Sometimes, I go out of the house in a hurry, and leave my iTunes playlist playing. At the moment, I am writing to a collection of wonderfully obvious classical favourites which I compiled: Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Bach.
I did it today. I came back just now after a lunchtime ride to find Clair de Lune filling the house.
Oddly, even though it was a ride of triumph, and the mare excelled herself, and we even went over our very first jump together, so that I fell on her neck and cried out with pride and happiness, I was thinking of Syria, on the way home. That was what I woke to this morning, as the Today programme brought the news, so dark that they had to issue a warning before they broadcast it. I wanted to turn away but I forced myself to listen.
Syria is intractable because it is a fight of irrational hatred, generational prejudice, old tribal rivalries. It is as if a craze for blood-letting long staunched has suddenly been turned loose. No well-meaning liberal intervention could have any effect, except to make the things worse. There is nothing so reassuring and simple as a black hat and a white hat. It is all bleak and black, and it will get blacker.
I was thinking about how one squares the circle of the big world and the small world. In my small world, small things are delightful and meaningful and important. The older I get, the smaller the important things become. The sight of a swallow, the farmer this morning going out to bottle-feed one of his lambs in the south pasture, the cry of the oyster catchers, the wild leap of excitement in my mare as she realised she had actually jumped a jump. These mean less than nothing in the face of the news on the radio, and yet, I feel more and more, they are what really matter.
I always think of the thoughts on the death bed, and what one will be pleased one did. Will the haters and the fighters really congratulate themselves, as they rattle their last breaths, on letting the other side have it? Will they think: thank God I razed that village to the ground? Or will they remember with gratitude the moments of love, the smiles on adored faces, the family successes, the small acts of kindness?
I get a little confused sometimes between the very big and the very small, because of all the paradoxes that dance between them. Sometimes, when faced with the immense, I think my own tiny life has no meaning at all. It is the old cry of the bleeding heart Left: how can you laugh when the world is so oppressed? And yet, I cling to all those small things, because they are the tiny, unsung bricks of which a good life is built. We can’t all save the world or influence foreign policy or invent things. But I suppose we all can plant a tree, and love well, and be kind. We can all listen to Chopin, and pause for a moment in a busy day, to contemplate unsullied beauty. That cannot be nothing.
HorseBack UK morning:
The girls, after all their hard work, waiting for tea:
The wistful waiting for tea faces never fail to make me smile:
And suddenly The Duchess remembers that she is, in fact, a thoroughbred, despite the fact she has just been jumping round a field in only a rope halter:
Adorable little Myfanwy face:
They are now politely resigned to the fact that I may be some time:
My lovely, lovely, brilliant girl:
And Stanley the Dog still has a bloody great stick, which is the main thing: