Roadkill

Nothing motivates me. Not the knobbly edge of a cucumber, not the smooth roundness of a fresh tomato, not the creamy ripeness of a fresh avocado. I just chop all the ingredients up and throw them in and…

I don’t even wash my dishes afterwards.

Yes, they are piled up in the sink at home, as I speak. The washing has been in the machine, washed, since Saturday morning. I know it. I see it daily. But I don’t spin it for another wash, nor do I hang it out.

I am, quite simply, drained of energy.

I still get up quite early to go to the gym. I attend every spin class, but avoid eye contact. I push and push and push until the sweat runs rivers down my back and my muscles shriek in anguish. My fat jiggles with every push and my sports bra struggles to maintain a stationary chest. I need to get tighter sports bras else I will become saggy.

I lift weights after the classes. I can lift about 89 kilos in my glutes now, and 20 with my chest. For squats I can only do about 35, but I can see myself becoming more shapely and smooth. Lines and curves where they were always meant to be. Is it bad to enjoy the look of your own body?

Lately I have been noticing a lot of roadkill.

Yesterday it was a badger, lying warped on the verge of a tidy little country lane. The black stripe running through the middle of its little head was muddy and bloody.

Today it was a partridge, the bright green and brown of its coat brilliant in the shine of the morning sun. Last week a rat, on the pavement. Before that a crow, dead and limp and lifeless. A squirrel, a chick (where did you come from, little yellow soft baby?), a shrew (inhibit gardens, not roads, sweet misunderstood creature).

Today also it was a pigeon, lying smack bang on the corner of the space I park in daily at work. As I swung my legs out of the car (literally, I swing them out, and swing around the car to grab my bag from the passenger seat – lots of swinging) I thought to myself, ‘what if I killed it yesterday?’

In moments, the pigeon was forgotten.

What is roadkill, anyway, in the grand scheme of things? What is a dead cat in the face of a murdered Russian asylum seeker? What is a bloody and muddy badger in the face of the death and decay of minds and bodies that thought and did and said.

Don’t animals think, too? Won’t they be mourned by other animals? Ought we not to be kind to them?

You see, I say all these things, in a way that appeals to your pathos, but I feel no emotion. I don’t care for roadkill.

I feel a pang of sadness, but then it is quickly forgotten. It makes me think of rotting bodies and graves and sleep and heaviness and the physical vessel holding life – heartbeats in a chest that could stop and with them all sense of hope and happiness and dependency…

On Friday the friend of a close friend was on her way home from the park with her husband and child, when she collapsed and fainted. Moments later she died. She was fit as a fiddle, completely healthy, happy, laughing, smiling, planning, doing.

Today was her daughter’s first birthday.

I don’t know this girl. But her death has shaken me to my core.

See, she wasn’t a pigeon or a badger or a cat or a shrew. She was a mother and a wife and a daughter and a … a person. Thirty minutes before her death she sent a video of herself and her daughter on a swing, laughing and happy, to a group chat consisting of her closest friends.

Thirty minutes.

And thirty minutes before the death of the badger, did it leave its sett, say goodbye to its wife, and plunge through the undergrowth in heedless joy?

We are all meant to die. Human or animal. Some deaths mean more than others. But at the heart of it, it is the same thing. A heart stops beating, life lifts away from a body.

That is what I take from this.

I want to be loved. Not romantically, not just by my mother. I want to be loved by my Creator. I want my death to be a ‘return’, not a departure. Do you know what I mean? I want goodness and kindness and comfort and peace to fill the space I will inevitably leave behind.

We are not roadkill.

Touch some hearts, maybe?

Be kind? Smile? Help people? Make a good impact on the world?

Be ‘loved’?

What do you think?

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Mortality

When he died, it was not what she expected.

She expected an uproar. A revolution. The great man who ran the empire had slipped quietly away in the night, and nobody noticed.

It was like he didn’t matter, in the end.

The man who was the lord of the people. The man who built the highest buildings and paid the largest fortunes and squired the strongest of men. She sat in her mourning black and watched as the sun rose on another day.

How dare the sun rise, when he had not risen from his bed? His face was so… blue. So still, so cold. Servants walked around him confidently. How dare they. She burned with fury as she watched them coldly sponge his face and cover it. He would never have allowed them to be so brazen in real life.

Real life.

He was dead, now. Death spares nobody. He was like all those paupers they carried off through the rainy courtyard. He was like those he condemned for petty crimes. He had become the very thing he threatened others with.

They lowered his coffin into the ground and when they bumped it a little because it was so heavy, he could not scream at them and order their heads on the city walls. He could not sneer at their set faces.

Not a tear was shed.

She blinked, trying to summon some misery to show the masses. Nothing would come. She had glanced down at his face, surrounded by gold and purple velvet, and she felt nothing.

No, that was not true. She felt a stirring of something deep inside her that made her mouth twitch a little. She banished that feeling quickly enough, however, and set her mouth firmly as she stalked away, her black skirts billowing around her.

When he died, the world carried on as usual. They buried his body beneath the ground like they did countless bodies before him, and like they would do countless bodies after him. His flesh would disintegrate, eaten away by billions of microorganisms. His guts would spill out and his gasses would fill the tiny cavity around him, and soon they too would seep into the ground around him and become nutrition for the earth. He would soon be a pile of bones, nothing more.

And nobody would remember him, a hundred years down the line.

Everybody is equal in the eyes of Death.

 

 

Pondering the ‘Point’.

Sometimes, in my mind, I want to be this glamorous lady wearing high heels, manicured nails gleaming some classy nude colour, makeup on point, hair glossy and thick and cascading down my back, wearing something elegant and effortlessly beautiful, climbing into a pretty little fiat 500 or a purple mini cooper. I know life isn’t all about appearance and looks, but sometimes I just want to be that.

I really do.

It’s not so much for attention as it is for this inner feeling of satisfaction.

I think this, walking down the road, and then I am suddenly halted with another, sharper thought; What’s the point of doing all that if you’re just going to die one day?

Morbid, I know.

But what IS the point?

Usually, when that thought interrupts my reverie of glamour, I turn my mind to different things. But today I decided to explore it a little more. Maybe I was feeling more in touch with my spirituality. Or something.

This is what I came up with:

What IS the point of spending a lot of one’s time just to look glamorous for a few hours? Life is short. By that logic, one would say, yes life IS short, so spend it doing something that makes you happy. Right? Except, no, wrong. I think that life is short so I should spend it doing the right thing. Like, I could be doing so many more important things in the three hours it would take to fluff up my hair and paint my face and tweeze every inch of my body.

I could be doing something more worthwhile. Something I would be glad I did when I am dead. Because I believe that once I am dead, I will wish I spent my life doing things that would help me after I die.

I can still make an effort and look good, of course. It’s not like I’m saying you never should. I just feel that I perhaps shouldn’t dedicate a lot of my thoughts as to how I will. And maybe focus on internal peace.

I know it sounds so fairy-taley to some people. But that is how I honestly feel.

Love Letters #26

Did you know, you can remember things you have never experienced?

Or that sometimes, you can have a ‘false memory’, where your brain mistakes things you have imagined for things you have actually experienced? It’s amazing, some scientists did an experiment about it a while back and they managed to convince a group of people that they had a similar traumatic childhood experience when in actual fact they did not.

Sometimes, I think that our story was a false memory. Something that never really happened. It wasn’t so long ago that we were walking down the cold autumn streets, your fingers warm inside your red leather gloves. You convinced me so artfully that spending £100 on them was a great investment.

The minute we left the shop, with the gloves wrapped delicately in expensive tissue paper that you would only throw away, you turned to me with a smile and said, ‘Ooops.’

I remember everything in such vivid detail. The way your eyes looked when you were cross, and your mouth would set in one corner only. The way you would shove spoonfuls of cream into your mouth when you were mad, or sad. Pour it into a big mug and squeeze chocolate syrup on top. That was disgusting. I remember it fondly. I remember when you used to sleep sometimes, you would curl your fingers like a child. It was so odd. Maybe you felt safe?

I remember when you used to write, you would press the pen down so hard your fingernails turned white with the pressure, and your face would go right down so your nose was touching the paper. Sometimes you would come down and there would be ink spatters dotting your face like literary freckles.

When autumn came you blossomed. Cheeks red, hair alight from the summer sun, you would stay out for hours collecting leaves, and be so disappointed when I didn’t want to come with you. I wish I came with you, and collected leaves with you until my fingers were raw with cold.

I can’t see the dying trees outside now without curling into myself. I can’t look at all the leaves you collected and framed and piled around the house without my heart breaking into a hundred dead pieces. Over and over again.

You were so warm and full of life. I don’t know how somebody so alight with fire and passion could be so cold and still. It makes no sense to me. As all these thoughts rush through my mind, I begin to think we never happened. I just dreamed you up.

But the red gloves dangling over the edge of the dressing table, where you left them by mistake before we left home that fateful day, are a stark and painful reminder of what I have lost.

Blue Water

Rain is pleasing, when you are warm and snuggly and it is pattering gently on the skylight window, like a thousand imps running amok. Rain is pleasing when it is accompanied by what you just know is bitter wind, because you can hear it, and because the temperature has suddenly dropped so low this week, but you have a nice hot cuppa tea and the kitchen is sparkling clean because you have scrubbed it down and your parents are having their coffee and it’s all comfy.

Rain is pleasing when the grass is thick and green, and the smells of life and earth are wafting in through your window on a summer’s afternoon. Rain is pleasing when you can hear it tapping on leaves, drip dropping, trick trickling. Rain is pleasing as you watch it smattering down, accompanied by low rumbles of gruff, yet friendly thunder, while your thoughts take you to far off lands, and your mind is void of deadlines.

What isn’t pleasing is water dripping over the edge of your boots, sodden socks and puddles that are growing larger and larger. It’s no fun when your clothes are soggy and your feet are cold and damp, and the wetness seems to have seeped through the very walls of your house, making it smell funny.

Rain is lovely, but not for those who have roof leakage, or are homeless. Rain is tough when the water levels rise and flood your home, ruining your comfort zone. Rain is harsh when it flies in through your broken windows and stings your face, and makes your children cry. Rain is cruel, when it soaks you to the bone, and makes you have to leave your destroyed home to seek somewhere safe and dry.

Rain is water, water is life, therefore rain is life, happiness, growth.

It is also death and misery.

Here is an interesting quote relating to rain:

“Maybe love is like rain. Sometimes gentle, sometimes torrential, flooding, eroding, joyful, steady, filling the earth, collecting in underground springs. When it rains, when we love, life grows. ” – Carol Gilligan

What do you think about rain?

 

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Artist credit: Igor Mudrov

The Sunset of Life

Before you expire, what is it you hope to achieve?

I hope to achieve my life-ly goals, and also my after-life-ly goals, because I believe that life is a struggle because it is temporary. I think that much more awaits me out there and so I must prepare for it, much like I am preparing for my finals today, because I want a better life in the future.

It is all about balance, you see.

Balance your behaviour. Balance your personality. Balance your character. Balance your relationships. Balance your work and your play.

Life is a seesaw of things which we must balance.

I think that each of us is a little planet that spins around our axis of life. None of us share an axis. Our axises are comprised of our different life institutions, and while some of our life institutions may be similar, others aren’t.

Two sisters share a family and siblings but they have different spouses and children, and they might have gone to separate universities and have separate religions. They may share a passion for painting but one sister might like abstract while the other focuses solely on life like oil painting.

There is so much going on, and so many things that demand our attention, that it can sometimes be hard to give each its due focus.

 

I think that it is harmful to prioritise things unnecessarily. It’s harmful to make your family your sole focus in life, over your passions and beliefs. It is harmful to be so infatuated with somebody, that your life begins to be meaningless without said person. It is dangerous to fixate on work or your career at the expense of your real life relationships. You must feed your body as well as your soul.

Those are the things that I think are important, and the things I want to achieve before the sunset of my life begins. The thing is, it could be anytime. It could even be in the next ten minutes. That is why I have made it my priority to never go to sleep angry with anybody, and to mend all my disagreements with people. It’s good for your heart, and it’s good for your conscience.

 

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A Holding of Breath

There is something so tantalising about anticipation.

Anticipation to drive my first car. Anticipation to eat the chocolate I have hidden in my bedside drawer. Anticipation to see my beloved when he finally comes home. Anticipation to visit a place I haven’t seen in forever, talk to an old best friend, confront somebody after a change has taken place between us..

Anticipation can be both exciting and miserable. It can carry the sickening nausea of extreme happiness, or horrific nervousness.

I have often thought about the oddity of our senses, and how the same physical sensation accommodates two very different emotions.

I get the same lurching, heaving nausea before an exam that I get in the throes of deep excitement in the minutes before I see my husband after being away from him for so long.

And even though it is almost painful to feel that way, I love it! It makes me feel so alive! I can taste every breath of air like minty freshness on my tongue, melting like a cold snowflake. I want to run and run and run through cobbled streets, the wind in my hair, my feet flying as though winged, but at the same time I want to curl up and groan, clutching my queasy stomach.

My toes curl as I hurry towards my destination. A sinkhole could swallow me up at any moment. A torrent of rain could fall and mar this sweet reunion. An earthquake could shatter the windows and crack the walls, and my exam would be cancelled. That would be both bad and good, I think. Better to have it over and done with, than wait through more hours of agony.

I am so excited to see him again.

Anything could happen between now and 12:00PM on Monday. Anything. I could die. He could be struck by lightning or get tossed into the sea or have a car slam into him and be snatched away from me, just like that, my hands closing around the empty space where he would have been, had fate not had her resolute way.

I can smell him on my pillow and in the hoodie that I wear that really belongs to him, I can see his wide smile and dimples and pearly, straight teeth when I close my eyes, I can feel the warmth of him in the empty space beside me in bed, I can see his fingers running over the tips of my books, the way his knuckles look when he straightens things out, his minute attention to every tiny detail.

I am holding my breath until he is with me again.