Island Blog – Minding the Gap

There was a gap. Gaps are perfectly acceptable in a woman’s life, as long as they don’t become IT. My gap, ie more than two days without writing was because I was busy with grandchildren, collecting and delivering them. As we drove the little roads from A to B we chatted about their lives. They live in the moment, these wee ones, although I did have a little glimpse of what is to come for one of them, when he said he wished something was different. Instead of being completely inside the day that surrounded him, he was looking ahead. It was a small concern I am happy to say, but he might be prone to worry, in the future. It was one of those moments of illumination for me, a snapshot of growing up, right there beside me in the car.

It thinks me of how lives change and alter as they develop, up to the point where we have to orchestrate the change and development all by ourselves. From letting the day go by, we have to sort and order it into shape. From short trousers to the right trousers and, what’s even worse, on a day to day basis. That is both the pants of a life and its freedom, and it comes without an invitation. It just arrives one morning accompanied by an uninformed confusion. I used to just ‘be’. Now I have to ‘do’.

How glorious might it be to just let the day go by, let the next one come and the last one go without having to scrabble for control, battle with regrets and write endless post it note plans for the one yet to come. I think that probably only happens in heaven. I don’t remember when that moment came for me, that discombobulation, that fear, that dread. I am certain, had I voiced my fear of what-was-to-come, my loving parent would have turned to me with experiential wisdom and loving reassurance. At least I imagine so. And that would have been the beginning of the rest of my life. No longer was I an add-on to theirs. Now I had to learn, not only to think for myself, but to face 70 odd years ahead unthinking a great deal of it. That long road of learning to stand up and to stand down; to make something happen and to make it not happen; to love, but not too much; to rise in grace and to fall from it now and again; to believe and to doubt; to go, to stay, to trust but not to be a fool, and then, to be a fool in the eyes of the world for the right reasons. There is no list of right reasons by the way, no map, no app for your phone, no chance you’ll find a book on it in your local library. Its a flipping journey is all, and you can’t arrive at enlightenment by running in the corridors because that’s not allowed either.

Well, hallo Life. Hallo Gaps. Farewell to scraped knees being the entire focus of my day, and hallo to a tsunami of inner doubts and fears. Hallo, too, to choice and to a freedom that scares the bejabers out me one minute and empowers me to dizzy heights, the next. No more can I spend the whole day inside a gap because that will have consequences. No more can someone else tell me what to do because someone else has popped their clogs. Now it is all up, and down, to me. I have had plenty of guidance from the clog poppers, and still do, from those I admire, and like whom I aspire to be, or, at the least, to become, eventually, once I’ve organised my head.

As a supposedly grown woman, and retired (!) I can decide my own decisions. But what if I don’t want to even as I do want to? When I was a child, I could just ‘be’ as long as I ‘be’ed’ in an appropriate manner, but now, being is something that does its very best to evade my grab. Doing, on the other hand, is easy. Doing is what we do, what I do with my body. Being, on the other hand, is all in my head. Are the two connected? Sometimes I wonder. If I am to live a full and balanced life, how come the power was given to me? Surely everyone knows I am the very last person who should be granted such power of attorney. I am not to be trusted. My head is ransacked, daily, by the wreckers of self-doubt and ditherment. And, daily, I need to armour up, to re-locate my sword and my shield for the skirmish ahead.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. Now I am an adult trying very hard to think like a child, a child who doesn’t mind the gaps at all.

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