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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rosedale, with Tulips

What I'm reading in Rosedale: Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton (a Belgian-American poet and novelist whose works began to be noticed by Women's Studies programs in the 1960s)

I woke today with a faint but spreading sense of anxiety. In four weeks this will all be over. The pressure to produce something of import is palpable, to make checkmarks on a list I cannot quite bring into focus on the inside of my eyelids. 

Across the room my springtime tulips assure me that ‘hey, everything is fine and isn’t it a grand day to be alive?’ Behind me are ample supplies of chocolate and teas of wondrous variety. Within reach are numerous books, dvds, and cds. There is a garden free to my wandering feet. Indeed, everything is fine here.

Beyond my patio doors is a car that can take me anywhere I choose to drive within a half hour of home – save for destinations up the Trans-Canada, where semis roar and belch their menace onto every nerve ending in my white-knuckled hands, their fumes filming over my heart and mind and skin. There are many destinations available on secondary roads in this end of the Fraser Valley, all lovely to view and peaceful to drive, if ever hurtling at 80 down a strip of asphalt can be peaceful. But why go there? Is it a good use of my time merely to go and look and feel? What is my purpose in turning left instead of right?

Time cannot be taken for granted when the limit is firm. Time is wasted going slow. Time ticks away, a march of moments lost, squandered, or made much of. Mortality lingers at the edge of each decision, unacknowledged like the panhandler on the corner you hope won’t manage to catch your eye, a blot on your idealized landscape of contentment. First thing I did here was let the ticking clock wind down. That kind of pressure I don’t need. 

Yet barely am I here, alone, settled, soothed, than the shadow of my leaving creeps across the room, footprints unseen in the pale pristine carpet. The tulips will last a week, a hopeful, cheerful statement of intent to revel, to enjoy, to delight in springtime, fading daily into the progression of moments lost, squandered, daydreamed away. Whether I replace them or no, their ending is an ending of seven days. Impossible not to see that thug, Mortality, sneering from behind them as they wilt.

Tulips were not on my list.

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