Good grief. And that’s nothing to do with Charlie Brown.
(Peanuts, in case you don’t know. Look it up if you want to.)
Good grief! Irrational despair. The day’s thoughts make sense. A sense of sorts.
But I get so fed up with trying to sort it all out.
I should keep my own advice in mind – ‘be curious’, I say to myself. And I should be happy being so. If not happy, at least appreciative. But it’s all so interconnected and the day’s connections feel so messy.
At least, lying here now, they’re all messy. Perhaps all connections are messy, not only today’s.
And what’s connecting, anyway? They’re all just memories. Frail, flawed memories. And you pack them all up into your life’s lumpy, misshapen baggage.
And now I’m going to go to sleep wondering about unpacking my baggage. It’s all very well being aware of it. How about unpacking it? Pushing it about? Finding out what I’ve forgotten I packed? More damned mess coming my way.
If I sleep it will be because I’ve convinced myself that sorting the mess is worthwhile. And that the fact that it’s all a mess is reasonable.
I was thinking about an old-and-good friend’s death. Are memories baggage to shed?
Does the unavoidable, somehow tedious, finality of death undermine any positive notions about getting rid of the baggage of life? It feels like it ought to.
I’ve always been keen on not being weighed down with the past but pithy/witty quotes about that sort of thing, well-meaning or not, assume you’re able to move on.
Knee-jerk: no-one moves on from imminent death.
But further thought says that might be so much rubbish.
I don’t want to think of my old friend and feel depressed. I’ve come to suspect being positive about moving on is still valid, even if only for as long as you can look forwards. I suspect that’s the case. I want it to be the case.
I starting writing this when I did because, to me, there was nothing significant about the date. I like that lack of importance. Don’t be weighed down, and don’t look back. That has always rung out as a sane attitude. Understand, assimilate, move on. Learn from events … but then move on.
Which direction’s best to move on to? I think I’ve always been consistent in advocating being curious. Look all around you for possibilities. The obvious way ahead will probably be the most crowded, the over-crowded. If you’re following the herd then you can be sure the pickings will be slim by the time you get there. Look all around you for where to go. Make your own mind up. Yes, be curious.
A few days ago I was pleased to be making small-talk with an Albanian who now lives just a short way from me. He was looking forward to a skiing holiday in Norway. He said he’s going with friends on a cheap deal. He hoped it will be fun and I hope it lives up to his hopes.
Some years ago I was paid to be aware of Albanian politics, just a little, but I kept that secret from him. Some things are hard to explain. I’m not sure what I’d have said anyway.
I guess that secrets, for whatever the reason they’re being kept, good or bad, are always baggage. I don’t know about forgotten secrets. Do they still haunt you? Does the effort of keeping things quiet seep in to you somewhere deep down, to then somehow permeate regardless of whether you consciously remember them?
Albania in my mind one day, Kazakhstan the next. An Eno recording of the same name. So far, I’ve only known two Kazakhs and then only very superficially. I think they were Kazakhs born in Mongolia, but I’m not sure.
With a lot of the people I meet/I’ve met, I wonder what I’ve missed out on by not knowing them well. I don’t know if that’s, at root, a selfish train of thought. It’s not intended to be.
I know that, whatever my intentions, time’s finite and you can’t get to know everyone you meet. But then again, opportunities are finite too.
I think I think that where people come from doesn’t matter that much, not really. For many it’s heavy baggage but it shouldn’t weigh you down as much as we’re always being told. I don’t know why that’s the prevailing attitude. You have to ask, who gains from it. Human nature has a far greater influence than nationality.
The Albanian I met the other day lives near a building that used to be where people had to go to sign-on – where you’d go to claim a few crucial quid every other week; dole money. He explained where he lives by referencing a nearby getting-on-for-two-centuries-old pub. I know the pub and I know it shortened its name just a few years ago but he’s probably not aware of that. Anyway, I’m not sure about the importance of this or any other history, though I studied it, as an academic, once upon a time. I don’t know if we learn much from it. The repetitive nature of our mistakes, and not a lot else.
But for all that I’m not sure about the value of history and for all that I like not having baggage, it’s hard to erase memories. And you can’t be sure what’s sheltering within them.
Arguably … for thoughts to be scattered, by both death and by the accompanying ‘baggage’, is predictable. A lot comes bundled with a friend. A death of a friend is rarely insignificant. ‘Baggage’ can encompass pretty well anything. It is reasonable that thoughts end up jumbled sometimes.