Life works on the principle of now, someone wise reminded me yesterday. It doesn’t work on the past principle and it does not work on the future principle, he said. It works on the now principle.
So far, so obvious. And yet glimpse inside your head – now – and what the hell is going on? For my part, I am treading in a near-constant mire of the past. When I escape from that, cleaning down the slicks of thick memory mud stuck on my boots, I seek respite in the future.
Sometimes, it is grim, and a voice tells me there is tragedy down the line. (Note: Of course there is tragedy down the line. Duh.) At other times, it’s a blur of joy. A kaleidoscope of intoxicating experience, soundtracked to the hum of my favourite Joni Mitchell line from her 1971 song, Carey: ‘Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine/And we’ll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down.’ There are heady conversations, lingering hugs. There is laughter, good food eaten with people I love. There are books to be written, mountains to be climbed. There is the sweet salt of the sea to be felt on my skin, the joyful screams of children living and laughing in the background. There is sun pouring into my eager cells, roasting my luxuriating body as I giggle and sip a fizzy slurp of something delicious, squinting up into the brilliant blue sky. There is heart-bursting pride as I watch the souls that I gave birth to become who they are and bathe in all the gifts that they have been born with.
But that is not now. What is now? For me, it’s listening to this man-and-boy chatter outside the window: ‘Get your wellie boots on/Whose boots are these?/All mine, don’t touch it!/Dada those are mine!/Heee-eey!/Don’t kick me!/I’m gettin’ ready…/You are getting ready by doing what – standing there?’
The sun streams through the window, the day is bursting with beauty. My sons and husband are planting flowers in the garden below. My fingers tap on this keyboard. My stomach growls. I am hungry. I am happy. I am alive.