Day Thirty-six



Thursday 31st April. Often at the end of a month we say, 'Where did it go?' We all know where April went and some of us have very tidy cupboards, gardens, paintwork to show for it. Some of us have also had a rest from our daily lives and the weight of responsibility and pressure that come from the outside.

But as I get through a familiar round of simple tasks – write, meditate, knit, listen to the radio, weed the garden, I find myself bent over a scruffy corner up by the road, digging up dandelions, thinking 'I'm over this!' I'm bored with home improvements and the old feelings of 'what is my purpose, what should I be doing?' are coming back. This was going to be the year of the grandchildren and I'm only connected to them remotely, hoping that travel will come back on the agenda before too much longer.

As I said to my convalescent friend yesterday, frustration is often the beginning of improvement and I certainly used to find that when I was learning to swim. There's the beginnings of energy and direction in frustration. Have you seen a movie of a climbing plant as it puts out tendrils, flailing them about until they meet something to grasp on to? I feel a bit like that but my tendrils are very small and not meeting anything much just yet.

My walk round the waterfront is enjoyable, however, with the warmth still in the sun and the tide in. I find a local restaurant which is open in an approachable way – a table and cake cabinet in front of the door and paywave on the eftpos machine. The owner is telling someone seated nearby that she's only too pleased to be out of the house. I laugh and say we all feel a bit like that. I promise to be back with my card. It feels like a small success, a little freedom.

In a touch of synchronicity, the episode of the Crown which I watch in the evening is about Prince Philip's 'crisis', his fascination with the moon landing and his meeting with the astronauts, who turn out to be disappointingly human. He's shown to be frustrated with the lack of achievement in his circumscribed life as the Queen's husband and eventually, after showing contempt towards the local vicar's project of providing a retreat for tired priests, he seeks their help, echoing his turning point as a schoolboy when he sought help to complete a task too heavy for him. It's moving. In a long life, of course a man goes through cycles and changes, times of insight and growth. I hadn't thought much about Prince Philip other than as a rather arrogant man with an empty role. It's a good reminder of the humanity in everyone.

I finish the evening studying my grandfather's military record which my sister has uncovered and sent on. It's intriguing to try to read between the lines: he was ill most of the time he was in uniform, first with bronchitis, then with GSW – gunshot wounds. I wonder what he felt about it all. He was not an approachable man and we saw very little of him. He died when I was 13. Now there's so much I want know.