I just need a week or so. Perhaps even a few days will do. Just a clutch of sweet hours without any front page news. Time to clear my cluttered head. Time to delight in the simple folderol and frippery of the holidays. Just some time to sit in front of the fire and follow the shadows of the Christmas tree lights as they dance along the ceiling. A moment to lavishly wrap a present, an afternoon to forage for woodland greenery on a cold walk with Edward underneath the tall trees. Just an hour or so to think about chocolate, to read about Scrooge, or to hum a noel.
An old friend wrote me an email the other night. He was apoplectic over the financial disaster in Ireland. I could tell this from his words as well as from the late hour in which the letter was sent. He was wide awake and fretting. I understand that feeling well. This summer’s tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico gave me more than a few nights like that, and frankly, it still does. There is so much today that is worthy of worry, from Polar Bears to currency, one would have to live underground not to notice.
I try to do what I can, to be responsible for my little corner of the Earth in every way possible but sometimes, just sometimes, I have to unplug from the news of the world. And I do. I take time out for myself, for just a few days, to only watch the oldest movies on television, preferably ones shot in black and white.
To only read words that nourish my soul and embroider my imagination.
To only listen to Christmas music.
To skip past the front page of the Times in the morning and head straight to the Arts section with a smile on my face.
I am feeling this way at the moment.
Mind you, I won’t stay in this blissfully vacant spot for too long, but sometimes I find it essential for beating back those incapacitating feelings of despair. Otherwise I begin to feel as if I have to hold up the sky and, knowing my limitations, I crumble.
There is more than enough reason to hope, I know, and when I emerge from my contented exile I seem to see that much more clearly. Why, just last week, The Songwriter and I entertained a young artist at our dinner table. A beautiful girl, with an enchanting voice, she is poised for a stellar career. I was heartened beyond measure to hear her speak of wanting to use her life to help bring about change in a positive way. She spoke of so many problems worthy of her attention, so much need in the world. We talked of the importance of focusing on one or two issues that speak to her heart, lest the magnitude of concern overwhelm her. She had recently performed at a large benefit to help those who work to stop the dreadful problem of human trafficking, and she thought perhaps that was an issue on which she would devote her considerable energy. So young, such talent, such passion. Reason for us all to hope and be glad.
Then, on the far other end of the spectrum of years, I was leaving the neighbourhood yesterday and passed by the house of an elderly friend. She’s rather circumspect about her age, but she has to be well over ninety, so I was astonished to see that she had a crew of men in her front garden, planting an oak tree sapling.
I couldn’t find words to wrap up my feelings about this.
Think about that.
At her age.
A baby oak tree.
God Rest Us All Merry,
Let Nothing We Dismay.
I just might read the front page tomorrow.