|Where the day ends and begins. |
I would love to chose a fascinating, action packed day, but in the interests of truth, I rarely have them. My days, and I imagine your days, are an equal mixture of doing things and thinking of doing things. And, I can lose whole sections of the day in just thinking alone. In the olden days, when I belonged in the world, I would whizz about in my car seeing people, doing things, juggling my phone and my calendar and having tea parties here in my home. I'd say, "Oh I can book you in for ten minutes next month. Will that do?" to friends and family, and I would feel both important and a little frazzled
I could make a day up - no one would ever know. But I won't. Let's begin. Here is my day today.
I wake often in the night, see that it is still dark outside, and wish it were not. I love the dawn, and the birds starting their early morning songs, and the feeling of newness that it all brings. I can't wait for the light to come back, I am excited that eventually it will be daytime. During the night, in between sleeps, I anticipate getting up at daybreak, at the official end the night time, to make myself tea. Where shall I drink my tea? I ask myself, and fall back asleep. When dawn does come, I am so excited that I pass out completely and stay that way until I wake with a start, much later, and can't imagine what made me think it necessary in the night to get up and make tea in the morning. My bed is so delicious, I don't feel nearly so excited about the day ahead and I wonder if, just for today, I could get away with spending it in bed. Who would know, I think to myself, who would know? But then, I tell everyone everything, so everyone would know. Damn.
This morning though, I have a plan. In the night, the plan was so exciting - I was to get up very early, make a flask of tea and some delicious sandwiches and go on a ten mile walk. As I drifted off, I saw myself on the Downs walking in the early morning mist, strong and determined, with a litre and a half of stong tea and some doorstep sandwiches made from a loaf of fresh brown bread. There I go, I saw in my mind's eye, striding like a land girl of old, robust and glowing and covering the miles like a pro. But when I come to again, long after dawn, in my fabulous bed with the memory foam mattress, I change my mind. I know, I say to myself, I will have tea here, in bed, and go on the walk later. I will take sandwiches for my lunch, not breakfast, and that is a much better idea.
On the 5 June, I am doing a 26 mile Mighty Hike for Macmillan, the cancer support charity, and so it is essential that I get myself ready to do this long walk. Over the last year I have moved less and less and now I am like a cartoon fat cat that can't get off the sofa, it just has to fall off. So, a wonderful charity, a wonderful walk, and a real challenge. This is why I am planning a 10 mile walk today. I have done 8 miles a few times, so today I am upping the ante. This is all very well, I say to myself still in my ridiculously comforting bed, but the ante is very much ahead of me, and yet to be upped. It's all about discipline, I tell myself, and turn over for another five minutes.
It takes some time, lying in my increasingly addictive bed, before I get myself out of it to go downstairs, make a pot of tea and carry it back upstairs. All the while, I think, any minute now, I will get ready and do my walk.
Suddenly, at about 10am, I have a burst of determination. Dammit, I say, I am ready. I put on my walking clothes, make a giant sandwich, fill a water bottle and get into the car. This, I say, is the real me. If only I had done this earlier.
|The world is older and wiser than we can ever be. |
Soon, the car parked, my bag on my back, I am on my way to walk 10 miles. As I walk, I feel optimism creeping into my heart, I feel a smile starting and I think, Oh! How beautiful is this, how happy I am and how this walking is really the answer to all of life. I walk at a steady pace through fields, woods, mud and chalk paths until I reach my lunch spot, just over 5 miles from the start. Sitting on an old moss covered wooden stile, listening to the birds singing loudly in the trees, and gazing at the deep blueness of the sky, I feel that all really is well. Whatever we worry about will pass away into nothing and somehow, the world will keep turning. And right now, eating brown bread and butter sandwiches under the brightest of blue skies with both the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, the world I can see around me for miles in all directions, is very beautiful and far wiser and older than I can imagine. The world holds me, right now, in this peace and natural beauty, I do not hold it. I am very lucky to be here.
In the car, much later, having completed the walk and gratefully sitting down, I check my phone and see that I have walked 11 miles. Move over Paula Radcliffe, I say in my head, I'm coming up fast behind you. Feeling very noble, I drive home through beautiful Sussex countryside that, having walked 11 miles through it just now, I feel I know very well. For a short while, I identify with those people who live on the moors and wild open places, reading the stars and understanding what the weather will be by looking at moss, and cattle, and who think nothing of walking through the bracken following their inner compass born of a lifetime living close to nature. When I get home, this feeling lessens a bit as I return to my very comfortable house to run a hot bath, make a huge pot of tea and some scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs are my ultimate comfort food. I have three eggs.
|I have three eggs. I am an athlete. No kidding.|
Two hours pass in a haze of warm water, aching legs, scrambled eggs, and talking books. Soon, I have to get out because at some point, everyone has to leave their bath. Even the queen has to leave her bath, even Dolly Parton has to leave her bath. So, slowly, I leave my bath. It is now late afternoon and I still have things to do. I have this blog to write, and I have a group video chat with my cousins. But first, putting on my leopard print pyjamas and my late husband Alan's dressing gown, I go and sit in my bed with all the pillows I can find, and look at YouTube. I know this could take over my life, but I have to do it. The urge to fall down a YouTube black hole is always very strong. Oh do it, I tell myself. You're an athlete now. You walked 11 miles.
More time passes. At some point, I put on my unicorn slippers and find myself in the kitchen making veggie sausages, peas, mashed potatoes and gravy. This is a good thing I tell myself. Athletes need to eat.
I will have to do my blog, I know it has to be done, but not just yet.
Back on my bed, after my sausages and gravy, I have a moment of determination. I take up my laptop and begin to write. This is a good thing, it makes me feel like I know what I am doing. And then, the phone rings and it is my two cousins so I have to stop writing. This is also a relief. My two cousins are fab, and we have a long chat which I leave early because I have to write my blog. I feel important. My cousins probably think I have my finger on the pulse, and so I leave the conversation, say goodbye, tell them I am very busy, and leave them talking. And then, as is always the case, once I start to write, I remember how much I like it. I love creating, I love making and painting and writing and talking, but mostly after I have finished doing it. Before, when I am starting, I hate it and want to watch YouTube and distract myself, place myself a million miles from the here and now. It is this way for lots of us, I believe. I love having finished whatever it is I am doing. But back in the here and now, I pick up the laptop, having impressed my cousins (I hope) and begin to write this blog. I am not in the least bit hungry so there is no excuse to go and get a snack, I am not tired enough to close my eyes, I have had a bath so I am fragrant and wrapped up in fluffy pyjamas and dressing gowns - time to concentrate on writing.
And so I do. I write, find I am enjoying it, as I knew I would, immensely. After a while I stop to take a call from my son which leads to needing a bedtime snack, and that leads to finishing my YouTube documentary which ends up with putting away the laptop for the night. Well, the blog is mostly done, I am delightfully weary, and my day has been good. I am glad to have walked, I am glad to have written as much as I needed, and it was lovely to chat to family and to eat a lot because I had earned it due to that extra mile on the Downs.
I will see you all in the morning. I turn my phone off, turn the light off, and begin my night time thing of longing for dawn, planning early morning tea and knowing that once the light appears, even though I have slept happily on and off during the night and longed for the dawn, I will be out for the count as soon as it happens until the shouting of the birds outside my open window brings me back to the day. Goodnight all.
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