Workable Truce

We have reached a workable truce, I think, the baby and I.
What’s that lovely expression from Nadine Gordimer, our ‘covenant of living together’, a phrase that at present I find impossible to let go.

When I first mentioned it to Sunny Boy, he immediately thought it applied to him, us, and it does. But oh, it so applies globally, a two way stretch, a fluid working agreement for the mutual benefit of all.
I can hear Sunny Boy’s voice of reason in my ear…sounds like compromise which means no one is happy. And yet a covenant implies agreement drawn up between people..signed sealed delivered and promises kept.

I will not bomb your children if you do not bomb mine; I trust my government to do their homework on flammable substances and firms who clad buildings (on the cheap?) because they have mine and my family’s and friends’ best interests at heart. In return I will be a dutiful member of society.  I will not sell you down river and shaft our peace agreement to further my own ends. And so on.

It’s when you reach impasse that troubles start and posturing begins. So many people take up a stance, an intransigent stance and then the outcome is doomed.

Whatever led from grandmadom to politics? Working truce. That was it, and compromise. Backing down rather than standing on a high horse, trust, love. Yes, love would cover it.

I see dead people

Once as a joke, when urged in an ice breaker at a writing group to share something special and having nothing to match the others’ revelations I said, ‘I see dead people.’ It was a good rendition of the little boy, Haley Joel Osment  in the film, The Sixth Sense, and was accepted as a joke, but I was only half joking.
Those faces that are to be seen in the clouds, on gnarled tree trunks, amid foliage are the dead people I see. They are also to be found on floor tiles, wallpapers, book covers, paintings. I could go on.  For a writer they are a fabulous resource. Characters. Whole lives, histories, with sadnesses and triumphs to be discerned in the static, often heroic features.

Could these grotesques, beauties, young and old, male and female, peasant and aristocrat that peopled the inanimate world around have once been real? Could they be the last earthly expression, the lingering sigh of an actual person? And if so, why these faces and not others, or all?  And what say, happened to the bust of the Roman emperor complete with laurels and toga who inhabited a cork tile in the bathroom when the cork tiles were consigned to the tip and replaced with stone?

It led again to Thornton Wilder and the Bridge of San Louis Rey, a book that has haunted over the years for the beauty of the prose and its meditation on the seeming randomness of life, love and death. Perhaps in order for a face to appear in this great pantheon of the sky their must have been love. Not necessarily the all consuming, self destructive passion of Mimi or Anna Karenina, more a love for humanity.

  
This passage resonated: ‘for those who had no capacity for love (or rather for suffering in love) could not be said to be alive,and certainly would not live again after their death. They were a kind of straw population, filling the world with their meaningless laughter and tears and chatter and disappearing still lovable and vain into thin air.’

And finally, ‘There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.’

Did I ever tell you I met Colm Toibin?

image

This isn’t one of those articles that goes on to publicise a new biography and isn’t even a claim to fame. It is just a coincidence, or if you were to believe such things, serendipitous.

We had wandered to the central library in New York to admire the lofty ceiling of the foyer and found a small crowd standing listening to none other than CT.

His books were new to me, and Brooklyn, the first but magnificent introduction.
I was given Brooklyn by a very erudite nun, Elizabeth Strub. A wise woman who spoke to us in honeyed American tones. I know I was impressed at the time, but now of course would have to look again what her topics was. To do with love, for sure and a person’s duty viz a viz their fellows to do everything in their power to mitigate injustice, hunger, cruelty. Fired by her at the time but slithered back to old ways now, with other people and their problems a mere worrying crease in the brow.
I will be forever grateful for having my eyes opened to CT’s luminous, delicate prose.

CT spoke of the Testament of Mary with a rather angry contingent. His stage adaptation of the novella was being performed in N Y. And a woman took great exception to the imagery. He answered with such grace till eventually rescued by his interviewer and the talk moved on.