A strange peace

Winter is a season of routines. The days pass in almost the same way, especially out here: all we do is work, eat, walk, exercise, go to the pub, sleep. But this winter neither of us has been desperate for a holiday. I feel more and more – and I think S. does too – that whether you do the same or new things every day, see the same people or different people, stay put or move about nonstop, it doesn’t matter. Life is near and fresh. There are no ruts in nature, even in the barest places.

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The days are getting longer. A sense of peace has come over me lately – the kind of composure I used to imagine I’d grow into when I was younger and had no control over my life. I used to picture my future self looking back at his agitated past and cringing. What was being young but an endless wait to get older and wiser? I was naive and knew it, because I was so often reminded of it by my elders. I wanted to get older so I too could benefit from hard-won experience. I suspected that these feelings were themselves experiences I might benefit from, but resented the humiliations of youth, of having to live through a series of scary tests that only the older self can resolve. And now that I’ve grown into my future self, I do look back in relief at having grown older, but with mixed feelings… Relief, but also things I never imagined, slightly frightening in themselves: awareness of the ageing body, that your time on earth will come to an end, and that you may even come to feel it was too short.

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