Friday, 10 January 2014

As is so often the case, this was not what I meant to write at all.

Ah, I was going to go back to the most excellent discussion on anger, but time has beaten me. Time is beating me quite a lot lately, but I don’t mind this too much. There is a goodness in having many things to do. Imagine a life in which the hours stretched out like acres, with nothing to fill them.

The good part of this week was that things got done. I read interesting books. I wrote 6179 words. I fulfilled my responsibilities at HorseBack. I spent time with my family. I walked the dog, and the horse too. (We rode a little this week, but she has a slight muscle strain in her off hind, probably from scooting about in the muddy field, and so we are gently walking it off. Since I adore walking her in hand, and she loves it too, this is not much hardship.) I cooked a good casserole and even managed some rudimentary domestic tasks. The blog stuttered and tottered a little, as it got squeezed into the smallest available space, but at least it still exists, chugging along on three wheels, held together with binder twine. I even backed a couple of winners, and had a very nice treble.

I thought quite a lot of my late father. I shall never stop missing him, but I have a sense that some corner in the road has been turned. One of the paradoxes I found about losing a parent was that even though it is the most normal and expected of things, it turned normality on its head. The world became oddly strange to me, without him in it. Although an old man dying could not be more natural, everything felt shocking and unreal and unnatural. I think that this was where the mare came in, anchoring me in the earth, in the animal, in the fundamental. Horses are all about the fundamental, in a practical as well as philosophical sense.

I found it hard to get back to ordinary routines. For a very long time after my dad died, so long that I was ashamed of it, I found my sleep patterns disrupted and small usual tasks difficult. I could write a book. I could school a horse. I could make conversation and crack jokes. But I battled to eat or sleep at regular hours. I kept missing lunch, or staying up all night working. For a short, rather terrifying time, I became afraid of the dark. I also feared silence, and sometimes went to sleep with the wireless on, so that I would surf in and out of forgotten dreams to the sounds of the World Service.

I hoped, secretly, that this was a thing, something common and known, and not just me going nuts in the head. I assumed it was the mortality attack. It’s not just losing a person, missing a beloved human, remembering well a formative influence, it’s a crash course in the reality which until then had been more of an intellectual exercise than anything else. Of course I knew about mortality, but I had not yet been beaten round the head with it.

I felt slightly stupid that I was not dealing with it better. Oddly, I did the grieving part pretty well. I did not stuff it down or deny it or belittle it. I cling always to stoicism, since I find those people who turn every set-back into a three-act opera tiring. But I knew the thing must be marked. It was in the mazy paths of readjusting to this new reality that I lost my bearings.

For whatever reason, perhaps just time doing its clever thing, the routines have at last reasserted themselves. Despite the fact that at half past midnight last night I was in a field, with a horse, staring at the moon and the stars in case the Aurora Borealis should pass by, most of the time I now go to bed at a reasonable hour. The domestic tasks do not seem to baffle me in quite the way they did. A small sense of agency and a glimmer of organisation return, lifting their heads like snowdrops seeking spring. I feel passionately grateful for this change, and tread delicately on the new, firmer ground.

How funny this medium is. As I started to write, the burden of my song was that I had no time to say what I wanted to say. Then I said something quite else, which I had not intended at all. In the spirit of this blog, which is all about authenticity and what the hell and buggering on and seeing what comes, I shall let it stand. I suspect that the Dear Readers know some of this only too well. I suspect, I hope, that I am not alone.


Today’s pictures:

Are not from today. Today, the murk and gloom returned. But earlier in the week, oh what light we had:

10 Jan 1

10 Jan 3

10 Jan 5

10 Jan 6

10 Jan 10

10 Jan 11

10 Jan 2


  1. Tania, I love the mental picture of you and Red looking for the Northern Lights as much as the photos of beautiful Scotland and a furry neck. The radio thing is funny isn't it - I am solitary to the point of hermithood and I have found at various low points that the one thing I couldn't bear was silence; I had to have a radio or an audio book on the go all the time, even at night (usually Peter Wimsey). Even now, I find domesticity hard when I'm unhappy but can bake cakes and polish silver ad nauseam (of others) when I'm cheery.

    PS I'm reading the Henry Cecil biog too and it is fascinating, even with no racing background at all: the modern scientific approach should appeal to me but I have a yen for the days of instinct and art.

  2. This is my blog i really dont write long stuff but all about whats going on and stuff :P and i love you BLOG

  3. That solitary donut-like cloud formation looks like something out of a science fiction film.
    I LOVE how nature continues to "beat" computer generated images, color combinations & a plethora of other things people think "should" be...

  4. You are not alone; those of us who as older adults who have lost their parents, feel much the same. It tilts the world, but strangely enough, one day you wake up and the memories are there, but so is going forward and feeling better. One step at a time. Horses help.

  5. Well, I lost my dad in 2008 (seems like yesterday) and I am going to admit anxiety attacks regarding my mom. She's fit and healthy, in her early 70's, but she lives alone in a large house in the country several states and about a thousand miles away from me. I wake up in the night and worry about her and what might happen (pointless, I know, but I can't seem to help it). I fully realize that time will pass and the thing that I fear will happen, and I just don't know what the world will be like without both of them. I know it happens to everyone, but that thought doesn't comfort me either.

    It has always made me angry, deep down, that we have to die. We work so hard, run around accomplishing so much, caring for people, and we all just fizzle out in the end. I can't see the point of that last bit. I also find it hard to believe that we all KNOW that we're going to die, and yet we somehow keep from pulling our hair out and going mad. Somehow we keep finding things that make us feel meaningful until it's our time to be dust.

    Part of me looks in the mirror and says "Egads, woman, you're 47 years old, you better put on some steam and get something worthwhile done before it's too late!" and part of me says "Why don't we all just lay around with a keg of beer and a pizza and party until the world comes down?" Part of me rebels at all of our ant colony industry when perhaps 2% of us can hope for Wikipedia page noting that we existed and did something notable, and the other 98% just vanish, unheralded by the rest of humanity. Not that Beethoven, Alfred Hitchcock, or Nelson Mandela benefit in any way now from our adulation... but to those left living it seems like something grand, to have one's name remembered through history. Dead is still dead.

    Agh, I dunno. The whole thing, apparently, is still pissing me off. Thanks for listening. Well, not to end on a completely sour note, your blog is one of the bright spots in my day that I look forward to. Thanks for lighting your candle.


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