Summer 2011 #5
“Good morning, Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”
– Winnie the Pooh
I’m not much relishing sunrise either. My Favourite Wife will be heading back to work again after our blissful, endless holidays. Come tomorrow Little One will be at school again, and I will be … well, here.
Our Holy-Days began on November 20th, long before we were actually on holiday, with the unwrapping of our Nativity. Our annual ritual held more promise than ever as we looked eagerly forward to the School Holidays, the excitement of Christmas preparations, the arrival of family on Christmas Eve, and all the trappings of the season of food and laughter. On that day, two months and more ago, a hum of expectancy settled on our home.
As a child I developed something of an appetite for anticipation. Somehow I stumbled early on what I still believe to be a sacred truth: Better to hold a Chocolate than to eat one! The aroma of coffee is richer, I think, than its taste. The smell of a bakery promises more than toast can deliver. The joy of a holiday begins days and days before you leave home. A kiss is the tenderest act of love. Gifts are most relished while they are still wrapped tightly under the tree.
It was the best Christmas I can remember; the taste was as good as the scent! Our children came, some stayed for days. We ate and laughed; and when it was over it wasn’t over at all, because two weeks of holiday on the coast lay just ahead!
It was the best Holiday I can remember. Our children came, some stayed for days. We ate and laughed; and when it was over … well, it was over.
Returning home last week I couldn’t escape the fact that I was not the same man who had set up the Nativity two months before. Excitement is a great anaesthetic. Weeks had passed in relative strength; I had scarcely noticed the inexorable physical decline. But it was there, of course.
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
– The House at Pooh Corner
I wish, I rather wish, that I was going back to work tomorrow too; with Little One and Favourite Wife. I wish I still had that easy raison d’être, that simple definition of life: an occupation. I could once call myself a Carpenter; and in answering the ubiquitous question, “So, what do you do?” a world of vitality and industry was revealed. I am rarely asked that question now, which is embarrassing in itself, but if asked what should I say? A pensioner?
I wish I was contributing to the world in familiar, more obvious ways. I wish that two years ago I could have kept on working, part-time perhaps, instead of losing my job under a cloud of undiagnosed-incomprehensible-uncertainty. I wish I still brought home a pay check, as a husband should. I wish I had something other than my worries to worry about. I wish I knocked of every afternoon, and I wish for weekends off.
I hate (yes, hate! – a word I shun) the need to ask for help. I hate the mounting list of things I don’t do very well. I hate the growing isolation. I hate the mathematics in my head that proves that someone, somewhere, is picking up my slack.
“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’. The Social Round. Always something going on.”
– Winnie the Pooh
I’m pouring over my diary; counting the days and weeks, scraping the barrel of anticipation. When can we get up and go again? Better hurry! Before it’s too late.
Dear, O dear.
Woe is me!
That’s the downward donkey gaze.
But, come morning, I might look upward instead.
The old grey donkey, Eeyore, stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about.
– Winnie the Pooh
(raison d’être – the purpose that justifies a thing’s existence).