimism too, even though it's an uphill battle. Keep battling on. xx

sianey said...

sending you all the love.
being welsh we don't do keeping it all in - so i'm with you all the way chicken.

Clara Walmsley said...

What a wonderful post. I salute your optimism !