26 August 2007

From the window

Having spent the bulk of my early twenties transforming from a Little Engine that Would Consider It to a Little Engine that Must, I was sure I’d reached the end of the line not five years later when I found myself chugging tragically towards whatever junk heap those Little Engines that Derailed end up in.

But I picked up my banjo the other day and sat over some music and painfully and then not-so-painfully progressed from one verse to the next and remembered what that felt like - to approach the unknown with respect for its unique obscurity and tentatively put my hands there to see what I could make of it.

With much optimism and few expectations, you can learn just about anything as long as you remember which end of the power dynamic you occupy. A theory, an art from, a scientific phenomenon – it needs you even less than a rock needs to be covered in moss. You have to come at it boldly but with complete humility and concede that you might never know but you’re willing to try.

That funny little caveman survivalist in me, with its repetitious and nonsensical utterances, got snuffed out over the weekend. Rather than beating a path through the garden and tearing up the fairy homes, it’s back to just concerning itself with things like “Is it safe to cross the road?” and “Don’t eat that – it’s well out of date.”

How long has it been since I’ve been able to manage pure enjoyment without poisoning it just a little at the source? Since never, I suspect. But this old dog is learning a few new tricks since it gave up worrying that stale old bone and now all bones are buried in the muck, resting in peace as they should be.

Skeletons in the closet, bones in the garden – does it matter where they end up? Change the facts, change locations, but these fossilized frameworks never lie. They work themselves up out of the ground – they don the watch fob and cane of Great Uncle Fabio and trip the light fantastic for your friends. You have to be a diligent groundskeeper, a better dog than that, to lay those bones to rest.

It can be done though.

Memory is no longer a tragic graveyard of failed endeavours either. It sits in spools of cotton wool and occasionally I’ll find the invisible twine and mock up some clouds on this stage, this quiet potential of existence, and make a little shadow play beneath them.

It’s a beautiful hot, sunny day in London and I’m enjoying it in the only way a person can – as a single slice in the blinds of the bedroom window. These skies, these moments, contain little joy in and of themselves. They’re suggestive of internal states, of experiences half-remembered against this very backdrop: a sudsy pile of clean life stuff just swelling and floating and bursting happily around your head.

I wonder if anyone could be more content than I am today, right now, right in ten minutes and right hereon in as far as I’m concerned. But I won’t wonder for long - I’ll just appreciate the gift I’ve been given: of for once having my feet planted firmly on hard-packed dirt under a half-dreamed sky of blue and sun and little clouds.

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