This past week or two I have been pondering the meaning of life and the secrets of success and happiness while traveling on slow trains, celebrating major life events in inspirational cities and continuing to explore the wonderful land of mountains, lakes and lush bracken jungle that I’m constantly surprised to be suddenly living in. Maybe I should have opted for Philosophy at university like my lovely brother (so I could say what I mean more clearly)… anyway it seemed to me, at low points, that success and happiness are almost always measured in monetary terms. I’ve been horrified this week by news stories about the Prime Minister’s pay rise while doctors are being told they don’t work hard enough, people work like hell to subsist on minimum wage, important benefits are cut and don’t even start me on the proposed reforms to the hunting bill. It was the hypocrisy and lack of respect for anything other than Mammon that upset me most. It’s easy to feel like a failure (professional, financial or personal) in a game someone else invented… and then to find out they’re sitting on half the cards and the rule book. And so, yesterday I forced myself to look at what I had actually achieved in the day, a day in which I felt low and unmotivated, and it was this…
2. A pan of gooseberries for a fool (!) and a plate of warm peanut butter biscuits.
3. I made a climbing chalk bag from a piece of cyanotype printed fabric and other things found in a hastily packed box of fabrics.
So, take away the crushing sense of failure that means I am too poor to buy a flat with a nice kitchen for my daughter, a house with a studio for my parents or a car that works for my son… surely all we need is food, warmth and shelter and a bit of love…oh and creativity. Everyone should be able to afford this by virtue of their daily work and I never will understand the crazy economics of a world that sets such inequalities at its heart.
Goodness, this wasn’t meant to be a soap box tirade, sorry. Its just that I was in Bristol last week for my daughter’s graduation. It was a lovely and emotional time and we had a lot of fun, saw some great exhibitions, ate delicious food and talked and talked about what to do after university, the search for meaningful work and a place to live. Walking around Clifton we chose our ideal homes in the leafy, flower scented avenues before returning to Stokes Croft and stepping over the collapsed homeless man in the street, wracked with guilt but powerless to help.
It is a proud and melancholy feeling to realise that both my children are now grown up and have the hats to prove it. My nest is very empty and now begins my slide into eccentric old age; I may collect gnomes or teddy bears and take them on trips to the supermarket in Keswick…
So, leaving Bristol was hard.; it felt full of all kinds of life, diverse and creative, inspiring and shocking, but as the empty train trundled North and the sun fell in to the sea I felt excitement in the pit of my stomach to see the mountains silhouetted in the distance.
And some bears are waiting, as well as a cupboard full of stuff to make a loaf of bread. The Fells are green and wet and really don’t mind how slowly you climb them so long as when you get to the top you look back the way you came and feel overjoyed to be alive despite the struggle of the climb.
Reading:- “Titus Alone” Mervyn Peake Listening To:- Wind in the Sycamore trees