What do you do all day?

Someone asked me this last week.

Not in a judgmental way. I was asked this same question by several action men from my old life after I got hurt and stayed too ill to even move for a long time, never mind to be an action man anymore. Their voices always carried varying degrees of horror and fear. I didn’t feel badly towards them. Already felt bad enough, and had sufficient fears of my own without taking on the weight of theirs too.

Anyway, the person who asked this question last week on a forum I frequent was coming from the opposite direction. It was a general question for everyone there, and he was genuinely interested in our answers.

I’m not going to give an hour-by-hour account of my days here, partly because my health condition means there is no routine day for me and it would be too exhausting to type out the many variations on a theme. And also because my days contain an awful lot of pain-bastard-pain and I don’t want this to be a whine session.

So here’s a snapshot of the sort of day when, in between the writing of novels and maybe dealing the business side of being a novelist, I lie in my hammock slung beneath the big old eucalyptus tree and let the silences of summer take me.

hanging beneath teasing breezing
washing through paper leaves
twinkling dappling strobing light
on violet eyelids
stroking warm skin
almost awakening libido
inhaling sunskinsmell
remembering another silent summer
pretending to read course notes while
studying bikini lines
to the tinny tunes of Young and Cohen
remembering I still have those albums somewhere
is that a record
good to listen again
without having to explain
that sad isn’t necessarily depressed
supposing that nostalgia really is a thing of the past
and when half-thoughts start to half-rhyme
it might be time to let the memories lift me

How about you? What do you do all day? 🙂

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Once upon a time the London marathon made me cry

It’s on the telly this morning. There was a time when it broke my aching heart, but I’ve been over it for years.

I came home from war, hurt, badly hurt, but still with my young action man mindset. Determined to make my limbs work again and get back running and stuff. Watched the London marathon from my day bed two years later and vowed I would run it one day.

By the time it was on the telly again the following year, my arms and legs were moving but not in the old way, certainly not in the old way, and I’d had my severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) diagnosis. Chronically ill. Crash course in knowledge I didn’t want.

Still action man in my head. I’d got my limbs working and nothing was going to stop me from running that bloody marathon sometime.

Well, guess what, action man. A year later, everything had crashed from overdoing everything and the London marathon on the telly taunted me into hot bitter tears. Never gonna happen, mate. Never. Just, never. See this bottomless pit? You’re in it. Right in the bottom of it.

All that was about 20 years ago. I’m over the London marathon now. It can’t make me cry anymore. I found another marathon. Two really.

One, the ME one, came without me looking for it or wanting it. I’m still running it. No choice.

The other, learning how to write novels, the one I started to keep myself sane, is also a long distance run. Six titles published so far. Number seven on its way in May. That’s a marathon I can enjoy. Take it at my own pace. At the ME’s pace. At my life’s natural pace. It doesn’t hurt me. Doesn’t make me crash and burn. It’s okay. My life is okay.

Yours will be too. If you’re reading this and hurting, I love you, and you should love you too. Your life will be okay. Be gentle with yourself.

The older I get the closer I feel to history

Just before Christmas I watched David Tennant hiking over the windswept Isle of Mull with a local historian on Who Do You Think You Are? and learning about his great-grandparents, who were evicted by one of Scotland’s many ruthless landowners from the smallholding they’d farmed for generations. David remarked that when he “did” the Clearances at school it had seemed like a million years ago, but it really wasn’t.

That thought resonated with me, and does so even louder now that we’re in 2014. A hundred years ago this year, my maternal grandparents were born. Grandad in January and Nan in April, just a few months before the First World War kicked off and our planet took an innocently routine breath before everything started speeding up like crazy.

So much has changed since then. Technological advances have transformed our world almost beyond recognition and looking back at photographs and writings from around 1914 it’s easy to assume that nothing is the same.

People are, though. People are still the same.

Yesterday was my birthday. Thank you, 🙂 I had a lovely day. Today I’m 57. Which to youngsters will seem ancient, I know, but I can tell you that my life has flown past almost at the speed of light.

Two of my lifetimes ago, it was the year 1900. Queen Victoria was still on the throne here in Britain. My grandparents weren’t born yet and their parents were still children. But people were still people, just like we are now.

Twenty of my lifetimes ago, The Battle of Hastings hadn’t happened yet, and William the Conqueror-to-be was still William the Bastard over in Normandy.

Forty of my lifetimes ago, the bloody Romans weren’t even here yet.

It’s nothing. My life has flashed by in an instant, and I expect theirs did too.

People are still the same. The world has changed a lot, but people are still people. Those smelly thugs driving their speeding chariots at the legion shield walls were the same as we are now, and all that was less than forty of my lifetimes ago.

The older I get, the closer to history I feel. Closer to my family who lived before me and closer to others. And, curiously, closer to those who are still to come.

It isn’t such a big timeline, our human family history.

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