08 May 2021

There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.


So, I am amazed that I have arrived at another Saturday in one piece and upright, that I did loads of work, clearing my inbox, fat and full last Monday morning, step by step or rather manuscript by manuscript before falling asleep before dinner last night.  

The garden is all tulips still, what usually is a week at most before they collapse under the sun, has stretched for another and another cold week, there's also lilac everywhere and a tiny show of wisteria, but for the rest, we are weeks behind or maybe we used to be weeks ahead for years. It will, no doubt, all explode soon enough, the garden blossoms I mean. My baby apricots are coming along nicely, at least that.

This is a picture I took a few years ago, but the same tulips are flowering right now.

I have been immersed in Jack by Marilynne Robinson, forcing myself to read slowly because, well to me it's a gem. And this morning I actually did a google search for Jack Boughton, hoping against hope to find a hidden picture. In the movie version of the book, which I have directed in my mind, he is played by Sam Shepard, a disheveled Sam Shepard and Della is played by, maybe, Lupita Nyong'o. Only their age doesn't match and I do have a problem with movies where older male actors are paired with much younger female ones. So I had to develop a kind of time shift in my mind, bringing a younger Sam Shepard back to life and so on. 

Reading Marilynne Robinson is a unique experience, as I am not the slightest bit religious and this book, just as her novels Gilead and Home and Lila, is at times a sermon, a prayer, a hymn book, albeit with an observed distance, nothing preachy. Often, I have to think of the Dutch Calvinist outlook that to this day is reflected by the uncurtained large and sparkling clean front windows of Dutch houses, allowing anybody to have a good look inside, as a metaphor for the honest soul that has nothing to hide.

I read out this bit to R (and he, the good catholic boy he once was, got a bit of a fright, asking, what have I done wrong now?):

You are not good for your own sake. That probably isn't even possible. You are good as a courtesy to everyone around you.

Other than that, I work hard ignoring the ongoing low level aches and super high level exhaustion. Had a nice chat with our GP about ageing and chronic illness. I told her, it first happened so gradually, without me noticing until one day when I could not remember what being healthy felt like. And how I should have known this was going to happen, should have paid attention. But she just shook her head and said, nothing stays the same for anybody.




My life so far said...

It's hard work to ignore the body. I can see why elderly people become more self centered. It requires much more energy to keep the body working as we age. Homeostasis is hard to achieve and maintain.

We had a lot of rain yesterday and I imagine things will turn green overnight. Srpring is short and swift here in Alberta. My tomatoes are still inside as last night it dipped below 0C.

“I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain

This certainly describes me but it's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Apparently Seneca and Mark Twain felt the same way:)

Ms. Moon said...

What is that saying, "It happened very gradually and then all at once."?
Yes. Something like that.
I just had to google that book and now I feel as if my literary education is even more sorely lacking than I had before.
I hope that spring continues to delight you, to bring you fruit and flowers. Be well, dear Sabine.

ellen abbott said...

two quotes, two truths. especially the second. and it can be exhausting as I think back of my three weeks in Portugal being on my best behavior 24/7. apparently here in the states, too many of our population has thrown that courtesy out the window.

and that last from your doctor. reminded me of one of my visits to the electrophysiologist when we were discussing the possible necessity of another ablation this time for the afib when I told him I really didn't want to do it. "Nobody does", he replied.

am said...

Reading in bed is one of the few positive things that we can do when we don't feel well physically and emotionally. The other methods are much more exhausting or have negative consequences. Perhaps that is why so many of us spent much of our childhood immersed in books. The flowers that grow in your garden bring me new joy every spring and summer. Sending love to you, Sabine.

Colette said...

I miss tulips, and lilacs, and all the spring flowers that are unable to grow in Central Florida. Thank you for posting a picture of them. Perennial gardening was once such a big part of my life in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. But as your doctor says, "nothing stays the same for anybody." So I try and content myself with what I have now, which is a lot of peculiar beauty that I'm finally beginning to love as much as the northern flowers. It doesn't take away the loss, but it brings me joy. Not the same as your situation, I realize that. However, you have inspired me this to think. I had been feeling down this morning, just feeling and not thinking at all. I appreciate this post.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tulips there. I keep trying to remember to plant tulip bulbs, but never do. My memory fades daily now. I used to be the go-to source of memories for my family, now I'm the one asking, "When did this happen?" Our aging bodies heading down a path, sometimes with our awareness, and sometimes by surprise. Then, suddenly here we are. I meant to comment on this post yesterday. I forgot.

Roderick Robinson said...

Just finished Richard Greene's new biography of Graham Greene (no relation); downstairs Evelyn Waugh's Collected Letters, a cuboid paperback slowly disintegrating, is never far from hand. Two Catholic authors who have more or less kept step with my development as a human being - always assuming that has happened - but whose religious beliefs have, for me, functioned simply as any other aspect of their mental and physical make-up: height, educational background, geographical preferences, ailments, attitudes towards politics. fidelity/infidelity. In short Catholicism has never got in the way of what they wrote. Same with Marilynne, but what a strange ignoble surname.

Whereas with another Catholic writer, Piers Paul Read (does anyone read him now?) it does all the time.

37paddington said...

How is it that the Gilead novels have not been on my radar? I just ordered all four books, and thank you for widening my awareness. I know what you mean about the slow diminishing of good health; I can barely remember when I used to run without thought, and rise from a chair without bracing for stiffness and pain. It is so ever present now it's ordinary, but reading your post here, I wish I'd known to pay attention when it wasn't this way.