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Friday, June 17, 2005

she couldn't help but smile

The sun is beating down on the village, the rolling hills are a postcard of tranquility and the birds are singing at high volume.

I’ve just come home from a rich picnic at an old chateau, where butterflies danced through the pathways, and pieces of prose and poetry were posted into the ground on small wooden sticks.

Today, I am happy. Today I am thinking about happiness.

I’ve been observing people. What keeps them happy? Why do some of the older people here have more vitality than I do?

I think it’s that they keep busy. They balance work and pleasure in the same way they balance their meals and their intake of wine. They follow old traditions; take long walks and even longer meals. They bring gifts to their neighbors. They work in their gardens. They give themselves purpose, and embrace life rather than criticize it with a fine microscope.

I have been doing odd jobs, cleaning houses, painting walls, and sweeping cobwebs out of an old barn. Along with this I’ve been making elaborate meals-for myself, my mother, and other friends-taking immense pleasure in the preparation, consumption, and cleaning up afterwards.

When my hands are kept busy the blood flows smoothly through my body. My mind is opened and inspired by every job I take on, and no matter how tedious it is, I try to do the best I can, even when my arms are too weak or my skills too limited. An old man I’ve been cleaning for speaks to me in a strong British accent, pauses after every word, and constantly apologizes for himself. One day he asked me if and why I liked cleaning. “I like to see things improve,” slipped out of my mouth. He nodded in approval.

Usually my main purpose in the summer is to get a tan-yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve confirmed I’m vain-but this summer I’d rather make a few Euros, and take the train back to Paris pale faced and proud.

Paris will be a whole new adventure, and I know that it’s necessary. In order to live happily I find that I’ve got to keep myself inspired. Otherwise I will be eaten by my own despair and feel my body grow numb.

I have this one life, and I can’t stop looking at it. It’s sitting patiently in the palm of my hands, waiting for me mold it. There will be times when it molds against my will, but it will be me who produces the finished sculpture.

I know that I want to grow younger over the years, not older. To let my skin crease with wrinkles, but let my mind and spirit grow stronger.

There are times I feel half dead, but as e.e cummings said, on his own most amazing day, ‘i who have died am alive again today’. I want to keep this feeling. If you can picture me in your mind's eye, see that I'm smiling.


Anonymous Morgan said...

Wow Gill. I'm not too sure what to leave as a comment but I just wanted you to know that these are some of the wisest words to come from you yet. I've been thinking a lot about this sort of thing, and this was a confirmation of my thoughts. Thanks.
(P.S. I anxiously await my mysterious package...)

10:36 PM  
Blogger dbry said...

You truly never cease to amaze me. While I could never write as eloquently as you, it refreshes me so much to know there are people such as yourselve with such depth and beauty...

7:36 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

And you never cease to make me feel good about my writing, which I sometimes post reluctantly. It refreshes me to know that people are still so kind.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Wenda said...

Hi Gill, I scrolled back through your blog today looking for the delcious meal you seem to have removed, but came across this lovely and thought-provoking post which I must have missed first time through. It isn't just your writing I admire, but your way of thinking and what you observe of the world. I enjoy reading you.

11:29 AM  

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