Tuesday 17 April 2018

I haven't finished dancing with you yet

There comes a time when we slightly older folk question the point of things.  What, we say, is it all for?  We have come this far, and however we got here, we notice that we are exactly that, here.  Once we saw life as a long, long road, winding away in front of us.  Now, we take a look at this road and see that it stretches a long, long way behind us.  The path is finite.  We knew that of course, everyone does, but we didn't feel it.

Here in Bognor Regis, I think I am still at the beginning of things.  I think, Oh - some day I will do this thing, or that thing, there is plenty of time, but first I need to work out who I am.  And before I do that, I must have a peanut butter sandwich, clean the kitchen, read a book or write some very important lists.  I have plans, I have ambitions, and I think that if only Woman's Hour knew I was here, they'd love me. But I am not going to do anything about it, because that is something for later.  Right now, I need to work out who I am and what I want, and before I do that, I must make another sandwich and have a long sit down on a comfy sofa. 

My home is lovely.  For a long time it held my children, then it held lodgers, and now, it holds me, my youngest son and a lodger in the annex.  I can go days without meeting anyone in the house.  There is space and there is silence.  I have it decorated and sorted to suit myself, I have arranged it so that everywhere I look there is something to delight me.  The garden is slightly mad but full of green and colour, it feels like it's mine.  The studio is full of paints, full of bits and pieces and has the A Graceful Death exhibition stacked against one of the walls.  I hoovered it so it is clean too.  Here I am then, if I chose it, I can lie around all day peeling grapes and shopping online.  I can, at this later stage of my life, do anything I want.  I can opt in, or I can opt out.

 But that is when I take a look, and see that I have paused on the long winding road that was once stretching into the distance.  I put down my bags and notice that it is longer behind me than ahead.  I think, But I am still at the beginning of things!  What, then, is it all for?

What is it all for?

There may be a different answer each time I ask this of myself.  Mostly, it is all about me - how do I feel better, how do I know what I want to do, how do I do it, and do I have to do it now?  Or can I have a long hot bubble bath and paint my toenails red first. 

And then, I am quite capable of saying Yes!  I know what to do, I'll do it now, it is all clear to me and off I go, helter skelter, into a project and into life, doing great stuff and getting things done.  But that always comes to a natural end.  Recently, in the quiet times after a busy period, I am taking a look at this road I am on, that is not as long before me as behind me now, and I ask, What is it all for?  What has it all been for?  I begin to question the effectiveness of things, and I wonder, has it really been any good?

The gift

I dreamt that I was sitting next to someone in a hallway.  I know who you are, I said, and I touched his sleeve.  Ten years ago, my partner Steve died and for a while, until I met Alan who I married after eight years of thinking about it, just before he too died in 2016, the light went out of my life.  In my dream, I was sitting next to Steve, he looked different but I knew it was him.  I am going to a dance on Friday, he said.  I wanted to go with him, and asked if I could come. Someone was standing behind me in this hallway as I spoke to Steve, the presence was strong and comforting, and without looking around I knew it was Alan.  Oh I wanted so much to go to this dance with them both - Let me come with you! I said, to Steve and Alan, I haven't finished dancing with you yet. 

The gift on my waking, is that life goes on.  If I could for a moment go to that dance with Alan and Steve, and dance with them both one more time, I would have been so happy.  But it is life I have not finished dancing with yet.  Alan and Steve are dancing somewhere else to a different tune, and I have the gift of this life here. Whatever I think it is or is not for, it is up to me to keep on dancing.  It is up to me, with my peanut butter sandwiches, my red toenails, my long hot bubble baths and my surprise that Woman's Hour haven't asked to broadcast from my studio yet, up to me to just keep on dancing.  Down that road, with the past behind me and the future ahead, whatever dance comes to mind, just keep on going, tapping with my toes and clapping with my hands, jumping to the rhythm in my heart.

What it is all for

What is it all for?  It is for life! For living!  Even the dark moments are life!  Life goes up and down, in waves of happy and sad, in waves of being busy and not being busy, in rushing and being still, it doesn't matter, it is all life.  So when we put our bags down on our path through this world, and gaze behind ourselves with alarm, and look nervously ahead - kick up your heels - pick up those heavy bags, feel the beat and boogie on. There is a dance going down on Friday!