A change is coming. It's in the season - I am readying myself, need to prepare physically, mentally, for some experience or action.
And so, I've started to read again. It's not that I stopped, but that I've been consumed by work, so eaten up by its immediate demands that I could hardly look at poetry, fiction, non-work-non-fiction, for the pain its absence causes. I think this shying away has been a sort of self-preservation too: to read great poetry and great fiction is to encounter the world in truth not found in sociology texts, rarely expressed in academic articles. To read what's written from the heart of experience is to know without doubt that freedom does not come from working harder, smarter, having what's been cited to me as a 'can-do attitude' (as if unquestioning obedience were some sort of virtue).
I've read The Great Gatsby again. I've read the newly controversial Some Kids ..., have just begun Beethoven, A Life in Nine Pieces. I'm enjoying making headway with Ulysses - hadn't realised how much fun it contains. I've dipped into the work of Adrienne Rich, Kei Miller, Philip Gross, Andrew McMillan, Gillian Clarke, Gerard Manley Hopkins, TS Eliot ... into the books which have been waiting patiently for me: my poet friends and familiars. They've soothed me, reconnected me to wider, deeper spaces.
And I went swimming again this week in the reservoir. I had been waiting all August for the clouds to clear, the temperature to rise. The sun has been elusive, but when I turned to friendship, to LJ (who never shies away from experience or action), I found I could risk the plunge, even in 16 degrees under cloud. I went in not hot but bothered, came out cleansed. We sat afterwards in our usual spot, drinking tea, and the clouds cleared enough for there to be blue and gold. I carried the water's coolness into my evening, to the warmth of a poetry picnic in the park with friends. I began to remember who I am being, why I am doing.
I Take the Plunge - drawing by John Rae