I swithered today, dithered and fannied about so that today moved like a snail with a lead boot on. I write in the singular because we all know that the snail has but one foot. I did what I had to do, drove the switchback road, almost empty as it often is in the winter, to take Mis Pixty Forkov to the garage because her onboard computer is telling me my tyres are down which they aren’t. This onboard computer thingy is a great weight to bear. I have lived, and driven, for many decades using my own intelligence and now I find myself compromised. Not only do I have no idea how to argue with the damn thing, nor reset it, I become less than I am in the face of all these flashing lights and misinformation. I pull back, hesitate, doubt myself. I stop, get out, kick my well-inflated tyres, and still the doubt remains because of this glitch in the supposedly wise computer lunatic. What if it told me that my engine was dodge and my oil leaking, my lights unfunctioning or my underbelly shot? Well, I would hesitate at best, panic at worst. And yet, here am I, a good driver, careful to notice when I list to the left or to the right. I have driven many cars over many years and it is up to me to listen to a sound change, to notice a sluggishness, to maintain good synergy in the underbelly, inside the bonnet. It thinks me.
When I am confounded, either by computer lies or by something in the day that halts my foot, or feet, it takes me a few moments to step into my own intelligence, my own experiential wisdom. Doubting this is a mistake. I know what I know and although there is much I have never experienced, yet, I am agile and able to change direction in a heartbeat. I never procrastinate, nor ignore a warning. I know myself. And doubt myself. In my past life, I would have found courage through my shared existence. Where I dithered and swithered, my husband would have reassured and told me to to GTF on with it. Therein lay my confidence. Another ‘thinks-me’. I took it all for granted. I didn’t want him to sort it for me, hell no. I wanted to do it myself but because he was there I knew courage. Now I need to find my own way to courage. Funny how, when life snaps your knicker elastic, and it breaks, you can only rely on yourself. Nobody else is going to hold them up for you. You have to find a way.
I walk with the snail. I take in the trees, my friends, the old stone dykes along the path. Who built you and when? 1830 ish, I am guessing. This track, the one used by carriages and traversed by the gentry, the clan chief and his guests, tells a wonderful story not one word of which I know. I can only guess or imagine. The swish of crinoline, the dreadful corsets, the kid boots so unable to avoid being ruined in all this rain and mud; the encounters, the trysts, the promises, the betrayals. I come to the apex, where the sea in all her ferocious glory is first revealed. I see, and watch the spume and spray fight the sailor-sinking rock just offshore, creating an oceanic floral display. I wonder about the dinner preparations in the big house at Tapselteerie, the fleet of servants, the upstairs/downstairs of it all, long long gone by the time we moved in. I move past the old lily pond, now smashed into a spate of peaty rainflow. I stand beneath the massive beech trees that were, so I am told, built as a hedge almost 200 years ago. They are mighty. You are mighty, I tell them as I stand like a midget before giants, naked now but still majestic, alive, sleeping, protecting, your arms held out for future life. What have you seen? Who broke the drystone wall that made this a lily pond, a pause in the crinoline walk, and why? You don’t answer me. You just keep on keeping on, trusting in what I am only just learning to see, to understand. You just GTF on with it all.
It doesn’t matter what happens. What matters is how we get on with what happens. Will we flow, regardless of anything or will we stop, panic, and doubt our hearts? I say No Way but there are snail days and I am a two boot woman. Although I will continue, no matter what; although I will GTF on with it, I do need to honour myself in the snail days. It is important to do so, even if I would rather they left me alone. Perhaps in those days I reflect on everything, learn to trust myself and to celebrate the fact that I never had to wear a dreadful corset.