Friday 31 December 2010


I am a sandwich. You are a sandwich. He is a sandwich, too. That's enough conjugation. I was just making the point that we are all sandwiches. We are the past and the future with the present the meat in the middle. Should you be vegan or vegetarian, you will have to put another metaphore in the middle. You get the idea. Past, present, future are all essential to making us who we are. One thing that concerns me is whether or not we/I make enough of the present. After all, it would be rare for the bread to give greater pleasure than the filling. And yet, the filling can sometimes be taken for granted. The temptation is to remember the past and wait for the future; not to live completely in the NOW. A Buddhist I know well is eloquent on this subject. It is not exclusive to Buddhists, of course, but dealing with it has become a speciality for them. When it is called "Mindfulness" it has a vogue far wider than among Buddhists. Under that name, we are encouraged, taught even, to stay with the present, to concentrate on the present, on what is happening NOW. I have been confused, I think, about the significance of this. As we speak, I see it as a will to deepen one's experience of the NOW, to be fully aware of it.

But how I do this depends on how the past has shaped me, doesn't it? Isn't my awareness inevitably influenced by the Yes-but of the past. For instance, I dealt differently with the freezing cold of the last few weeks than did the younger - much- Guru. There is familiarity about it. When I was a little girl I would have to dress under the bedclothes, my breath making cloudy puffs above the blankets. There was a winter, in the forties, I think, when windows froze closed and my Mother devised a sort of hot-water bottle for the milkman to put the milk in on the doorstep. When first I had a one-year old, he couldn't be left in his pram in the garden during his first winter in the '60s. We would have had iced baby. Central heating was not ubiquitous and we simply put on more clothes and huddled. It is how things were, so not questionable. I found that made me more tolerant of the recent conditions that were fazing the much younger. It influences my thoughts on global warming. I have been cold before. So help me understand what's new. You may remember, if you have had time, inclination and generosity to keep up - and tell your friends - that I was much moved by a TV programme about shop-keeping during the war in the 40's. I have done without things before, before they were dependant on snow on the runway for non-delivery. What does the future hold, then? The Guru has a relative who was near to restraining him physically when he proposed to use a car for what, in the interest of the planet, was regarded by the other as too short a journey. Petrol was rationed when I was little. Journeys restricted themselves. Past and future have that in common.
A more immediate future is overwhelming a dear old, and aged, friend of mine. Someone who is charged with looking after her told me, to-day, that she is very frightened. She will no longer speak on the phone and says, simply,"thank you" when the carer conveys my or anyone's love. She doesn't know whose love. I hope that doesn't matter and that she can still feel that present love as she moves inexorably in to the future. There is someone else close to me who says we septagenarians are all in the Departure Lounge. (He is just a few months off the next decade.) My very dear and fearful aged friend is already waiting on the tarmac. I pray she gets clearance for take off very soon, safe in the knowledge of an experienced pilot, perfect conditions and nothing to fear. Nos da and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

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