Thursday, 17 January 2013

The last flame...

I went to see my friend Caz the other night.  We sat by her wood burner in her snug cosy cabin and I watched her drink the bottle of Cava I’d bought while I sipped a peppermint and licorice tea.  I admire Caz so so much. She works her socks off, lives on a pittance, has brought up her children single-handedly and yet I don’t think I have ever heard her moan. Not once. She lives life to the absolute max, sucks every last bit of juice out of it, rises to every challenge and says ‘Gimme more, more, more.’

She gets cross with me. Tells me off.  Puts me straight.  ‘How can you bear it,’ she said. ‘How can you not be out there, grabbing life by the throat and LIVING it? How can you stand to live this…half life?’

I know what she means. There really are no excuses.  Except.  One is constrained by…money?  Not really. Caz has no spare dosh yet that doesn’t stop her.  No. So, if not money, what? Duty? Love? Fear? Habit?

I dunno. But sometimes I become overwhelmed by the speed at which time passes.  I feel scared that I won’t get to see all the places and people I’d love to see…that I won’t get to do all the things I yearn to do.  Mainly I forget my age and then, suddenly, abruptly I remember. And I recall my mother, at 80,saying sadly, ‘But I don’t feel 80. I feel like a sixteen-year old. This body isn’t me.’

I made the mistake of looking at the camera app on my Chromebook last night, as I sat by the fire.  I truly didn’t recognize the woman who gazed back at me. Who the hell is this raddled crone, I wondered?  And, if you’re not careful, you start to slide. Little things become omens of ill-will.  Your mind picks them up, worries them like a dog with a bone, and makes them monsters.

My ring broke. The little silver snake ring I wear as a talisman. The only one I wear all the time.  Suddenly the metal just…gave in. Split. So now my hands are bare.

And then, late last night, I sat in my study, at my desk, staring at my screen. My scream.  And I could see the fire, three rooms away. The rooms in between were dark and there was just this little flame remaining of the fire that had earlier roared so brave, so warm.  It flickered.  It juddered. 
‘Don’t go out,’ I begged it.  ‘Please don’t you go out.  Not yet. I couldn’t bear it.’

Suddenly it seemed incredibly important that it not fall into ash. Not while I was still here, still awake, still in need of light and warmth and hope. 
But it did.  Of course it did. The house fell dark. Fell silent. And the cold crept in. So I crawled to bed.

I could build a new one, of course. Even if the embers are no longer glowing, I could start afresh. A phoenix from the ashes.  Except…there are no more logs in the woodshed.  The coal bucket is empty. And the snow is falling.

I SO need a plan.    


Greg said...

Wow. Heavy, but I know exactly what you mean. In some way, the tragedy that we suffered is starting to open my eyes to the shortness of life. Get out there and do it.

Anonymous said...

Reflections like this are the feedback mechanism from our source and show us the contrast; allowing us the choice to make choices....perhaps? xxx

Worry is the taking of past experiences and projecting them into imaginary futures.....

Young at Heart said...

oh my...I believe I know exactly how you feel .......some old woman keeps turning up in my bathroom every morning too......and for some of us its not so much glass half empty as did I order this?

Fennie said...

Doesn't everyone feel like this? Time running away. Will I ever do this again? But then does it really matter objectively whether we get a lot out of life or not? We don't face a test in the afterlife. We don't have to account. Nothing matters very much and few things matter at all, except perhaps bringing sunshine into people's lives and being there for them. Always. Like your blogs, whether we read them or not, are always there. A new page. Part of the architecture, part of the zeitgeist.
Jane's blogged: God's in his heaven and all is right with the world.

Rachel Selby said...

A plan always helps. Good luck. xxx

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I was very moved by this blog. An old woman looks back at me too. But Fennie has it I think.

Anne Wareham said...

I'd love to talk this one through - so full of stuff.

Isn't this idea of doing many things before we die rather odd? In a way we just consume experience in that mode, tick it off, eat it up and - so what?

Somehow the issue of how best to use this brief time we have seems more complex and challenging to me than chalking up lots of different activity - but there's something I can't quite get behind...

Perhaps that it really doesn't matter what we do or don't do really?

@completelyjane said...

Hi Jane

I think the best thing is to look out and not in and to grab happiness whenever you can. You are a very talented, caring lady and while this sort of introspection is painful and upsetting, I believe it is an integral part of who you are, and what makes you, you. Yes, life is far too short but it's all we have. I hope you regain your equilibrium soon - and don't be too hard on yourself.

CAMILLA said...

Hi Jane.!

Your friend Caz sounds exactly the same as my dear friend here in Norfolk. I have always admired her strength, going for it snatching the last peach on the tree no matter how high, yet she struggled when younger, divorced and two small kids and hardly any money at all. An amazing passion for life and nothing could put her off no matter how dark her days were.

I have always struggled to come to my senses in a most difficult relationship, my need for a more bite of the apple before one kicks the bucket, but it is that four letter word FEAR that is preventing moi to explore it.

Friend said.... go for it, get out there and do it, life is for living, life is too short. Yes, but with a piggy bank short how does one even begin to make that life changing journey.!

I have always admired your writing Jane, whether I have not always stopped by your blog, YOU do have an amazing strength dear Jane more than perhaps you feel you do, you are a lovely person, hoping that you regain an inner calmness and tranquility soon dear Jane.

Love Camilla.xx

LeeAnn at Mrs Black's said...

This is a beautiful post. I often have a moment of clarity and panic, 'where the heck has all the time gone?' I do wonder how I've ended up here. My wise old Gran was so right, treat each and every hour as a treausre and life as a blessing and the days, weeks and years will be well spent. We need to get our skates on, get our mojos working and get out there! Minerva ~