There Was Today
There was today that wyrdful combination of weather, landscape, age, memory and English Winter Sun, to bring such sadness as seeps to keep me truly human.
But if only: if only I had the ability to fully express, to convey, in words the simple complexity of feelings which animate me now for hours when a remembering of past errors, mistakes – and a recalling of moments of beautiful tender poignant personal love – combine to presence within me such a knowing of what is valuable, important, numinous, about our human life and our social living. A knowing established, born, by some forty years of my so varied living, of that learning from diverse sometimes harsh experience.
So much desire, within me, to so convey this – and so much failure to do so so many times; a failure exposed again yesterday when I received, from a composer friend, his new concerto, the first two movements of which on first and subsequent hearing seemed to so well, to so beautifully, express in that way I cannot, the often fated sadness and the inherent promise of our human lives – that strange, quixotic, amalgam when so many times it seems the gentle love we need escapes us, haunts us, and then and then is known, felt, suddenly, perhaps unexpectedly experienced with such ecstasy, such hope, that it is as if our very then shared life becomes some symphony to joy.
There is then no need for the known-unknown god of our despairing times when need takes our desiring far beyond ourselves to where we with our reason fear to or dare not linger even if such surrender might help us, then.
But for now that almost painful slowness of beautiful music – that concerto, as all such music so presencing such a remembering of our so fallible nature and the numinous nature of a living personal love – recalls to me so many lessons finally if so painfully learnt…
Of how I one warm June day came to find myself by arms entwined when she my lover of that moment spake such words of love and no desire to work kept me there amid the birdful morning country silence until satiation – and hunger-thirst – bade us rise to greet the half-remaining day. And of how, only months later, we parted – her arms by her side – while off I in prideful pride went again to some abstractified war I carried in the headpiece of my head. But a life of sharing love claimed her, with another, for I had by then failed to sing her loveful dreaming song…
Of how I one early morn in May in York betook myself away from Fran, excuses made so many nights before – and of how she with aching sadness looked: needing, hoping, trusting, hurting. But the selfish strength of individual self within my selfish self was too strong and so I, though feeling her so needful need, turned my self by manly strength to walk away to leave her to live again alone – for those few more hours at least – for she, bereft, then killed herself…
So much selfishness; so much suffering caused; so very many mistakes I might spend a year of writing trying to recall them all.
Yet there are no excuses for my failures, my errors, decade upon decade. No excuse for my life-long obsession with abstractions, forsaking as I did the personal love that so many times came my way as if the very Cosmos was so wyrdfully contriving to instruct, to learn, me: to break down my barriers of arrogance and pride. No excuses for my selfish rejection of such love so many so very many times.
Now, all I have in penance are poor words such as this. No God, no deity, believed in or assumed, to turn to. No belief in any redemption, supra-personal or otherwise. No comfort from any time or type of prayer. For there is only me, and you – and the memories of sadness, joy, the tears. Only the knowing, the hurting feeling, of the suffering so personally caused.
So it is that I repeat and repeat this my knowing of the errors, the mistakes, of my past – this now knowing of how a personal and shared love between two human beings is the most important the most numinous thing of all. This now knowing of why it is that everything we do, we plan, we scheme to do, we say, we write, should be judged by one criteria alone: that of whether our deeds, our words, our actions, cause or contribute to the suffering of someone or any living being. Because if they do, then we are plainly wrong.
I repeat, repeat, myself, again – for these and so similar recent words of mine are all I have: my music, my concerto, my so very poor compositions in memory of those who loved me, who shared with me their life, their living – and such dreams as kept them hoping – for however short or long. This and these are my remembrance of the suffering I have caused; my primal plea, my gift, to, with and for whatever supra-personal-forces may lurk beyond my rational perception and which in moments such as these I still seem to desire to believe in against my reasoned judgement.
Perhaps with such a faith it would be easier, but such faith as lived within me so many times now is gone – olden ships of sails, sunk by storming seas to leave me surviving, swimming, alive but only just, until some land claimed and calmed me and I in recovery found by dwelling so near to death a strength to live, to dream, to hope again – to know, to feel, that Life is Love.
Is this all we have? The cultural treasures of our human past to remind us of such survival moments? The pathei-mathos of our past, of our ancestral pasts – gifted to us in literature, works of Art, in music, poetry, song; resonating within us to bring back joy, dreams and hope, stripping away our vainful manufactured abstractions, our pretentious manly strength, to reveal in shades our affective needful connexion to all other life?
Yes – for they are the treasures we are and leave behind. Treasures of remembered empathy so they – hearing reading seeing – find again the numen which always waits within and brings the living gift of love.
pdf version available for download here: There Was Today
Image – Hubble Space Telescope, HH 901/902
Music – Richard Moult, Widgael Concerto in Three Movements