Other people’s words about … love
And the way I felt, seeing him for the first time in four years, was the way I felt every time I saw him in public all the years we were together. If I arrived somewhere and saw him already waiting for me, or walking in my direction, if he was talking to someone on the other side of a room — it wasn’t a thrill, a rush of affection, or pleasure. Then, in the church, I didn’t know what it was and spent all of the service trying to diagnose it. At the end of the service, Patrick smiled at me once more as I moved back … and I felt it again, so much from my core that it was difficult to keep going, to follow Ingrid and Hamish out, Patrick further and further behind me …
Thank God is how I felt when I saw Patrick that day. Not a thrill or affection or pleasure. Visceral relief.
From ‘Sorrow and Bliss’
by Meg Mason
I’ve read many eloquent and moving (and arousing, even) descriptions of romantic love in fiction over the years, but I think Meg Mason’s words in the passage I’ve quoted above are some of the best. It takes a certain kind of grim, black humour to describe the other part of loving someone, that part which is more a kind of fatalistic recognition of how much two people can become physically a part of each other, how much they can need and love each other, and yet how little it seems to have with that word we so often overuse — ‘love’.
Sorrow and bliss, indeed.
Study in blue.
I’m writing today in the last week of January 2021, a month in which 100 million cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the last year or so, along with about 2 million deaths, since the first case was reported to the World Health Organization in Wuhan around the same time last year. In Australia, the virus has so far remained relatively under control — possibly due to sheer luck of timing and distance, I think, rather than to any kind of incredible management as far as leadership goes — and so we remain, for now at least, protected. Instead, Australians watch the tragedy unfolding from afar, and we mourn and hold our breaths at the same time, hoping the same thing won’t come to us.
Lizzie the garden cat, inching closer.
To me, this time, early 2021, feels like a time for a collective holding of the breath, across the globe. Who knows what 2021 holds? There is plenty of news bringing whiffs of hope — a vaccine, a new president in the US, a growing political will to respond to global warming and climate change. But it’s too early to know, yet, whether these whiffs of hope will be realised, or whether this time is just a lull in a gathering storm.
I hope, I hope, I hope.
And meanwhile, on a personal scale, I am grateful for the small but beautiful things in the world around me and in my life, a small sample of which I’ve captured in the photographs accompanying this post. It’s trite, perhaps, to fall back on the quotidian details, on appreciating and acknowledging the humdrum rhythms of everyday, but that doesn’t make the process any less meaningful or important.
And meanwhile there are wonderful books to read, like Meg Mason’s. I hope you, like Mason’s Martha, have found your own Thank God.
Lately I’ve been reading …
- … This kind of story shape is inherently conflict-based, perhaps also inherently male (as author Jane Alison puts it: “Something that swells and tautens until climax, then collapses? Bit masculo-sexual, no?”): Matthew Salesses, with a fascinating perspective on the inherent biases in writer’s craft as it is taught in writer’s workshops across the Western world.
- … [My houseplants] did not feel like replacements for children, or pets. They felt like a replacement for nature itself: Millennial writer Madeleine Watts grieves the environmental crisis.
- … Donald Trump is a man, and he has gone to great lengths to prove it: Megan Garber, in an article that’s a little outdated, but no less relevant for all that, on Donald Trump’s legacy.
3 thoughts on “Thankful”
Hope and appreciation for one’s daily blessings is about all we’ve got these days. It’s kind of a mess out there right now, but hope keeps us going.
I am envious of Australians having the freedom to go about their day, seeing friends and loved ones and no masks (or few). Just having one’s teeth cleaned without PPE would be nice!
I do feel for you, Eliza. We’ve been blessed here in Australia with a combination of that initial time lag when the virus first hit, which gave our government time to formulate and enact a response, along with a government (at both national and state levels) that is actually willing to put the public’s health before anything else. Though our Quarantine hotels have their faults, and though the constantly changing border restrictions both internationally and between states are trying, it has meant that Australians have been able to maintain a quality of life, for most of the time, that just hasn’t been possible in the Northern Hemisphere. Though I was initially skeptical of our government’s response, I’m now fully in favour of it. It’s a response that’s agile and responsive, which means that Australians have to be agile and responsive, too … but so far, as a result, our life is the better for it. I do wish you good health, Eliza, and hope that things get better for you soon xo
Thank you for your heartfelt response, Rebecca, it means a lot. ❤