REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY & EXISTENTIAL ANGST
Its Remembrance Sunday today, a beautiful, sunny, crisp, cloudless late-Autumn day and we are in our second national lockdown of the year. No formal gathering at the village memorial this year and Tony and I walked up to Furze Hill across the rugby fields and into the woods where we stood quietly for two minutes, reflecting together. You could hear the birds singing and in the distance the excited chatter of children, the sweet sound of innocent youth; we thought how fitting that theirs was the only sound other than nature’s, to be heard. For was it not for these children, our hope for the future, that toil and strife, pain and death was endured? That our world would be safe?
Mistley War Memorial at the entrance to the village
That at any rate is the hope that sustains humanity. Hope that decency, good will, understanding between the nations and religions of the world would banish fear, greed, graceless selfishness and evil?
The news from the United States today can only be a fitting coincidence to this day of hope and remembrance. That Trump is gone, hopefully to languish in a jail in due course, where I firmly believe he and his Trumpfia belong, must surely be a cause for rejoicing?
Then why is there a lingering feeling of anxiety on this sunny day? 70 Million Americans cannot all be monsters, racists and bigots and so it is surely true that many of their concerns, their issues must be real and will have to be addressed by the new President if he is truly to “heal America”.
Can he do this? Lets hope so.
There has been a fundamental change with us here since my last post. The American election and the new lockdown have had a depressive effect. That the world is not in a good place at present cannot be doubted. We are lucky because not a lot for us has changed other than swathes of travel plans; but that of course is not true for millions of others all over the world who most certainly are experiencing difficult, sometimes life-threatening times.
To the pandemic, to the rise of new populist leaders and their nationalisms, to extremisms, to hunger, need and fear must be added concerns with our climate.
We belong to a small chat group on WhatsApp which was sweetly set up eight months ago by some of you when Tony and I were laid low with the Covid virus. It acted as a contact group and we monitored each other’s health situations and lent moral support to each other; with the passing of the illness it became more of a platform for comment and debate on current affairs and as we fundamentally agree with each other on almost all issues, so it has become a bit of an echo chamber – reflecting, as one friend wrote, “an existential anxiety” devoid of optimism or hope.
We have noticed that long silences have fallen between us. They are companionable silences but in our long relationship extremely unusual. Ours has been an animated partnership and these silences have arisen since Covid, since the unending bad news has unfolded and we have become paralysed by events to the extent that there seems little more to say or do other than to look inward.
Perhaps that may not be such a bad thing but it’s not really a happy development in the long run. I wonder, dear friends, whether you have perhaps experienced anything similar? A sort of ghastly emptiness underlined by anxiety? What is this? An indulgent middle-age, middle class crisis-of-no-importance? Perhaps.
Forward, Friends, forward! Into the sunny uplands of winter!
Our walks continue; and the streaming, binge-watching and the reading – and the cooking! Exactly a year ago my brother David and I were on a two week cruise through the Panama Canal and I started A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara, a story in my opinion so over written that it could easily be told in half its 720 pages; but so compelling that I must get to the end of it – after a whole year!
Which is not to say there have been no other books in the interim: there have and I have been multi-tasking.
Lots to help encourage optimism in the long month of lockdown. After all its not as though we have had no practice!