I had something interesting to say today. I really did. I think it was about life. Or horses. Or horses and life. Or writing even. Or writing and horses and life.
I did 1493 words this morning and that has probably emptied my brain out. Which is a pity. I saw a piece on the internet yesterday about how to be successful in promoting your book. It’s the kind of thing I look at every so often, when I am feeling pressed and stressed. Have a good blog, it says, sternly, with excellent content. Hmm, I think. Does playing Willie Nelson to your mare count as excellent content?
Actually, the point of this place is not professional at all. It is all amateur hour. Amateur in the true sense of the word, from love. I write the blog from love – for words, for the good old human condition, for the idea of sharing. I know that sounds madly hippy and in fact dippy, but I’m huge for the balm of shared experience. I had it only this morning. I admitted something, about which I was a little worried and self-critical. The person to whom I was talking admitted the exact same thing back. So there was the glorious Me Too moment. I sometimes think that the point of blogs, between readers and writers, is the Me Too moment. The shoulders come down, the gusty sigh comes from the belly: I am not the only one who is a flake or gets tangled up in things or has the strange shouting voices in the head. I am not the only one who sometimes finds life a baffling and peculiar thing.
After Backwards, I think I got a bit cocky. I’d written some things in it which I thought were true. I had a slight sense of accumulated knowledge. It was as if I was saying: I’ve been round the block a few times, and this is what I know. I remember being particularly proud of the section about love.
Then my dad died, and I went to three funerals in three weeks, and my first dog died, and then, months later, my second dog died. It was a mortality attack. Yesterday, almost a year on, I missed that second dog so much I could hardly breathe. I have the enormous loves that are Red the Mare and Stanley the Dog, but the lost loves still leave a crack in the heart. I missed my sweet, soft Pigeon and knew that there would never be another like her.
After all this season of grief, it wasn’t that life got bad or sad, or that all the things I thought I knew counted for nothing. It’s that it just got a little bit harder. It was as if I was upped in grade, and perhaps distance too; like a young chaser, I would have to sharpen up my jumping and improve my fitness.
I imagine that this happens to people in their middle age. It is not remarkable. I have to concentrate more keenly, dig a little deeper for the meaning of things, be quite strict about not letting myself fall out of balance. I am preoccupied with those pesky existential questions of this stage in life, and find that doing actual ordinary stuff (paperwork, errands, returning calls) is more of an effort.
I also think that the pendulum will swing back. People in their fifties suddenly get happier, interestingly. And it’s not that I am not happy. I have singing moments of mad joy. My horse can make me laugh so much that the shouting can be heard echoing across half the county.
But I can get blown off course quite easily. I find myself vulnerable to buffets and blows. I would like to be more hardy. And perhaps more sanguine. I wonder if these are things which can be built up, until they go into muscle memory. I would like to be quicker, more efficient, more realistic, more sensible. I would like to be able to apply the accumulated knowledge of forty-six years in a more utile way. I would like to feel less chipped about the edges, or, at least, to understand that even with the chips I may still gallop off towards the horizon.
Well, that was unexpected. I sat down convinced I had nothing to write, and I have bared my soul. Blogs are a mysterious business.
I cast a yearning glance at the Delete button. There is absolutely no need for you to know all this. There is no need for me to write it. It is just life, pretty much as all females of a certain age face it. Perhaps pretty much as all humans face it. It’s not headline news. But I take the yearning glance away. I shall publish and be damned. Because what the flaky voice in my head says is that, somewhere out there, in the dark, there will be one human saying: Me Too.
Today was drab, so these are from sunnier days:
And the hill, under a flat white sky: