Pouring with rain when I awoke this morning. No chance of a walk, felt disappointed, standing with the equally disappointed dog looking out at the rain splashing down in the back garden, the grey shadow over the mountains.
Sat with coffee reading and rereading translations of Bolano and Cortezar, thinking about the failed revolutions of Latin America and the nightmare of tyranny in Zimbabwe, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the successes and disenchantments that came afterwards, the forgotten ones who lost their lives fleeing from violence or resisting violence. Virginia Woolf once wrote in her great puzzling beautiful and insightful diaries that she wished she could find another word for her fictions rather than novels and oddly suggested something close to ‘necropoli’, citie of the dead.
Bolano himself writes: “I dreamed I was an old and sick detective who searched for people who had been lost for a long while. Sometimes I looked casually in the mirror and recognized Roberto Bolaño.”
Even in sadness the inner spaciousness grows. Compassion like a wide oasis, the well filling up. Able to hold losses for pehaps the first time, to acknowledge the grief and waste and separations. And to go on. Solitude so crucial, the time alone a private retreat.
As I have baked a Cantonese fish, scattering chopped spring onion like a benison, made soups and sat with mugs of hot coffee and a notebook, this spaciousness and quiet mind has been there. My dog with his head on my foot, snoring. He is not in pain but he is dying. A small triumph to know the ship bearing arms for Zimbabwe has been turned away from the port of Durban so there will be fewer rifles and teargas and weapons for Mugabe’s soldiers to use against those who oppose him. Outside I see Oom Hennie at 86 wandering up and down the road with his stick, a cape covering his shoulders against the rain, blind to the bright autumnal reds of the pin oaks and indifferent to the steady cold downpour. His wife Magritte died last week after a helf-century of marriage and he is lost in a dark meaningless world. He tells everyone that he is waiting patiently now to go.
Spaciousness within. The heart uncramping itself and trembling with new feelings, the tentative pangs of growth and necessary pain. Daring to dream again.
From the Australian aboriginal writer Alex Wright, who wrote Carpentaria:
“When you have a secure space, you are able to ask yourself questions about what might make it better. At the moment we haven’t got the space to dream a future for ourselves, or to imagine how we might want to be. A lot of our people are working so hard at the level of survival that we’re not dreaming, not imagining, to the point of feeling that it’s not even worthwhile to dream because we can’t make our dreams come true. My role as a novelist is to explore ideas and imagination, and hopefully that will inspire people from my world to continue dreaming and to believe in dreams”