Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snails After a Black Mood

After yesterday’s nostalgic blog I return to contemporary reality.

Palmerston North recently hosted the disabled athletes championship. The organisers asked for volunteers to assist in the running of these games. They wanted 2,000. They got 5,000. Did the media herald the Kiwi spirit. No, there are murder trials, errant teachers and straying golfers in the headlines. Perspective takes a back seat.

Negative can so easily swamp positives. One of the problems of being human is mood swings. Two days ago I put on my blog a poem I’d written after a great, unexpected moment of rapture arising from watching two wax-eyes fossicking through abutilon blooms. Yesterday morning I had a reverse experience.

I was outside sitting in a deck chair watching and advising Helen, our school-girl gardener at work. She’d planted a lavender bush, petunia seedlings and had turned to the pot of matted mint and chives that needed repotting. Doing a great job. In an effort to help her I picked up a bunch of clump of intertwined chives with intent to separate them. My fingers and wrists were not strong enough to obey instructions. Frustration turned to despair as black clouds rolled into and across my soul. Sit back and enjoy the sunshine my rational mind said. Meanwhile Helen cheerfully laboured on, oblivious to my internal turmoil. Such is the nature of existence.

She discovered a nest of snails. She asked what to do with them. ‘Crush them’ I said. She shuddered, she’s a vegetarian and couldn’t do that. She volunteered to throw them over the fence into the neighbours. The gardener that I once was rebelled at that prospect. I might be a dove on foreign policy but when it comes to snails I’m a hawk. ‘Put them on the deck here’ I ordered. I had age and authority on my side. Reluctantly she did. I sent her away on a mission. And sensing her disapproval, I vigorously destructed them, left foot this time obeying orders. What a way to gain restoration and equilibrium. She and I departed on good terms. Living is complexity. It was, is and always will be.

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