Learning gratitude again

  • Posted on November 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

comet IsonThis week’s thoughts have been like the waves washing the shore, advancing, retreating and ever-changing. A lot of life’s sediments following this final move to a place of permanence, this reduction in big uncertainties, are settling. So much has moved beyond discussion and become fixed, and my final frustrating resolutions have a (distant) horizon. In so many ways life is a mix of the utterly ordinariness of living, and the potential for more.

I came to realise that with the closing of the dance workshop this week, and all its wonderful new creativity, I had grown. I remember feeling such a novice, such a presumptuous person, to sign up for something in which I had no experience, only a dream. And yet there I have been, with all the confidence of simply knowing my boundaries had been imaginary all along.

Last night comet Ison was presumed dead in its close encounter with the sun. Within hours something was seen again, and hope rose that we may still have a comet soon in our night sky. It’s one of those things about being in space: you can be blown apart, but if all the pieces have enough gravitational attraction, left to their own devices they will coalesce into a new form and continue on their way. I feel not a million miles away from this experience, as gravity in my world has pulled things back together. Friendships (no thanks to me) have survived and been restored, I am travelling on, and the shape of my world has changed.

The yearning in me for my body to be restored, and to be able to share it in love with another, has grown more urgent (not desperate – I mean an urging) the more normal I feel inside. But it is quieter, in being certain and confident. I wonder how noisy comet Ison would have been, if sound existed in space and anyone could have heard it? I imagine the boiling, roaring, tearing, blasting and exploding of this ‘dirty snowball’ as it went through the furnace of the sun’s influence, with no way of avoiding the encounter, only a hope of survival with some identity, if only in the sense of being a re-accretion of what was left rather than anything new being added. It is now heading back into deep isolation. Everyone will soon know what is there, and it will not be completely forgotten.

Transition for me hasn’t been so dissimilar in some ways. For many I have been too loud, too noisy, too open, as parts of my life have been blown apart and lost in space. Parts have crashed back together, and for anyone who sees me now, even hears my voice, I am still the same person, but I am a very different dirty snowball! The raw exposure that transition throws at you produces very different reactions, from the deeply suicidal to the quietly flowering. I think I didn’t want to be forgotten; I wanted to know that I wasn’t invisible, or seem to be taking the extreme forces too easily. I wanted to know that if I blew apart, I would be observed and caught. My previous analogy was the drowning person, not waving politely, saying: ‘Er, excuse me. Help?’, but thrashing wildly and screaming.

So the way I have been has been desperately open, observing myself, my emotions, the raw experience and laying it out for all the world to see. Those who don’t like it, stopped reading ages ago, and these include my best friends. You’re still here? Thank you, truly. I hope you have something lasting from watching this comet.

But at the heart of the intensity, of course, has been my marriage. Like a milk tooth falling out, that twists and turns for an age on the last root, fearing the pain of doing the only possible thing – simply pulling it free – I have been unable to consign it to cold space, detached and gone. Comet Ison will never be the same again, though it keeps its identity and name, and nor shall I. It is time for me to go quiet on this one, and to be able to see it as it was for me.

I am grateful for the 32 years I spent with my wife. It was a very good marriage, drawn a little thinner at times, but consistent in its intimacy, it’s partnership, co-operation, co-parenting and love. I do have serious doubts that I was ever loved simply for myself, but the experience over those years until that realisation, was a good one. Leaving aside my lifelong inner fear, here was someone I truly loved and cared devotedly about, depended on and felt safe with. But all of that has so completely gone, the really sharing communication has ended, and I have to close it off forever as a good memory. I still love her, but my pain of unreciprocated love and unmet communication is something I have not always been kind in expressing to her, and I must stop. I am flying away from the sun, away from the extreme, and this is part of the outcome. I must not spoil the gratitude I do feel for those years together. Kindness for now, I feel, is silence. I wish it were otherwise, but it is not.

So excuse my noise, but I felt safer knowing I was not a dark silent thing in space.


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