Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fighting the Hermit Gene

The end of the year approaches and then there’s the New Year and resolutions, clean slates, starting again, something new.

I begin to think about what I can resolve to do and about what I have resolved to do in previous years and never did.

It’s all got to start in the heart – and that is where my problems lie. I try to change an outside thing and hope that the heart catches on. If it begins in the right place, in the heart, it will work its way out.

I’m not entirely sure I want to go poking about with my insides – my thoughts, my feelings and emotions. It frightens me. The worms are best left undisturbed in the tin.


I am discovering I’m not indestructible. Winter, life-wise, is coming. Daylight hours, life-wise are, are short. I want to live well while I am still living and not merely survive or exist. How does a person live well? What does it even mean?

The fridge magnet has the answer. “Live like someone left the gate open.”

I spend too much time fretting about what might come through the open gate – something that spoils life’s flower bed or stomps over life’s manicured lawn.

The gate left open is for walking through. It’s about having adventures and taking risks rather than playing sate.

Of course, it all takes courage and as I look into my heart I wonder if I have enough.

Thursday’s writing class was about renewal, or recovery or rebirth. There was just the four of us. Four of us sat around the table, pens busy.

Last year, or the year before that, or maybe many years ago, a friend and I didn’t so much as make a resolution, nothing official, nothing that required a hand on the Bible and a solemn declaration – just musing really. We thought it would be a good idea to do something new, something we had never done before, an adventure into the unknown, if you will. It wasn’t a communal thing we planned to do together, just something on our own.

I am very proud to say that I did three things. Three things doesn’t sound a lot but for a person who has built her life-house in a rut, that’s a lot.  Maybe I wouldn’t have done the three things if I hadn’t retired. I fight a hermit gene. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose.

Knitting – I joined a knitting group called Knitter-Natters. My husband assures me that there is another group called “Stitching and Bitching”. I used to knit a lot. Most of what I wore, once upon a time was home made. I knitted and I sewed. In some ways it’s not a new thing.

I’m loving being part of the group though I don’t natter much. It takes me a while to settle in with new people. I have knitted a variety of scarves over the last few months and I have been to more wool-fests that my bank account can deal with. I bought a sock kit. I have never knitted socks before or used a set of double pointed needles. 

“Can I make a suggestion…?” said one of the ladies and the needles were tamed.

Art – There have been times when I have looked at a landscape and wished I could paint it. Yes, I paint with words and what I produce sometimes is stunning.

A friend contacted me to invite me to an art class he was planning to run. We had met through poetry events that stumbled through graveyards and forests.

Art was beaten out of me at school. It was in the days of still life. I shifted over to a more craft based class and spent a year making a fibre-glass tray. It turned out that I was allergic to fibre-glass. Hands swelling and turning red and itchy did not do me any favours. So, yes, art and I had a dodgy past.

We fell in love – art and I.  I discovered colour and texture and marvelled at the world as if I had just opened my eyes. Forget about still life – although a mug and lemon turned out fine.  I loved it. The bank account coughed up for paint and paper and a host of art related stuff. Between knitting and painting the housework never got done.

Walking – What’s new about this is who I’m walking with. The Scottish Waterways Trust has recently started up their winter walks. They are not long journeys, an hour and a half, with a tea break in the middle.

I don’t often walk in company. I have a fitbit which kicks me out of the house to notch up steps, so I do walk often. Sometimes in the New Year we plan to get a dog and dogs need walks.

The lads and lasses at the Waterways Trust plan out the routes. Getting people outside and into nature is a good thing. We are, as a species, becoming less and less at home in nature, and, sadly, more and more suspicious of it. All the remedies for all the ills we experience come in small bottles filled with pills. Nature has the better cure.

The walkers are all shapes and sizes. There’s no rewards for first up the hill. Things are out there to touched and handled, to be picked up and smelled.  Last time there was a tree trunk, fallen over, that just had to be walked along while someone held out a hand to keep you balanced. Kid’s stuff? Playing? Yes, it is. As adults we have become far too sensible and some of us have taken a road with too few risks. It is good to rediscover the adventurer is us all.

My three things. I have made new friends through doing them. I have also connected with myself in a way I didn’t expect.

The hermit gene has taken, perhaps, a fatal blow.

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