I am lying in bed at 430 am and cannot sleep. My leg is still hurting after the bike accident and whatever way I turn my knee lets me know that, for now, it's running the show. My thoughts are a shuffled deck of cards - there is no order here. It's been a few weeks since I have done any proper writing. Although I realise the term 'proper' may not help me get out my pen and address my journal. I am pretty suspicious when it comes to tending to my muse. I see it as a 'she' - one who ignored will go off and find her fun elsewhere. Elizabeth Gilbert's ideas on the subject of responding to the call of creativity are interesting.
I know that if I ignore this call then it may be weeks before it comes again. I also know that if I get up before dawn, enjoy the delicious silence that my sleeping house offers, I will experience a freedom and flight hard to find elsewhere. When I was lying in bed thinking about what I was going to write it wasn't this. I was ready to talk about the freedom of dressing badly and a day spent in the park with friends. Denrele and Gemma know how much I love them and how the day unravelled in to something quite special without really trying to be anything but itself.
This is not as easy as I thought. The birds are stirring outside and my fantasies of writing an awe-inspiring blog are slipping away. Perhaps what I should do is tell the truth. It is always better that way. Just over a week ago I was lying in Accident and Emergency in a neck brace. I was alive. It's still pretty much a miracle that I got away with a few surface scars and a limp. I was not unhappy or angry and was, unsurprisingly, greatly relieved to be still here. That is a somewhat new feeling for me.
Being thrown off two wheels and ending up under four has knocked the gratitude in to me that was missing. For a long time I was very ill with depression. I could not feel love in any form, for others or from others. It was like the mute button was permanently switched on. I felt hollow all the time and saturated with such loneliness that I could not distinguish between my personality and my pain. It felt like the same thing. Nothing seemed to make it leave. Not the pills, not the therapy, not the love from people who cared, not facing it head on, not ignoring it and struggling through it. Nothing. I wanted to die. And even today I cannot say that my extended depressive episode was a chapter in my life which I will not live again. But something has shifted and the accident was an expression of that.
There are many reasons why I was so unhappy. I can now say with some confidence that one of them was because I did not have children. I think my breakdown was a crisis of mourning. I had always pictured myself having one child, perhaps even outside of a relationship, but one quiet and solid little soul who would make their own mark on the world. Like all the griefs I can almost live with this fact although it is still hard to talk about without feeling raw and frayed.
This week I met an old friend who is in a long and enduring relationship. His partner never wanted children but at some point my friend did. As we drank coffee and looked back over the 30 years we have known each other he said "In a perfect world I would have had children. But I do not have children so I live a less than perfect life." It struck me as profound and simple and what I have grappled with for so long. Some of my depression was a craving for perfection that is, of necessity, illusive. To mention a well worn cliche, it's the itch and grit in the oyster that births the pearl.
On our way back from the park, and just outside my house, the setting sun shone gold. I took some photos of Denrele in these fleeting moments. I know, like the sunlight at day's end, this uncharacteristic calm will leave me. But I hope to live a life less than perfect, but no less full for it, and never want to end it by own hand again.