Posted in Lost in Thought

Those Who Are Still With Us

Weather is suddenly cold… cold in the ‘I don’t want to leave this cosy room and go out into the rest of the less cosy house’ kind of way. The empire-building game I play has a Halloween event running, though I don’t feel ready for Halloween yet.

Mum found out today that one of the locals died violently. We didn’t know him as a friend but have spoken to him a few times. Normally Mum does all the talking but I spoke with him myself some time before the lockdown.

When a bad thing happens, it leaves you with a horrible feeling. There’s a heaviness at the pit of your stomach and you feel terrible for everybody involved. This is something none will ever forget or recover from.

Life is like that for all of us to a degree. At times we meet with deep, cold darkness and have to live with it. One of the worst things is that the people you want to save, speak to or comfort are beyond your reach, and will never be seen again in this world. You always want to go back and pay more attention to the people you’re about to lose, but it’s never possible. We could pay more attention to everybody all the time, but it’s not possible. There’s a reason why we live normally and pass from one thing to the next thing as quickly as we can, as though things will be the same from one day to the next, which they usually are.

I could go off my rocker a bit and say actually there are always losses and the next day is never quite the same as this, because even if there have been no human deaths, some birds will have fallen out of the sky unseen, and a spider that was crawling across your carpet tonight could be a lifeless ball of legs by morning. Weeds die, flowers die, leaves flutter off the trees and shrivel, houseplants given to you by someone you lost most regrettably die… you won’t get them back even while you guiltily wonder if you could have looked after them better. You eat your chocolate bunny and it doesn’t exist any more — there’s another in the drawer but it’s not the same bunny even if it looks like it. The world has never been the same since I ate that marzipan frog in 1986. I always felt I shouldn’t have eaten it, but it would have fallen to dust eventually anyway!

Then there are micro-losses, if you know what I mean… songs are always disappearing because you listen to one for three minutes till it ends, and the next one begins, then that too is gone. Maybe they play over again in your head — they do in mine, but there’s something oddly haunting and non-existent about them, as though they are the lamentations of the dead. You might spend all year listening to The Pachelbel Canon repeatedly, then next year you hardly think about it because you’ve switched to playing something else. Then suddenly you come across it again and wonder why you wasted so much time not listening to it — it’s the most wonderful tune in the world.

Nothing is ever quite the same, which is how things change so imperceptibly that one day we sit up with a shock, realizing we’ve moved so far away from a particular time that we can never get back to it. You feel it as a pain that’s all your own, but we are all going through it all the time, regretting the loss of people, places and things — of eras, seasons and states of being.

Mindfulness advises we should try to stay in the present. That does help bring back a sense of normality and comfort, and stops us brooding, or tries to. I would always come back to a feeling of discomfort, however — wondering what or who I’ve forgotten to pay attention to in my memory. I suppose if we are fully present in the here and now we won’t overwhelm ourselves with a limitless multitude of things we can’t do anything about — instead we can give lots of attention and love to those who are still with us and in our space.

Posted in Life and Family, Lost in Thought

The Year That Never Was

Summer has gone, more or less. It’s raining a lot and cold winds are beginning to blow. A Hercule Poirot drama about a Halloween Party was on television this afternoon. It felt right for all sorts of reasons. At the end he said something about Halloween being a time to light the candles for the departed, and I liked that. We make it into a horror event, but perhaps it’s more about peaceful contemplation and acknowledgement of all those who have gone before.

I have barely been out since lockdown hit, and it’s hard to believe the year is nearly through. So much happened globally, yet so much has not happened at all. My mother said she sometimes forgets about Covid-19 and all the restrictions, and it takes an effort to remember. I find the same, but at the same time we have been so locked away that it’s been a year of almost complete blankness… that’s not normal. It’s as though everybody we knew died long ago and are now just existing in our memories.

When somebody does die, the lockdown makes it worse. A friend used to take us out for coffee. We talked about how we would all go out for coffee again when the lockdown was over. I got emails from her, offers to shop for groceries, even flowers for my birthday, but haven’t seen her in person since January or February. Suddenly she’s gone — died during the night. She was one of Mum’s friends, around the same age, but would write me conversations when we were out — very sweet, bright and cheerful. I feel a real sense of loss. It complicates it that we were going to meet again when life started to get back to normal, and I looked forward to it, but now that coffee will never be.

I didn’t even realize how much I looked forward to it till it was gone… you just take it for granted it will happen, the same way you assume you will be getting up the next morning.

I asked Mum why Anne was so kind to so many, and she said maybe it’s because she’s a writer; used to be a journalist and is curious about people. Many will miss her.

Recently I’ve been playing an empire-building game online. Despite my determination to play my own game and keep to myself, I find myself increasingly drawn in to the community there. Somebody I never spoke to but who was part of our group suddenly announced today that he had gone so far in the game that there was nothing left that was new or fun, and he couldn’t do it any more. He was henceforth leaving, but he bade us all a kind farewell and hoped we would all continue to play and enjoy the game.

Nobody said anything in the public threads, and just carried on with normal business, which was reassuring… a form of ‘life goes on’. I looked at this name and that, thinking “I’m glad X, Y and Z are still here!” It really felt as though he had thrown himself off a cliff (which of course he hadn’t… he just went back to normal life and found something else to do and people in his own environment to talk to).

As the day went on, I grew more and more gloomy, thinking about Anne, my father, grandparents and others who have gone. It’s as though the game player’s departure had triggered those thoughts, which is apt, as his username is Trigger… what else?? I went to look at his city to make sure he hadn’t deleted it outright, but it’s still there. I don’t know this person but don’t like being left by anybody… life is cold enough. The more people who leave for whatever reason, the worse the world seems. Is that normal, though? It’s the normal state of being, isn’t it? We can’t all be there for everyone forever.

I feel distant from everything — from my past, my old hobbies, from people and from everything that used to matter. It’s struck me that big families are important. You need to have a big, supportive family who know you very well, preferably not living halfway across the world from you. I know this is an ideal scenario and some people might feel their families are not that supportive or kind, but life isn’t perfect and it’s still the ideal.

I find it difficult to write on my blog because I get cold feet even when I’ve written something I was happy with. Sometimes it’s difficult because I re-read things and wonder “why do I always sound morose?” or “I sound more angry there than I actually felt”… which is bad writing, perhaps. I wrote a post about books I was reading, then couldn’t bring myself to publish it, but that was because of recent political events.

I said a few paragraphs back that I feel distant from everything that used to mean anything to me, so perhaps it says something that I still blog now and then. My blog is a big part of my life despite the multiple cold feet I grow here. 🙂

For several days the song in my head has been Son of My Father. I used to play the song a lot as a schoolgirl, so it’s a link to a time when life seemed straightforward.

When I was younger, anything dramatic seemed wonderful or unusual. Life was ordinary and nothing spectacular happened to anyone, so if anything happened in my life that seemed like it was out of a book or a film, I had to tell everyone about it. Now it seems entirely the other way, and nothing is worthy of note, least of all my own thoughts. What was light and normal with rare notes of dark and drama is now chaos and darkness with brief flashes of light. That’s how it’s always been, but I didn’t have enough experience to see it.

Thank goodness for Poirot with his ‘light the candles’… We can take that thought with us into the dark, and yes — I will light mine.

Posted in Blogging, Lost in Thought

Facing Change

This morning I found myself typing the following into a search engine: “when you’ve changed so much you don’t recognize yourself.”

I didn’t find much relevant in the results. They were mostly by people talking about something else entirely. They have fallen in love and are suddenly no longer interested in their old friends; they have lost trust in someone and wonder if they should give second chances; they regret their own actions but are no longer trusted by those around them. These are not what I’m talking about.

What came closer to it was a page about how major episodes of depression can change you; people think recovery is going back to their old selves and feeling the way they used to, yet it’s unlikely you’ll be exactly the same person you were. I know that feeling too, but it’s only part of the story here.

Surely most of us have these dizzying shifts in perspective as we go through life. It can happen quite quickly, over a few days… you go through a hard experience of some kind, and one morning everything looks permanently different. We might not understand what has happened, but our way of thinking has changed for some reason. What we are upset about is probably the realization we were mistaken in some way, are not who we thought we were, or don’t have something we thought we had or would have.

I miss that old comfortable groove where I could see the world in one particular way, rain and shine, day in and day out… but it was also a bleak groove, and was becoming bleaker as the years rolled by. I may have blamed myself sometimes, but have not been solely responsible for the growing chill in the world I thought I knew.

I said I changed, and I have, but it’s more as though I was lost and sailing in a mist, then the mist lifted and I could see my way and set a firmer direction. I always had contradictory views, but some started to make more sense and I stopped ignoring them.

My point is that these big changes in our perspectives don’t have to lead to loss of self and resulting depression; they can clarify and confirm parts of ourselves we didn’t understand before, which is beneficial and even healing. I would argue that they are always beneficial if we accept that such changes can lead us to a terra firma we would otherwise not have found.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog here, and I guess that the longer I’ve been blogging, the more distant I am from some of what I’ve written. Yet the old posts still describe how I was at a certain point in time. I’m not sure I can even blog the way I did before, because so much in me has changed. This is part of why I felt I couldn’t recognize myself any more.

I’ve talked about big changes, but small things also have the potential to affect our outlook. Not all do; you might be drifting placidly from day to day, thinking “I’ll have to try this thing, and change that particular habit,” then totally forget, and nothing happens. Then somebody or something comes into your life and upsets your boat, and you find yourself splashing about in the water for a while, spluttering up at the sky and thinking “I never noticed before how blue it was!”

Even if it’s a very short-lived thing, it’s not just a temporary experience… you learn something new from it and remember, and it’s all part of the change in your thinking.

As an example… two days ago, Storm Ali blew a baby pigeon out of its nest and into my house. That is, it fell from its nest and one of the cats brought it in. I tried to care for it but it died after two days — died earlier this afternoon. I tried to remain impassive about it but it was impossible. Yes, I knew I’d be upset, but was startled how hysterical I became.

Perhaps the pigeon tapped into something in me that was already there — an old grief as well as new. I had a similar experience when one of my cats died some years ago; normal grief overlying something much deeper.

Grief is about loss, of course it is, but there’s something more to it. There’s a cold wind blowing through the gap, and you’re reminded of the vast emptiness where we all end up. The heights of a cliff or a great bridge are terrifying enough, but petty when compared to the great void ahead of us. How can this happen? We must always be safe… and yet we’re not.

Perhaps ultimately we are, though, and we don’t know it. I was oddly comforted by a passage in a book I read years ago. I can’t remember the title and am not sure how accurately I’m remembering, but someone said he was dying out on the cold mountainside, and it felt as though he was becoming one with the stones. He was rescued, but I thought to myself it’s not so bad if we do become part of the world we’re being released into.

It’s small comfort at the moment, as I still want to protect and keep that brief little soul safe and warm, and have still not sent him out into the cold. Maybe his mother is grieving too… well that makes two of us tonight.

Posted in Lost in Thought, Observations

Less Fear, More Adventure

I’m busier and more energetic than I was during previous months, but lurking under all of that is a feeling of sadness. I won’t say that I don’t know why… it would surprise me if there was even one person under the sun who doesn’t know the feeling. The more connected and involved you are, the more deeply buried is that discomfort, but it will surface eventually.

I think a lot of it is because things change so fast. You have parents, grandparents and friends at school, then suddenly it’s just your parents (maybe one parent), and friends at university (different friends)… then you are working and living somewhere else. You have pets, and when they die, you soothe your grief with new kittens or puppies, who grow old in their turn.

With every year, your past drops more and more behind, and all of a sudden you wake in the middle of the night and realize the sheer weight of all of the things you don’t have any more, some of which you didn’t even notice stopping or going away.

Every year it gets worse. The things and people you have right now, most of which you take for granted even while you love and appreciate them, will one day be mist and memories like everything else.

Even as you look around the room, paying more attention to your surroundings than you normally do, there’s something unsatisfying about the experience. Objects fade into hazy dimness after your gaze moves on, and it’s as though your here and now isn’t real… in fact, it isn’t! The moment is already gone, and what’s no longer in your sight (even while still in the room) is just memory… if that.

Your mind is the same — like your gaze, it moves over objects and environment, spotlighting things for as long as you care to dwell, then letting them slide into the dark. Having gone into that dark, it can be a struggle for some things to ever reappear again!

It turns into a merry-go-round or baggage carousel, with your thoughts as the same oddly shaped baggage passing time after time. There’s the big blue trunk… the drab rucksack… the red vanity case. The big blue trunk again — I’ll need it soon, but the moment’s not right. The red vanity case… so bright and pretty nobody would ever forget about it. Wasn’t there another one? What was it again, and do I care? I’m comfortable enough without it. Oh wait, the drab rucksack! I do need that because my documents are in it.

On some days the same bags pass repeatedly, and I can never understand why they don’t stay put in my mind for when I need them. Instead, they are doomed to constantly disappear, and when they reappear, I’m as surprised as I was the first time.

Some nights I use a particular thought to comfort myself, as though I’ve found a cosy spot and collected the red vanity case onto my knees. I open it and spend time admiring the colourful contents and inhaling favourite perfumes. I don’t move on from that for a while, but eventually my mind drifts away of its own accord, sometimes to scarier places. Finally those thoughts too, flit away, and I fall asleep.

I feel quite sorry for us as living beings. We aspire to be more, but are mere flashes of light and electricity; sparkling stardust and water. Amongst each other we walk, striving to keep each other fixed and secure, but things continually move on and change. New technologies become old in no time at all, and the sands shift beneath our feet.

And yet… nothing has changed at all. We’re the same people, living the same lives. I feel as though I’m living a life that somebody else has lived before me, experiencing trials and tribulations that troubled someone else in another age. The same words are used over and over through the generations… right, left, poverty, trade, global, independence, freedom, nation, kindness, love, fellowship, hope, despair. The old forces still stalk the land. We invent things… then decide the way we did things in the past were better, often because they were.

I’m rambling now; thoughts passing by repeatedly. I don’t know any more if they are connected — I’m just lighting on each one in turn.

This doesn’t mean we should cling to possessions no matter what. My family used to collect books, cameras, postcards, cat ornaments, Piggin ornaments, teddy bears, model cars… We also used to get into hobbies like silk painting, machine knitting, cross stitch, beadwork and more. Stuff built up around us and became a burden.

We made serious moves to declutter. The house is emptier but feels easier to clean and move around in. Things are easier to find. I remember a few items with regret and nostalgia, but in general there’s nothing I miss or would have back. I wish we had never accumulated so much stuff — it sat around for years and got in the way! Wasted space, wasted money, wasted energy.

We are more cautious buyers these days. The things we keep are those we really love or appreciate. Like everyone, we are limited… limited in energy, scope, memory, appetite, patience and time.

I’m not sure what the world would be like if there were no limits in what we could have, do or remember! That sounds like a dream come true, but if nothing was fresh and new any more, imagine the boredom. It’s nice for things (and living beings) to constantly renew; not just corporeal forms but also minds and personal experience — for young lambs to be born for whom the world is still a shining wonder. For those of us who have lived some time, forgetting may have its issues, but it’s also a part of healing.

Perhaps, instead of grieving after what we have lost, we should look forward to whatever might still come into our lives; new loves we don’t yet know… even if it’s only more space and greater peace, or a more unpredictable and adventurous life.

Posted in Health Issues, Lost in Thought

Mindfulness Experiment Gone Awry

A good way of escaping unwelcome introspection, I’ve read, is to imagine yourself in the ocean. The colourful fish swimming past you are your thoughts — you observe them swimming past, perhaps going round you a few times, then they are gone.

My initial reaction, really, is that I don’t want to be in the ocean! Just yesterday I viewed a photo of sting-rays and sharks nosing sharply around, and that’s the image that came to mind when I read the above idea.

Some of my thoughts might well be sharks, not clown fish. I wonder how many other people out there would empathize with this? Well, let’s just go with this mental image for a while, and see what happens. Here’s me floating in the murky sea water, surrounded by flitting predatorial shapes.

What is this shark? He’s looking right in my face, like the old fellow from that turtle film, Sammy’s Adventures. What does he represent?

Whoa!

When I started the exercise, I closed my eyes and visualized a 3D cartoon image because of remembering about Sammy the turtle, then linked the looming shark to the worries in my mind. Instantly, the oceans closed in. Depths dropped away below me, all my friends were gone, no safety anywhere. Nothing was in my future but cold drowning and too many teeth.

Do what you do with a nightmare — banish it. Swim back up for a few breaths of fresh air. I don’t think that’s what they had in mind… I’m supposed to be relaxing happily, my thoughts swimming past and disappearing unchallenged. How do you let go of a big grey Thought that’s taking far too much interest in you?

Summoning it up in that form may have been a mistake, unless I take control and cause it to swim away. Is that doable? No, it’s just hanging there in the water, staring at me. I can’t imagine it gone. Even if it swam off, it would circle round then return.

“Do I look like food to you?” as Sammy said to the wee red fish, who grinned toothily and nodded. This is not my idea of relaxation. Maybe I could try an inflatable swimming pool instead?

Hmm… Ground feels bumpy underneath, but at least nothing is swimming around in here. (Feels around dubiously). There’s grit in the pool, and bits of grass. When I climbed in, I took bits of the lawn with me, stuck to the soles of my feet. Irritating.

Any minute now, somebody’s going to scream at me to come in for lunch.

Posted in Books, Desktop Pictures, Technology and Software

They are Just Books

Time for bed… just wondered if there was anything to blog about.

I seem to have recovered my creative spark (touch wood) and have been making more desktop wallpapers… few of which ever get posted! I always find a reason to hold back, and I made three versions of the same one today. Haven’t decided which I like best, yet.

Green Photoshop design with a jewel in the middle.

Have finished reading Snobs by Julian Fellowes, which I enjoyed. Before that, I read Watching the English by Kate Fox, which was also enjoyable. Part of the reason I wanted to read it is that sometimes I wonder how British I am! There are things that have thrown me about other Brits (or folk in general?), and I wondered if the book would help. I recognized myself in some of the descriptions, but not others… (the pub culture, for instance. Any kind of pronounced drinking has always seemed to me bizarre, whether of tea, coffee or beer… but Kate Fox offers an explanation for it).

Both of those books have something in common — a wry look at the English class system.

Because of all the recent faffing about out-of-date browsers, I had to switch my blogging from my small old Mac to my big new one. I didn’t want to, but I suppose it will be easier to post pictures to my blog… this is my picture-making machine.

I have been buying our Patrick O’Brian novels all over again… we invited a bookseller to our house to look through our books, and he took a lot that weren’t actually for sale. I’m still upset about the strangest books… like my small collection of Asterix comics, including one in French. (‘Ils sont fous, ces Romains!’) I bought most of them as a student, as a kind of ‘end of the day’ treat; a break from studying.

My mother said she misses books too… she had some in her possession longer than she’s had me! Her mother lent out a book she bought with her pocket money when she was a girl… Scottish Chiefs by Janet Porter. All these years later, and she’s still upset that it was never given back.

I guess I knew that books were important to us; worlds such as The Wind in the Willows are almost homes on their own… and you get used to having those particular books sitting there, lining the walls like bulwarks against the world. I still have my Wind in the Willows paperback copy. Printed 1973, quite battered, and with my name written inside along with ‘Primary 7’! But I feel that it’s MY copy, and not a replacement bought recently. This is the very copy that made me cry when Moley sensed his home nearby.

Still, it was a shock that I felt so strongly about losing the other books… you think “did they really matter so much to me?” Simply replacing them (possible in some cases) isn’t enough… you want your original ones back, like my grandfather’s copy of poems by George Mackay Brown. (I got my other GMBs back, but he had already sold that one after having it for just one day).

You would imagine this would label me as a die-hard ‘printed book’ reader, someone who would never use an eBook reader. It has had the opposite effect, though… the thought of having books that can’t be passed from my possession to someone else’s is suddenly very attractive. I can see an e-reader lurking in my very near future.

They are just books… so I tell myself! But I’m tightening my defences.

Posted in BlogFriday, Life and Family, My Cats

Only Human

I was struggling to come up with something for this week’s BlogFriday word, ‘tears’. I could research and write something factual, tell a sad or a funny story – I could talk about my tears, or someone else’s. We all have them, even if we have to squeeze them out of a bottle.

I wish I could have written Katyboo’s The self fulfilling Caucus Race – it reduced me to tears of laughter. I’m glad she went ahead and wrote it down anyway; I couldn’t have, mostly because I haven’t gone through her particular experiences. On reflection, I’m quite glad of that. I found her when following some tags the other day, and had to wrestle with an unworthy desire to keep her all to myself.

When you’re not gifted with so much ebullient humour, ‘tears’ is a hard word to write about. I don’t want my blog to be angry or miserable, though at the same time I want it to represent the life I’m really living. I was wrestling with these feelings when I got up this morning, and about the first thing I saw on my computer screen (apart from the 3D wallpaper from Caedes and an unsorted rank of desktop icons) was my horoscope for today.

“However you feel is how you feel, so don’t try to hide it. If other people are uncomfortable with your anger, your happiness, or whatever emotion you’re exhibiting, that is just too bad for them. You’re not a robot, so why should you act like one? Beware of people who think that hiding how you really feel is some sort of superior, more powerful way to be. Not acknowledging your feelings can become a very unhealthy habit – one that can keep you from having honest connections with others.”

Alright then… wasn’t the word ‘tears’? I have a bottle of them beside my bed.

The optician’s receptionist (I nearly called her the optionist) gave me them for nothing when I was complaining about gritty eyes. They don’t feel any less tired, but I smiled this morning at how shiny they were… it just struck me as funny, all of a sudden. I’m sitting-up mud with dark eyes glimmering out at everything. Just look at all of you, reading my blog. Take away the spectacles, the veils, the hats, the hoods, the hair and the sleepy, rubbing fists… behind them are eyes so shiny they’re like mirrors.

These drippy bad boys are full of natural painkillers. When your middle gets icy cold, that’s almost physical pain, not just emotional. The heat seems to squeeze out through your eyes.

The two of us living here in Mum’s house were supposed to be having an adventure. Thence we had fled, abandoning our own home. While Mum got on with things downstairs, we were playing Anne Frank in the attic, hiding out upstairs and sneaking down for food. Sharky was the last of four cats, and when he died, it was as though I was losing everything all over again: not just his love and companionship, but the entire feline crowd, our house, and the life we lived together.

Ah! Those halycon days! Those days when Thor was beating up everybody except the giant Maine Coon in the next street, when Lucky smiled at me from the back door, and Fusspot teased the seagulls and made them stress out all over my washing. Those days when I had an office to dislike with cordial passion, cat shows to get incomprehensibly excited over, and Star Trek Voyager showing every week on BBC2 at 6 PM. Just like Lister in the Red Dwarf, I’d settle down with my curries and shandy and didn’t have to worry about someone else wanting the Antique Roadshow instead. The cats weren’t into clocks and Welsh dressers.

I thought he’d be with me for years yet, with his kind wisdom, energy and humour. The two of us had moved away but could return if we wanted, to the scolding seagulls and the takeaway belching greasy smoke at the bottom of the garden. Together we were complicit in the lie that we could go back while choosing not to. My penpal described it perfectly when she said “Sharky was your bit of continuity” – that’s what made it so particularly hard to bear.

I’m no robot – it’s true.

Posted in Books, My Cats

The Spring Brings Flowers

From one of the essays I read:

The autumn with its fruits provides disorders for us, and the winter’s cold turns them into sharp diseases, and the spring brings flowers to strew our hearse, and the summer gives green turf and brambles to bind upon our graves.

(From ‘On Death’ by Jeremy Taylor, 1613-67)

Thor died in April last year along with Mum’s cat Jay. This year it was the turn of Fusspot in March. Four of my sister’s friends have lost pets in recent weeks, both cats and dogs. Two of Mum’s friends passed on. Then I read the essay. “Hmm,” I thought, “I was just thinking early spring seems to be the time… but then I have said the same about November, December, and January.”

Leigh Hunt’s essays on blissful slumber are still my favourites, inspiring brighter thoughts… all those who have left us have nodded by warm firesides and curled up in soft beds. They have known sleep and forgetfulness of care, and they sleep now.

Posted in Lost in Thought, Music I Like, Pet-Minding, Rants

Nothing Lasts Forever

On Saturday I was tramping along in the hot sun, N’s dog Thundercloud at my side. I was thinking about the fragility of human relationships. In some nothing seems to be wrong but they fall apart anyway. All it takes is for one person to lack drive, to fear commitment, or to believe they can have something better with different companions. And yet there’s nothing wrong with living apart – we cannot own each other. It’s enough that people get along and give aid or friendship when needed.

Before that I had been thinking about the impermanence of other things. Nothing that we have thought, said or done will survive for all time. Only if humans somehow survive into infinity will a selection of our works and knowledge accompany them. But if the human race dies, everything we have created also dies.

While on that topic, there are the individuals – the plants, animals and people, dying one by one. It’s terrible to think of those we love just ceasing to be, yet immortality would be a terrible thing. Reproduction would have to cease if we didn’t want to live on each other’s shoulders, eight miles high.

I tried to imagine another world where every soul who has ever lived continues existence in more or less that form. How do they find the room? It must be full by now. It’s crowded enough where we are – how much worse would it be in this other world?

Still musing about doomed relationships and the fleeting nature of people and things, I passed a tiny, beautifully tended Japanese-style garden. Something about it was just too perfect and too manicured to be true.

“Somebody went to a lot of trouble with that patch of earth,” I thought, “and yet will be fighting with weeds and grass popping up where not wanted, and eventually will get tired of it and change it, or sell it to someone else who will dig up the whole thing and plant potatoes. And one day maybe it will all be barren land with rocks and scrub as far as the eye can see – no trace of this little place. Nothing lasts forever.”

And there it was – that phrase, the one that connected everything I’d been thinking. A song I loved as a teenager came welling out of a shadowy corner of my memories. I played it repeatedly in the house we left a long time ago in a town we no longer see. People and animals lived in that house who are long since gone. I haven’t thought about this song for years – and there it was in my head as though I’d been listening to it only yesterday.

Nothing lasts forever
Of that I’m sure
Now you’ve made an offer
I’ll take some more

Up till then I had just been trudging and thinking in a dull kind of way, but suddenly something changed. There was joy and rediscovery, mixed with sadness.

Nothing lasts forever…

Bryan Ferry!

haunting solo…

I loved that singer. Did he think about the same sort of things? When did he just fade into my past and remain forgotten? When did I become somebody else?

When I turn the corner
I can’t believe
It’s still the same old movie
That’s haunting me

This song has been in my head ever since that moment and I don’t want to let it go. It reconnects me to my past and brings perspective to the present.

For now it’s the same old scene – but nothing lasts forever.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was on Blogigo:

kateblogs wrote at Jun 12, 2006 at 13:28:
What a wonderful post. So evocative.

drifting wrote at Jun 13, 2006 at 07:21:
What kateblogs said!

jasrus1969 wrote at Feb 10, 2008 at 23:50:
Heard this same tune on Ashes To Ashes the other night, lovely tune, very thought provoking and just glad I tracked it down.