A WEEK in bed gave me ample time to watch clouds. Some people are bird watchers, girl watchers, star watchers or social media watchers. My natural disposition is to watch clouds.
Lying on my bed for days on end, I sank into lengthy reveries as I drifted, watching the skies change and change again.
Times like this are rare. If I'm up, I'm doing. Long stretches of time on my own led to peregrinations about things old and new, personal and political. I slowly sifted and sorted some of the inner detritus that makes up my psyche.
I recalled the doll's house I had as a child. I hadn't thought about it in years. As I remembered my early childhood I veered into dangerous territory as I recalled my father's tempers. Once, furious with me for some infant misadventure, as punishment he turned the doll's house to the wall. I lay on my bed and looked at the dusty back of it, frightened. Then I thought about my mother and her struggles with the rollers on her washing machine and how one day out of curiosity I put my fingers into them and they grabbed my hand and I screamed as my arm was drawn further and further in the crush and my mother rushed in and stopped it. As Agatha Christie wrote, one of the saddest things in life is what one remembers, but before I could become maudlin, my grasshopper mind segued off into musing about the obligations of women's work and then wondering how women in prison do their washing.
In the meantime the clouds moved into and out of shapes, faces, angels, animals.
I was unwell and in that slightly altered space of not quite being in the world. I could write a sanctimonious homily about the importance of reflection and rest but it's obvious, it's important. Sometimes illness comes along and forces your hand. I was made to stay home. Maybe the flood took a bit more getting over than I realised, maybe it was time to step back and maybe it was as simple as a cold.
I could attach any kind of meaning to the event, but I didn't. I simply watched clouds and savoured the time to engage with my spirit.
I thought about things. An inquiry, even mild, with the past may not be easy as darknesses and old pains are revisited.
But I felt a safe distance from it all, in my cosy bed nest. The German poet Rilke put it well.
I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.
The sky darkened and lightened, showers came and went, clouds formed and reformed. I drank hot drinks, snuggled further into the quilt, read myself sick, daydreamed and dozed until finally, a week later I emerged from the cocoon. Soon I will go back to work and act busy along with everyone else. Chip chop! My week of cloud dreaming will recede. But I know it's always there, right outside my window.
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