Here's the brief synopsis (the working title is The Burning Season):
It seems to become darker earlier in the day than I can ever remember this far south. The hard hard ice – on which last week I skidded halfway across a dangerous junction, even though I was travelling slowly and the ice wasn't visible – has given way to floods of rain again, and the telltale green stain from our borehole water that coloured my hair a few weeks ago is back on the basin. We're still waiting for water test results from the lab.
Seems to have been a year of waiting for test results. After my op for a suspected carcinoma at the base of my throat we waited to hear; it turned out, it seems, to be benign, despite the pronouncements of two GPs and two specialists. That means the op was unnecessary – I would kind of have preferred not to have a 9cm scar so visible, but then it's been good for my vanity to have to let that one go. Then there was my heart and the results of the ECG – inconclusive, but at least the consultant backed me in my desire not to go on warfarin. And mostly I'm doing fine. Now the dog has two rows of stitches – maybe 5cm on her head and more like 15cm on her back. And those lumps, too, it seems were benign. The poor thing, though, is still getting appallingly severe facial spasms from the neurological disorder she had last year; sometimes they shake her whole body. And there's nothing I can do except hold her head until they pass.
And our petty little individual lives – how we identify with the 'me' who suffers, the 'me' who doesn't like this, the 'me' who craves that; and how we forget to look at the stars, the sunrise, the rest of the world.
And still the new flowers on the japonica, the new catkins in the lane, the early-flowering cherry I saw the other day – how can they offset the atrocities and tragedies that happen over and over at our hand? How can they compensate for those small children lost to a violent desperate man yesterday in America, the innocents wiped out in a drone attack* or rocket fire, the lab animals cut open, the de-finned sharks chucked back into the sea alive, the massacre of Taiji dolphins? And now the British government has not only given the go-ahead for fracking (extracting gas from surface shale, with the associated risks and environmental costs), it's also offering tax-breaks to the multinational companies involved. And yet – and yet – try as we might we haven't quite destroyed the natural world, and the sun continues to rise without our help and despite our interference.
* see George Monbiot http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/17/us-killings-tragedies-pakistan-bug-splats
So the daily small miracles have to compensate, in order for us not to lose hope, not to give up. We have to remember the beauty, the goodness, the small acts of kindness. We have to remember we can be different; we don't have to be run by our reptile brain; nor our mammalian brain alone.
As we move towards the shortest darkest day here in the northern hemisphere, and our own inwardness (it's the 'cave bear' time), we have to hold, too, the reality that soon, soon, we will be turning back towards the light.
And maybe, even, maybe, humanity too is moving towards whatever the critical mass is to where we can act more from the heart, and less from the spleen or the solar plexus. Maybe. And it may be a long haul, of course. But perhaps our time is that of 'nekyia', the descent to the underworld – doing the 'night sea journey', in Jungian thought; a necessary precursor to the collective breakthrough into light.