Life carries on within the narrow confines of this house where I am, hopefully, recovering from my brain haemorrhage and fractured spine.
Three months now of this cursed “taking care.”
Don’t do too much, take a sleep in the afternoon, don’t lift anything, avoid stress, and, most importantly, don’t bang your head.
It is enough to give anyone a brain haemorrhage if he likes doing too much.
Early spring flowers have started to bloom outside my window – snowdrops and primroses, white and yellow as bright as the bright blue of today’s sky. Inspiring stuff even for the most jaded and frustrated invalid.
The world goes on out there, no question.
Shiny new President Obama thrusts his way to the headlines with one announcement after another. Hopeful but tough, he is as inspiring as spring.
Physically isolation in this house may cut me off from the world but I do my best to stay connected. My head doesn’t go out of its way to help though.
That feeling of concussion surrounds me with a muffling shield and every now and then I feel a weird withdrawing sensation – none of that makes me feel at the vibrant centre of the universe.
Reading the newspapers helps….as long as that annoying hand trembling stays manageable.
So what is going on in the world?
So many bad things of course……
Burmese refugees being towed out to sea by Thailand’s military and left there stranded, 600 of them drowning.
More cholera deaths in Zimbabwe.
Unspeakable atrocities still being committed by rebel militias in central Africa.
Civilians, men, women and children, in Gaza still suffer in the aftermath of the recent conflict.
So many tales of man’s inhumanity to man.
Do we like our fellow men, I sometimes wonder?
Today it is reported that Switzerland is rushing through legislation to prevent naked German ramblers coming over their borders. A Swiss government spokesman said, what he assumed to be a universal human response:
“How would one feel if one was to go walking in nature and suddenly came across a group of naked people?”
His answer was “upset.”
Not being a naturist myself, and especially not tempted to try it in an English or Swiss January, I couldn’t help feeling that it is illogical to love “walking in nature” but then also being upset by man in his natural state.
The consensus seems to be, in Switzerland any way, lets close our eyes to those Burmese victims but let us address something more upsetting. Act now to prevent our citizens from seeing the horror of the human body in its natural state.
Sometimes, the isolation of illness can be a blessing. The world seems a better place, sometimes, cut off here with Spring shooting forth its first natural blooms just outside my window. There are no naked Germans in sight, of course, but should that be such an unnatural, unpleasant sight?
Maybe we should learn to love our place, and our fellow human beings’ place in the natural world. Love it more than civilization allows. Maybe then sights of those drowned Burmese, raped and mutilated Africans and bombed Palestinians and Israelis might seem more shocking, less human and less natural.
I turned away from the newspaper.
I needed a further test of my post haemorrhaged powers of concentration.
I had found it difficult getting back my ability to think and feel my way through classical music since coming back from hospital.
Gradual breakthrough, marked my progress.
First it was Bach and the Double Violin Concerto running at about 15 minutes.
Then Beethoven’s Fifth at just over half an hour.
It was working, welcoming me back to a world I have so often associated with mankind’s most sublime imagination.
So it was to be Mahler’s Third Symphony (my favourite recording: Rafael Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra) – supreme challenge indeed running at its magnificent one and a half hours. The longest symphony in the standard orchestral repertoire.
I can’t help pushing myself, I know.
The five movements, for a giant orchestra, each originally had a title describing, well, to Mahler’s mind, everything.
The great arch of creation from the dawning of nature in all its brutality and excitement to the beautiful and sometimes poisonous blossoming of its plant life to the birth of the animal kingdom in its glory and its gore.
The arrival of mankind, first in all his earthiness, then vulnerability, his questioning and suffering, his innocent dream of spirituality and then, in one long, gently passionate arch, his awakening to the ecstasy and sublimity of love.
The history of the World but also, idealistically and inspirationally, the history of each human life.
Far from being isolated in my sick room, sitting there, listening to this, I was far from isolated.
Within that span of one and a half hours, was maybe all I needed to know and all any of us needs to know. Our place in Nature, with all its pain and joy, seeking eternity and finding it in love.
If only that was also a vision of the world out there, beyond my window.