Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.
Amelia Earhart, American aviator, 1898 - 1937
Why should it be that courage comes so much more easily when life appears to be falling apart?
I could just say I don't know. Lately, I have been aware of the insidiousness of those words I don't know. It's a great cover, the fence-sitting, uncommitted, undecided place of I-don't-know. Mad-makingly, it's what the Bim said, when I asked him those raging questions - But why? Why?
I have come to believe that we are often not being entirely truthful when we say 'I don't know'. I think we are more often talking about what we cannot bring ourselves to acknowledge or to say out loud. I think that we - I - frequently do know, we simply choose to live parallel lives with the information we can cope with, rather than act on the more uncomfortable knowledge our instinct comes up with all the time. Even good information can feel too much, too outlandish, at times. We seem to have grown rusty in the art of listening to our instinct. We don't live by the moon anymore, and the city cement deadens the voices of our hearts.
Take me. All summer I had an eerie sense of gloom about the Bim and me. I can write it now because I know why now, but although I was aware of this feeling, I couldn't actually live it. I couldn't stop everything, sit the Bim down and say 'Now what's all this about?'. I should have done, of course. I should have paid attention to myself. To us.
This summer's gut feeling was as powerfully negative as it was overwhelmingly positive in the twenty-four hours before I met the Bim for the very first time. I remember walking down Cork city's Shandon Street almost shaking with expectation, thinking This is odd... Because it was such an exciting feeling I was more inclined to go with it than the more recent offering, but even then I could not quite believe, until the Bim was there buying me a glass of Guinness, that some better, higher part of me just knew.
So one small, upbeat piece of news is this: I have started to listen to my instinct. Because of this, in the profound sadness which backdrops my days, I meet moments of peace. Scarily, what I've discovered is that if you listen to your instinct, you frequently have to act on it, too, so true to this discovery the last few weeks have seen me handing in my resignation; making a commitment to writing in a way that I have not previously done; handing in a proposal to get my job back in a form that would enable me to do that (freelance, part-time, doing the bits I like and handing on the rest) and writing my very first magazine article whose commission I got myself. (Okay so they're not paying me, but they're printing me. I'll work out the money thing later.)
And what of the Bim and me? Ah, well, that may take a little longer to fathom. I am listening, but my instinct is still saying 'I don't know'. We have separated ourselves out a little. We move round the house less like lovers and more like friends and we have successfullly put our own troubles aside in order to navigate Anna-mouse through her first ever week at school - but beyond this?
No. I don't know. I really, truly don't know.