There are so many moments that make up a day and so many that we forget. I’ve forgotten entire years, carelessly. I don’t want to do that any more. Think of me as a land-based salvage expert, and memories as floating and clearly abandoned vessels. I want to claim as many of these as possible, as they are enriching and make me who I am today: a man who has not gleaned that the international rules of the sea do not apply on dry land.
I was recently in an accident in which I could easily have died. A driver pulled out against the direction of traffic; my face and the car’s windscreen had an argument about which one of us had the right of way. I lost half a tooth, the windscreen was shattered. I was in the right according to the Highway Code, but that wouldn’t have been much solace if this was my last philosophical debate on earth.
I’m glad to be alive, but not in a running down the road, I will-never-waste-another-moment sort of way. Not immediately, in any case: I was too busy being taken to hospital.
I’ve already wasted plenty of time since the accident. I’ve scrolled through pointless culture wars on social media. I’ve dulled my traumatised brain with many hours of online board games against endearingly named strangers like MrEd69 or Please_Lose_To_Me17.
But I am trying to cherish more, and to cherish you have to remember. I only have one way of remembering, which is to write things down.
Sometimes I turn things into stories – into handy linear narratives where everything makes sense and everything is neatly tidied away. But sometimes that’s impossible, and one just has to write some unsatisfying paragraphs, with no structure or satisfying ending.
I’m not really sure how many of us get a satisfying ending anyway.
But what I really wanted to talk about was trees, and clouds. And herons. And awkward handymen depositing rubble by a stream, friends remote and immediate, and that guy in the phone repair shop who charged me too much but smiled while I complimented him on the card on his desk from his daughter. It suggested he was often asleep; perhaps because of the long hours working in the phone shop.
I also wanted to mention Fairuz, the Lebanese chanteuse, singing about her friend from childhood, with whom she wrote words on the wind, before the civil war came. And Japanese food, and really stupid and bawdy jokes. And calls with fellow beloved humans, and interactions with furious cats. And, and, and…
There is so much in a day, and I want to do more to bring at least some elements of each day with me into the future.
Because I am grateful that there will be more trees, and clouds, and words with which to remember them.