I woke up this morning feeling infinitely better than I have for most of the past two weeks. At home I've been dragging myself around, getting just the bare essentials done, coping okay when there were people around but collapsing when there weren't. The best thing about today was not just that I felt so much lighter and more energetic, it was that I realised all over again (I knew this already, but it's so easy to forget) that feeling so terrible is a state that will pass - and return, and pass again.
I don't think anything in particular triggers it off, just as nothing in particular makes it go away. It's just endemic to the situation I find myself in. But every so often I find a piece of writing that seems to speak very clearly about the complicated feelings - regret, guilt, hopelessness - that rise to the surface and push me under. Here's one from the superb book I've just finished, Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout:
"…love was not to be tossed away carelessly, as if it were a tart on a platter with others that got passed around again. No, if love was available, one chose it, or didn’t choose it. And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered."
And here's another, from Linley Boniface's last column in the Dominion Post (it ended on 14 February, and I miss it) that seems to show why this not-knowing is almost impossible to avoid - and strikes you so forcefully when you're alone:
"It's impossible not to take love for granted, because the thought of not having it is too frightening to contemplate. Only when someone dies, or leaves, does the thing you've lost show itself in all its terrible clarity."
Yes. But one morning you suddenly find you're able somehow to shift perspective and focus instead on how lucky you were to have it, and him, as long as you did, and you pick yourself up off the bed or the couch and carry on with your life as best you can.
The quintessential New Zealand character comes to the fore in the finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014, announced today. Selected from...
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