01 May 2011

whisper words of wisdom, let it be

The day of the wedding the chestnut blossoms were teased loose by the gusty breeze, like paper leaves they covered the ground and drifted, or got caught in grass, branches. Natures confetti. Pretty, even I thought so, spattered across the patio. Something about their insubstantiality. I recalled that someone had once told me that chestnuts were a very primitive tree, and the fallen blossom was simple, an oval ivory-pink leaf with  a central vein. It is falling still, a bumper year, sweeping it up today seems like a waste of time as there will only be more tomorrow.

There is a long running dispute between an anonymous neighbour in my block and myself. Every now and then, at Haus meetings (to which, as only a tenant, I am not invited; my landlady goes instead) I will be complained about, or rather, the dreadful state of my patio will be complained about. 


I freely admit that I am not the most houseproud of people, but I sometimes do try to make an effort. Every year I get around to emptying the pots of plants that have eventually died off. Admittedly, most of them do die in the heat of August, when I have to go away there is no-one who waters them. I water them intermittently when I get back, hoping they will pull through somehow. And thinking Darwinianly, well if they don't pull through, they weren't fit to survive. But the anonymous neighbour objects to more than this, horror of horrors, sometimes there is grass or dandelions growing in the cracks between my paving slabs, and almost always there is moss. Another very primitive life form if I remember anything about botany. I think that moss is part of a symbiotic relationship with something else (algae?) and goes on to form lichen; about which I was told, very definitely, not to pick it off stone walls because it had been there a damn sight longer than I had been alive.

Moss, trees dropping blossom, autumn leaves and cat hairs swirling in the breeze and scuttling into the corners of the patio and house; to me they are signs of changing seasons, natural, something to be observed not obliterated. I spent some time this morning (between sneezing at the millimetres thick pollen that also coated everything) potting and re-potting plants, and wondering why some people seem so resistant to just letting things be? Blossom and leaves fall, waves wash debris onto the beach, people leave footprints along it. At one five-star hotel/spa I stayed at on the beach in Ko Samui, people were employed to rake the beach to make it smooth again for the tourists. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be. It's why I get so annoyed when I see council employees out with leaf-blowers, expending energy to move leaves into neat piles, energy and noise and seemingly oblivious that the next breeze will undo all their 'work' and they will have to repeat it all again tomorrow.

The neighbour at the flat at right angles to mine came out while I was 'gardening', we exchanged greetings but no more. He began his daily clean up of their patio. I swept some of the blossom and earth into piles, and then into a blue IKEA bag to take downstairs to the Biomull bin. I do suspect that he might be the anonymous neighbour, there is him and his wife, but there is also another fussy seeming older man in the block that I have categorised as a busybody. He told me not to park on the street, even though I was unloading a bookcase or some such thing at the time. He would rather I parked in the garage and hauled the furniture across the whole garage and up two flights of stairs than park for 3 minutes outside the flat in nobody's way.

After a couple of minutes, a whirring noise started up, my neighbour was hoovering his patio. I will never hoover a patio. It is not really an outside room, it is the garden, it gets rained upon and the wind pushes and tangles things in the corners. I don't care that things are not neat, I like to see things grow and decay - the shapes of flowers twist and show new things as they die off. I dislike the bareness of my flat when I have tidied up, it happens more often now that I have a cleaner, but this is another task that is still ahead of me today, as due to travelling (mine) and holidays (hers) the flat has not actually been cleaned for 5 weeks.

I wonder why the bareness pricks at me so much? Perhaps I suspect that that is what really reflects my soul, I am difficult to get close to, to know well because inside there is nothing. I surround myself with clutter as a sign that I have lived, look, there is the evidence! Empty wine bottles, books piled on the sofa, the table, laid onto the bookshelves rather than stood on end and put away. Bags dropped onto the chairs, the worktops; shopping bags mostly emptied. I have been out there and interacted with the world, here is the proof. And I wonder if this is qualitatively different to the compulsive neatness, the daily conquering of elements carried out by my neighbour (and many many others, I'm not singling him out except as an example of a type).

The difference to me lies in the displaying element. Perhaps it is as simple as extroversion versus introversion. The extrovert nature wants people to see what he does, wants the things he does to be seen, to be commented upon. The extrovert needs 'society' to approve of him, does not chafe under the rules of a society but enthusiastically adopts them, wants to encourage others to do the same, wants to pull people to join in and do more things that society smiles upon, make more norms to follow and encourage others to follow. At least, that is how it seems to an ingrained introvert... I don't want to impose on the world, I am quite happy sitting and watching what it offers (at least in the way of nature). I dislike arbitrary rules.

Let it be, let me be. I am not a failure only because I don't do the same things that you do, or live to the same standards that you have. Let it be, like I let you be, like I let the world be. Keeping myself to myself is not my judgement on you, but on myself.
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