Sources of Joy – Days 38 and 39
I am not sure that there should be a space between these two days. They form a contiguous blob in my mind. Each blob contained high anxiety levels tempered only by the calming effect of having a mountain of work from saving me from having to think of emotional issues, the validity of decisions made, and the monumental coordination effort required in the days which lay ahead. In other words, a classic case of burying oneself in work until all problems are resolved by simply vanishing into thin air, or until one is too tired to care that much, whichever is the sooner.
What a delightful little bundle of joy I have been!
I have emerged from this Slough of the Despond and intend to cross not one, but several rivers as I journey up to Porto in a slow train to attend a regional translation conference which I have been eagerly anticipating and dreading for a good couple of months. (John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress, had a way with words as far as sloughs and desponds go. I love this allusion so much for all its literal quaintness and measure of truth I have had the same old second-hand copy of this book for the last 35 years. It is time I dipped into it again.)
The eagerness and anticipation of being with like-minded folk needs no explanation. This seems to be my idea of a holiday: A rushed, intense weekend absorbing more ideas than is sensible in between what will probably be two very difficult weeks in my personal life, not to mention my work schedule. It will pass for light relief. I contemplate not taking my laptop with me, and fall in love with my laptop all over again. I contemplate not taking notes, but instead, giving myself a manicure during every single presentation. (Not the nail varnish part, thank you, but the pushing back of cuticle, and nail filing, and other beautifying aspects, the effects of which will be ruined as soon as I go gardening upon my return.) I realise that the putative absence of a laptop means that I would need to give serious thought as to my choice of pens and paper, since I really am the most idiotic of all smart phone operators, and tweeting stops me short just as I am getting into my stride.
My previous post partially dealt with the anguish of having to admit that I can no longer cope with being the one and only carer of my long-term partner. The uncertainty as to whether I would have to take her to the conference this year has been driving me nuts. Of course I planned to, in case there was no other option, but I wanted to be relieved of the burden more so now than ever before. We both managed very well last year, and many people were very kind to us; indeed quite a few chose of their own volition to bathe in the light of João’s magnetic charm.
This problem is that João’s health and general condition has deteriorated markedly in the last twelve months, and dealing with all its consequences is something I have found increasingly difficult to bear. It has hampered me in so very many ways at a time of my life when I have a surge of creative energy which needs to be channelled into productive endeavour, instead of being cramped into the obligation of performing repetitive nursing tasks seemingly without an end in sight.
It was with such limited vision that I dared to hope for some “me” time. It was with anger and resentment that I claimed the right to have a life of my own, as I once believe I did. It was with compassion and love and the memory of all our passions that I suffered wordlessly and in private despair for so very long, and prayed for an Omni-patient and Omnipotent God to confer upon me some patience and strength of heart. This paragraph describes a period of around three to four years, with my capacity to encompass the all of it waxing and waning in cyclical fashion depending on all sorts of variables, but mainly on my degree of egocentricity and how severe I deemed any interruption to whatever I was busy with at the time – including sleep. If the experience has done one good thing, it has strengthened my powers of concentration, and my ability to apply focus on my work despite the varying disasters lain at my feet.
Fortunately, we live is a socialist state with a social security and national health service which have jointly acceded to our request for assistance at the very moment when the abyss – a kind of metamorphosed Beckettian void – was gaining appeal.
In short, this means that João will be cared for by other people, also known as health professionals, far away from my much-needed personal space. I look forward to gaining ground and planting my feet more firmly on it. I am keen to restructure my life and return to old habits where silence and solitude have grandeur, and cascade gracefully into ordered, pristine thought with regularity. I have thirty days.
But before all that, I am going to have a jolly good time this weekend on my own (with about another 80 translators, actually) at the conference.
While I am off having fun, the first person to leave a comment beneath this post who correctly identifies by title the article I wrote from which the Wordle below has been extracted will receive a complementary copy of my extremely brief memoirs, Scatterling – A potted story of me so far. (Clue: An enumeration of translation-related articles exists on one of the pages in the menu at the top of this blog). I will even scribble something on the inside cover before posting it to you, if you like.
There are a few people to whom I have promised a copy of Scatterling already. Fear not: I am getting there!
See you in Porto, if you are there!