This Brief Moment of Calm

I’m under no illusions that people are reading my blog for the personal updates, but I just thought it might be interesting for future me to look back on these posts and realise there was a moment in time when – despite everything that was going on in the world in amazingly bad and infuriating ways – I felt calm and balanced. It has been so long since I felt like that – or perhaps I’ve forgotten feeling like that, because the last 5-6 years have been pretty gruesome and any moments of joy very fleeting. So, I’d like to remind future me, when things appear to be overwhelming once again, that there are fleeting moments of contentment in the middle of buffeting storms.

North Khorasan Province, Iran. Photo credit: Mohammad Alizade on Unsplash.com

I admit I am very fortunate that no one from my close friends or family have fallen ill with Covid. My boys were not supposed to have their A Levels or GCSEs this year, so we’ve had no heartbreak for the time being (and we can but live in hope that they will sort things out for next year). I am no longer the only one wearing face masks in the local shops, which has reduced my anxiety levels. I allow myself only a limited amount of ranting about politics and incompetence. And school reopening is still a couple of weeks away, so I am refusing to worry about it at present. Plus, we managed to find shoes for the boys, so the greatest expense and trickiest purchase of the schoolyear is done and dusted!

I think what has made the difference is that I’ve been able to sleep for at least six, and often seven, uninterrupted hours every night, even during the heatwave. And I haven’t been bleeding for about a month now. (I’ve been having a horrible menopause combined with a fibroid which has cause me to have almost non-stop heavy periods for the past three years; of course, my medical appointments keep getting postponed.) This made me realise: ‘I can’t believe how much lighter and livelier I feel. Wow, this is how normal people live every day…’

So, although work has been pretty busy and stress, although August is a month of financial drain to which I had to add the unexpected additional costs of Barney being diagnosed with diabetes and my bathtub leaking again, I have suddenly found myself much less prone to anger and helpless tears. I’ve even had the energy to exercise daily and to write a little bit every day (mostly diary entries or flash fiction, but every little counts.) I have some annual leave coming up next week and I might even go back to editing my novel!

Future me: Make the most of it, Marina, you’ve wasted enough time and this feeling might not last too long!

P.S. Entirely by coincidence, a podcast that I recorded a few weeks back (before this moment of calm) just went live today. I first encountered Britt Skrabanek online when I started my blog and was still living in France, but then somehow lost track of her. So it was a delight to reconnect and chat on her Love Your Enthusiasm series of interviews about my ideals and passions in life, my sources of inspiration and why I’ll never stop talking about the need for cross-cultural understanding and communication. I might not be able to go back to listen to my dulcet tones, but do have a listen if you feel so inclined (lots of bookish name-dropping).

I like the quote she picked to feature at the top of the podcast. Did I really say something as clever as that?

It feels like everybody’s retreating into the trenches, that people are shouting over each other instead of listening to each other. But I really think this won’t last. Art and literature and films will bring us closer once more. We’ll realize that we have a lot of common ground—and what is not common is worth exploring in more depth.

Commuter Paradise

Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Newspapers and gadgets are props

covering the hollowed glaze of non-looks.

How to avoid searching too deep,

meaning best left formulated by others,

through shopping sprees and TV,

in front of which you fall asleep.

 

With pendulous lids and bags dangling on hips

they shuffle along, spilling on platforms,

thundering the footbridges with their cadences of resignation.

Sleep-flushed faces in the dank reek of stations at dawn,

they come and go,

and in their tread I detect fear

of letting down,

of being let go.