Week 5 of my deliberate downtime started with a few days of holiday. It seems ridiculous that in the middle of a couple of months of not working that a change in dynamics and pace could signal a feeling of holiday. But it did. We had a friend staying with us for a few days, the lovely Jono was in the UK instead of living his normal life in Australia. It was lovely to see him, spend time with him, and to catch up with mutual friends. And I think the reason it felt more holiday like was that Richard was in that mode as well.
It didn’t come without a need for reflection though. Last time Jono arrived to stay with us Mum was in a stable state. I didn’t get to say Goodbye to him that trip because she was taken seriously ill while he was with us and I legged it to Hull to be with her. She survived that scare but it was the beginning of the end - she never ate solid food again, and within 8 months had died. I thought I’d been through most of the ‘first time that I do x since Mum died’ situations. So it surprised me a little that there was still at least this one left. I’m pleased that having had this stretch of time off I was able to accept the mixed feelings that came with Jono’s visit - the enjoyment and excitement of having him here, with the sadness of how things had changed for me since last time. Not just me obviously. We all change and react to our circumstances but I can only comment on my own experiences.
So, it’s been another reflective, empathic and sensitive week.
I overheard a conversation in the park while walking the dog the other morning. One person said, “oh, I’m getting my P.A. to buy all my Christmas gifts this year”. That made me feel sad. A few weeks ago I had done a bit of reflecting about Christmas. About what it meant to me. And about what I wanted it to mean to me. I came up with the realisation that, for me, it’s a balance between celebration and obligation. That overheard comment definitely made me think that the person was falling heavily into the obligation side. I love buying gifts for people I know well, and finding “that perfect gift”. I don’t like it when it gets to the “oh, that’ll have to do” stage. This year I’ve resolved that I’ll give them money and a note explaining that I couldn’t find a gift that screamed their name and I’d like them to choose their own gift instead.
On Thursday I spent a really pleasant half an hour or so with the people from From Me To You who were having a letter writing day in Jubilee Library. I’d heard about them on the Allusionist podcast a few weeks ago and then spotted a poster. So I thought I’d go along. My Silver Line letter friend is having a break for a few weeks so I thought I’d write a letter to an unknown person having cancer treatment instead. It’s an interesting thing to write a note to an unknown person, knowing that it’s a one-way exchange, that you’ll never hear back from them and so you can’t ask questions. All you can do is try and write something that is uplifting and that I feel would brighten my day a little if it were me. It reminded me a little of writing postcards to Mum. They weren’t an exchange, a conversation, either they were about giving her something to look at, to hold, and to give her some company when someone read it to her. The letter writing was an uplifting experience. And Alison and Brian were lovely people.
The week hasn’t entirely been spent in my own head, I’ve seen a couple of things at the Dome - BalletBoyz (beautiful) and The Divine Comedy (playful) - and been to the “Gluck: Art and Identity” exhibition at the museum. But I can and do things like that quite often. The difference is that I’m getting and taking time to feel. And that feels good.
Someone sent a message to me and another friend yesterday describing us as “lovely perfect people”. Which on the surface is a nice way to be addressed, but I felt resistance to the use of that ‘perfect’ word. I’m not perfect. And if I was there’d be only one direction I could travel - towards being less than perfect. That doesn’t sound good. I responded saying “Nope, not perfect. But pretty content with who and how I am” And that seems like a pretty good place to be at the end of week 5.