thoughtsfromthepanda

I do my best thinking while driving. I drive a Fiat Panda.

Archive for the tag “nostalgia”

New beginnings and the passage of time

Since I wrote my last entry, I have cried. Quite a lot. And I have not been in enough of a positive, creative space to write much.

For a few reasons, this has not been a good year thus far.

It has been a year of obstacles and trying to find solutions to really big issues. And, where there were no solutions, trying to find the courage simply to deal with the issues.

It has been a year in which my natural optimism has been sorely tested.

And yet I have continued to walk this earth; continued to learn, survive and – I trust – grow.

fairy ring

I was helping Liam and Matthew to find something a few days ago, and during the search process, I came across a 2013 calendar. It was a little late to rediscover it, because we have already officially clocked up more than two-thirds of this year.

It got me thinking about the passage of time.

calendar

I remembered when the old lady in the pharmacy gave it to me, some time in very early January. She handed it over with a warm smile, as though she was bestowing a quite precious gift. In a way she was, because what she gave me was not only a piece of rolled-up cardboard with dates marked on it and decorated with some pretty pictures.

She was also giving me the hopeful gift of time still lying ahead and with it, dreams to forge and memories to build: new beginnings every month.

And as we cross over into a new month every four weeks or so, I find myself still determinedly and stubbornly trying to cultivate hope for brighter days ahead.

flowersinrain

I’ve always been a fan of opportunities for new beginnings. Besides, there is no other option if I am to stay sane and true to my inner values.

I am blessed that right now, I’m still lucky enough to have the gift of time on my life’s personal credit card. This makes it important to me to try and seek joy wherever I can find it.

We took an opportunity that arose recently to get a new puppy. To be very honest, I pushed for him, very hard. I persuaded and cajoled. (There is the issue of more doggy-doo in the garden to pick up, after all…)

But you see, I wanted to bring a little more joy back into my life.

And there he was. Just waiting for us. Perfect timing.

From the moment we picked up ‘Nickelback’ and took him home, he slotted seamlessly into our lives and our hearts. He is just gorgeous! He brings happiness and puppy love to everyone he meets. I call him our ‘joy boy’.

joyboy smaller

For me, our puppy and the unconditional love he brings into our family symbolises new beginnings in the purest of ways.

Even when picking up the you-know-what and trying hard to avert your senses.

 

 

Post script – song now playing (again):

Kyrie eleison’

 Mr Mister

 

Kyrie eleison

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be?

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

 

Turning corners

My little boy turned seven a few days ago and with it, I turned a new corner in my life. It was a day of celebration, a day of happiness and a day in which I was quietly noting the beginning of a new stage in my life. At least that’s how it seems.

Seven years old!

I imagine I’m speaking for millions of parents when I say I can hardly believe the passage of time.

On our bedroom wall, Frank and I have two separate framed photos of Liam and Matthew, both taken on the days they were born.

There they are: two little boy babies, lying sleeping in their cots, the photos taken just hours after their official arrivals on the planet.

I look at these photos and it seems, maybe not quite like yesterday, but more like three or so years that we’ve had the pleasure of knowing Liam – not more than double that.

Where, where has the time gone?

Well, the short answer is that it has gone on many happy hours and days, with a few times of illness, fear, tiredness and trouble and a few moments of worry and doubt – but mostly on many more moments of happiness.

I have been so blessed.

Placed into my temporary custody I have received two marvellous little children, full of optimism, laughter, joy and courage. I have revelled in their babyhood; I have cherished the moments watching those literal and metaphorical first baby steps. I trust and hope and pray I will have many more first steps to come.


And recently I realised, fully, that my first-born son at least is no longer a baby.

He is a confident, laughing, sensitive, kind, sociable little boy – supremely happy to have had his friends at his party to celebrate his birthday with him. He is becoming a leader in his own right: a child others listen to and follow (and this endorsed by his teachers, not just mom’s biased fond opinion alone).

And I repeat: I have realised that my first-born son at least is no longer a baby.

And I am getting too old to have more babies (at least easily and relatively safely).

And I must not try, in foolish compensation, to turn my younger son into the baby either, because he too is champing at the bit to be a ‘big boy’ (at the ripe old age of four, bless him…).

So I’ve been turning some corners in my mind.

And as I write this I am just a little bit sad, in the midst of all the happiness his birthday brought. It seems like the end of an era, somehow.

I am so used to thinking of myself as being the mother of young children and, with it, thinking of myself as being young. These past few days I’ve been feeling a little older. Suddenly. It has been strange and unsettling.

But even as doors close, they say, others open.

I have some new prospects on the horizon: some long-cherished ambitions may be coming to fruition. In more and more ways I am starting to feel not entirely ‘just mom’ and more like the old me: the me who used to write regularly; used to ride her bicycle and revel in working those muscles and feeling the wind on the downhills; used to dream of her own private ambitions.

It has been an emotional period lately, re-evaluating who I am, but I have finally come to accept that I am turning some corners.

I am leaving behind and also walking towards.

And even as I turn the next corner, I take a moment now to pay tribute to my two wonderful children and share a poem that I wrote for them before they were born, before I knew them, and whose words they embody every day even without knowing it.

May you never be Shadow, human child.

May you be born under

the sign of the dreamer.

May you know the mark

of saint and sinner.

May you reflect in your eyes

the changing face of man and woman.

May you celebrate Life, choose ever to

Possess, share

Love, desire

The more questing soul.*

(*copyright Vivienne Fouche 1990)

 

To those who are turning corners in any way, whether related to parenting matters or not, I say to you what I am saying right now to myself:

Courage.

Be still.

Accept.

Embrace.

Give thanks.

 

Then gladly move on.

 

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

My husband found an old photo of himself the other day. He was – I’m guessing – about 26 at the time, and, I thought, absolutely gorgeous.

In the photo – which is sepia-coloured, to add to its nostalgic charm – he has long blonde hair with a bandanna tied around it. He’s wearing a flowing shirt and, around his neck, an amulet on a rope. He looks like someone straight out of the sixties.

As I initially digested the photo, remembering the Frank I’d first met – though not the Frank I’d first dated, because by then he’d cut his hair – I wished for a brief intense moment that he’d still looked like that when he and I were first sharing our lives.

In my younger years I was often a sucker for a man with long hair. I think it’s my yearning-for-the-sixties thing. I’ve always liked the idea of the flower power movement and that tipping point when the western world, for a short while, was less materialistic and young adults yearned for peace on a global scale.

(Note to cynics: no. It’s not about the sex and drugs, though I’ll surely subscribe to the rock and roll.)

I was lucky enough to work in California for a few months. I had my 27th birthday there. When I visited San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district (‘The Haight’) and walked the beautiful Golden Gate bridge, I felt that I should have been surrounded by long-haired ‘gentle people’ in flowing shirts and bell-bottomed jeans, strumming guitars and reminding me to wear flowers in my hair.

“If you’re going to San Francisco 

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

If you’re going to San Francisco 

You’re gonna meet some gentle people there…”

I heard the theme music everywhere I walked, and as a souvenir of my ‘California dreaming’ I got my belly button pierced in Haight Ashbury when I’d finished my temporary three-month job. Then I hopped on a Greyhound and travelled around the country for a few amazing weeks before finally going home to South Africa and the end of my American sabbatical.

I didn’t know it then but I was going home to a future that would include a gentle man who, in his early twenties, had sung and played the guitar in a pub. This was also the time he was growing out his hair and, with it, some of his memories of the war in which for two years he’d been a reluctant teenaged conscript.

We met years later and of course began sharing some of our stories – a necessary part of early dating, I think, before a new couple starts making their own memories together. But it’s crossed my mind on more than one occasion to be jealous that we didn’t know each other earlier in our lives.

I have wished that I knew the Frank with long hair.

I have wished that he knew me for more years with the body that was mine in my youth.

I have wished that we both knew each other when the wrinkles were fewer and the cynicism less.

When the background notes to life were more about music and less about money worries. When there seemed to be more time for fun.

I have been jealous of the women in his life who had those younger, less troubled, more energetic moments with him. I have mentally wished away the men I wasted my time on before he came. I have wished that we’d had our children together sooner. I’ve told him all of this. His response?

“I was too full of kak when I was younger,” he told me. “I would have ruined it with my issues.”

Yes, but that long hair.

That unlined face.

That untroubled gaze.

The music in your fingers that you release only seldom, now.

“And you,” I have told him mournfully, “could have known me with a better body for more years than you did!”

And he has reminded me that he knew the body that grew our two children. Which is logic that you simply cannot argue with, damn it. (Although the slimming efforts do continue unabated.)

And so I am okay with not knowing – and loving – the Frank who had the long hair.

Instead, I got the man who grew more gentle.

I think we must go to San Francisco together one day. I will wear a flower in my hair, and find a bandanna for his as we walk across the Golden Gate bridge. It doesn’t even matter if it’s short hair and not long.

And I think most people who see us will get it, and smile.

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