A day that feels like a limp dishcloth. Nothing working out as regards the writing, no links leaping out at me, no ideas, no enthusiasms. The aftermath of strife-torn weeks, that flatness and feeling of waking up from a nightmare and not knowing what to do with ordinary life now it’s here. Sometimes this is just how it is.
Reminded that when we have a major problem, we put all our energies into that, overcoming the difficulties, dealing with it, accepting what has to be accepted. Fine, it is over ( for now). What a relief! Then we need another problem. So I lay awake worrying about the over-grown garden and the escaping dog and financial anxieties and writer’s block. Are any of those significant enough to become my next Big Problem? If not, there are always relationships, the ups and downs, disappointments, annoyances. long-ago losses and griefs. Fears about ageing, failure, health, uncertainty. If we really need a problem, almost anything will serve. How much do we need that problem here and now?
And in the meantime life rolls on like a deep dark stream, sparkling in the sunlight, transparent over the sandy riverbed, tumbling fast over hidden rocks. Time passing, the moment fleeting and gone, the present unnoticed, time’s great unstoppable river right there in the centre of our lives, unmissable.
A chance day in the middle of an unmemorable week, nothing urgent, the work sitting lacklustre on the desk, the heat pushing against the window panes, the tractor roaring through stubble in a nearby field, the catalpa pods hanging down from the trees like long dirty brown beans, a grey and white cat stalking field mice on the road verge.
And copied out from a commonplace book, a poem by William Stafford, who once edited a book on the lives of poets in 1976, young poets starting out, a poet I read in 1992 and felt that they were still young, words dancing off the page for me.
A Valley Like This
Sometimes you look at an empty valley like this,
and suddenly the air is filled with snow.
That is the way the whole world happened -
there was nothing, and then . . .
But maybe some time you will look out and even
the mountains are gone, the world become nothing
again. What can a person do to help
bring back the world?
We have to watch it and then look at each other.
Together we hold it close and carefully
save it, like a bubble that can disappear
if we don’t watch out.
Please think about this as you go on. Breathe on the world.
Hold out your hands to it. When mornings and evenings
roll along, watch how they open and close, how they
invite you to the long party that your life is.