Gazing, through dust-flecked glass, at a clear blue sky, I stretch my mind back, and try to enter the head of my three-year old self. Back then I had no need to search for a cause, a purpose, a reason to Be.
I just was.
In the warm kitchen of my childhood home, mixing a cake to give to my brother when he burst through the door, cheerfully working beside my mother as she prepared more nutritious fare, I was content in the present. The question of reason went unheeded in my infant mind.
My first day at school brought frightened excitement; the simple description I gave in response to my mum’s query; what did you do today?, the horror at discovering that I had to go back tomorrow. It was fun for one day, but tomorrow stretched out towards forever. When would my mother and I cook together again?
To please my mother
I pretended to enjoy my days in school,
but it gave me a thrill to discover that every book
contained secrets which were to be found by simply turning the pages;
when I opened them, it was like uncovering buried treasure.
I wanted write secrets like those I had seen
and conceal them in stiff covers
for others to find.
I developed a passion for words;
for the ways they could be woven into so many exciting shapes,
and as my writing skill developed,
my words were hailed to be
advanced for my age.
Such was the praise I received from parents and teachers alike.
I had found a reason to Be.
It was assumed that I would take up a career in writing, and it was my own wish, but, although I never stopped writing, I became distracted. I wanted to be away from the musky odour that only exists in the classroom, from the other children who found me strange, from the loneliness of the playground on the days when my few friends didn’t attend, from the constant insistance that I could do better, when I knew my lack of concentration was not to be helped. I wanted the freedom that a pocketful of money brings. I left school and took the first job that came along,
forgetting my reason to be.
I married, kept house, cooked tasty and interesting meals, gave birth to children, fed them, dressed them nursed their ills, cared for them, loved them, tried my best to protect them. The work filled my days, my nights, and swelled my heart. By becoming a parent I had found
a new reason to Be.
As the years passed and my children grew, they gave every indication of becoming independent, and I moved forward, embracing nature, taking seeds, propegating beauty and and life-sustaining plants, digging in the dirt, shaping little corners of the landscape, creating gardens,
finding an added reason to be.
My youngest two children rebelled against their healthy bodies,
dabbling where they shouldn’t,
slipping without thought into the dark well of addiction,
bringing chaos with their sickness,
sapping my energies with their desperate requests,
their eye rolling,
limb lolling heroin highs,
they couldn’t raise the money for the next hit,
the danger they brought through my door and into my home,
at the edge of a metaphorical precipice,
emptying me out,
until I was me no more.
I had never given up writing,
and now I tried to make it a bigger part of me,
to see if I could finally build it into a career,
but I lost the battle to keep on track.
I mislaid my reason to be.
Through dust-flecked glass I see the sun sinking behind the fields – as if angered by its descent it blazes a vivid shade of red. It finally disappears as it does every evening, leaving behind a grey sky, highlighted with hopeful pink, while I hunt the core of my being, in a pathetically brave effort to concentrate, trying to find the time, the rhyme, the state of mind to mount the saddle of my reason;
my reason to Be
©Jane Paterson Basil