Equanimity

I suppose in October I could have arranged to spend Christmas day with a friend; and even in December with a bit of cadging I could have managed it; but I decided to spend Christmas day alone, like last year. Last year the friend whom I would have visited cried off two days before, as she was unwell. So I would take the Eucharist in the morning, then go home and read or watch TV. I am reading War and Peace; I recorded the Jason Bourne films from the telly. They are basic thrillers, beautifully done: here are the serious people who want to kill him, staring at computer screens; this is the car chase, this the fight; but the music, especially in the first, sometimes surprised and pleased me.

I did not go to the Eucharist at 9.30, because I was afraid I would make a scene. In the supermarket on Thursday the automatic checkout said, “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!” and a worker asked, “Does that not drive you potty?” I hate it only hearing it the once, I said. The checkout-worker said she had switched off to it. The other worker asked something about Bailey’s, and I was tempted, but decided against; and my resentment and anger surfaced, such that I almost expressed them. That frightened me.

I had not had a conversation since the concert on Monday. The concert was surprisingly good: “Christmas music”, I read, so far so dull, but their Vivaldi Winter was lovely, the founder-violinist was a beautifully arrogant show-off, and the company was good. She sparkles, without making an effort. We paid her our full attention.

I want to be touched! I want my skin touching skin, lips touching lips! It’s not just loneliness, it’s a deep deep sadness, a state of unfulfilledness. So I was perplexed. I phoned the Samaritans, and was lucky enough to get Olivia, from Edinburgh: she has a lovely, rich voice and perceptive empathy; I opened up. What does she want? “Perhaps she wants someone completely unthreatening,” said Olivia. Well, yes, perhaps.

It is how it is.

Resentment, resistance, perplexity: weeping several times a day. Acceptance: weary equanimity. One goes through these patterns. Equanimity is preferable.

This morning, Sunday, I cycled in the rain to K– meeting for the Meeting for Healing. Usually it is programmed, and today it was not, but the centre of it is prayer for the sick; and I hear of dreadful situations, permanent situations; and of tensions in the local meeting, not easily resolved. “How is he taking it?” was a question I wanted to ask- but it would not be respectful to ask her that. 45 minutes in the Meeting for Healing, then an hour in the Meeting for Worship, and it is as it is. Not comforting exactly, but bearable. Unknowing without control.

I was glad to see M, who is withdrawing. How are you? We discussed the meanings of the words: happy is emotional, evanescent, easily broken; “content” is more solid, we feel. It is good to be content, but it is not more solid; not really.

Jean Fouquet, Agnes Sorel, mistress of Charles VII of France, as the Virgin

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