I have just had the best fun ever – hoovering under the beds and shifting two of them to different places. Revealing that neglected oblong of carpet can be such fun. It’s like discovering the planet of Lost Things. I found a butterfly nut which threw me somewhat and an old roll of masking tape, an earring, some toe clippings and a new mouse hole. There was the usual tufty covering of fluff and toast crumbs and feathers and it gave me immense satisfaction to suck the whole lot up the electrolux tube. My trusty hoover has a name, one it came with. Endurance. It’s written large across its tummy.
The new mouse hole gave me pause for thought. The horrid green carpet is horrid and green but also worn, ancient, curling at the edges and, thanks to one of my carpet tantrums some time back, only half there at all. A stanley knife and a ferociously toned right arm cut it raggedly from the far wall to the bed where they were forced to stop. I painted the floor boards and put a jaunty rug over the big gap just outside the bathroom so as not to lose anyone en route for a pee. If I shoved beds about plus the big dresser and the dressing table, I could wheech the rest of the horrid green carpet away to the wheelie bin, crumbling underlay and all. That way the mice wouldn’t have to go through the ghastly process of chewing through all that horrid green=ness – eish, yeuch. They could just pop up through the boards. But I stayed my hand. I know me and my childish enthusiasm, how it far excedes my aging energy levels and physical strength. Not only would I have to roll up horrid green and the crumbling underlay (which would continue crumbling all the way downstairs and out into the rain) but I would then have to drag Endurance out from her understair nest and fire her up all over again. I would be covered in underlay and the dust of a thousand years, coughing and spluttering, grubby and hot. Hmmm – no, the horrid green can stay a while.
I have new beds arriving – and that is what all this shifting of heavy plant is all about. I have never in all my married life bought any piece of furniture as new. Not once. I know it sounds like I might have lived a mildew and old stains sort of life, but that isn’t really true. Other folk move items along you see, sometimes items in perfect condition. Others hand them down to poor souls like me who marry their sons. Big fat dark brooding dressers become a part of life, welcome or not. They might be worth something of course, being Queen Anne or Chippendale or Adam. Preferring Ikea is just bad luck I’m afraid and I will agree that one can have huge fun playing hide and seek, or, better, sardines, inside the old Queen Anne. It is even quite possible to nervously anticipate the Ice Queen as one fumbles a pathway through frocks and fur coats and dress suits, the cloying burn of mothballs sharp in the nostrils.
It thinks me of how something has to go out in order for something new to come in. As long as I hold onto the old in me, I will never know the new. You might say, Who wants to be new? but all of us know that restless feeling and can relate to the sludge of boredom, the same old same old of a long lived life. What we might not know is the change that would make all the difference lies not in new surroundings or even new beds, but inside the mind of a human heart, and all we need to do is open the door shoving the fears out into the street. It is easy to blame work or colleagues or location or partner or fate but the truth is that every one of us got our own selves to where we are today. It was nobody else’s fault. The good news is, that means I can change things by changing me, and here the world is full of crazy advice and quant sayings that thrill us all the way to Tescos with a new lightness to our step. Look on the bright side is one such saying. So I do, honest I do. I do and I do and I do and I’m worn out with doing it. It’s superficial this method and cannot be sustained. All it takes is for someone to upset us, a yoghurt pot to burst in the boot on the way home, the child-minder to cancel, and there is no bright side. No, this is not the way.
So what is? I believe that our wordliness is our stumbling block. Our logical mind controls most of our lives and we are out of balance as a result. In short, we do not play. So caught up are we in chasing money, status, prestige, success, affirmation and street credibility that we sacrifice our souls. We have forgotten to lose ourselves in books, in stories, in adventures. We encourage children to paint, to imagine, to make art and then expect them to put it all behind them once they come to that discussion of ‘what you want to be in life.’ We snuff out the light, the real light, the sustaining light by which we can find our way right up to the last gasp, for the world will just as quickly strangle us, and will certainly never carry us through all the challenges we meet as we live out our lives. We need our imagination fed and watered for those times we really need it, not withering away under our floorboards. We need laughter and imagination to turn ugly into beautiful, disaster into success, troubles into opportunities. I don’t want to know about adult classes for this and that unless the adults really seek change and will continue relearning how to create and to play long after term ends. I want to see a world that focuses more on the human spirit and less on the state of the country’s coffers. I want to see more kindness and gentleness, compassion and encouragement, and less political rantings. I don’t give a monkeys who runs a country of monetary imbalance, unrest, division and addiction. We can all create as we did when young. We can all still play, adventure, sparkle, believe in otherness, something out there, something we cannot explain no matter how clever we are or for how long we research it and the joyous result of allowing ourselves to create as a priority is that our life changes, gradually, into a completely new one. We travel without going anywhere at all. We fulfill the deep desire of our own souls and in doing so, we become kinder, we slow down, we become less selfish, less fearful, there is enough for all, more than enough.
If we all thought Wardrobe = Narnia, the world would become a very different place and, like the journey of a thousand miles, it just takes one person, one step.