This morning I noticed upon waking and lying sleeplessly in bed, that it wasn’t just my tired limbs keeping me under the covers in a stupor, refusing to move their way into the day. I realised I was waiting for the silence of the house to come over me before I could safely make my journey from my bed and into the day. Waiting for all the bodies, that I might meet on my ascent up the stairs, to have departed, leaving me in a quiet solitude. The first of these left early every day, just as a dim light began to seep into the pores of my curtains casting a red glow into the surrounds of my dreams. Now I only had to wait for the other, fumbling nearby in the bathroom, putting on each layer of her face and herself, to shuffle slowly out the door against her better judgement and repressed ambitions.
Although I have always cherished a certain amount of solitude, I did still like being met in the mornings with familiar faces that I would use as a foundation to catapult my day. However, since the other two of the usual five left for an extended trip this appreciation of seclusion has taken a somewhat deeper, more tangible turn. In the first few days, it was sobering to find that day after day I would be alone in the house. I sought opportunities for connection wherever possible, even grasping at conversation that lacked any meaning or substance and ultimately left me feeling more empty than before. But as the days passed, I have grown attached to my own silence. To the freedom of the only energy being my own. When the other bodies arrive home they seem to take up so much space. I have begun to feel suffocated with the presence of another, as though there is only enough oxygen for one. Is it them or me who is consuming all the air?
Today I noticed Sue’s picture sitting beside the dining table. It is not new, it has always sat in that position for as long as we have been in this house. I have looked at it many times, contemplating her, wondering what her life might have been. Sometimes when my eyes come across it I feel sadness, or curiosity, and sometimes I feel nothing. But for me it will always be a photo of an aunt that I never knew and will never know. Yet today, when I looked at her, in her eternal dress, captured in that familiar frame, I wondered what Mum might feel when her eyes meet with the still of Sue’s each night as she sits down for dinner. Does she too go through the same motions of thought as me? Or is her experience more visceral? Is she reminded by each glance of the pain she felt when she lost her sister when she was just as old as I am now?
Today I noticed the way little things in my life seem to serendipitously align at times they are least expected. Where one day I may fall into despair for the seemingly impossible, the next day, by chance encounter, it will fall into my lap, often too in ways I could never have ventured to guess. Such occurrences always make me wonder. Did this always happen, or is it just these new lenses I have applied to my conscious? Am I casting meaning into something that does not have meaning, or does it have meaning simply because I have assigned it so? I suppose either conclusion is possible, but nonetheless, seeing these events in such a light breaths life into them. It gives them a narrative, weaved into the subplot of my days. It gives me a way to flick through the pages of my life, seeing the story build as though weaved by the hand of a narrator, sitting far away somewhere in their tiny office, wondering what will happen next.
Today I noticed the rising dread I feel upon returning home late, walking through the garden and up the stairs, knowing that when I arrive and walk through the door, I will be met by tired, red, and drunken eyes. Leaving the house deserted with no one for him to arrive home to, the usual nightly shiraz turns from three or four glasses to many more. Is it the sound of his own thoughts ringing violently in his head, the stark reality forced abruptly in his face, with no one else there to temper the silence? I cannot say. But the dishevelment of the daytime upright and conservative figure into the night time drunk slumped and slurring on the couch is one that never fails to have a rather disconcerting effect on my tired mind.
Today I noticed the way it tasted on my palate to discuss things so long designated for the neglected corners of my mind. The little rooms in which I used to so religiously inhabit in thought and discussion with anyone who would take me. It had been so beautiful, so lively to go there, when my mind still rung with the fervour of an unfettered imagination. But day by day, person by person, and disappointment by disappointment I had learnt to put these ideas to rest. Learnt, as I was told in methodical fashion, that such ideas were the fabric of an idealistic disposition, with no place even for their discussion in the world we inhabit. Cast down by the gods of so called realistic thought, I put my mind to rest. So when today, the words I had lost were invited to be uttered so readily from my tongue, I could taste their sweetness in my mouth and feel their familiar warmth wash over me as it had in the past.
Today I noticed the beauty of unstructured, uninhibited and unconventional learning. This learning can have many faces, whether it is self directed with purpose and intent, or incidental and only observed if the eyes and ears of the receiver are left open and switched on. It can be found in a book, in music, and in our own creation. It can be found in casual conversation, or deep reflection. It can be found in nature or even just in a place or an event ringing with knowledge waiting to be absorbed. Such learning finds its beauty in its highly individualised nature, where we have the capacity to take what we want. To listen for what resonates with us, to find a sentence or a picture cast in a certain light that tells us something fundamental about ourselves or our life, that no one else has heard or seen.
Today I noticed how much more human, and alive I feel the further away I am from any technology. Spending the day outside building, engrossed in what I was doing everything else dropped away. I was not divided into a mind split by intermittent texts and emails demanding my attention, or by the various tabs open on my laptop, informing me of everything I apparently need to know to be a well rounded human. All the apps and platforms connecting me to endless people and endless ideas, ultimately eat away at me until I feel I no longer exist. All there is is a mind working over time, and a mind not working at all. But then I step outside, it is is a different world out here. I start working with my hands and become lost in this work but somehow found at the same time. Sitting on the grass, under the sky, the thought of the buzzing phone inside does not make me sick, for the thought never comes at all.
Today I noticed the inordinate volume of mirrors scattered about our home. Some small, some covering the whole wall. Their numbers seem always to be growing. I cannot evade them, no matter which way I turn. Up the stairs, down the stairs, in the lounge room, the hallway, the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the rumpus room. My image, inescapable. She stares back at me like a different entity inhabiting each wall. Sometimes I forget the face is my own. Sometimes I forget there is anything more than the face, like with each glance I am swiftly disconnect from my real self. There is no longer a body or a soul, just the face staring back at me, wondering what I am doing here. The longer I stare, the less I am. I find myself moving swiftly through the house now, that I might not be caught in the mirrors disturbing hold. Yet, as I glide down the stairs and into the hall, I cannot help glimpsing, through the corner of my eye, my moving body passing through the mirror like a ghost caught in complexion.
Today I noticed, when cycling through my old journals, a certain sense of repetition. Though the writing may have slightly improved over the last several years it seemed that the worries, the pains, the struggles, as well as the joys and revelations seemed to be the same I was experiencing today. It was as though looking at my life played over and over again, perhaps surrounded by different external circumstances, but all the same internal woes and wonders. Things I had hoped to overcome, tore across the page and back into my pen only to be released again over and over. How is that things have not evolved in this time? Or have they? It feels as though I am stuck on a wheel, circling past the same challenges, just waiting for something or someone to come and slow the wheel down, allowing me to catch my breath and allow myself off. I look around at the state of my life. I feel myself jumping for cut and run solutions to jolt my life into a new wave, only to realise these are the same solutions I have turned to time and again. These are the same solutions that keep me locked in this eternal cycle, always moving but never going anywhere.
Today I noticed the way I respond when hearing about her life. First there is excitement and happiness, or sometimes, sadness and despair. And then it seems, without fail, there is comparison. The contradictory nature of this does not escape me. I have always longed for others to see us as separate people, not two halves of a whole. I have longed for our difference to become apparent, for our deeper selves to penetrate through the shared image commonly received. The light golden brown hair, the curve of our noses, the shape of our bodies. The way we talk, the way we laugh, the way we move, all served up for the comical delight of new acquaintances. Yet when asked, where does the fundamental difference lie, I am stumped. Sure of its existence, abstract streams come to mind, but how can I voice this, is it concrete? Suddenly I am asking myself what is the difference? Everything I thought that ran a unique thread is suddenly analysed and I can no longer be sure. I run the movie of our lives over in my head, searching for distinction. I see the scenes that I have relied on for confirmation, and again ,with further inspection, I am lost. Perhaps it lies in the fact that our difference is abstract. Though we may think in similar ways, have similar ideas and beliefs, there is something that makes us two and not one. I am not sure this can be found in words, or served up readily for the eyes of most that come by, but dig a little deeper and there it is.