Extract from my journal, working with Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg .
A time I washed the dishes
One time? One particular time? There was a Christmas. In Essex. Before Mum moved into the bungalow. I liked that house but no-one else did. Anyway there was a meal, it was probably Boxing Day and must have been evening because I remember the blackness at the window over the sink. No curtains or possibly they weren't closed which is more likely - I think they were those white open weave ones with the orange abstract shapes cut by horizontal and vertical black lines. I loved those curtains and I think Mum did give them to me in the end.
I was sulking. Why? Perhaps because I had been told to do the washing up. I was so lazy then. I hated any kind of housework and more than that, I hated being told to do it. It's not as if I was a teenager either, I must have been 22 or 23 for goodness sake! I did those dishes with very bad grace, as I did anything I didn't want to do - why are we so selfish when we are young, does selflessness really have to be a lesson learned?
My aunt had provided some small delicate glass dishes for the dessert, perhaps the dessert too. As I washed these dishes, they kept breaking apart in my hands. At first I didn't care. I was glad. It suited my sulk every time one broke; it felt like revenge. But after a while my aunt came into the kitchen and I had to explain what was happening. I know she was very fond of those bowls but even so she told me not to worry. And then of course I felt guilty, And when it happened again, I felt mortified. I think that washing the bowls in hot water and then rinsing them under cooler water weakened them - the glass was so fine and fragile. At least I learned how to treat delicate glassware. And the guilt just got sewn into the growing patchwork guilt quilt that I carried with me everywhere and which would become bigger and more multicoloured as the years passed.
page 31 word 17 I
The Beckoning Silence
Joe Simpson is one of my favourite mountain climbing writers and one of my favourite writers in any genre. Go read any of his books, it doesn't matter if you hate mountains ( so does he sometimes) and if you don't get why people do it ( neither does he sometimes). This book explores fear, the fragility of the relationship between mind and body and circumnavigates the globe before culminating in a hair raising climb up the deadly north face of the Eiger. A literary adrenalin rush sustained over nearly 300 pages.
There is a guilt trip here too concerning myself and Joe, but that's another story.