Wet mornings

NOVEMBER 22 03

I love the day when everything is wet and dripping, spiders' webs are soaked in the garden, every few inches along a branch looking out my bedroom window there are quivering droplets of water, the foliage is transformed through its wetness and the soaked light into something alive and mulching down into the earth, the stone of my pot-bellied Buddha statue a sodden dark grey bringing out the green of the small patches of lichen now growing on him, and still he smiles, or perhaps he smiles more because I'm looking at him sitting there surrounded by long wet grasses. He smiles all the time now, but when I first got him he only scowled. Perhaps his features are ambiguously carved, and you can project your state of mind into them, otherwise I have no explanation for that. The statue was bought from an ex-bank-robber who took up meditation in prison, he started selling secondhand office furniture and garden Buddhas as a reformed character when he got out after a 20-year stretch.

I've started getting up early to have more light in a day. Yesterday and today up at dawn. If I feel tired I'll have a nap in the late afternoon. Outside my front window to the street five grey rubbish bags are lined up, the street cleaner has already been busy bagging fallen London plane leaves, they're really shedding them now, they're waiting there to be collected. My floor has papers strewn all over it from last night, sorting out old files again, throwing papers away, clearing a space, making things simpler.

Yesterday I had money troubles on my mind, and I felt a bit fed up as a result of it. When I can't concentrate on things I like doing and be interested enough I just discard. I drag over a pile of things I have previously ear-marked for discarding, usually old papers since these I feel require me to go through them first. It's easier to decide something is rubbish and you don't want it any more or have grown beyond it when everything feels like rubbish and you don't want it any more. But still I will happen on the odd paper with writing on it that makes me read it more closely and consider, and so those few papers I put aside for further consideration later, or even to keep a while longer.

When I run out of papers, I will start on books on my bookshelves, which have been steadily expanding again from charity-shop buys since the last time I discarded books, when over a thousand went, including a couple I wish I still had, rare ones from my small collection of Chinese poetry translations that I just don't know why I got rid of, although I don't regret it. There is one reason I may have got rid of them, it occurs to me, to make it easier to discard those few books I treasure most, should I want to move on.

For all I talk of moving on and don't do it, I have faith in myself that if I really want to move on at any point I will just do it, and see my discarding in the meantime as just a leisurely build-up. I may never move on, not in the sense I yearn for (not even sure I do yearn any more), but maybe I just like living on an 'as if' basis. I like something Quentin Crisp said towards the end of his life, he advised having only those things around you that are easily borne, and he included friends, he said he lived as if his life had become an extended camping trip, having nothing much too highly valued.

I have felt that way for years. I have never owned anything of any great value, no car, no house, my computer is made from bits, and most of my adult life I have only had enough money to last me for a few weeks. Now I don't like that, it makes the need for money simply to live too intrusive too often, but on the other hand it has given me a faith that I'll survive and has weaned me off any real desire for luxuries, since even my ability to secure the basics is nothing I can afford to take for granted. It is just as hard to have a little as to have a lot, so as I'm closest to having a little I may as well regard having nothing as the impossible ideal rather than having everything. Less to mentally tend each day. I do think possessions weigh you down, give you too much that's too trivial to think about. One day I will inherit what my parents spent their lives slaving for. Not a massive amount, but enough to last a long time if I go to live in a place where food and shelter is cheap, such as Asia. Then perhaps my accumulated skills at living light and desiring little may come into their own. Perhaps then I will stop marking time, as it were, and start living. Oh, I don't say I am not living now, I'm just very very curious about what I'm actually living for. I tend to think there are stages in a person's life. I have been a scholar, I have lived on the edge, I have learnt things that have interested me, I have met good people, I have loved women, yet for years I have been to a great extent waiting, waiting for something.

I have used my time reasonably wisely I think, but nonetheless I have been waiting. But I don't really know what I have been waiting for, except that I'll know it when I see it, and recognise it as that thing I have been preparing for most of my life. It'll probably come when I have completely given up any desire for it. And then, it doesn't matter whether it comes or not, since the direction I am going after many years is not being too concerned either way.

It's easy to fantasise that I'll drift to some far-flung place and somehow there I will meet my destiny. And yet that impression of how it might pan out has persisted, like an insoluble koan. Perhaps when you don't fit into 'society' you cut yourself off from the kinds of goals that many seem to find satisfactory, manager by 26, money in the bank, married by 30, house, car, two beautiful kids and hopefully neither of them will get murdered by a sicko. If you just haven't worked for that kind of vision of what life can be, then you have pipe-dreams about living cheap in exotic places, meeting masters, exploring sacred ruins, and having a harem. This is something that still remains a real possibility for someone who has rejected the ordinary values of Western society, whereas for the average bank manager it will require a nervous breakdown, bankruptcy, or evening classes learning to play the saxophone to make the shift. Still, for anyone, any dream not acquired is still just a dream.

I grow less and less bothered each day about attaining anything at all. For all I still look for something I have not found, often I find in my present surroundings pockets of peace and contentment. I love watching from the back garden the way distant birds leisurely fly to roost at dusk across the sunset sky, all going the same way, stretched out crowds of birds. It is the same every dusk and just as beautiful as the first time I saw it, seeming even more transfixing for being just a moment or two of observation before returning to other matters, 'Ah, there they go, like always'. Sometimes I think afterwards, does it matter that my life is the same every day and not much happens? Or not much by most people's standards, and by my own too when yearning for something other than just listening to a bird sing, or brushing my hand through wet grasses.

Just this moment went outside into the garden, it's early morning. Listening to the sonorous deep Dalek voices of two rooks, and the drip drip drip from the roof. The wooden fence is soaked, the entire world is submerged beneath a film of water like a beautiful rejuvenating coat. And now rooks start up simultaneously a chorus from at least five different locations at different distances, that's what I love about rooks calling to each other, the sudden perfect spatial awareness, suddenly over there over there over there, and a map of rooks in different fields and trees is instantly created by this gorgeous early morning sound. Something I have missed in my night dwelling. Rooks too seem to love wet mornings, I can just tell from the joy of their caws. I once wrote a poem about listening to rooks.