Momentum has its own rewards. Among the most memorable of the interruptions of my own was the day Leslie, the school Prefect, shouted out at me as I was rounding the corner of a 400 yard sprint. I had been practicing, warming up for the track meet, and as I hurtled down the straight and went with open glory into the corner it was as if I became Pegasus, the winged horse, the ground just sliding away under my spiked sprint-shoes, the air buoying... “Hey, Pennellbry! Go and warm a toilet for me! Now!”
Like a ground-smacked kite I faltered, and came back to earth. I was a ‘skiv’, an underling, a gopher, a worm. My first year. And one did what a Prefect bid, or one was caned. And Leslie had no qualm about cutting me down to size. Already we had tested metal, he a good three years older, and me with my sensibilities utterly offended at being someone else’s slave. I had yet to learn the delicacy of humility, of service to others, of assimilating my errant ego, of eating the ants dotting the marmalade, of doing things for another without the other ever knowing. ‘Let not the right hand know what the left is doing,’ some or other biblical quote exhorts us. But Leslie was quite happy to let all and sundry know he needed to go to the bogs. I had to sit there, and warm the thing up. Such is the winter of one’s discontent.
The interruptions to each other in the momentum of this Memoir project are multifold. We each have points to make, questions to ask, and our flow to keep going. M’Lady has the distractions of being emotionally entwined in her own tale. I am but a conduit to her memories, a secretary keeping order and rank and file on the myriad details. And I type and label and make the layouts for the pages, now one page-file at a time. (A single photo added to the whole document can effectively ruin hours and hours of painstaking layout.) Now we go item by item. And once all are placed, I shall again integrate the whole lot into a seemingly seamless document. Yet the gathering of general information persists, as do the addendums and the edits! And while I am fixated M’Lady poises at the end of the table and waits until I look up, in the same manner as I wait for her at the kitchen counter, where she has her writing desk, until she notices me, and with a smile, invites my intrusion. We have an accord. Would that Leslie had let me run that 400 that day, uninterrupted! I think I might have broken the school record. Felt free!
Now that I am older I was better when I was young. I once could run. I once could swim. I once could be uncaring and uncompromising and inflexible and recalcitrant and obnoxious and not give a damn! But now that I am older I am inclined toward letting go the things of myself, and find taking on the task of deploying such skill and talent and intention as is my nature in the service of others. Or do I presume too much? Thing is, the very air we breathe is borrowed time. We rent it. We pay for it with our efforts. And somewhere deep inside me I recognize my payment as a need to contribute to the health of the whole, or what’s this heaven indeed for? (Like this pitter-patter of 5:00 a.m. rainfall as I type; there in the dark!)
M’Lady and I speak of re-incarnation, of the fragmentation of the coagulated soul into the ether of all, there to be dispersed but as atoms to contribute with itty-bitty energy to the protons and neutrons of other atoms, to be born, or not. Ego speaks of My next lifetime. Ego identifies with My past lifetime. Ego takes on the guise of My mansion in heaven. (My-ness ‘deserves’ it!) Tough concepts. Tough iterations. Tough beliefs. Tough assumptions. Tough going! Unfounded. Improvable. Abstract. But tender and attentive moments. Such is rapport. Such is accord. The Devil is in the details. (And also in some or other Prefect! Ha!) Yes, one includes, or how else to integrate each circumstance into the health of the whole?