’s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Between pie mountains—lights a lovely mile. – G.M. Hopkins
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Symbols of Change #410
Sunrise on Anna Maria Island
'Where morning dawns and evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.'
I have a reputation for running. It's inherited. My mother often complained that when my father got out of the car he just took off. In Africa the sellers who laid out their wares in the car park of the shopping precinct used to call after me, 'Always running!' Every year I resolved not to run in the corridors, but failed. I thought I walked quickly, but I can barely keep up with my daughter who when she was studying in Edinburgh skipped up and down those hills like a gazelle.
Years ago when I was at university a well-meaning person took me aside and advised me to take it easy. She even gave me a copy of Chuck Girard's record (vinyl the first time round) called Slow Down and for ages I was haunted by the tune, the long drawn-out notes and the injunction to, 'Be still, my child.'
We all intend to slow down - when we finish uni, when the kids get older, when we have more money, more time. It's difficult because just as the children are starting to leave the nest, our parents need parenting and then the grandchildren arrive.
So perhaps this is the time for a change of pace. I have been encouraged by the kind responses to my previous blog but my dear friend DD added his words of wisdom on the whole heron theme. His advice was, 'Fight the glide.' I love that and I certainly don't want to slow down so much that I stagnate and lose any sense of purpose.
So what I want to do is to slow just long enough to notice. My not-so-secret crush is the comedian Peter Kay. I love his observational style of humour - putting into words what everyone saw but no one noticed. That's what writing is. I have just read Doris Lessing's autobiography Under my Skin and I was fascinated by her account of growing up in the bush in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). She says that writing,
'takes the raw, the individual, the uncriticised, the unexamined, into the realm of the general.'
I think that this amounts to asking questions. So here's today's question: Do squirrels eat mangoes?
I pondered this as I noticed two squirrels squabbling on the high wire, neither of whom was willing to give way. Then one of them hurled himself into the mango tree that abutted the path and dislodged one of the fruit onto the grass. Nearby were several half-chewed mangoes with their juicy, orange insides hanging out. A mystery.
Bird of Paradise
What else did I notice today? Two wild green parrots with one nestling her head against the other's neck. Pillow talk, I'm sure. An osprey waiting above me to pounce on prey for his chicks that I could hear calling from their nest on the spire of the Gloria Dei church. Lots of wonderful birds on the roof of #410 71st Street, especially the great egret, stepping out like a beautiful bride, coy and demure. And in the Gulf, the huge brown pelican plunging into the ocean and the black skimmer slurping in the shallows for her young nestled in the white sands nearby. I can only say that I wouldn't have noticed them, the sunrise and sunset, the gorgeous bird of paradise or the ugly wood stork had I stayed indoors.
DD says he is not interested in crosswords, 'Why would words want to be boxed in like that?' Here's to the outdoors, slowing down and noticing. This week I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt that said:
I’m a fifty something orphan. Like my parents, I want to keep on going to the end – loving, giving, believing and hoping. Proverbs talks about the woman who ‘laughs at the days to come’. In the second half, I want to live lightly. This I struggle with. I suffer betimes from the disease of introspection. My friend says I always have a broom in my hand – I’m either sweeping the floor ( I clean when I’m stressed) or beating myself up with it.
I’d rather have a pen in my hand than a broom so that I can record what I think and feel. This is another kind of journal – a conversation with myself, and you if you’re listening.
My favourite poet is GM Hopkins. He writes how I feel – anxiety and doubt with generous smatterings of gratitude and hope. I love his challenge to himself to ‘leave comfort root room’ and ‘call off thoughts awhile elsewhere’. This is an attempt to find my elsewhere.