At times I feel overwhelmed by all there is to do in a life, the surplus weight of life’s administration and bureaucracy and responsibility, all those things we’d all love to jettison. I take a moment to consider what could be simplified or scrubbed from the list entirely: passport renewal, new tariff for my broadband, running an update on my computer (but remembering to do a backup first), seeing a dentist regularly, getting the car MOT’d, renewing insurance for every bloody thing under the sun, attending to a washing machine that won’t spin, chasing workmen who’ve not turned up, forgetting to buy hoover bags (so I’m poking dirt and dust from the full-to-bursting bag with a knitting needle), re-setting forgotten passwords, ignoring peeling wallpaper, turning a blind eye to faded paintwork, taking meter readings, having shoes re-soled, hemming a pinafore (I really did hem a pinafore at the weekend), paying deposits by the deadline, cleaning the inside of my microwave (or just leaving it for another year and making sure that any visitors to the flat don’t open it), checking voicemails, remembering birthdays.
Remembering birthdays has set something off in my head about dates, the anticipation (dread, excitement, everything in between) as we approach some dates. There are those that other people know about: birthdays, wedding anniversaries, baby due dates. Then there are the dates only you remember: the date you first met, the date you moved house or country, the date you took up a new job. And for every one of those dates there is its balancing date, the counter date, the date that shall neutralise the happiness or sorrow associated with this date. For the date you marry, there shall be date you part, be it death or divorce. For the date of the new baby being born, there shall be the date the baby grows up and leaves home. For the date of the first new job, there shall be the date of moving on or retiring. For the date of crossing the finish line triumphant, there shall be the date you decide your competitive days are up.
I think about the future red-ring-on-the-calendar dates that I don’t know yet, dates that are meaningless for now, like September 11th was for America before 2001, or April 16th was for me before 2016. All those dates we quietly live and cross out without a thought, unaware it’s a date that shall hold significance in the future; for good or ill, best we don’t yet know.
Some days I mope around feeling bored or fed up, no obvious problem is taxing me other than life feels stale in its ordinariness, and I’m worn down by that never ending list, then I remind myself there is nothing wrong with ordinary, that the mundane should be restorative and comforting. Suddenly ordinary is a blessing when you see how it can be ruptured in seconds. The people of Creeslough had no idea October 7th would hold such dark, tragic significance for them before it came around in 2022. Now it is a date that shall only ever mean one thing for the village.
I keep a journal, I type up things like this in it, silence the chatter in my head by contained in on the screen/page. Each time I complete an entry, in an act of scrupulous tidiness and orderliness, I type tomorrow’s date, just like someone setting the table for breakfast before going to bed at night. Henceforth, I shall treat tomorrow’s date as an invitation to for the new day to dawn, for it to be ordinary, and to leave no dark significance in the loom of my life.
At times I feel overwhelmed by all there is to do in a life, the surplus weight of life’s administration and bureaucracy and responsibility, and sometimes I remember that others were de-shackled of the weight of life too early, and I no longer feel overwhelmed.