Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Truth Told By Only The Rain

Two days off from work, finally, and the rain is falling steadily, softening the wooden fence outside my window, drawing forth smells of the earth, holding the world together in a slow sad greying embrace. A realm of dampened joy, edgeless as remembered childhood.

Let go frustration at the weather: the vicissitudes of our planet's climate are not predicated upon the structure of my weekly rota. There is nothing to which I am of central importance, save myself -- and that is a comfort, I think, finally. Watch the little puddles, the bending stalks, the subdued stoicism of the terraced houses across the car park. Be in all of it, melt into it, resign myself to its decaying beauty.

It is hard trying to write while working full time in bars. At least it is hard if you struggle with borderline alcoholism and fairly centreline depression and anxiety, and you go drinking after work with students to whom you are ten years senior, and you stay late, using rum to be funnier than you are, and you sleep through until 2pm, and then there you are back at work anxious again and sans the rum that makes you (at least in your eyes, when you've had too much rum) temporarily funny, even though you promised yourself you wouldn't (do all these things (please not again)).

While my pub was closed for refurbishment I was working on a longish essay about the hemispheres of the brain and our imbalanced lives, but since thrusting myself back into long hours and longer nights the piece has gone stale, so here are some other words instead, about nothing in particular, to keep this blog's frail heart beating.

And why not about nothing? I was reading recently how language is now thought not to have developed as a tool to aid hunting, the communication of piecemeal facts, but as an extension of bonding through social grooming, a necessary evolution once tribes grew too large for every individual to spend time stroking every other individual. Caressing one another with words, music, from a distance, cooing that I am here and so are you, that we are here together, that it will be all right.

But it wasn't long before the process was hijacked, bent to the growing need to discuss the optimum firing range of crossbows, to trick people into buying anti-ageing creams that do not work, to argue about whose old man in the clouds was here first. We began to create vast conceptual networks in our heads, maps of existence written in words, and gradually we lost touch with the living world around us, the actual terrain through which we walk.

Of course language also helped take us to the moon, invent The Beatles, and build the computer I'm now typing this on, so I'm not denying its uses. Just noting that a tool that once soothed us in shared communion now as often isolates us in webs of abstraction. Words are like tin cups that we may dip in the ocean of truth around us, passing one swig of knowledge to another. But a cup can never hold the entirety of the ocean. Yet we're so enraptured by the power of our little vessels that we believe anything that does not fit into them is not real, does not matter.

The rain tells a different story. Listen to the gentle inexorability of its patter, its mellifluous beat, for long enough, and you will here a truth that no words can contain. Stare into the interstitial space between the droplets, into a void that is forever penetrated yet never touched, and you will hear the answers to questions too large for words. Staying quiet long enough to listen, of course, is the trick.

I'm busy again tomorrow, back into bustle and words and work. But I'm grateful for these two days off, for a chance to cease striving and sit and try to hear a truth beating down, half forgotten, like childhood.

And now it is late and the rain has stopped. I guess it has said all it wanted to say. I will write again next week. I will.

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely piece, Rob. I appreciate being given the chance of a little contemplation in the middle of a busy (well, not too busy) day. I like this style of writing. It's surely a coincidence though, that it comes when you are at your busiest?