“Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving,”– Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky.
I am in a fantasy fiction mood these days. Must be the season.
“I wish Hogwarts were real!” I exclaimed to a friend.
There was an almost uncontrollable desire to be sucked into the fantasy of that world and so I decided that I must look at the Harry Potter movies once more. There is a bustle about Hogwarts that is colourful and happy even though we know that somewhere around the corner a dementor lurks, threatening to suck the happiness out of the wizards and witches. But the strength of friendships and other supportive relationships provides a soft, safe landing for those times when magic fails. Fantasy is never completely separate from that thing we call reality.
This morning I write to the soothing sound of a lawnmower. This isn’t a sarcastic remark. A lawnmower has always been for me, a comforting sound. It is my Platform 9 and ¾. It is the sound and smell of Saturday–the freshly cut grass, the happiness which drove me to open the windows much to the annoyance of my sleeping siblings and shout, “Wake up, wake up! It’s a beautiful day!”
These days, I am quiet. There are no siblings to annoy and grass seems to be becoming a country-life luxury. The silence, however, remains, for even in the child’s happiness there was always silence. It came with the absorption in trimming the edge of the lawn and raking the grass after my father had completed the mowing. From time to time, the memory of Saturday mornings is sufficient for me to re-enter a state of being that once was. But I realize now that the “once was” still is. We carry our memories with us. It is in this magical reality that I sit back today and reflect. Circumstances may have changed–people move, age, the child grows into an adult–yet we always have the power of the imagination to re-enter worlds that we once knew, or even continue living in worlds in which we feel most comfortable. And it begs the question then: which one of the worlds is real?
It is a world without end. It was and ever shall be thus. I woke on this mid-week morning to this thought. There is the wisdom of ages in that slim sentence. It makes us aware that, should there be no end, there is always the possibility of transformation, metamorphosis. Change is persistent, our constant. They may be small ones or large ones that shift our consciousness in drastic ways. But they are constant and we are always required to “dress round” a bit, adjust ourselves to accommodate.
As I reflect, perhaps today’s reading is much more abstract. I shall make a point, however.
My mind has fixed itself on the feeling of the Christmas season. I focus on it as a transformative period, a period of high energy when the entire island, or at least 90 per cent of the island is, in some way, actively involved in Christmas and New Year preparations. But that too is momentary, a noise above an otherwise heavy discomfort. And in my typical manner of thinking, I loop back to the nation as a political entity. There is a heavy silence on that front. We are waiting for a leaf to drop off the gradually ageing tree on a Beckettian stage, to understand that change is happening. And what we must understand is that even this silence, this inaction, is necessary in the change process.
This year will be permanently embedded in my memory–a life-changing year on a personal level. It has been a year in which much of what I had known only in theory, had the opportunity to become practice. I have had, in a sense, to return home in order to move out again. The experience which felt like it was about once again re-starting a life, one realised quickly enough, was really about perspective.
As I end this year’s series of columns with gratitude for the opportunity to write, I leave with an interesting quotation that I came across earlier this month. It sums up for me, the way that I have viewed my offerings to an audience over the past three years and it is this “Whatever I speak, if it is not in your experience, it is just a story,” (Sadguru).