Friday, 19 February 2016

In which I get a stern reminder never to take any single thing for granted.

This morning, I woke up and stretched. I got up, dressed, put on my socks, brushed my hair, and went downstairs. I took the dogs out and I made breakfast. My mind was full of all the things I had to do that day.
            There was some particularly horrid admin which I had been dreading and putting off, so I just did it. The absurdly nice lady at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs was so kind and charming that I felt better about being such a flake. She did not seem to hold it against me and I thanked her for that. (She appeared to find this quite amusing.)
            I went down to the horses, checked them over, mixed their feed, hefted down the hay that they need at this time of year, cleaned the water trough, picked up some dung, and took the red mare up to the shed to saddle up. We had a great, very physical ride, working both our bodies, picking up speed in the cold air, stopping on a dime, moving in and out of different gaits and over and across different ground. All our senses were heightened and engaged.
            I settled her back in her field and went to do my own work. I made some coffee and started typing fast and hard.

Why do I tell you this? Why do I record these mundane details of the most ordinary life?

Because, somewhere in all that, I met a young man who can do none of those things. One random accident, and that’s all she wrote. He can do no single, usual, daily, taken-for-granted task without help.

I tell you this, because somewhere in there I fell into the abyss. The weather turned sour and bitter and I came across a card from my mother with her writing on it sending me love and that made me cry. I felt stupid about the hopelessness of my administrative skills. I had a slight misunderstanding with someone, which pierced my thin skin. I worried about my good brown mare, who is going to have to have an operation for her sarcoid. Darwin the Dog had an accident and there was shit on the floor. I felt that however hard I worked and however fast I typed, it would never be enough. I felt furious and revolting, as dour and doleful as that dirty sky outside my window.

It’s just a mood, I told myself, sternly. Not every day can be sunshine and tap dancing. I began the long, intricate process of talking myself down from the ceiling.

And then I thought of that young man. However crappy my day is, and sometimes I have crappy days just like the entire human race, I can walk down to a green field, and stroke the kind face of my dear mare, and swing my leg over her mighty back and feel her power under me and sit deep in the saddle as she stretches out under me, strong and true and brave. I can put on my own socks. I don’t know how the mind of a person confined to a motorised chair works, and would not presume to guess, but I kept thinking: they must dream of being able to put on socks. Forget riding a thoroughbred, the dull act of pulling on a sock might seem like the ascent of Everest for someone who cannot move their own body.

I don’t know why fate deals one card to one human and one to another. The whole shooting match seems so monstrously random and unfair that my puny human brain can hardly comprehend it. As usual in these moments, I cling on to the very small, the very immediate, the closely understandable. I understand that I can never, should never, must never, ever, take anything for granted. I pay lip service to this idea, but I quite often forget about it.

There was birdsong today, as the avian chorus starts to rev up in preparation for spring. Yesterday, I heard the first woodpecker, growling in the woods like an old bullfrog. The resentful wind might be blowing in from the north, but yesterday there was sun, and tomorrow there might be again. 


  1. I drop in now and then to catch up on all your lovely doings, and today, I'm simply drenched in the words. I cannot tell you how REAL this is, how well said, how truly live and vivid and strong.

    The simple pleasures and foibles and grimaces of your day, and then the complicated simplicity of his---the juxtaposition is stunning and appalling and grim, and your telling of it simply stills my breath.

    I hope you know what a gift you have, these words-on-the-page, for the statement of the ordinary elevated to the rhythms of the strong horse-beats, the wind, the daily commerce of your life, condensed into the simple act of pulling on a pair of socks. I'm rambling all over, but I just wanted you to know the profound scope of your telling, and how it's made one of those small "clicks" in my thinking, as our footing shifts ever-so-slightly into a new plane.

    I wish you long, exhilarating rides in the wind, and the simple complications of stirring tea, re-shelving a book, tending a pet. I love the way you convey these gentle passions, and hope you well and warm this sunny, iron-cold day.


  2. About all I can come up to say is, "Yes." Yes, no taking for granted, yes, it's all so random, yes, you made me cry.

  3. What a thought-provoking post. It's worth being reminded while we fret about our petty annoyances how petty they really are.

  4. It's a true thing, you and your perspective police. With everything that's gone on with Sam, I still think ALL the time how lucky we have been and continue to be


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