Yes, that’s what I’m thinking about in the middle of British summer. The mid-winter bit, anyway.
For several summers now, I’ve said to myself ‘next summer….’. Next summer I will be out, enjoying myself; this summer I’ve just got to….’. First of all it was self-inflicted pain of writing essays which lasted for three years. One of those summers I had my feet in a bucket of cold water as I tapped doggedly away on my laptop, feeling every inch a caged hen. Then came the pain of chronic migraine and had two summers needing a quite different type of dogged attitude. The idea of being able to write essays was a lustrous oasis rather than the nightmare I had felt it was at the time.
This year instead of lusting after all the rose-tinted joys of next summer, I actually have a hankering for winter. I’m not just saying this because for most of June here in the UK it rained. I’m looking forward to when inside, being warmer than I’ve ever been in the winter in a house. From this safe haven I can look out at the colours the green, grey, brown and – hopefully at some point – white outside. I will bundle myself up to intrepidly go where many have gone before, to keep up my so far good track record of getting out every day. Then I will hurry back inside and as quickly as possible untangle my many Michelen-man layers. Inside holds other promises: I can master the art of cooking on top of the wood fire; make numerous cups of tea and consider the second blog that’d been on my mind for the last few months…
For some, the lure of Christmas is something to look forward to and to break up the tedium of grey days. In a previous life, I had a three foot tall, pink, plastic Christmas tree inflicted upon me several years in a row. Not only that but multicoloured lights were draped round it, like a flamingo caught in an 80s disco. Despite being closer to the grey-ness, I still feel a distinct lack of need for these bright colours, these false inflictions. Plus even just three foot of Christmas tree would take up a disproportionate amount of space on a narrow boat, although I’m sure some boaters manage it!
I’m not desperate for next summer’s possible delights, because no matter how much more I’d like to do, I’m doing what I can and have accepted that my body and brain are different to what they used to be. It’s a bit like taking a trip into space and thinking you can still play badminton. Whatever space we’re in, it’s never going to stay looking, feeling, existing, like that forever. It takes a while to look around your new space, with your brain still giving you images what your life was like before. I don’t think anyone has the answer to acceptance; like any good habit, it’s something you have to keep to working at. I’ve gone up and down but feel that each time I come up again, it’s at a slightly higher point of acceptance than I was before. But I had to go down first, to get there.
The landscape can often look bleak when you have a chronic illness, or are otherwise going through a big change that either wasn’t your decision or just has a lot of twists and turns you weren’t expecting. I’m not repeating the ‘next summer’ mantra any more which reflects my stage of acceptance, as well as my life choices. There’s still much about my space I’m hankering for a change in, but it doesn’t look much like the space I’ve seen before.
There’s always the person before today
The perception of ‘me’ that gets in the way
Of striving onwards
And shifting towards
No black or white, but bright dark grey
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I’d love to hear if you’ve had any similar reflections. Subscribe yourself to get emails when i write more blogs (roughly every two weeks)