I got a call yesterday. Or perhaps I should say The Call. I don’t normally answer my phone, being so deaf, but the number looked vaguely familiar. “I’m too deaf, hang on!” I told the mystery caller, as I ran with the phone to my husband. Turns out she knew that (and let’s not go down that route…) as she was ringing to offer me a date for my cochlear implant surgery, in just 10 days time. Well that got my heart rate up! A bit of dithering followed, but the news that if I didn’t take it then they couldn’t say when I’d get another date decided matters.
Goodness, so now what? I feel a bit like a cartoon character seen dashing from room to room, but actually it’s just my mind doing the racing. First, I think about the things I need to cancel. Then, a mixture of practical and stupid things, all jumbled together. “Must vacuum the day before the op I wonder if the cat is an infection risk Better do an online shop I haven’t got time left to get fitter before surgery I’m going to be SO hungry on the op day” etc. Some thoughts have pushed in about what it will be like Afterwards, especially what my hearing might be like. But there are too many unknowns and I’m not allowing those thoughts to take root just now. Time enough for that later.
What I find myself ruminating on is that once again I have an opportunity to learn something about relinquishing control. Or, rather, to recognise and accept that we really have very little control over anything much. Suddenly, my diary for the next umpteen weeks is wiped clean and I’m entering a time of quiet, and uncertainty. Rather like 2020, in fact, and much of this year. Ok so life has always been uncertain, and this hasn’t escaped my notice. My Mum, through her teaching career, made sure she left her desk tidy every night in case she didn’t return in the morning! But what a lesson the pandemic has given us all in living with uncertainty and change, demanding that we adapt. We also had to let go of a lot, didn’t we? The plans we make now seem so fragile. If we built our pre-pandemic lives from Lego bricks, it seems that now we construct them like houses of cards, each part tentatively placed on a rickety structure liable to topple at any moment.
Through these strange pandemic months, I have got better at being still, at delighting in small things, like watching the trees beyond our garden sway in the wind (hello mindfulness!). I’ve picked up my knitting needles again and felt soothed by the rhythm and simplicity of making the next stich and the next, seeing a garment take shape under my hands. And as life has sped up, while I’ve been really happy to be able to go places and see people, I’ve also missed something of the stillness and simplicity of that time. So as I prepare to enter a time of quiet, uncertainty and change, I’m going to do as Julia Fehrenbacher says in her poem The Cure For It All and try to go gently each day. I’m looking forward to picking up the next book from my ‘to be read’ pile, plying my needles, and watching the trees.
The Cure For It All
Go gently today, don’t hurry
or think about the next thing. Walk
with the quiet trees, can you believe
how brave they are—how kind? Model your life
after theirs. Blow kisses
at yourself in the mirror
you think you’ve messed up. Forgive
yourself for not meeting your unreasonable
expectations. You are human, not
God—don’t be so arrogant.
Praise fresh air
clean water, good dogs. Spin
something from joy. Open
a window, even if
it’s cold outside. Sit. Close
your eyes. Breathe. Allow
of it all to pulse
fingertips, bare toes. Breathe in
breathe out. Breathe until
your bigness, until the sun
rises in your veins. Breathe
until you stop needing
to be different.