The trip to visit Char has turned into an expedition as more and more locals want to come along. We are going to cram ourselves into an old microbus with a leaky sump (can that be right?) and there will be hampers layered with chicken, ham and leek pie, smoked salmon croquettes, antipasti with artichokes and hard-boiled duck eggs, salamis, cheeses, the hamper to be topped with a large alcohol-free tiramisu. I hope the microbus makes it over the mountain passes. Char is thrilled and may buy a larger house just to make sure we can all stay the night.
More dazzling winter sunshine with the autumn leaves of the liquid ambar tree flame-coloured against blue skies. Two large squirrels have climbed into the avocado tree and are teasing the dogs, who are racing around and around yipping wildly.
Deciphering more of the forked labyrinth of Jorge Luis Borges, a long-time inspiration:
“Through the years, a man peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses, and people. Shortly before his death, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face.”
How blogland shrinks, like a small island in the changeable ocean of the Internet! All the same, I hope Mary Christine has a restful sabbatical.
Very pleased to see — at last! — that Marlene van Niekerk’s brilliant novel Agaat has been reviewed ion the New York Times. Not an easy read but unforgettable:
Books like “Agaat,” the second novel by the South African writer Marlene van Niekerk, set in the last five decades of the departed century, are the reason people read novels, and the reason authors write them. It’s a monument to what the narrator calls “the compulsion to tell,” expressing truths that are too heartfelt, revelatory and damaging for proud people to speak aloud — or even to admit to themselves in private.
From an email I wrote this week to a friend tempted to drink:
How could you help yourself to hold steady when you get into an emotional state that makes you feel justified in drinking? You do have a great deal to cope with and it sounds distressing and frustrating but what would help you stay in balance?
All of us can phone others or email them or go to meetings and be with others, can pray in desperation or turn to anonline forum for advice, bring others into the crisis, reach for a Higher Power: but I found that I also needed to be able to find a way to be with myself in tolerating levels of frustration and anxiety or anger. I have found that sitting practice with breathing exercises helps me to sit out the moods and intensity of the urge to drink. Over time I have learned to exercise more patience with passing moods and to bring a degree of curiosity to the process — asking myself ‘How can I think more clearly here?’ ‘How can I stay centred and calm down?’ ‘What is blocking me from staying in one place and just observing what is going on?”
Getting to know oneself becomes unavoidable in sobriety. Sobriety is hard work, even with grace streaming into our lives, that unaccountable change within, the reality of belonging to a new community of others in recovery. Sobriety is not only a gift but a challenge; but only really difficult when we forget what went before.