Being at home…

Panekiri Bluff, Waikaremoana; painted by Charmaine’s birth mother in the 1980s

Charmaine had no wish to ride a bicycle for three days in the mountains, and decided to stay home and get her mind in order.  (“Mind has mountains, cliffs of fall” wrote poet Gerard Manley Hopkins- and she had definitely been feeling anxious about bike-riding, and in need for some sustained quiet time to re-order her life,  facing her own cliffs and mountains.. Now she says:

After taking Tanya and Garth to the airport I set about tidying tax files and masses of saved articles and other papers, sorting unruly books and clothes, and thinking about the next few years of my life.  Aware of some short-term memory loss, and of the need to maintain mind activity and  social contacts, I sorted my diary for 2021 and decided to join U3A, an organisation I’ve had some contact with over the years.

When I rang the Convenor I was welcomed warmly, and immediately sent papers to complete and a list of subgroups on different topics.  I decided to join a Writing group.  I’ve done heaps of reading during the last year- much of it overseas magazines , full of gloom or restating the obvious ad nauseum, but haven’t grappled well with the need to organise memories and maintain personal records.  Time to start, I thought…  

So now, near the end of January, most of my papers are sorted, I’m a paid-up member of Ponsonby U3A awaiting my first full meeting in February with enthusiasm, and I’ve attended my first Writing Group meeting – catching up with some old friends and making interesting new ones.  Having some fun with words too, and appreciating the creativity of the other women. 

At last I have committed to writing daily, even if it’s only a few funny memories or a bit of old sadness. Whether invention or recollection (hopefully I’ll still know the difference) I am keeping my mind active, and rather better organised.

As for cycling…I can still ride a bike without falling off, but not without anxiety- and I can’t really see the point of forcing myself forward down those paths when there are mountains of the mind still to be climbed…I’d rather continue walking…and be useful driving the car to pick up cyclists at the end of their journeys, too.

“…O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed.  Hold them cheap

May who ne’er hung there….”

From Sonnet, no. 42, p.61, 1968 Penguin Edition, Poems and Prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins

(Hopkins is the first poet I read whose work really moved me- we studied him in Form 6 (Year 12) and I have loved much of his work ever since: it helped me understand what poetry could be- not just rhyming words or a clip-clop rhythm, but insight, experimentation, transformation- “inscape”  and “instress” to quote Hopkins himself)

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