Tuesday, 21 January 2014

of stars and splints

Nenna woke me at quarter to one, needing turning and her night splints taking off*. I haven't been able to go back to sleep.

I've been lying in bed for a couple of hours with my mind wandering and thinking middle-of-the-night sort of thoughts - how I need to put straw down in the Barnevelders' pen to stop their feet getting muddy and fouling the eggs; wondering whether I can vent-sex day-old ducks; how much of a fuss we're going to have to make to get school kick started with tube-feeding training; how long it will take for the appointment to come through to change the PEG to a button; how to effectively mince a rabbit; that kind of thing.

And then I got to the point where I was lying with my eyes open looking out of the window at the stars that catch in the branches of the apple tree; and thinking that really, nothing ever changes. Everyone feels like this sometimes.

In my teens and early twenties I memorised a metric shed-load of Elizabethan poetry. Just because I could, really. And one of my favourite poets is Thomas Wyatt. He was supposed to have been in love with Ann Bolyen**. What's resonating with me at the moment is his sonnet 'The pillar perished is whereto I leant'. He is supposed to have written it after he witnessed the beheading of his friend Thomas Cromwell - another casualty of Henry VIII.

In these dark reaches of the night, I sometimes feel as if I have nothing and no-one at all to lean on and I have no idea where I am going.

I remind myself that I don't have to actually find a grand unified solution to it all; that B is here and is taking a lot of the strain; that I can just shut the door, pull the sofa close to the fire, take a breath and relax. In a way, sometimes, it's so much easier to be tied up inside your own head than to choose a task to start. The fear and the lethargy go hand in hand.

I keep going back to the best bit of advice I have ever been given***: Just get started. And then you'll feel better about it.

I keep telling myself that. And I keep telling myself that however lonely I feel, I am not alone; there is a support network there for us.

I am picking my way along tonight, trying to find my way out of this funk I have got myself in to. Just rambling, really. But it's brought me to John Donne:
No man is an island, entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less
As well as if a promontory were,
As well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. 
It's not about the destination, I don't think. It's about the journey and who you travel with. 

* I need to phone the physio in the morning and tell her that one of them is rubbing her ankle - not good.

** After she married, Wyatt was accused by Henry of having a post-marital affair with Ann and imprisoned in the tower. The general feeling is that if he really was guilty, Henry would have offed him as well. Whatever he actually did, though, he definitely thought he was in love with her. One of his most famous poems is 'Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind' about her throwing him over for Henry - not that she had much option, really. 

*** Mr Wade, 1989, Geography A-Level revision


  1. Did anyone ever tell you you write exquisitely? Well, you do. Stunningly.

  2. You do, you know. And the 'just get started' really does apply to almost everything when it all seems like too much *hugs*

  3. Can really relate to this about fear and lethargy going hand in hand. Getting on with it always my greatest challenge, even though I have known for aeons that it is the only thing that makes anything any better. Good luck with it.

  4. Fear and lethargy. I know those two. Really like the image of the stars caught in the branches. But find a lot of poetry incomprehensible.