Although it sounds very hello clouds, hello sky, I do try to count my blessings. Apparently, it is a thing. If one consciously lists the good things in life, before bed, or first thing in the morning, one’s mental state is enhanced. It’s one of those simple acts which is often quite hard to do. The monkey mind is monkeying about, time is racing, one must get on. There’s no room for all that hippy shit.
The Younger Brother is really a proper hippy. He lives in Bali and sits in circles of love and beats drums and chants and everything. Sometimes it works for him. Sometimes he rings me up and says, despairingly: ‘I’m still staring into the void.’ The void is our shorthand for all the difficult things that hit one in middle age: the reality of mortality, the madness of the world, the bashed heart. It is easy to fall into a terrible confirmation bias, where one only takes in the sadness and the madness, the haters and the shouters, the people who rape the land and tear down the rainforests. Everyone is going to die and we are all for the dark.
So, doggedly, furiously sometimes, I damn well count those blessings.
Opposable thumbs are always pretty near the top of the list. I love typing and I don’t take it for granted that I can do up buttons. I also give thanks for a brain that mostly works, water that comes out of the tap, and a warm house. If I believed in prayer, I would pray to the gods of nature, the spirits that live in these blue hills and my beloved trees and the smallest piece of moss. I give gratitude to beauty, in all its forms, and the luck I have that I can appreciate it. I’m very, very pleased to have the English language at my disposal. That is a great gift. I am blessed with a happy horse and a happy dog and a fast internet connection, so I can look at baby pandas when things get very bad.
I think quite a lot about happiness: what it is, whether it is a goal to be pursued. I think about ratios. I have the ordinary amount of sorrow, fret, fear and angst. But as long as there are joys as well, the balance holds. I can’t be Pollyanna every day, skipping about, blind to the dark side. (Jung spoke a lot about balancing the light and the dark.) On the other hand, wallowing in the bad parts does not achieve much and can slip easily into self-indulgence. The good old shrinks always say: you can’t change the thing, but you can change the way you think about the thing. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Perspective, in all its forms, is a talent that may be learnt.
The gales have passed and the sun has come out again. Scotland looks clear and calm and ravishing. I got back on to the back of my dear red mare. We have not been riding on account of the weather, and I was so excited that I had to take several deep breaths so as not to communicate wildness to her. She walked sweetly on a loose rein, at home with herself and the world. Even in a slow, low walk, I can feel her power, all those centuries of breeding for speed and strength streaming off her. She is as light as air and as mighty as an empress. The spreading sense of physical joy runs between us, in the bright air. Half a ton of flight animal rests easily beneath me, responsive to my every thought. It is a sort of miracle. It is a blessing of the very highest.
Opposable thumbs, a majestic thoroughbred and a Scottish field: that is a list to be going on with.
Oh, and this morning I saw the first tiny daffodil shoots; singing green harbingers of spring.