He asked me about my days. So tell me, how are your days? I realised afterwards that I didn’t answer him. I told him what my days are, not how they are. I told him what I did on an average day, but not how it felt to be doing to it.
So, how are my days?
My days are slow and calm (mostly!). They are freeform. They are full of curiosity. I spend them feeding my soul and sharing my thoughts. My days are filled with beauty and wisdom…I read and I walk and I write. I take photographs and watch old favourite TV programmes and new (to me) streams of theatre performances. I do my best to refill the well.
In another time, another place, and not of me, he asked: if you could quieten the noise, what would you say? I would say that this is still an amazingly beautiful planet. I would say that most people are good and doing the best they can. I would say…here is the wisdom of others that makes sense to me, what do you think? I would say, look for beauty, look for stillness, look for kindness. And I would say try to create or recreate or borrow to re-gift these things: beauty and stillness and kindness.
My days are satisfying – contenting. I work more than most people would realise.
Paid-work is little and infrequent and that’s exactly how I would have it be: little, infrequent, but still coming in, reminding me that I have knowledge and skills that people are willing to pay me for. This is a connection to the past, the proof that changing direction isn’t the same as walking away, which in turn isn’t the same as abandonment.
Even so, it is the unpaid work that is the real work these days. I would call it a passion-project except I find the doing of it not so much an impassioned enterprise, more a gentle thing, a soft, exploratory thing. Passion is essence of fire, strong and bright and intense. This is essence of water. Flowing, swirling, eddies and waves and dark depths that can’t be seen through, and shallows with stones and sand and small swimming things, and the light dancing on the surface and the drawing need to walk into it, be carried away, lifted up and set down, to float, to swim, to wade and paddle, to feel the flow and the ripples. You can’t catch a wave any more than you can catch a sunbeam or a candle-flame or a lightning bolt. But it can catch you…and carry you…in the way the fire cannot.
And for now my days don’t get their fill of water. The well is not exactly dry, but I’m drawing more than is flowing in, because the kind of water matters too and I am sorely missing the salt. I am missing the O3 of sea air. I am missing the kind of water you cannot see the other edge of…unbounded except by the horizon and even that lost in the mists of distance. Life is feeling like that right now: unbounded except by an unseen horizon. Watching the sea might make that feel more normal, more natural, more part of the simple order of things.
I don’t know if my days are how I would choose them to be – but they are how I do choose them to be, day to day – given what I have and where I am and what is happening in the world.
My days are mostly solitary, but I know that beyond the edges of them and sometimes weaving through them are people who care. I cannot say for certain that I am still loved – but there are people who still hold space for me and for now that’s a fair enough approximation of love.
My days are ensconced in kindness of a kind that keeps its distance – not a ‘social distance’ defensive distance, but a “won’t intrude but I’m here for you” distance, a word-when-I-need-it, a virtual-hug, a this-will-make-you-smile, a thank-you-for-what-you-do distance. Some people are happy to be smothered in kindness. I prefer the brush of a feather, that just says “Hey! You! I get it.” And sometimes “Me too”. The kindness of a conversation. Of an old joke. Of a memory. The kindness of a compliment that I can believe is genuinely meant. And the kindness of withholding those that aren’t.
My days arrive tumbling one upon the other, so that months have passed and I am not sure how, and yet I know that there has been amusement and pleasure and laughter. There has been learning and sharing. There has been subtle change. There has been a coming to rest. My wings may be stretching and yearning for flight again, but the rest is also good.
Of course, there has also been frustration and sadness and tears. There has been anxiousness (which isn’t the same as anxiety) and there has been fear. But not so very much of any of that. Certainly not whole days of that.
My days begin in reflection and end in gratitude.
In between, they wander through the woods of words, they stroll the pastures of knowledge, dip their toes in the sea of the knowledge of sages through the ages. In between, they take me along a real river, whose level rises and falls with the seasons and the weather, whose banks have receded and hidden themselves behind summer green.
In between they take me into the wildwood that I know isn’t wild, except that it is, it must be, no man can fully manage a wood. A forest, perhaps. A plantation, definitely. But not a wood. The wood decides for itself what grows, what falls, what creaks and groans and flowers and shadows. A wood decides who it will shelter.
My days are fanciful.
My days are days that I could never have imagined.
My days are days that some would resent, and others might envy, but most would not be able to grasp and clasp and hold them as gently as I try to. I know that these are butterfly days. They are beautiful days. They have alighted upon my life, but they may not stay, the could just as easily flit away.
Like the butterflies and the damselflies, my days are spring-into-summer days. They are also seeding days, ripening days, autumn is coming and will be different days. They are winter when it comes will be weathered days, or snow-sprinkled joyful days.
To be honest, my days are just days. The same 24 hours as everyone gets. But I choose to believe my days are good days, fabulous days, full of love and luck and laughter days. Mostly.
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