Sunday, 8 August 2010
A little while ago 'Pohanginapete' responded to a comment I left on his blog.
'Often I've thought,' he wrote, 'that the turning point in a person's life must come when curiosity no longer outweighs reflection; when we begin living in our own history we begin the process of no longer creating it.'
Oh, cor blimey, gadzooks, what a wake-up call!
He was not to know that I had spent the previous five weeks in a welter of self-pity, recrimination, reflection....wallowing, in short. Living in the past, trying to see the past in a different light, wishing I had done or not done this or that - and then this or that would not have happened, or would have happened differently.
Oh yes, the perils of recollection.
How do you downsize, ridding your life of clutter, without the attendance of a life-time of associations? Everything I touch in this house triggers memories. Three and a half years since my husband's death and I finally take his unworn shoes to the Oxfam shop.
The practical de-cluttering is hard enough; but then there is the emotional.
Finally, I can be ruthless with personal papers and letters, but I have to read them all, just to make sure that I haven't missed anything important, any memories my sons might want to record.
The reading brings laughs and smiles and terrible shocks; for life was not always as I thought it to be. Sad things, once read cannot be unread, just as regrettable words, words spoken in anger and frustration cannot be unsaid.
With the best will in the world, we are isolated individuals, and there is an inevitable point when apology is no longer possible, and history cannot be revised in a more favourable light.
I can make copious contributions to the Oxfam shop. I can shred papers. But how much interior mental clutter must I retain?
In this situation it is relatively easy to use distraction as a means of avoidance.
I'm quite well versed in the processes of bereavement, I can acknowledge its stages in myself. I hope I can be of some help to others. I work for 'Cruse Bereavement Care'. I can occupy myself, stay busy, think of others.
Distraction has its uses.
Usually, in the past, my thoughts wriggled through a cacophony; family noise, work noise, trying-to-shop-in-lunchtime noise.
Now they bubble up from silence.
This, for me, is the turning point in life. The silence.
I realise I wrote about this when I first started blogging 'here'.
It remains a challenge, greater now than ever before.
I work on creating new, meaningful history - as opposed to distraction.
I ask my younger son, now that he has his own house, to come and remove the twenty four keyboards he still has in this attic (I do not exaggerate, he does something called circuit bending). He asks why, and I say I might want to move. He is somewhat shocked.
I tell my older son I'm coming to visit him. He lives in Kazakhstan. He promises me a business class ticket.
I cannot help but live in my own history. I would never be able, nor would I wish to discard it, but, hopefully I can build on it.