I’m at the end of my eighth week of Lockdown and the colour is leaching from my life.
It turns out that reading, walking, cooking and spending time with my wife no longer sparkle when, instead of being things I’ve eagerly found the time to do, they are the only things I’m allowed to do.
It turns out that I can’t sustain a joyful ‘Here And Now’ in the absence of an anticipated tomorrow.
It turns out that my government’s priority is hiding its incompetence rather than learning from its mistakes. That they cannot protect, test or trace but that they fake success by making the lowest-paid go back to work and by making all but the elite in private education offer up their youngest children for two weeks in a petri dish school so that things look like their getting back to normal.
It turns out I that every worst-case scenario my pessimistic mind generates is invalidated only because, when they happen, they’re worse than I expected.
So I’m looking for hope. Not a lot of hope. I’m too English and too old to believe anybody who tells me it’s all going to be OK. It won’t but maybe, perhaps, just sometimes it might not be so awful.
It turns out that Sheenagh Pugh wrote a poem that offers as much hope as I can bring myself to believe in. It’s called ‘Sometimes’.
‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Pugh
Sometimes, things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse. Some years, Muscadel faces down frost, green thrives, the crops don’t fail, sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well. A people, sometimes, will step back from war; elect an honest man; decide they care enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor. Some men become what they were born for. Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss. Sometimes we do as we meant to. The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
It turns out I’ll settle for sometimes when it feels I’m being offered never.
By the way, Sheenagh Pugh has a shared the story behind this poem. She says:
It was originally written about a sportsman who had a drug problem and it expressed the hope that he might eventually get over it – because things do go right sometimes, but not very often… But it isn’t anywhere near skilful or subtle enough and I would cheerfully disown it, if people didn’t now and then write to me saying it had helped them. By the way, you might also care to know that I originally wrote “the sun will sometimes melt a field of snow” (the sportsman’s drug of choice was cocaine). But I mistyped “sorrow” for “snow” and then decided I liked that better. I believe in letting the keyboard join in the creative process now and then.
I love the idea of ‘letting the keyboard join in the creative process’. That also gives me a little hope.