04 September 2018

Late stages

Twenty one thousand three hundred and fourteen photos document the Pihlajas of Harborne's improbable life arch — on the Internet you can flick back and forth between them. Worried, as I am, about late-stage capitalism and the imminent collapse of the world economy, I have kept a small hard drive with all our photos beside my desk, something I might grab in a fire, after making sure everyone was safe. I spent a few hours this morning and last night trying to update the photos from our different phones and travelling back and forth between this summer and the last five months, collecting together the different memories that had been hoovered up into different cloud services, from our different Moto G phones, and felt like I was ready for the winter. It can snow now.

In June, when the bells of the church rang out while I was meditating in Moseley, the sun streaming into the Buddha Hall, I felt resolved to accept the inevitable ending and beginning of everything. Every moment is reincarnation, you're meant to remember — the breath comes in and out and that is one moment. This is an easy thing to forget whenever there is fear or the anger and stubbornness that falls out of that anger. Of course everything is insolvent, of course everything is going away. I opened my eyes and rode my bicycle home in the dark, until the vivid edges of the world got rubbed off and the breath, like everything else important, fell into the background.

A friend of mine has the sort of cancer you watch rather than treat. Cancer can be an unforeseeable outcome of living longer. You write and rewrite DNA long enough, mistakes are bound to come up. My friend shrugs his shoulders — it's something you live with. There's only a small chance that this will be the thing that kills you anyway, why dwell on it. What's worse, knowing what could kill you, or not knowing? I don't honestly know. The conversation stops there and my children, or one of my children, runs up to ask a question, and show us a thing she has found and the cancer is gone when you don't think about it.

Solvency is hard to judge. You're always indebted and owed, but how can you tell what the sums are. I keep lists of every wrong I've ever endured, angry for lifetimes about the smallest thing. My anger goes back generations, a heritable phenotype change that made me a perpetual child. You're acting like your father is the truth — I am, of course. And my father's father and his father, all in the late stages of every relationship we've ever been in, all trying to not be found out. Does saying it help — is it worse to know or not know. I hug the girls goodnight the way my father hugged me, after he prayed for me, knelt beside my bed and asked for God's blessing on me. We don't choose which parts we escape.