Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

What is it we’re supposed to make of life? There is so much suffering–my own is a tiny stitch in a vast tapestry and many, many people suffer so much more than I have. What is it that keeps rising up in us even when we feel crushed? What keeps putting one foot in front of the other, or looks at the vague blue smudge of a sloe bush and is reminded of a truth that doesn’t even have a name? What is that? It isn’t me. It isn’t me that gets me up this hill each morning, but rather an irrepressibility that must be called life, life itself, a force working independently of my brain, body and mind. I don’t know what it is… What is it that is leaning forward in me now, towards the world? … What is it that dares to want to get back down this hill and go home and write? Or that wants to find out why things in nature are rarely blue. What is it that triggers the synapses that call to the muscles to work the body and keep going on? What is it that still insists on being happy? What is it that refuses the call of defeat?

— Samantha HarveyThe Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Book Review in The Guardian: “The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey review – a good night’s sleep? In her dreams

 

T.G.I.F.: It’s Been A Long Week

It isn’t about peace, a quiet life, not feeling things, not experiencing things. It’s about the shit hitting the fan, and having the courage to sit with yourself, not hide, not deny–to observe the tumult from the end of the snake’s tongue.

— Samantha HarveyThe Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Note: Photo by NB Hunter

Sunday Morning

My cousin’s last day was spent out on his bike, a seventy-mile ride on a Saturday morning. He did the ride alone, and nobody had any contact with him after that. At some time in the next twenty-four hours he died, and his body was found by the police on Monday morning when his employer called them, worried because he hadn’t turned up for work. He always turned up for work.

I would wish for my last day to involve an act of freedom–a walk by the ocean, a long bike ride, something I love. I hope that the walk and the bike ride were suffused with joy, with pleasure, for my stepdad and my cousin. Neither knew it was their last time to do that thing. If they’d known, would they have enjoyed it more or less? Eventually, everything has to be done for the final time. There must be many things that, without our realising it, already fall into that category for all of us.

Final acts acquire holiness. My stepdad’s walk that day has. When we go to Ireland we almost always take the same route. We look out on the sea because it’s the last sea he saw. We write his name in the sand. We reflect, each of us inwardly, that one day we will never see this place again either. It’s a dull shock.

If finality makes something holy then every moment is holy, because every moment could be the last. That’s a thought we spend too cheaply. Live each day as if it’s your last, we think, and then we don’t. Everything is holy. It’s only when we die that the holiness is called up. But it was always holy, all along.

Samantha Harvey, The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Photo: Mine. 5:23 a.m. A Holy Moment, on Sunday, a Holy Day. Cove Island Park Stamford, CT.

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