Sunday, July 13, 2014

Too much excitement

One of my daughters is flying from Singapore to Melbourne and my thoughts turn to the idea of her high up in the sky within that metal bird.  

I do not suffer a fear of her flying so much as an uncomfortable awareness that, were this bird to go wrong, it could all too easily drop from the sky and smash into a thousand pieces onto the land or water below.  

So perhaps this fear can be linked to a terror of losing control.  I say terror because loss of control can spell disaster and yet paradoxically it's the thing we need to manage more often than only once in our lifetimes.  It's the thing that can help us scale moments of boredom

I cannot remember real boredom until I hit adolescence, and then it became so much a part of my life whenever I was faced with unstructured time, time in which I needed to find something to do, something that might give me pleasure and make my time seem meaningful, otherwise I might have sunk into a state of inertia from which I could not drag myself. 

Before then, in my early teens I still had the ability to at least give the illusion of having some purpose.  I wanted to be a poet.  In those days we gendered careers and my family nickname, at least for a time became, ‘the poetess’.  

On days when my mother was away at work in the old people’s home nearby I took a pencil and a small notebook in my dress pocket, scaled the back fence and walked alone to the Farm Road estate. 

It surprises me now to remember this time when I relished being alone.  Alone in nature I thought then, alone with the plants and trees.  It took over from any call to the religious life this call to nature, this call to join the poets.  

Sometimes a rush of feeling comes over me, a feeling almost impossible to describe but when it comes I know I am in the grip of the past, a sensation I felt as a child when something was fresh and new and filled with pleasure. 

Frances Tustin who writes about autistic states calls it ecstasy, a state of mind that can become a problem if we cannot learn to deal with it.  Too much bliss can overwhelm almost as much as too much terror.  Think of it as the sensation of dissolving, of falling apart, of not having any sense of yourself, anything to which you might keep your thoughts anchored.

Forgive me these abstractions but I am trying to find my way though the memory of those long lone walks through the Farm Road estate when I tried to convince myself that the land cleared for new housing developments and the old deserted chook shed soon to be demolished to make way for further housing developments could at the same time be a source of the beauty of nature.  

I looked upwards to the tips of the Lombardy poplars that flanked the once neat market garden in the back streets of Cheltenham and imagined the grandeur of Italian skies. 

Look to the sky and you can always find beauty.  We cannot spoil the sky except perhaps with smoke but even then there is a cloudlike intensity to the shape of smoke as it billows and furls that can also hold beauty.  

I do not reflect on beauty these days as I did when a child and I miss it.  I try to find it in words but words are such tricky beasts.  They will not be controlled and if they were they would be a bit like dead birds, which brings me back to the metal bird flying through the sky, hurtling my daughter  home.

May that journey soon be over. 


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