February 1 – oops, it’s February 2
I thought I had gone to bed so I could be rested for work tomorrow (“work” being finishing a watercolour of a blue bearded Iris), but I have to take tamoxifen every night because of a bout with breast cancer two and a half years ago and if you have ever taken this drug you know that it has a roomful of side effects, one of which is stomach ache. So I am up and about, waiting till it calms down. I try to keep the fire of this memory tamped down.
As I was saying, I had gone to bed and had been reading a book given to me by my great-niece Ivey – This I Believe II – short very personal essays written by a variety of people about such subjects as love, fear, happiness and how to make it through a hard time, all apropos for me right now. Today is my birthday – or rather, yesterday, since it is past midnight. and I will use this grand stage of life to announce something I believe, in keeping with the book: Life is extremely hard unless you are stupid. The old adage “Ignorance is bliss” is true. If any of us understand and consider that all of us will suffer and die and, consequently, spend our time trying to theorize why, then, are we here instead of being absorbed by softer thoughts – like who will win the Superbowl – we will have to develop some tough attitudes to help us through. I guess this is why we revel in distractions, so we won’t have to have these hard thoughts. Speaking of distractions:
It is “Oscar Month” on TCM and tonight “Bridge on the River Kwai” is on. I saw this movie in 1957 when it was released. At the time, I was a student at Stuart Hall in Stanton, Virginia and was taking the train home for Christmas. The train stopped in Washington and during the two-hour layover I went for a walk and discovered a movie theater nearby and went in to see what I could of the movie, then ran back to catch the train south. William Holden was my fave at the time and I truly resented watching him die.
There are 80 essays in “This I Believe”, all designed to help us humans become adjusted to the nightmare of making it through life. I cannot think of a friend or family member who has not experienced outrageous fortune. The book is excellent and makes me want to read volume one.
Here’s one of the accounts I can learn from: “The Long Road to Forgiveness” by Kim Phuc. Ah! This is the little girl in the iconic photo from the Vietnam war, running naked after her clothes – and her skin – had been burned by napalm. She, the grown-up she – is a person of faith, forgiveness and love. Not sure I could get to that place after being bombed. I am a realist.
Now, my stomach appeased by cottage cheese and my mind made compliant by reading about simple goodness, I will try again to sleep and hope to fall into the deep, comforting fantasy dream of myself and some male doing the “bop” in Panama City – laughing, barefoot, the unique smell of the Gulf of Mexico reaching all the way to the pavilion. In my dreams I am always dancing.
Happy Birthday to me and to my cousin Perry and her friend Sarah, all members of the February First Club.