Finite contemplations

I had one of those funny days today that stick in your mind.

It was all pretty standard until I took Rigby to have a bath at about midday. I got there and they told me to leave him, but it could be up to 3pm until he would be ready to be collected. I was surprised. Normally I wouldn’t have cared much, except I had planned on doing some chores this afternoon. So be it.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon so I thought fuck it, let’s enjoy it. I drove up the road to Ormond Village and parked. I went to a bookshop and browsed the shelves of books for about 40 minutes. As much as anything else this was an act of nostalgia. Don’t do it, don’t do it I told myself, but I did it anyway, walking out with two books.

With much time to kill still I wandered up the road and ended up in the rear courtyard of a local restaurant. I ordered a Friday lunch beer and a chicken foccacia, and browsed the new books. Though the sandwich was average it was still a pleasant way to wile away another 45 minutes.

So, I thought, coffee. To mix things up a bit I thought I’d try somewhere else. I wandered up the road again, but not finding anything with the right ambience got in the car and drove back to where I’d left Rigby. Across the road from him was a cafe I’d been to a number of times before where they served excellent coffee. This is where things got interesting.

I sat near the corner and put the two books on the table in front of me. I sipped the coffee. At the next table was an interesting looking woman with an ample bosom. I flicked through one book, then the other, before starting in on one.

Suddenly all these impressions crowded in on me. Some of them were entirely to do with the environment I was in. It was pleasant – coffee on a sunny Friday afternoon at my leisure is nothing to be sneezed at. I thought of how much I love books and reading, how much thinking – thought – and the so-called life of the mind means to me. It’s something you only recall sometimes, when it’s present, and forget the rest of the time. Now I had it I wished I had a life where it could play a more constant part. I reflected on how such things seem finite. We’re given so many resources to use up. The more we use in one area the less we have in another. I use most of mine just in getting by. There’s precious little remaining to enjoy as I desire. The trick is to change that.

As I started in on the book the perspective narrowed, focused now on what I read. It was the book about an elderly man with a terminal disease. It starts off with him getting the news of that, and describes some of the very simple, but real, reactions to that.

At one level I wondered what I would feel if I got such news. What would I think? The knowledge that now I’m here, present, and soon would not be, seemed quite surreal, like a trick of Einstein’s physics. Perhaps my earlier pondering on the finitude of things prompted the next consideration. I thought about food, how much I love it, how much a part it plays in my life. It seemed a random consideration, but it was a good illustration of my mindset. I imagined being very present as I ate my favourite meals and thinking, this is the last time I’ll eat that. Like the last time I’ll be there, or see that, the last time I’ll be with that person. It seemed like a process of sadly ticking off things.

Of course, there will be a last time for everything.

Then I thought about mum, naturally. This is what happened to her. Did she think those things? I thought again that I have not properly grieved her death. I’ve thought that before, something that has come to me fully realised. I feel as if I never properly processed her passing because of the events that followed – the controversy over the will, and then my own personal struggles. I often think of mum, but feel as if the grief I properly needed to be expressed was pushed aside, and, over time, buried deeper and deeper. It’s still there though, and there are times such as today when I feel it. It’s like a blister that needs to be lanced. It will happen some day, I just don’t know what that will be like.

It was a melancholy train of thought. It seemed to infect me the rest of the afternoon. I had options tonight and declined them in consequence. In all of this there’s also the unexpected realisation that there is no grief for what’s happened to me. Whatever has happened has become grist for the mill, frustration becomes energy that I burn in pursuit of something different.



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