Awake again in the small hours, on a whim I reached into the cupboard of my bedside cabinet and found my journal from 2005. I have been in the habit for a number of years of keeping a fairly perfunctory daily record, but on the Christmas before this particular year I had been given a hefty slab of a thing called The Sacred Journey - subtitle: Daily Journal For Your Soul. It was given as a thank you gift by a student and I appreciated the gesture. But the journal begins and ends with the assumption that lists of gratitudes and affirmations are the order of the day. I entered into the spirit of the thing somewhat half-heartedly - I don't really need reminding of what I'm grateful for and what with one thing and another, the fact that I have kept on keeping on is enough of an affirmation of some kind of faith in life's essential goodness. On re-reading, what stares back at me is the sheer determination of the person who wrote the journal entries. I was teaching classes then and was involved in a number of projects that asked for focus, engagement and creative input, intensely grieving my dad who had died the year before, running the home and fretting about the daughter who had not long left it. I was, by anyone's standards, desperately ill and pretending not to be. There was sabre-rattling fall-out from the dysfunctional wing of extended family. In place of affirmations I began to jot down supper menus for the week to come (dear old spag bol and sausages with coleslaw and baked pots, I kind of miss you). Under monthly/weekly resolutions I put things like "write three poems" and recorded the titles of poems that got writ. I had teeth pulled. I got flu just in time to scupper plans for a writing retreat on a Scottish island. Just ordinary stuff but I don't know - truly I don't - how I managed it. Life now seems stupidly serene in comparison. But some things don't change. Under Gratitudes at the beginning of that year I mentioned Mr. Signs - his constancy, tenderness and brown eyes; my children - for everything they are, have been, will be; true friends; my beloved father.
I would put those same things again now. And life is easier - though I have had to give up things I would rather not, I am grateful. But I would like to sleep through the night on a regular basis. Thanking you, Universe, in anticipation, and lying awake counting one's enemies is often much more effective than counting sheep or blessings. Just saying.