I attended a funeral last week; a lady I knew well, but also not at all. She was of those community-minded people who had given her life to supporting a local place and whose death provoked an outpouring of affection from all those who had been welcomed by her smile or served by her. She ran the local rugby club and I can tell you rugby clubs are strange places; hulking men and mud a constant feature. Rugby – the game, the mentality, the whole thing – has been a constant in my life since I was a teenager. My husband is a player, coach and fanatic. My son a player. Despite his secret preference for football (don’t tell!). So at this funeral I sat and thought how very unnatural the whole procedure seemed, how ill-evolved our society has become in dealing with death. Looking at the oddity of the pallbearers and the grieving family, who at a time when they were least equipped to do so, had to stand in front of hundreds of mourners and speak. Their throats so constricted with grief it seemed a most unnecessary protocol to give a eulogy. Yet they bravely did and it worked; we all came away lighter with a more rounded understanding of this life lived.
I observe these human frailties and see that we all muddle along, making a million little choices about a million silly things and in the end, when it’s all said and done, then what!? Gosh a deep and searching question for a Thursday morning as I sit and write this as fog wraps around my house. Yesterday was a joyous sunny day, the hint of spring that this country is so good at. I got that soaring feeling that the winter heaviness might just end one day. And to my wider existential question; as ever, there’s no real real answer, we just keep on keeping on.
Meanwhile, I waste opportunities to get work done ahead of deadline because instead I fritter time on the internet. Or I do too much driving and running around, shuttling here and there. I text. I browse. My sister in law sent me a message from Dubai about having an impact on the world and we considered the ‘Maslow‘ pyramid of requirements for human happiness. Thousands of miles distant from each other we both stopped and thought: do I have everything on that list? Yes, pretty much. This navel-gazing is a well-established first world problem; one that causes me a blush of shame if I contrast it with what some others have to deal with.
I help my son learn his lines for a play. I wrestle with logistics for my daughter to attend a far-flung party. I ponder whether we should eat beef again this week – wouldn’t chicken be better? I watch George Clooney in the ‘The Descendants’ and long for my palm trees. I listen to podcasts and resolve to do better at x, y and z. Not to mention a, b and c. If it all gets too much I go here to my Pinterest board of whiteness and contemplate the pale. I try to project forward a year and get a glimpse of what will be happening then, will change be afoot? I think that I should really clear that spare room that is full of junk, the stuff that has no home, the flotsam and jetsam of family life.
And I keep on keeping on in the big and the small.