Possibly it was just the beauty of the day, and- it feels like seeing the world from a different angle, liberating even enlightening myself. I have been analysing all day, thinking of blogging. At one moment I think, yes, I know this is Right, this is the Sanity called insane, it is beautiful, and at another I think I want reassurance, I want comments, I want to know I have been heard. Proust wrote We must constantly choose between health and sanity on the one hand, and spiritual pleasures on the other. I have always been cowardly enough to choose the former. I reject what I have named sanity, and choose what I have named insanity.
What it meant, at first, was a great deal of grief over actions which seemed trivially normal. Lunchtime- I have an apple, and oatcakes with butter and cheese, then tea. No. Have the apple first and then decide what I want. Instead of buttering the oatcakes, cutting each in half and putting 1/12th of the predetermined block of cheese on each piece (yes, really) I take an oatcake, butter it, cut cheese to put on it. Shall I throw out those last three oatcakes? No, I eat them dry.
Tea? NO. NO, NO, NO, ANYTHING but the routine. I WANT my own decision, now, in this moment. What do I WANT? Coffee. Because I don’t usually have coffee. OK. Filter coffee is a possibility, but it means walking a mile and back to the shop. Instant is OK.
Cleaning my teeth would be the routine. Pause. Check. My mouth would feel better if I cleaned my teeth. I will clean my teeth. The thing is that sanity, normality, routine is so close to what I would do were I free, and I do not want the routine. I want the experience of choosing what I want. Go to the loo before going out? More difficult, “Made you wee whether you could or not” as the poem has it, this is a very early piece of conditioning, the adults don’t want me needing to go while out. OTOH, neither do I, so even though I do not feel the need ATM I decide-
of my own, free, will
to go to the toilet.
Actually, not going to the CAB is probably relevant. I was awake in the night, and woke from a dream of U- I was going to watch a football match, she bagged the seat next to mine by putting a coat over it, (in my dream) (not a towel) I went off to find another seat. Good dream, greater independence, perhaps- with a feeling of lethargy. Play on the computer. Oh, I would really have to rush to get the bus. Can’t be bothered. I should phone Les at least to say I am not going. Play on the computer. It is 10.30, late to be phoning. I have finally lived down to their expectations, I have got in at ten and been really angry that they were briefing someone else on my ten o’clock appointment, they did not know I was coming- WHAT? My BUS gets in at ten! OK Abigail calm down. I asked for the appointment to be moved to 10.15, so I could just get in and not keep the person waiting outside if they was courteously early, and it was not.
After lunch, I go for my walk. I have not been round Stanwick Lakes for ages. It is a gorgeous day, hardly a cloud in the sky. There is a new crop in the field- how wonderful that Modern Capitalism gets the maximum use from the land!
Will there be any blackberries left? I have not been round here for so long. Most are shriveled. There’s one! I pop it in my mouth, and look for another, then realise. Oh. That one might be OK-
I could do with a shallow depth of field, really, I am sure this camera can do that but I do not know how. Hold it up for the sky as a background. A completely unnatural photograph of a natural thing. I realised that I had been so busy scanning for a blackberry that I had not appreciated the one in my mouth. Fuck, there’s profound, innit, something so completely universalisable to human experience.
I did find one. I put it in my mouth, bit, closed my eyes, appreciated. It was sweet and delicate. No, not just the ought to be pleasure, no, not a Revelation and Perfect Moment overwhelmed by sensation either. Just the full sensation of that blackberry.
The river is high, and the path is inundated.
I could go back, but in the beautiful sunshine- actually, the pools on the path, or the streams on the path, got steadily deeper.
My not wanting to go back got me to go forward though getting more and more wet.
Look at those geese, marching along the horizon, not quite like Injuns in a Western.
From the other side of the river they are not even on the highest point, it is just a trick of perspective.
Even on Stanwick Lakes, those paths are submerged in parts. I wade, calf deep, and meet a couple. He persuades me not to go further by that path, to go by the grass path they came in on, and I get chatting to her. On the old railway, he stops so I can walk on, and I stop too, irritating him slightly- she is happy to talk.
What do I do? I tell her. I am not ashamed of it. I am trying to see the World as it really is, rather than how it has seemed, habitually. How do you do that? By paying full attention. She walked out of “a job I loved”, too, and does not ask what work I did. I note her tripod- did you get anything? No, he says, there have been so few birds with the weather, the migrants from the North should be coming but there are few of them, too. She used to walk miles in the town, with headphones on. You don’t notice, with headphones. In the town, she did not want to. She has learned to drive in the last year. She is now so much less fit than she was with all the walking. She thinks I look too young for a midlife crisis-
She is Sharon. I am Abigail. This is Frank- but he is not part of our conversation. There are lots of people here in the sunshine. I want a photo of a bird in flight. She finds it hard enough to find them through the binoculars. Well, camera in Burst mode, take a hundred and one might come out, I am relying on my equipment not my skill-
-and my patience. I need to do it enough before I will get the right shot. This is my best so far.
Even now, I anticipated the bridleway to the lock being clear- it is underwater the whole length of it, knee deep in places. The water floods out of the lake, along the bridleway and into the river, and has flooded back the length of the path. Better not fall over.
It floods over the lock.
That sign is on the mooring place.
This is my world. “It is so nice to go for a walk in Stanwick Lakes”. It is GOOD to walk round Stanwick Lakes, which is not how it ought to be– dry paths and Beautiful Wildfowl-
This is my most Proustian ever writing, almost no action, all feeling- though he includes some of the illusions, and I do not know what illusions I harbour now- and I have hardly revised, and he almost certainly revised. My tagline is now “Young Marcel’s goodnight kiss” and I mean for me- I am lonely, and I crave reassurance not from an actual kiss from Mother or, later, from Albertine but from a net-book, which might give a new indication of a tenuous electronic link to another human being. Or may not, not even one page-view.
I took a pseudonym because I am revealing all about myself, and I did not want a potential employer googling my name and finding this.
My name is Abigail Claire Maxwell.
Pleased to meet you.