Wednesday, September 05, 2007


So, what have I learned from five days in Hawai`i?

Not to read stray thrillers left behind. Nauseating tone, deprecating violence yet inventing it for entertainment! Or because it’s in the author and has to get out.

I love being in the sea, and snorkeling is another world.

Sun might be bad for the skin, but it feels good. Really good.

Food is boring but compulsive.

I have been moving in ever decreasing circles. Living in fear.

I am chastened and embarrassed that this could be so, and I think ageing has a lot to do with it, in which case I hope to heaven that there is a way through it, and not just to la-la land. I don’t think I can ever reclaim the feeling of invincibility which was my birthright. I can pinpoint the unwelcome epiphany, seven years ago. Norma, Mike, Jean and Ned came to stay with me in Midhurst. The chimneys – tall, mock-Tudor affairs - were being repointed and we climbed the scaffold to admire the view. Heatherwood is the tallest point in Midhurst and we were fifty feet off the ground, and suddenly my knees felt strange, stomach lurched, head swam, and I thought, so this is fear. I looked over the parapet last night while we were barbequeing, Diamond Head in the background, and there it was again, simple visceral fear. And as we walked down to Hanauma Bay to snorkel on Sunday I was peeing myself until I got in the water, then it was magical, as I knew it would be. The fear is somehow external, but it is there now. I could make a list as long as your arm of all the things that make my heart clutch and worse, create an atmosphere of free-floating anxiety which inhibits and confuses me. I have lost my elastic, I used to be able to handle anything.

If I push through and tough it out I have panic attacks, so I have to understand it and dismantle it from the inside, because it is getter more pervasive. I have been hyperventilating about the new bathroom, for heaven’s sake! Maybe Borders has a book on irrational fear in the elderly.

Practical things: avoid sensationalism, lurid news, thrillers, violence, especially American entertainment-violence. I’ll even go out of my way to avoid bad manners, they upset me too. I can try to avoid acting from fear but that is a mare’s nest because I have a glimmering that cracking hardy got me into this. On the other hand, being honest about my feelings with my nearest and dearest has not been an unmitigated success. Maybe we all live in fear,anxiety and disempowerment, and trigger each other off? Once we lose the illusion of control. Shoot me now.


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