Think One: Riding the Heights of Quotidian Love
One of my favourite memories from my childhood was when my mum took me off on my own at the seaside and trawled the shoreline with me to look for the treasures the mermaids had left us. It shines so vividly in my memory. It struck me this week that for every one of those hallowed moments with your child, there are thousands of moments of love that rarely get noticed, let alone fondly remembered.
It was cold here for a fleeting moment a few short weeks ago and I had to get my boy up early for school. Such a common experience I know – forcing oneself out of bed and so your little one is not late and as I was standing next to him, cramming him into layers under his duvet and so he would have an easier time getting up, it suddenly occurred to me that someone had done all of that for me– and I felt it. I’ve always known it but never felt it before. I feel so loved that someone thought about whether I would be warm enough in the playground. It made me think of how much unseen love I’ve received in my life but probably never even registered. I’ll look forward to discovering it in heaven.
Think Two: Framing
Framing and mounting drawings gives them the most remarkable boost. Taking photos of framed art… not so easy.
Think Three: The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz.
In this epic tale of escape, the narrative is remarkably practical and pragmatic. He describes geography and food rations and clothing but rarely describes longings for freedom or future hopes or the arms of his wife. It’s very unlike Papillon (another account of escape) in that way.
It made me think about Ingrid Betancourt, who was held a hostage for six years in Colombia by the Farc, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In an interview with The Guardian (September 18th 2010), she describes how she handled the high risk of one of her escape attempts:
“You don’t master your fear. You’re not able to say, ‘I’m not going to be scared.’ But what you can do is say, ‘OK, I’m very very scared, but I have to do this and this and this.’ By focusing on the actions, the movements, and going down into little things – moving my hand to grab this branch – I could go beyond the fear. Put the fear aside and do the basics.”
I was very moved by the tone of the ending. I was expecting it to be more jubilant and it had its moments but it actually closed with a description of intense loneliness. In the epilogue Rawicz, very honestly, described how at times he was a difficult man to live with having experienced such trauma. He would have frequent nightmares and wake up screaming in Polish next to his English wife. He found it difficult to share his experiences for many years but felt impelled to do so on behalf of all of those who suffered under the Communist regime.
Often with these sorts of stories there’s a slight swagger, “nothing could contain me! I stuck it to the Russian Man!” but Rawicz’s work has more lament and less ego in it and leaves you grieving for all of those who were abused, displaced and dehumanised in the same way– and not just for the experiences that they suffered in the moment but for the legacy it left throughout their lives.
Think Four: Asos to asos
I have begun this terribly addictive after-dinner habit of looking through asos.com which has a lot of clothes from British high-street stores as well as designer items.
I just window shop –sometimes it’s actually more fun to shop when you’re nowhere near thinking about actually parting with money because then you don’t have any of the decision making pressure. Their wares range from beautiful to WTH?– so much more fun than peppermint tea.