|Gorgeous fall colour against an impressive architectural background in Bayonne, just to show you I can still find joy in the world around me. . .|
Nonetheless, in the midst of all my cheery posts about what has been a wonderful ten weeks traveling in France, Germany, and Italy, I'm going to add the smallest corrective note of reality. Pater and I are still enjoying our days here, and overall life is good. We're going to make the very most of this last week, cleaning the flat, packing our cases, going to yoga and French lessons here in Bordeaux, and then we have a couple of days in Paris where I'm very keen to see Christmas in all the windows. After a gorgeously sunny day here yesterday with temperature as 16 degrees Celsius, my wardrobe will be challenged as the thermometer flirts with freezing at night-time this week, but I think I'll be warm enough. And then we'll be back home with the family and the full-on rush into the holiday season.
So all good, and I'm very fortunate, and somehow, when I wake in the morning and realise that the odd heavy-flatness is there again, that goodness and fortune both gives me hope and makes me feel ashamed. And in the confusion of that hope and shame, I guess, I keep pushing myself to move forward, to do something, to post here, for example. Mostly, I do that, and it mostly works, but sometimes it feels too pushed, too laboured, too mechanical. Which gives my Inner Critic the chance to say the nastiest possible things about my efforts. All manner of nasty things, which can then quickly extend to commentary on the worth of my life overall, my value, what I'll leave behind. And on and existentially on. . . Doesn't bear repeating, really, except that the Inner Critic repeats. Oh, she repeats.
|Pater walking with our friend in the cloister of Cathédrale Sainte Marie in Bayonne|
I generally manage to shut her down, drown her out. Often, travelling, the distraction of the new is enough to keep her at bay. But I suspect there's something about Transition that's triggering considerable self-doubt at the moment, and rather than back away from my writing in the disgust of the low self-esteem moment, I thought perhaps you wouldn't mind just a few paragraphs of me trying to write my way through it. Won't happen often, I promise, but it's part of the package and ignoring it feels obliterating, somehow. As if I'm only of value when I can sparkle, or something. . .
Almost done. I just want to include this Tilda Swinton quotation I spotted on Instagram the other day on Nitch, a great account I follow that pairs wonderful portraits of Notable People with quotations by them. Swinton says of "loneliness" that it's "the last great taboo" and that "if we don't accept loneliness, then capitalism wins. . . . because capitalism is all about trying to convince people that you can distract yourself, that you can make it better. And it ain't true." I'm not sure I'd make capitalism the opponent here (capitalism being an economic expression of a broader socio-cultural reality, perhaps?) but I am in complete agreement with her assessment of our relationship with loneliness -- which I'd extend to "unhappiness."
|Cathédrale Saint Marie, Bayonne, viewed from cloister...|
All of which is just to say that behind the scenes here, I've got some unhappiness going on, but it's just part of the whole deal. I'm mostly managing it (thanks to a very supportive partner), and there's considerable joy in my life as well. Perhaps some of you find this to be true for you as well, from time to time. If so, and you care to leave a comment about how you move through or live with the Down days, those comments would be very welcome. Or just a wave to let me know I have company in my occasional unhappiness (Well, duH!, right? Humanity and all. . . and yet, solidarity does help, and unhappiness can be surprisingly isolating) If you're keen to tell me to buck up or that I don't know how lucky I am, I'd happily have you bite your tongue for the moment, thank you very much.
I'm hoping to share photos of Bayonne next post. Spoiler: it's a beautiful small city with lovely examples of Basque culture -- Mmmmm Gateau Basque!