I went for a walk early on Saturday morning. Walking is my go-to tonic. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little confused, frustrated. Anxious about what to do next. And a couple of health issues have dragged me down as well. That word discombobulated fits my mood. An American-English verb, apparently it originated in about 1934 as a humorous word to imitate hi-falutin-sounding Latin words. Other similar words are confusticate (1852) and absquatulate (1840). I wonder what my editor would think if I used these in my next book? I do love unusual words but they can throw a reader…I’d love to hear some of your favourite, unusual expressions.
But I digress.
At this time of year, we are usually living in Tuscany but you and I know that spanners have been thrown in the works after the last eighteen months or so. I had planned a couple of research trips for my next book, which is set in southern Italy. And this is hampering me. I know that writers use “what if” as a tool for their imagination. But in this instance, that question has been leading me down the wrong paths.
‘What if we don’t manage to get to Italy this year?” Google search does not quite do it for me. I like to be in the places I write about. I need the sensory details and the stories that come to me unexpectedly: from talking to locals, coming across plaques in the street or festivals commemorating an event, tasting local food, glimpsing a corner of a town that inspires me.
“What if my imagination dries up and I can’t write another book? Will my publishers say goodbye to me?” Those two monkey words have been plaguing me recently. My walk was early this morning. The air was fresh and I could literally smell the roses in people’s front gardens. The scent distracted me from my pesky me-me-me thoughts.
There was hardly anybody else about, little traffic and a blackbird’s song was a joy as I walked to my appointment. Gardens brimmed with colour and along a footpath, wild flowers beckoned to me and I stopped to snap images on my phone.
In the park, young children congregated for a cricket match by the elder trees, their blossoms telling me it was time to make more cordial. Cricket is not played in Italy and the whole morning was turning out to be very English.
I passed a semi-derelict bungalow near the sea, weeds tangling its front path and I saw what I presumed was a dog stretched out in the sun: thin and long, its ribs protruding from a dull red coat. It was a fox. When I stopped to make sure, he lifted his head and looked at me as if to say: “Yes, I’m a fox. What about it? I have as much right to be here basking in the morning heat as you have to walk the pavements.”
My morning’s walk was giving me messages. Live in the now. Look around and enjoy what you see. Don’t banish the present through worries about the future. Stop and feel. Be grateful for what you have. I was early for my appointment and I did just that when a bench invited me to sit for a while.
Sometimes it’s hard to climb out of yourself. I needed to hear these messages. Yesterday we were at our granddaughter’s sixth birthday party – balloons, pass-the-parcel, rainbow cake and all. And my appointment this morning? To talk to the hairdresser to see how to arrange my hair for our youngest daughter’s wedding this August. How lucky am I?
This year, Italy will have to wait three months until we arrive. What is there to worry about?
On my noticeboard in the kitchen, I scrawled this sentence when I returned home. A reminder to myself to take each day as it comes.
And as if by magic, the postman dropped a parcel through the door. It was sent by a special friend. I unwrapped it and the words were like a hug. You know who you are. Thank you so much. xx