Let’s not even start on those predictable but useless paths which lead to nowhere. If only I hadn’t smoke at fifteen, if only there hadn’t been that betrayal, if only I hadn’t spent so much time putting up with the insupportable—whyever did I think endurance was a virtue? Didn’t I want to stay alive? If only I hadn’t sipped wine, or drunk water from plastic bottles. If only I hadn’t gone jogging the day Chernobyl exploded. Oh, give it a rest! We live in the world as it is, we all have to breathe its contagious fogs. It’s wrong of them to claim it must somehow be our fault when our health is under attack.
We’re advised to build up an arsenal of elixirs if we want to strengthen our own resistance. We’re told we ought to call in light boxes, amulets, Echinacea drops and oily fish, we should fix on organic free-range grass-fed meat, Japanese green tea and a daily dose of turmeric. And if we’re really serious about protecting ourselves we must avoid dry-cleaners, getting fat, aluminium, insecticides; shun transfat as the devil’s food; forswear polystyrene cups. We’ve got to fight shy of white bread, a sedentary life-style, perfume and anger, if we truly want to save ourselves. And even if we tick off every item on the list there’s absolutely no guarantee that it’ll lengthen our span by a single day.
In my spell we are dreaming our way forward through the year into the green and white of May, and on into the deep green lily-ponds of June. The lushness of June, its new heat and subdued glitter of excitement at duck, its scent and beauty, particularly my Souvenir du Dr. Jamain and the thorny pink Eglantine beside the vegetable patch.
Everyone has their own private walled garden at night where they can prune their troubles and dream change into some sort of shape. That’s what I’m trying to say, a dream can be a transformer, as well as providing a margin or grassy bank where you can rest while the outside world goes on. Active dreaming, which is what I would prescribe, can be a powerful form of enchantment.
You’re not out of the woods yet, that’s clear; but a little while from now I want you to walk out of the woods and into the June garden. Leave the black bats hanging upside down; they’ll stay asleep. While we wait for summer, let’s choose to be patient and hopeful and soon, not really long from now at all, I aim to smile at you and say, Come in the garden, friend of my heart.
Charm for A Friend With A Lump – Helen Simpson