There is a sense of unease. I can feel it in the wind. Unable to rest, it throws itself at windows and doors. It tosses down the small green mangoes that have not had a chance to ripen on our trees. The frantic carnival parties continue in the night. At a discussion earlier this week, anxious words and especially the word “But…” followed words of encouragement and promise. A pudgy-faced young man over in the East is telling his robotic marching toy people that war is imminent.
And the rain refuses to fall.
One of my most-loved writers is the German-Swiss novelist and poet Hermann Hesse, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. I suppose this is a legacy of my “hippy” years; Hesse was enormously influential during the 1960s and early 1970s among young Europeans. Born into a rigid Christian missionary family, Hesse became a spiritual explorer, partly arising from his parents’ work in India. Skeptical of organized religion, he came to develop a view of a universal spirituality that still resonates today. (In fact, I often find strong echoes of my 1960s explorations in today’s world. Coming full circle, as my brother pointed out recently, I am now meditating again, as I did in my early twenties). Hesse was also a pacifist, and his work was reviled by German nationalists during and after the First World War. He became a Swiss citizen in 1923.
Well, I recently retired my forty-year-old hardcover copy of “Siddhartha“ - it had become very battered over the years and was literally collapsing. I bought a new copy, but am not as comfortable with it, yet. It needs a few more re-reads, I think.
Meanwhile, a fellow-blogger posted a quote by Hesse that simply reflected my mood, and the discomfort of this little island I live on, Jamaica. Here it is:
“There is no escape…You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shrink from nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you!”
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1946/hesse-autobio.html Hermann Hesse autobiographical sketch: nobelprize.org
http://www.hermann-hesse.de/en Hermann Hesse Portal – this is very revealing and well put together
Bird in the Storm… (jruthkelly.com)
Hermann Hesse (pensaleas.wordpress.com)
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse – review (guardian.co.uk)
SopranoAscends SINGS! (sopranoascending.wordpress.com)
50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom from 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment & Purpose ~ Tom Butler-Bowdon (evolutionarymystic.wordpress.com)
It’s a steamy spring morning in uptown Kingston, and the revelers are warming up down the road. The careless, jumbled confusion of the annual Jamaica Carnival (and its offshoots) fills the air. The air is humid after several downpours that soaked the gardens of uptown yesterday. And the sky juice vendors, hustlers and hangers-on are looking forward to a few hours on the road, amidst all those mostly-naked bodies – toned and flabby, sprinkled with sequins and glitter, painted and bejeweled and sunblocked – jumping and leaping along the road.
The steamy story to ponder: Well, the media has been getting all steamed up over what the highly alliterative Sundays are now calling the “Flag Fiasco Fallout” (or, if you prefer, the “Flag Folly Fallout”). And an expendable government official has been Fired in the Flag Folly Fiasco Fallout. Yes, it’s all about the Jamaican flag – a striking combination of black, gold and green – except that on one occasion the green was omitted. The civic ceremony – the investiture of the new Mayor of Montego Bay (and some are now calling for his resignation) – took place with a huge, incongruous backdrop consisting mostly of funereal black with gold diagonal stripes.
The outraged Opposition protested. For those non-Jamaican readers, I should explain that green is the color of the recently-trounced Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which is feeling aggrieved about most things these days. The JLP lost the general election in December and the local government election last month and are presently licking wounds that show no signs of healing, yet. In fact, as this is the tropics, infection may soon set in…
If you want to know more about the daily twists and turns of this “saga” (in which there are no heroes) there are a few relevant links below. Suffice it to say there are several threads to this story – one being the obsession with colors, symbols and all the other paraphernalia of the highly partisan political life in Jamaica; another the emotionalism and intense patriotism that invariably accompanies the national flag; and additionally, the sheer incompetence of some public officials. If nothing else, this is a complete public relations disaster of the highest order. Are you sick and tired of this story now, Jamaican readers? But how would non-Jamaicans feel if their national flag appeared at an official ceremony minus certain features – Stars without Stripes, for example?
Why bother? One or two journalists have been endeavoring to come up with something meaningful to say about the new Portia Simpson Miller administration’s “First 100 Days.” CVM Television’s Andrew Cannon – a serious reporter if ever there was one – has been gallantly attempting in the last few days to point to successes and failures – the Riverton City pollution disaster, and the confusion of our Prime Minister’s comments as reported by Bloomberg, among others. The Sunday Gleaner reporters took a stab at it. Mention has been made of “JEEP” – the much-hyped Jamaica Emergency Employment Program – but no one is sure if this is an “achievement,” yet. Meanwhile, Ms. Simpson Miller herself, who is attending the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, issued a press release noting “satisfaction” with her government’s performance. Let’s just move on, and hope the next 100 days will be more inspiring. Maybe 100 days is just too soon?
Answer to last week’s Quiz Question: National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante served as Mayor of Kingston from 1947-48.
This week’s question: What do the colors of the Jamaican flag represent? (Yes, I know there is more than one interpretation!) Views and comments welcome…
Meanwhile, the issue of child sexual abuse – an almost constant topic of radio talk shows, newspaper columns and letters to the editor for the past two weeks or so – is about to fade into the background. As more than one Jamaican has mentioned, it will become a “nine-day wonder,” after all the outrage and debate has subsided. There has been much wringing of hands in the press, and some attempts to finds solutions and a way forward; more on the latter in another blog post I am writing. Meanwhile, commentary from Ms. Taitu Heron of the University of the West Indies‘ Centre for Gender and Development Studies in last week’s “Observer” is noted. Ms. Heron urges: “So, what about the child’s present now? Are we saying, even in this 50th year of Independence that we still believe that children are non-citizens that must be seen and not heard until they become adults? I urge all Jamaicans, abused or protected, loved or violated, cared or neglected, to speak what they know, report what they see, wherever and whenever child abuse occurs.” Montego Bay-based psychologist Beverley Scott believes Jamaicans are more aware of the issue than twenty years ago (are they?) but reminds us, “If you know of any instance of children being molested and you don’t report it, you can be charged up to $500,000…People can call the Children’s Registry, and you don’t have to identify yourself.”
Mr. James Moss-Solomon waxed philosophical again this week, telling Rotarians that “old thinking” in Jamaica – and repeating the same things over and over (a sure sign of madness) – have resulted in Jamaica making no progress at all over the past ninety years! Phew. He calls those decades a “devastating period,” blaming the private sector (he is a businessman himself) as much as successive governments. Not very encouraging words on our Fiftieth Anniversary. I would like to get a copy of that speech, though.
Commendations: I like the Sunday Gleaner’s Jamaica 50 feature “Objects from our Past” with photographs of what Jamaicans love to call “artifacts” – fifty objects from the Institute of Jamaica’s collection of all kinds of historical items. I am learning from it.
Human rights activist and lawyer Hilaire Sobers’ article in the Sunday Gleaner is a must-read – a response to two recent columns by the self-contradicting Mr. Ian Boyne – who is fascinated by the topic of religion, as are so many of his fellow countrymen. The title is “Secularism, not religion, protects human dignity.” With this, the Petchary heartily agrees – but what say you, dear reader?
…To the American Friends of Jamaica, led by the always-focused former U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb, for their annual grants to non-governmental and community-based organizations in Jamaica – presented this year on April 4 in Montego Bay. J$19 million worth was disbursed – including a grant to the Portland Rehab Centre, which cares for the most marginalized citizens of Port Antonio, and to many other worthy causes.
…And to another American, Ms. Becky Stockhausen, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica. Ms. Stockhausen attended the first Global Business Conference in Washington, DC on the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, through the auspices of U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater. As always, Ms. Stockhausen (who has lived in Jamaica for many years) is looking for partnerships in business and trade that will lead to the development of her adopted home.
To the Sistren Theatre Collective (35 years old next month!), who are winners of the Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre (to be presented in New York on May 20). According to their own summary, “The Otto Award is named for the Guatemalan poet and revolutionary Otto Rene Castillo, who was murdered by that country’s military junta in 1968. Established in 1998, the Otto Awards have since honored such accomplished, dedicated and diverse artists and theatre companies as: El Teatro Campesino, The Living Theatre, Laurie Anderson, the Steppenwolf Theatre, Bread and Puppet Theatre, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.” I believe Sistren will be the first Caribbean group to be so honored.
And last but not least, to the marvelous chef Ms. Jacqui Tyson (From Thought to Finish), for joining the effort to bring downtown Kingston back to life. A Food Festival sounds like a great idea…What’s not to love?
Condolences: To the family of Evelyn Williams, the teenager who drowned at Hellshire Beach in St. Catherine on the Easter weekend. She and her mother were swimming in a quiet section of the beach, to get away from the noise and crowds. But the Petchary understands that this end of the beach has strong currents – and no swimmer can fight those tides. Her mother was rescued, but Evelyn was pulled away. “Right now mi feel like mi deh inna a dream and mi nuh wake up,” said her brother Kenton. I know how that feels. Are there any warning signs at that end of the beach? Are there life guards on the main part of the beach? Many Jamaicans who splash happily in the water can’t swim at all…
(And talking of swimming, more congratulations are in order to the Jamaican medal-winners at the Carifta Swimming Championships in Nassau, Bahamas. Wonderful stuff! I won’t mention all the names but you were all awesome.)
Remember when deejays at music shows used to command the unruly audience, “Seckle! Seckle!” (“Settle” in Jamaican parlance)? Well, next week I am hoping to call this weekly piece the “Sunday Settle” – because I do hope and trust that everyone will have calmed down – and that the politicians will have sat back down in their seats and reminded themselves that they have the people’s business to attend to.
- Proud to be Jamaican (ezekelalan.com)
- We Ran Out of Green – Mo Bay Mayor (newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com)
- http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-117/30291: The National Flag must always be treated with dignity (Jamaica Information Service)
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120415/lead/lead2.html: Flag Fiasco Fallout (Sunday Gleaner)
- Op-Ed: Fighting Injustice in Jamaica (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Jamaican Politics: Sharon Haye-Webster, Damion Crawford et al (buildanation.wordpress.com)
- The Sunday Stumble – premiere edition (petchary.wordpress.com)
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120415/lead/lead4.html: PNP fails to deliver (Sunday Gleaner)
- Remember your promise, Madam Prime Minister! (newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com)
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120415/focus/focus61.html: Secularism, not religion, protects human dignity (column by Hilaire Sobers)
- http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-remain-silent-on-child-abuse (letter to the editor by Taitu Heron)
- http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Old-thinking-taking-us-nowhere—Moss-Solomon (comments by James Moss-Solomon)
- Sunday Shuffle (Yes, I know, the first one was called Sunday Stumble) (petchary.wordpress.com)
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120415/arts/arts2.html: Objects From Our Past
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120415/out/out6.html: Becky Stockhausen at Global Business Conference
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120415/out/out1.html: AFJ gives $19 million to charity
Now that Hallowe’en is over, the Petchary would like to speak up on behalf of an ancient tradition that is often much maligned on this island of Jamaica. Primarily by Christians - and I say this with emphasis, as they do themselves, possibly to emphasize their sense of superiority to the rest of us heathens. There we are, I’ve already started on a controversial note.
Hallowe’en – October 31 – was the last day of the Celtic year. As someone with more than a drop of Celtic blood in her veins, I don’t really appreciate people condemning the traditions that are a part of my cultural and indeed family heritage. I don’t disrespect other people’s traditions – and I think a little more understanding (and research/information/knowledge) would be nice. (It puzzles me that in this “age of information” one can still be so ill-informed. I guess it’s lazy thinking).
But I digress. The original Hallowe’en was the Celtic feast of Samhain. It goes back to the eighth century and even further back – some say to Roman times. A time of year when the nights draw in, the sunsets are richer and the shadows deeper. The end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. A time when thoughts turn inward, away from the material, towards the spiritual. OK so far? I think so. Evil and Satanic? I think not.
The odd thing about these Christian anti-Halloweeners is that they completely miss the point that, although this Celtic festival pre-dated Christianity, it was almost immediately absorbed into the Christian (Catholic) calendar and has always been recognized int (although the Puritans weren’t too happy with it in England for a time, but then they weren’t happy with a lot of things). Today, November 1, is All Saints’ Day and tomorrow is All Souls’ Day. Again, these days are a time to reflect on the spirit and its passing from this earthly life – and a time to pray for the dead.
What is wrong with honoring the dead? The Mexicans (and others) do it every year at the same time – the Dia de Los Muertos – they are doing it right now, putting flowers and sweet things on the graves of their ancestors. Sure, there are lots of skulls and macabre costumes, as there are in Hallowe’en, but it is a celebration and an honoring too. Now, I do wish Jamaicans would honor their dead more. If you look at “then and now” photos of Kingston’s May Pen Cemetery (the “now” being a wasteland) you would see what I mean. Respect for those who have gone before us is a part of All Hallows’ Day and All Saints’ Day – it is a time of mysterious connection, when the spirit world draws closer to us. A recognition of that world of spirits – that land of shadows. And that’s the “scary” part.
Where does the dressing-up part come from, and the trick or treating? Well, they are both connected and both originate from the belief that if you disguise yourself, those spirits won’t recognize you. Again, it goes back hundreds of years – it is not some silly new-fangled American thing. Trick or treating was called “guising” (as in disguise) and it is even mentioned in Shakespeare. And it has been a tradition in Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall (going back to the Celts again of course) for hundreds of years.
Now, my Christian friends always talk about the “Satanic” nature of Hallowe’en. But where does that come from? I grew up with Hallowe’en, and never was there any mention of “Old Nick” in that context (that was my grandmother’s name for him – an English expression that dates from the seventeenth century). He never came into the picture, nor does he in any of the Hallowe’en traditions that I know of (someone, please correct me if I’m wrong).
In fact, I have never heard so much talk of “Satan” as in Jamaica. When something won’t work out, it is blamed on Satan. I was rather startled when I first encountered his name in an everyday conversation, and I still do wonder why his name is recalled so often. Even gangsters call themselves Satan from time to time – the baddest of the bad, I guess. I think part of the confusion of Hallowe’en is the confusion of the “dark side” – the spirit world of ghosts, spirits, fairies and the like – with Satanism. But why? Jamaicans have their own incredible duppy stories too – the Rolling Calf sends shivers down my spine – but Satan doesn’t get mixed up in those legends. But then, there is no Christian origin to those stories either. All very complex.
And now for other Hallowe’en traditions, which you may or may not know. One of our favorites at home was “apple bobbing,” the kind of thing they would do on TV game shows these days to get people to make a fool of themselves. You had to kneel and grab an apple out of a bucket of water with your mouth, not using your hands. Of course apples were in season at that time of year, and there were the toffee apples (or candy apples as they are called in the U.S.). I remember as a child, in great fascination and excitement, watching my grandmother dipping the apples into the sticky, tawny-colored toffee, which she boiled up in a deep pan with dire warnings not to go anywhere near it.
Then there were the fancy-dress parties. The whole point that the Jamaican Christians are missing – sadly – is that in fact, Hallowe’en is tremendous (and quite harmless) fun. Their cries of “Satanism” and “evil” sound like killjoys.
We had fun. I would spend weeks planning my costume (always home-made, by my long-suffering mother) and we would have noisy, boisterous parties, pretending to be someone else. What kid doesn’t love dressing up? It is empowering. My parent would pretend to be scared by me and my raucous friends. And we felt safe and secure in our masks and crazy headgear. My best-ever costume was a scarecrow.
So please, give Hallowe’en a break. Try to understand and respect a tradition that is hundreds – if not thousands – of years old.
A little more tolerance. A little more understanding.
And remember there is the light, and there is the dark. All a part of life.
OK, own up now. You didn’t get raptured. And how does this make you feel? Quite a blow to the self-esteem, wasn’t it? But hey, you’re in good company. I didn’t get swept off my feet, either.
It is now May 23 and a cool, rain-soaked evening in Kingston Town, and I never felt less raptured in my life (what a silly word, anyway – there is no such verb as “to rapture” – it’s a noun. And rapture (or “rapt,” adjective) is how you feel when admiring a photo of… No, I won’t go down that road again. My photo of a certain person with his shirt off in my last blog caused too many ripples of excitement among my online female friends. Too distracting).
Now where was I? Ah yes, the rapture that didn’t rapt (or whatever). I got up lateish on Saturday, and looked at the sky. No rain, no thunderclouds, no fire and brimstone (yet). But hold on… Didn’t the old man say that May 21 was not going to be the end of the world as we know it? He said October 21 is going to be when all hell breaks loose – May 21 will just be the rapture bit, so let’s focus on that part of it for now. By the way, the months in between were going to be fairly unpleasant, the old man said. We are all going to do a lot of wailing (I’ve been practicing the technique), weeping (or in Jamaican parlance, “bawling”) and gnashing of teeth (the “g” is silent and I’m not sure how to gnash my teeth. It sounds painful so I may pass on that).
After breakfast I pottered around in the yard, again looking expectantly at the sky. The usual tropical thing going on up there. Because it occurred to me – you have to be outside to be raptured, right? I mean, you can’t be hauled up through the plasterboard ceiling and the struts and the hurricane straps and the zinc roof can you? You would be an awful mess by the time you got to heaven. Or maybe it doesn’t matter. And there are grills on every window as of course Kingston is riddled with “tiefs” and worse… So God couldn’t pull me through the window, could he? One has to think of the technicalities of the matter. Perhaps that’s something fundamentalist Christians haven’t thought through too well.
So there I was, checking out the not-yet-ripe Bombay mangoes somewhat wistfully. Can inanimate objects be raptured? Perhaps I could take a few with me, just in case I have to bribe St. Peter. Looking at our ever-loving dogs, I wondered who might feed them – unless they got raptured too. I would have to insist on that.
A knock at the gate. It was our gardener, with his charming daughter. Neither of them looked worried, but perhaps they were hiding it. I spent a little time with the daughter, picking flowers. Here she is, ready to go home with them…
Wandered back in the house, had lunch with husband. Still no rain, thunder, lightning, hail, plague of locusts etc. Oh no, this is just Rapture Day isn’t it. Nothing spectacular seemed to have happened either in Jamaica or elsewhere on the planet, except for an Icelandic volcano with a name the BBC only made a half-hearted attempt to pronounce properly. No earthquakes (although I hear mini-earthquakes are going on all the time, unfelt). No football on TV, either! The last day of the English Premier League season, and nothing on TV? What’s with that, oh Football Powers That Be? Humph.
Sorry, the above caption was far too long but Gooners (Arsenal fans for the uninitiated) have got to have their say. We are called whiners. Maybe. Just a little.
Investigating further, I learned that the rapture would take place on a “rolling” basis – that is, it would start at 6:00 p.m. local time, wherever in the world it was. That meant that, by the time I had staggered out of bed on Saturday morning, it was already rolling in the great cities of Sydney and Brisbane Australia. I figured my brother in Brisbane would be a good candidate – always so kind and such a peacemaker. But no, he was passed over – snubbed, in fact. Just not right.
6:00 p.m. Jamaican time now, and I was messing around on Facebook, waiting for something to happen. The evening passed. Time to watch Saturday Night Live’s final fling of the season, with Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake. Weren’t they concerned by then that they had not been snatched and grabbed? As usual, there was plenty of humorous snatching and grabbing going on on the program.
And so, well…to bed. With an overwhelming feeling of anti-climax, I lay in bed with my little book (a wonderful book actually – “Bird Cloud” by Annie Proulx), and finished it. A nice and definitely uneventful Saturday… The way I like Saturdays, actually. Husband agreed.
If you were raptured, please let me know. Surely someone must have been, but it seems no deal. Not even an aged relative of ours, who goes to church several times a week, with a marathon on Sundays, visits “shut-ins” (what a weird expression that is, can’t we let them out sometimes?) and is generally quite saintly… Nope, not her. Not good enough.
Finally… Have you ever wondered what goes on up there? A deeply intellectual theological discussion started up on Facebook but quickly descended to the level of “what to wear” again… And that was after a girls’ discussion on what to wear for the day, starting with comments like, “And I am going to wear my Victoria’s Secret red satin bra and matching panties…new braids…blue nail polish…” with various brand names being dropped.
I returned to the contemplation of On High with other FB friends, who were busy debating how the “de rigeur” white robes worn in Heaven could be jazzed up a bit… a tuck here, a loop there… in the finest Egyptian cotton, of course. Still basically dull, though. And who wants to play a harp all day? Such a boring instrument, normally played by prim women in staid evening dress, sitting bolt upright in their chairs. An Irish harp, perhaps – a bit more lively, as the Irish always are. In fact, I hope there are plenty of Irish up there. Should be, since they love religion so, and have many times fought over whose version of God is the best. Perhaps that can be sorted out amicably, once and for all, Up There.
By the way, I have a mental list of those whom I would like to meet, if I should ever be admitted to Heaven (whether raptured or by the conventional “kick the bucket” route) and be handed one of those robes and a bloody harp. The list includes Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and other obvious shoe-ins for Heaven. But I would so much like to meet Oscar Wilde (he could keep me amused with his witticisms) and the wonderfully flamboyant Freddie Mercury (see an earlier blog of mine). And Kurt Cobain, to figure out why he did what he did. Was it just the drugs? Marilyn Munroe would be so much fun, too. She could tell us all about her husbands, and of course whether JFK was good in bed.
But hold on a minute – would St. Peter let those guys in? Perhaps not. Perhaps the Other Place Down There would, in fact, be much more interesting. I should give this some more thought. It might change my life. If Jimi Hendrix is not in Heaven, then I definitely don’t want to be raptured and that’s that.
And now, after all that… I’m afraid the May 21 business is passe, darlings. (Sorry, couldn’t do the French accent on “passe” but you know what I mean). Back to the drawing board, better luck next time. I’m sure there will be a whole new generation of suckers growing up who will believe (or half-believe) in such silliness.
Meanwhile, it has been good writing fodder for journalists, commentators and mere bloggers like me, the world over.
P.S. I hear the Reverend Camping (his name is a verb; and where did you go camping, reverend?) is, quote, “flabbergasted” that May 21 was a damp squib. He probably expected to be one of the first to be whisked away on a fluffy white cloud, at 6:00 p.m. California time. Perhaps, like last time (1994) the 89-year-old former engineer made a mathematical miscalculation. That’s understandable, I’m not too good at Math myself.
- Harold Camping “flabbergasted” by non-Rapture – CBS News (news.google.com)
- Maddow Survives The Rapture! (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rapture a No-Show: San Francisco Chronicle
The Petchary has plenty of other things to write about. But, setting them aside for now, she needs a little introspection on this matter of ageing, on the eve of her sixtieth birthday.
I have jotted down just a few reflections here. Firstly, one has to overcome and endure the exclamations (“But you don’t look it!” and “Age is just a number,” and so on) from kind and well-meaning friends and acquaintances. Well, physically one looks (and feels) it, but the spirit remains the same. Why should it – why would it – be any different from the same spirit, the same inward self, that I was at sixteen, or thirty, or forty-five?
WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, 5 And loved your beauty with love false or true; But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face. And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled 10 And paced upon the mountains overhead, And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Yes – I think of myself as a pilgrim soul. But so are all the other souls around me; and, especially, my husband and son, stepping along the dusty road that winds round the mountainside with me, and sitting down to rest along the way, arms round each other. In the past few years, first my father and then my mother have stepped off the road for a while; they are resting together in a quiet grove of trees, and sometimes call out words of encouragement.
Unlike Mr. Yeats, however, I don’t find that love has fled. It is actually a more powerful force than when the Petchary was twenty or thirty years younger. Then, she used to wonder whether love was an artful fabrication, a burden to be endured, a ridiculous fantasy, a complete fake (like romantic comedies, and the dreadful movie “Pretty Woman,”) – something you were supposed to “feel,” but didn’t. No one tells you when you are young that love is a slow burner, it’s not just romance or sex, it’s something much deeper than that, sliding along like a slow river that sometimes skitters over stones and at other times flows dark and strong. But you keep following that river.
So, for the Petchary, growing old goes something like this – here’s my “top ten” – and perhaps #1 ought to be right there but apart from that this is in no particular order.
- You feel just the same, inside, and wonder why younger people don’t understand that.
- You have veered further and further away from “organized religion.”
- On the other hand, you somehow feel a more “spiritual being”, and as time goes by, you start believing there is something to the reincarnation thing after all (I now carefully rescue drowning spiders from the bathwater).
- You find that you can actually enjoy doing something that you are good at.
- You don’t feel really different physically, but odd unexplained twinges (knees, my left wrist that I broke some eighteen months ago, stomach, toes, whatever) occur regularly. So what.
- You get to love young people, and that light in their eyes.
- Babies become slightly odd creatures (they are, aren’t they?) But I may feel differently if/when I become a grandmother.
- You love art, music, books, movies more than ever, and they become your expression too (and in my case, writing in particular). It all flows beautifully.
- You have an increasingly sweet tooth, and don’t always feel as guilty about it as you should.
- (This should be the joint #1) you love and appreciate your husband and son, your fellow-pilgrims, more deeply each day.
I know, I am ending on a sentimental note, but I have to say just one more thing.
I am grateful.
- Today is World Poetry Day (ncbookbunch.wordpress.com)
- Musical Sunshine (via Petchary’s Blog) (petchary.wordpress.com)
- DublinSwell 2011: Mike Scott interprets W.B. Yeats’ epic poems ‘September 1913′ and ‘Let The Earth Bear Witness’ in song (kimbofo.typepad.com)
An incredibly beautiful and sweet mix of philosophizing, meditative vocals and… people. This is a longer, more complicated version of the track on “One Giant Leap,” but equally mesmerizing.