I’ve been a bit busy lately, which is why I’ve also been a bit quiet on the megoracle front.
Today, however, has been a very rare not-busy day. The stars aligned – in the form of school runs taken care of and work balls in other courts – to send me down the unexpected delight of a not busy day.
They are unusual things, these not-busy days, in a busy life. Like jewels embedded in a dusty road. They are lovely, but also somewhat unsettling; unfamiliar little luxuries that I don’t know what to do with. They create a mild sort of panic, as though I’ve had too much caffeine. My heart beats in time with the words, ‘what to do first, what to do first…’ as I circle the empty house suspiciously, checking corners for ruinous musts or shoulds.
When no pressing chores are found, I try to think rationally about this golden opportunity. I could ignore the precious day, with its guilt-tinged shine, and keep on feebly sweeping dust from the road. But the dust will just cloud and settle again, inevitably, and there will be another jewel buried beneath it.
Or I could take the rare gift and cup it in my hands and gaze at it all day. But then surely this is a waste too. I decide to grasp the day, pin it on and strut about with it sparkling from my collar.
I mean there is the sky to watch, as it changes from pink to blue and as the clouds silently shift. And those tiny fat little birds that dart and gambol in the hawthorn tree, they deserve attention (and seem pleased by it). The dog needs to be played with on the lawn and a song should be paused for. Music is a must. I put some more on while I check the sky again. Can such a blue ever be reproduced?
Kate Miller Heidke sings about a girl who went missing at a music festival and returned a fortnight later without a memory of what had happened to her. I think about that for a while; it gives me chills.
I sing to the sky a bit. And think about artists and a brilliant and humble sculptor I met recently whose work is to feature on the streets of Hobart. I look him up, because I want to see again the haunted and haunting faces he creates, slightly larger than life, to be slightly more than real. There will soon be his beautiful bronze convict women on the streets of Hobart for us to see. His name is Rowan Gillespie and you should see his work.
Then I have to pick the strings on my guitar for a bit, because practice helps and music is a must. I play with some lyrics for a song but I don’t worry when they clunk and grate and misbehave. I light the fire and have a cup of tea and read a wonderful essay which makes me cry. I take a moment to think about National Sorry Day which is tomorrow and doesn’t reach anywhere near where it should reach; into the grassroots well-being of our indigenous people. I give them my tears too.
I give up another tear when I hear the radioed voice of a beloved author who died last week – Gillian Mears. She died too young, having lived under the sufferance of that bastard MS. I look for her book on my shelves and I flip through it. I find some of her gorgeous words, which don’t need to be relevant to anything I am doing:
“It was so light that if floodwaters high enough to take on the hill ever came it would float free of all the shouting and shame; a tiny boat, a little heart of an ark upon which could lie piled every noble high-jump hope left”
Then I read a bit more of this book – a heartaching novel called “Foal’s Bread”. I have read it already but I look through it again and think of how unfair life can be. My Mum’s friend has advancing Motor Neurone Disease. One can be carefully generous with tears on not-busy days.
And then I talk to some dear friends, send an email, pick herbs, take care with the chopping of chives for soup. I wind my grandmother’s clocks. I take the dog out into the coldest day of the year so far. The smoke from local chimneys is blue and the smell of it is remindful of winters past. There are white cockatoos dotting the pine trees. All of this I notice and don’t hurry past.
And then when I get home, I write. I should probably have written about something informative and brainy like what to do if Trump wins and why the dairy industry is in crisis but I didn’t. Because the mood of the day doesn’t call for any of that. Just to write is enough, because sometimes for me, writing is the greatest must of all.
With that, and with the incoming of little voices and dutiful rememberings, it’s over, my not-busy day. It has slipped away too quickly, as precious things do.