The Pointy End
“We’re now at the pointy end” – said my friend. We were chatting about people we knew who had died and about getting older. She has been ill and was aware of how unfit she is. I know how she feels having been forced to lie down for much of the last two weeks. Indeed one of the reasons we were unwell was because we both need to do more exercise. Her commute to the office is all of 3 metres across her yard. Frustrated by the illness she reflected “Being forced to slow down and limp around the world means I have time to ponder about getting fit”
We both knew someone who died this week
People around our age have died and, for me, it has made me reflect on my mortality. After the fall I realised how lucky I was to have caught my back and not my head on the tiled step in the bathroom. And having to ask for help to get out of bed and put on trousers, not be able to wash my hair and being scared of showering when there is no one else in the house in case I fall again, made me stare old age in the face and not like what I saw.
I Googled ‘the pointy end’
(This is where my friends and family will be rolling their eyes) and discovered that this was the name of an episode of Game of Thrones. I am that person who has no clue about GoT and probably never will. I am sticking to the title of the blog because that is what my friend said. I don’t think she watches GoT either.
We are at the pointy end of life now. What pointy end means to 30 somethings and many 50 and 60 somethings is probably not the same – meanings of words change. Jane Austen uses the word gay in a very different context to what we do today. So I am sticking with the pointy end (yes I googled enough to know what Jon Snow said). The sharp end. Looking down the barrel. Google it – once you get past the pages about Game of Thrones, there are other meanings.
Being forced to slow down
Is not always a bad thing. Many of us need to do this more. Slow down. And on this house sit I have to. Not just because I am injured and finding standing up, sitting down, lying down, getting up and getting dressed painful. But also because I am in the countryside, with two dogs and see no one all day. I don’t have a radio or the TV on. The noise distracts me.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
I had so many plans. Couch to 5k was one. Because when you are at the pointy end, being fit helps to dodge the arrows of ageing. But I fell. Running is off the agenda for the time being. Why did that happen? I was feeling positive that this was my time to get fit and not be fat. Everything happens for a reason.
The sound of silence
The silence is occasionally punctuated by horses hooves along the lane, the dogs barking at them and a annoying dripping tap. For a city dweller, this is quiet. No sirens, no hum of traffic and no children playing in the garden or neighbours chatting in the street. The tap of course is all I can hear. Like a clock ticking. One of my major irritations, the ticking of a clock. When the mother in law was alive, she had numerous clocks, all tick tocking away all day and all night. I had to go around the house and stop them all just so that I could sleep.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong
The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
A poem about mourning. Why do I have to stop the clocks? There are no clocks in this silent house. Time stands still here. I like clocks, in every room. Not knowing the time disorientates me, a through time person. I am rarely late. I need to know the time, all the time. I feel naked without a watch. I detest being late. Lateness in others irritates me. On the rare occasions I am late people worry. They phone me to check where I am.
But now like Prufrock I feel that I am measuring out my time with coffee spoons.
And the universe is really messing with my head today because as I reflect on silence, this article – the Most Underated Sound in Our Society pops up on my screen. Because I have time on my hands. With a million other things I need to do and working out what I want to do and being frustrated by not being able to do them, being here and not at home, being injured, and being at a crossroads of my life. Not working, not knowing what I want to do and wondering what my passion is the universe is swirling. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. When I read The Celestine Prophecy, I had lost my way in life, I have spent many years looking for the path. Yet I wasn’t noticing then. I do now.
So what do you want to do?
I always think of the vultures in The Jungle Book when I hear this question. Google it – it is Disney so it is copyright but it’s on YouTube of course.
The thing is I don’t know. I said the universe was messing with me – hey universe I am noticing. First up I see this blog post about not living yeah, that is me, lying down in a life I don’t love, addicted to Netflix. Going nowhere.
What is my passion?
I am at the pointy end and I bloody better work this one out. As a child I wanted to be a clown. I hate clowns now. At school, a writer. I applied for journalism courses. I was rejected. I have little respect for most journalists now and those that work for the majority of newspapers have sold their souls IMHO. So journalist it is not.
I am butterfly like – flitting around to find the passion. And then, I get bored. So they can’t be my passion. Multipotentialite or just plain flaky?
Last week I got so frustrated with my blog. Technical issues, no one reads it. How come really crappy writers make money out of their blog? Seriously truly crappy writers who win awards for the 6 sexiest female travellers type crapola. Because people click them. Advertisers love them. Perhaps I need to up my game but I could never sellout to get people to like me. In 12 months I have posted 6 times. Not a writer then.
I decided to abandon the blog and become a runner. We know how that turned out.
Last year I said I would use my time house sitting in Melbourne to write a book. Not even an outline. Not a writer then.
Five weeks here in the English countryside, alone most of the time. I will write then. And start running. And give up sugar. I have read three books and cooked once from a cookbook that promotes a sugar free lifestyle. Started a post about the Sydney to Brisbane road trip I made last September with my husband. Ten months after the trip. Not a writer then.
However, sitting at a keyboard is not conducive to my recovery. Nor is lying on a sofa reading helping me find my passion. According to Mark Manson I don’t need to find it – I already know what it is I just haven’t worked it out yet.
It’s right there in front of you, you’re just avoiding it. For whatever reason, you’re avoiding it. You’re telling yourself, “Oh well, yeah, I love comic books but that doesn’t count. You can’t make money with comic books.”
I decided to walk the dogs aka avoiding it
I don’t need to as they have three acres to run around in and horses, rabbits and squirrels to chase. I play football with them and tug of war. After the chat about being at the pointy end I decided that maybe a walk would be good for me – and the dogs. Instead of lying on the sofa reading lollipop books, eating chocolate and popping painkillers. I can’t run. I can walk.
The dogs led me – they know the walk – there is a narrow footpath leading past the neighbour who has horses, a field of cars and status dogs. I was aiming for Bodenham Arboretum. Tea, cake, people. The footpath leads through caravan park – static holiday homes. City dwellers holiday homes recreating city life in the country.
For a moment I thought I had entered the palace of the White Witch in Narnia. Statues everywhere. ET, meerkats, dogs and cats and country maids frozen in stone. And no people. Where was everyone? A dog stared at me silently. Maybe if he barked he too would turn to stone.
This is how some measure out their pointy end. Jigsaws and Sky TV in a caravan park with a clubhouse and Bank’s bitter. And garden ornaments.
Bodenham was closed. I walked back through the silent park, past the angel statues, not blinking.
The war veteran
And as I ponder how to fight the inevitability of old age, I hear of another death. Bunty, a WWII Spitfire pilot, who was a volunteer at The Omaka Aviation Centre. Last year Phil and I were privileged to have spent some time with Bunty when he guided us around the centre. He told me off for using my mobile phone during the tour. He was right of course. I explained that his photo was off around the world on Instagram. Bunty was not impressed. I put my phone away.
Bunty stared the pointy end out for 97 years.
And I have to write.