Life is embarrassingly full despite today’s grey, overcast, monochromatic sky that shrouds the mountains in mist. Life is most definitely not monochromatic. That said, the forsythia pictured to the right is artificial. A girl does what she has to do.
As a person who vowed to journal daily watching the coronavirus unfold from afar, I have failed miserably. You would think that with all this time on my hands, I’d be writing non-stop. But those who know me well, are not surprised. I only perform in a timely manner when an editor has a deadline in one hand and a gun in the other.
I’ve been busy raking leaves. First things first, I always say. We had a few warm days, and I couldn’t help myself. My life was in the hands of the gods of Spring.
And I’ve been reading, and walking the dog, and making scones.
And watching Idris Elba play the murder detective Luther in the BBC series on Amazon. This is the second time I’ve watched LUTHER. You may wonder why I’d watch anything twice when we’re spoiled for choice. My only defense is that the first time you watch a show, you are primarily following the plot. Who does what to whom; is the good guy as good as he seems; and does the good guy win? The reason I enjoy watching a good show twice is that the second time I can appreciate the writing, the character development, the sets, the camera angles, the score, and more – so much more that I can’t take it all in on just one viewing.
So I’ve been busy. Following the news, but selectively following the news and taking the news in small doses to avoid toxicity. I don’t want to get sick.
Much has changed with this slower pace. Yesterday I picked up Kazuo Ishinguro’s Nobel Prize Winner, AN ARTIST OF THE FLOATING WORLD. I may not have chosen the book myself, but my book group chose it. I started reading the novel before the pandemic, and it was a slog. For the life of me, I couldn’t keep the characters straight. All those unfamiliar Japanese names: Oji, Ichiro, Sensei, Shintaro, Murasaki, Tanaka… So I made a cheat sheet. This person is the eldest daughter; this the younger daughter… But the complexity confounded me. (If only the characters had Western names: Bob, Chuck, Mary…)
But yesterday, well into the pandemic and having run out of library books, I tried reading AN ARTIST again. And I was so surprised! The names gave me no difficulty at all! Why? Because I wasn’t skimming or speed-reading. Rather, I was savoring… tasting, rolling the words and phrases around in my mouth/mind. Thinking about the characters and the setting.
Referencing Mrs. Kawakami, a local bar owner, Ishinguro wrote, “Before the war, she may still have passed for a ‘young woman,’ but since then something inside her seems to have broken and sagged.” This, of course, refers specifically to Mrs. Kawakami, but I certainly identified with the essence of the sentence.
This last Christmas, one of our daughters gave us a couple of DVDs on which she had copied old home movies. When I opened her present, I was absolutely delighted. I remember saying, “These I will treasure and keep in the safety deposit box!”
But before I did that, I watched the DVDs. Given that many movies were easily 30 years old, I was not surprised that I looked younger. But I was shocked at how merry and vibrant I used to be. Older is OK, but it is not OK that like Mrs. Kawakami, ‘something inside seems to have broken and sagged.’
I’m lovin’ this book, and it is all about having the time to savor and reflect. Lucky me.
If I slow down and spend more time in-the-moment, maybe I’ll mend.