Friday, April 27, 2007


This morning the sun shines down over the city. Each spring arrives with intensity.

When I was younger they would come and I would take them for granted. Not noticing the beauty of first leaves, the intoxication of wild cheery or how the breeze that moved over the park where I sometimes walked, moved differently, its movement marked with rustling or bird call.

Spring brings not a restlessness but a sense of continuance. Another cycle. Looking back with wryness or irony or even maybe affection. That sense of time passing, of how difficult it is to grasp that time passes. And the part of me that does not like to admit to time passing. Does not like to accept its inevitability. That in my life, or at least in the consciousness of my life, there is no escape. No pretending that each day, each moment does not brings me nearer to some end.

Not that I think of it in those terms. But sometimes if I am looking in the mirror, it catches me. When I see the addition of another layer of life in my features, another line. Then I see myself as if pursued by time. That to outsiders, or those younger, I am already locked in time's grasp. I am already deep in the stream of time. Time no longer allows me the luxury of many mistakes. No longer holds as much promise. There is no longer the long road ahead. Now there is a road half-traveled. There is as much to look back on as there is to look forward to. And the road behind me has enough mistakes to stop me, to force me to understand the frailty of my judgement, the foolishness with which I made some decisions and also, simply, the inescapable fact that life is not at first obvious. It has its own hidden logic, is own relentless way of showing up shortcomings, of making a person come to terms with who they are.

I am not a complaining person. Not one of those people who like to talk of the things that have not gone right. Throw blame around. Complaining wastes time and bores others. It concentrates too much on the little self, the self, that like a spoilt child, demands constant attention. And complaining leads to bitterness. Bitterness can get right under the skin and eat away at life. So subtly that you do not notice that what you take as a reasonable view to hold is in fact driven by bitterness. Though some would disagree, I think a certain type of person runs the gauntlet of this type of bitterness closer as they start out with so much hope. Start their walk through life with their gaze fixed too high, believing that dreams are other than dreams, that dreams are the indisputable facts of a life. That dreams are reality - not the fabric from which reality's bones are made. Dreams are like the thoughts that go into the box, go into the artifact. They are the energy from which reality extracts its ground plan. Any one who starts their life, not knowing that, risks confusing dream with actuality and will be disappointed. Will wonder how it is that things go awry. And will not understand that a person does not mark their identity by easy success but by the ability to deal with setbacks or difficulties. The times when things do not go as planned, when they must dig a little deeper.

So I do not complain, knowing that to poison the roots of life is to rob life of its vitality. I attempt to go about my business as though my life were not the great big thing it appears to be within my own mind.

When I lie in bed at night after a long day, and the shadows move across the wall, the moonlight through the window, I try not to think about my problems. That even as I contemplate my own problems, someone else lives with their problems. And there is nothing as undermining as the sight of someone talking about their endless small difficulties while next to them sits another human being struggling not to be crushed by genuinely adverse circumstances.

So each spring brings intensity and sadness.

This morning I walk in the park. The park with its lake and bunching of trees at its north end. Trees that in autumn turn golden and form a circle of trembling light over my head as I walk there. That one autumn day some years ago I remember them shimmering and the grass beneath vivid and green. Walking there and trying to see it in perspective. How I could explain the emptiness to myself. Why her turning away left me feeling like that. Low and without answers.

This morning passing the dogwood that marks the gate over the small stream, I remember. Next to it the holly that on winter mornings has such colour, its yellow and green leaves, waxy and resplendent, its berries bright and strong against the bareness around or under a grey sky.
I think of her leaving and try not to let my mind dwell on it. Wondering where she is and how she is. If she ever thinks of me. What made her turn away. Trying not to see it as her turning her face from mine. Only darkness behind and me slipping back into it. Telling myself I had no right to expect anything from her. I could not make her go where she did not to want to go.

I try not to think about it this morning as the sun is bright and the cherry blossom bloom about me. The arrival of spring fracturing the weave of winter, rushing up through it, ripping it like a piece of yellowed paper. I want only to take each step and feel the return. Feel it like a hand on my cheek. Caress me and push me on. Know that I am still in the stream of life. Still moving through time.
I want only to forget that time. Forget it and put it away some place, the way an old book or piece of music is forgotten. Its words or melody always somewhere within. But just out of reach. Below consciousness, perhaps speaking or whispering only to my soul. Some deep part of me.

Walking through South Park, after turning off South Park Drive on a Saturday morning. Looking for the bench where I sit and like to stretch my legs out. Putting my arm along the back of the bench, letting the sun fall on my face.
This morning thinking about things. Feeling sad that my last memory of her is of a train ride and an empty seat beside me.
Catching the light breeze, the knowing that things change, that things go on, like spring and come around again. Wondering why there is hope. And how important it is that I hold onto hope.

Copyright (C) Peter  Millington. London. May 2002