Which title is a quote taken completely out of context from alcoholic poet Elizabeth Bishop but describes my state of mind very aptly. The bronchitis is worse, I am cheerful and longing to get up and make korma curry or repot a small spiky aloe or play with puppies. I’d like to get up and dance around the house or practise t’ai chi. So nice to have recovered my temper.
The horrible thing about being sick is that it makes me feel vulnerable. The good thing about that vulnerability is that I can look at it and just stay with the feelings, let myself become more open-hearted.
I learned something very valuable when I fell in love (aged 14) with a red-headed guitar-playing boy named Rusty. He was so in love with me that he failed all his year-end exams and his parents sent him away to boarding school on the other side of the country.We planned to run away together. But then he broke up with me because I laughed at him in a football jersey that was too big for him. Silly me, I didn’t yet realise men are invariably vainer than women. So off he went and I was left brokenhearted.
After a few weeks of feeling abandoned and hurt and rejected and missing him, I discovered something else was going on. My emotions seemed to have deepened. I wrote a poem about irresponsible laughter and hidden cruelty that won a prize. I was beginning to grow up, the smart-alecky schoolgirl was finding that a broken heart opens us to the possibility of compassion. Hurting is what keeps us human.
So I sit up in bed with a dog-chewed spiral note book and let the vulnerabilities stream through me. The fears of failure, of insecurity, of dying, of losing those I love — as they come up I note them and let them go. The feelings that make the heart swell and ache are growth, growing pains.
I’d rather be chopping fresh fenugreek leaves and tossing a rubber ball for my dancing pups but I am staying in bed and resting, letting the body heal and the heart open to the world. Pass over the soggy tissues…