Monday, February 10, 2014

Brightening Up

Things are looking a little more like they're on an even keel now.
Apart from the horrendous squelchiness and interminable mud brought into the house at every turn, life is definitely looking brighter.
Husband has received some good news on the work front which means that his efforts are going to be recognised...and not before time.
Daughter #3 has come round a bit and cheered up - at least temporarily. She's joined the local gym on a short-term contract that should take her through until the nights are light enough for water-training to start again after school. To that end, she's been sorting herself out a training programme. This busy optimism is great, but I wonder whether it's just another pressure she's putting herself under? When did our children feel like they had to fill every moment of every day with worthy activity? What happened to pointless fun?
I feel that it's probably something that she's absorbed from us, her parents.
The Husband has always been absolutely rigorous about his 'training' regime, even when his training consisted of only that - training. He has a remarkable ability to get himself to the gym three or four times a week when there's very little need to be so committed. I think it's probably because he thinks of himself very much as a physical being. He defines himself by his strength and the way he looks, which is all well and good, but what happens when his physical prowess goes into decline (as it surely will)? It's the same for the woman who defines herself by her attractiveness to men, her looks, her slim figure. How will she feel when the skin wrinkles, the tummy sags, the men no longer stare longingly at her....? Seems to me that old age will be more difficult than it already is, if all our energy and interest has been invested in mortal flesh.
I don't think I have the same level of vanity....but I might have. I don't know. Looking at photos of my young self, I regret that I did not value my youthful slim figure and what might pass as prettiness. As far as I was concerned my external appearance was only minimally interesting. I had a passing interest in clothes, but never any money to indulge in fashion, so I formulated what might be nowadays called a 'hipster/boho' look based on what I could get from the Oxfam shop. Funnily enough there were very few charity shops around as far as I can remember. Grandad shirts, a tweed jacket, tight jeans (always Wrangler), clogs, long hair worn loose, scarves and the like. It fitted my pseudo-intellectual pretensions, the carrying of the poetry or philosophy books. And many of my friends were of the same cloth, so to speak. Apart from the huge lacuna of my twenties, I don't think I've really strayed from that look or image. I was, and still am, a pretentious cheapskate, an intellectual lightweight and bullshitter. Only now the hair is greying, the midriff thicker and less taut (four kids you see...), the joints achier. Ah but youth is wasted on the young!
Funnily enough, as I was walking the Dog in the glorious February sunshine this morning, I had a very intense recollection of a moment in my sixteenth or so year: It was another brilliant chilly morning, and I was - for some reason - walking to school sometime after the start of the school day (dentist or something?). I'd stopped to light up a cigarette (I know, I was part of the 'image'). It was, I can clearly remember, a Peter Stuyvesant, from a soft top packet. I was very brand/image conscious when it came to cigarettes. I eschewed the regular flip-top packet (no No6 or Bensons for me!), preferring foreign fags; Gitanes of Gauloises (my favourites by far, having 'taken up smoking' on a school trip to Dinard), Camel (liked the pic on the packet), Black Cat (ditto), or anything that was slightly exotic or foreign. One of my friends had a taste for the menthol St Moritz (very posh packet), and the school cool girl smoked Disque Bleus.
Anyhow, the sense of lighting up that cigarette came so strongly back to me in the frosty sunshine. I can completely recall the feeling of pure HAPPINESS that washed over me at that moment, and it washed over me again this morning some forty years later. The recollection of such intense happiness was incredible. I don't understand why I was happy at that moment in time - it was certainly just an ordinary day, with nothing exceptional to look forward to - just that I WAS, sublimely happy. It was like a pinpoint in time, or a moment that stood outside time in an inexplicable way. It was separate from time itself, a pure discrete sensation. I understand that there are physical conditions that can have a similar effect, epilepsy for example, but I don't believe it was in anyway thus caused.
But the sensation that it left me with, an afterglow, has persisted throughout the morning. I feel energised and hopeful, ready to take on new challenges, should they present themselves.....It's gradually fading of course, as the day goes on. If only I could preserve that sense of happiness and revisit it for inspiration throughout the darker days!

No comments: