This may be dirty laundry.
In fact, I'm sure it is, but my intention is to start 2013 clean and squeaky and in an elevated state of consciousness, so I'm going to purge here, right here and now, after an incredibly uplifting yoga class, with the sun shining in, and the dogs surrounding me and the reflection of the water on the ceiling like something out of an Italian movie. Right here and now I'm going to say this:
I am not crazy.
I may be eccentric and quite eccentric at that but I am not crazy and I am not someone who hates and I am definitely not someone who can hurt anything. I am laughed at in my family for saving spiders from the sink and worms wriggling in the road, flailing after the rain. But my ex -- and you will remember him here as the love of my life, Jumbo, the Maharishi, my muse, all those things which now seem a little sad -- will not speak to me in person. Only on text or email. He spoke to me at Christmas. We agreed that we should be nice to each other and have a lovely Christmas, so I dutifully brought red cabbage and roasted brussels sprouts and mince pies to my sister in law's house (she's a doll, truly a doll) and six bottles of wine and presents. And there were present for me. We opened them in the morning, just the children and me, all kinds of presents -- handmade candlesticks and a beautiful bracelet with a gold cross and tiny crystal champagne glasses and letter press cards with animals on them. All kinds of beautiful things. I was taken aback. "Why is Pappa being so nice" I asked the children."It's so sweet." And my oldest said "He probably hasn't got anything better to do" and we laughed and laughed while eating eggy bread and bacon. And so we set off for Christmas lunch feeling as if all would be well. And it was well. It was lovely. There were jokes and hugs and sweetness and hilarity. And I looked at him and remembered why I'd loved him for so long, how brilliant was his smile, his soft demeanor not the mean, hard, shell I'd been up against for eighteen months. (Oh dear readers who have been with me for this journey, I know you know!) Somehow, on Christmas Day, everything bad was thrown aside, and it was just the family again, happy and silly. And so to find myself today on the precipice of a new year and the end of the Piscean age, and Aquarius hanging light and tender over us, doesn't it make sense to get rid of the old, the mean, the water-logged, the grumpy, and start the new year feeling light and full of possibility? Isn't that what we all want, to feel that this a new opportunity to change our lives, to be better people, to love more, to understand more, to learn more, to be happier? And so I am flummoxed to find that he will not agree to talk to me in person. He will not speak to me now that Christmas has come and gone and the thirty years between us is over. And that is why I say:
-- There is no charmed life.
This is the truth. There is nothing that isn't worked for, struggled for every single day.
This is the truth: You wake up every day and you choose happiness. It is a choice. It is what it is. In the dim twilight of waking when you're wondering whether it's worth going on, before the sun is up, or the first cup of tea is drunk, you have to make the decision to choose to be happy or to feel every moment of the melancholia with a humorous heart.
My friend whose husband died violently and tragically this summer greeted me on Christmas Eve when I stopped at her house with a present and I asked how she was with a "completely terrible" and a big smile. That's who I want to be. That woman who can embrace the miserableness with some wit.
Speaking of wit, New Year's Eve would have been a day that my father told his terrible jokes. I remember one about a parrot with a filthy mouth, one about "It's a long way to Tiperary," quite a few about vicars, and something about a man on a motorbike with his head facing the wrong direction. Each one we heard a thousand times and each one was equally awful. But the way my father told them, with that twinkle in his eye and the big grin on his face, as if willing each one to live in the world. You couldn't resist.
There is no charmed life.
There are things that look pretty and there are good friends and nice food and there are trees and there is sunlight and there are ways at looking at all of these things to make the world seem like (and in all truth, it IS) a beautiful place. But none of this exists unless you look for it. Unless you wake up every day and search for it, and replace the heartache and the not wanting to get out of bed, with the sheer brute force of your nature, your wanting-to-be-alive-ness. So I see beauty because I choose to. For all those who think I live in fantasy, I choose this, as opposed to something far more bleak, and I dot my days with things I love and people that love me back.
That is all we can do.
That is all we can.
That is all.
And good luck. We can do it together.
2013 is going to rock.
I know it.
Happy New Year.
PS. To the woman (and we both know who you are) who accused me of living in a fantasy through this blog, let me say this, to paraphrase "Life of Pi": which story do you prefer?
“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?' Mr. Okamoto: 'That's an interesting question?' Mr. Chiba: 'The story with animals.' Mr. Okamoto: 'Yes. The story with animals is the better story.' Pi Patel: 'Thank you. And so it goes with God.”
-- from Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-- from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
You only have to let the soft animal of your bodyAnd, for the end of the year, "Slip Away" by Clarence Carter:
love what it loves. -- from Wild Geese by Mary Oliver