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. 


PhilipH said...

Never fear. Your big metal bird will touch down safely and all will be well.

Jim Murdoch said...

When Carrie came back from the States, not this last trip but the one before that, it took an hour for her to make it through customs. Normally it’s about twenty minutes. The plane had landed on time, probably a couple of minutes early in fact because that’s usually the case from Amsterdam, and so I didn’t have to worry about the thing having crashed but by the time she was wheeled out—the problem was finding someone to get her a wheelchair (there’d been about eight or nine ahead of her)—I was getting frantic. Reason told me there’d be a rational explanation but he was having a hard time holding my attention. My first guess was that she’d taken ill and was being attended to or had been whisked off to hospital and as she didn’t have her mobile with her—we use the damn things so rarely it’d locked and she’d not got round to calling our provider to let them know the phone was still with us and in use—there was no way I could find out. I was just about getting to the point of asking a member of staff to investigate when she was wheeled out. Much to my great relief. Not knowing is horrible especially when coupled with not being able to affect what’s happening (or not happening). So I feel for you. I’m never truly happy when Carrie goes away until I get that phone call to say she’s landed, has reached her parents’ home safe and sound and she’ll call me at the usual time the next day when we can talk properly.

Boredom, however, is not something I’ve felt for a very long time indeed. My problem has always been the lack of hours in the day. Even as a kid I was always engaged in one project or another if not several at a time. I was always busy. I’m always busy now. I’m just nowhere near as efficient as I used to be and that really bothers me because the clock is ticking. I’m not obsessed by death—planes crash when they feel like it and hearts stop beating when the mood takes them too—but the fact that I can do things like quantify the number of books I expect to read before I die and I can actually imagine what that many books looks like bother me. Things like that are a bit too real.

I spent much more time alone as a teenager than I do now. Now I get two or three hours in the afternoon when Carrie naps or a couple of hours in the early hours if I wake up or can’t sleep and decide to get up. And I’m fine with that. I don’t need solitude like I used to. Mostly it’s because I’ve mastered being alone whilst in the company of others. Mothers do it. They manage to tune out the sound of the kids and yet still switch back on the instant they hear the wrong kind of crying. I have a solitude poem. Not sure if you’ve ever read it:


      Solitude used to be so special
      till you came between us.

      I think of you when I'm with her
      and she knows that I do.

      And it's not the same any more.
      Nor can it ever be.

      28 May 1989

Beauty’s not a big thing with me. I like ‘aesthetically pleasing’ but I’m not one who’d call a car ‘beautiful’. I have, of course, known a number of beautiful women if only to look at but even there what attracts me is never conventional beauty. I can’t deny that someone like Angelina Jolie is beautiful and yet I’d probably end up chatting up to her geeky assistant. As a poet I’m supposed to be tuned-in to beauty but what resonates with me tends to be abstractions. I have written about sunsets—quite a good long poem many years ago—but even there the sunset was more of a metaphor than anything else. And I’ve photographed sunsets too and sunrises—I remember rushing out of my flat in East Kilbride one morning to capture a sunrise but once printed it really wasn’t anything to write home about. It’s like pebbles on a beach. You pick them up, put them in our pocket, get home, look at them and they’re nowhere near as white and smooth as you thought at the time.

Joanne Noragon said...

I think the sense of beauty cannot be conveyed by words, which have their own beauty. And, your daughter is now home, and all is well.

Anthony Duce said...

Enjoyed. I feel the same about planes. Your walks on the past farm reminded me of similar walks, places, thoughts. Thank you

Anthony Duce said...

Enjoyed. I feel the same about planes. Your walks on the past farm reminded me of similar walks, places, thoughts. Thank you

Kirk said...

I'm too frustrated to get bored.

Rob-bear said...

As long as your daughter is not flying over Ukraine, things should be good.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say, like Jim, that I am never bored. Apathetic occasionally, and sometimes downright lazy, but never bored.
One feeling I do remember and dread is the feeling of lethargy and disassociation that comes with grief. My husband is in the terminal stages of an illness and the end is weeks away, sooner if he chose. Our youngest is in Europe and waiting for 'the call'.
At the moment I don't have any trouble filling the many hours sitting beside my beloved and serving him but I am dreading those never ending days, weeks and months where nothing I enjoy will give me pleasure. I am confining my projects to those I can give away because I know the visual reminder will bring emotions to the surface. And that really will be a plane wreck of disproportionate dimensions.
Karen C