New Year’s Day 2020
In “Men Behaving Badly” Gary, an office drone in a dead-end job, is miserably contemplating his life. He asks his long- suffering secretary Anthea, the very model of a buttoned-up spinster “Don’t you ever think about the futility of your existence?” (I’m paraphrasing.) “Oh Yes,” she replies “ sometimes I do, but then I tidy out my tea towel drawer and I feel a lot better.”
When I first heard this, in my middle thirties, with a happy marriage and four beautiful babies, I laughed at her, like you were supposed to. But now, in my eight decade, with a quiet life spent mostly on my own, I see Anthea’s reply quite differently.
For most of us, fortunately, the trials of life are mildly unpleasant rather than devastating: the window that needs fixing, the vicissitudes of bureaucracy, the disappointment of a cancelled evening. (I’m ignoring here the life-changing events like illness and death.) We must all at some point have mornings when we wake up feeling a sort of mild dissatisfaction, or end the day annoyed with ourselves at the tasks not done, or hurt by the indifference of a friend or the slights of a family member. But it is not the grand gestures- the all- night bender, the jacking it all in and going off to live in the South Seas, the enraged text message, it is not those that help. It is going for a walk and noticing signs of spring, or the golden light of autumn, or breathing in the ashy scent of frost. It’s making a nice cup of tea and picking up a book you have read so many times its cover is soft and floury in the hand, or doing some gentle gardening that makes you stretch your slightly aching back and smile, or writing a letter to a distant friend. It’s tidying the tea towel drawer, and being pleased with the result, and counting your blessings.
DoraMarr Wed 01-Jan-20 11:25:18
wildswan16 Wed 01-Jan-20 11:31:09
Septimia Wed 01-Jan-20 12:20:07
Yehbutnobut Wed 01-Jan-20 12:33:10