Today has been one of those unexpected gems, what at first looked to be a desert of hours waiting somehow to be filled turned at the speed of text, to a joy. Yesterday and for many days previously I laboured, like Scheherazade to fabricate distractions which might postpone the inevitable. Physical work, writing, watching, reading all of these were grist to the great mill of oblivion but, as Einstein proved, there is no such thing as perpetual motion and at some point the machine must grind to a halt.
I suffer from a long term health condition which, should I overdo things, causes great pain, exhaustion and frequently, depression just to sweeten the mix! But I also struggle to sleep. When my thoughts become yapping terriers chasing themselves to infinity in the dark hours I long for sleep. Ironically, no amount of distraction or mental storytelling can silence the barking, whining torture of guilt and self recrimination. My logical self knows what is to come in the not too distant future; it knows it can be neither changed nor avoided and, worst of all it knows that I can blame no-one but myself. Rash decisions or rather, if we’re being brutally honest, plain stupidity and selfishness in my past has brought about every single one of the demons which will shortly line up to torment me.
Like Scheherazade, I went willingly into something I thought I could handle; unlike her, I have no idea where my tale will end. At the moment I take a brutal pleasure in over exerting myself. Every ache, every pain, every moment of anguish and suffering is deserved as far as I am concerned.
When I first read Lord of the Rings many years ago I found Frodo a rather pathetic character. I didn’t understand how someone could throw away an idyll like The Shire having survived so much. I understand a little more with time. There really is no going back. One cannot unlearn knowledge. That is the true weight of the ring he carried so far for so long. An once of experience is worth a ton of theory I used to be told. But at least theory can be held in check. Once something is experienced it is there forever. It cannot be changed. Another famous chestnut is that you only regret the things you don’t get to do. Not true I’m afraid; so very not true that I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that one!
Amongst the crumbs of comfort I have found recently, has been the My Life In Books short series on BBC2. I did not see every episode and have to watch them via an i-player but what did strike me was not only the diversity and surprise at some of the choices but the number of popular favourites which came up. Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, The Wind in the Willows all marvellous tales which have endured despite the trends of time. One thing they all have in common, I notice, are strong themes of regret and lessons learned. Is this then the human condition? How do we learn to forgive others if we cannot forgive ourselves? And why do we choose to fight giants we cannot hope to conquer? All good questions, Best Beloved, but answers found I; none.