The Happy Cartographer 1993
Just two relevant entries for this year, I was quite busy doing teaching practices and writing essays and reading one million books, or thereabouts. I was in the library a lot. Both of these diary notes were written at holiday points.
A sad New Year’s Day. Great-grandfather died suddenly of heart failure. He was nearly 93, never had to suffer, lose his senses or be bedridden, so for him the lack of fuss would have been a great relief. I still miss him. Went to say goodbye at the Chapel of Rest: the body was there but he had gone, it was strange. At the funeral I didn’t want them to take his coffin away, it didn’t seem right, he was ours and we didn’t want him to leave.
Leaving behind Granny’s sheep to go to the abattoir. Feel like I’ve been in a different land all summer. I’ve swum in the Cornish sea, clung to warm granite, felt a kinetic happiness, a physically recollectable restoring of the soul. The very blood in my veins is transmuted into a tincture of sun, sand, salt, gold and light from the sun and moon, deepened by night and berries.’
Attitudes to death always interest me, though I’m not a morbid person. Death is the ultimate reason to appreciate your life, and Great-grandfather was a contented person. He could sit quietly in an armchair for what seemed like months at a time, just being pleased with life. He was a good influence.
While the October entry (written on the train going back to Yorkshire, me and daughter are headed back to college; the sheep are going to the abattoir in a lorry) suggests that I may have had a touch of sunstroke (transmuted into a tincture?!) the attitude is lovely. It is the kinetic happiness that is most interesting, and the fact that I can recall the feeling, and if I think about it now, I can feel like I have been swimming and lying on warm rocks, all blissfully contented. It’s beyond a thought, it is a physical sensation, like I’ve concentrated on the feeling of the happy moment so deeply it has become part of me. Appreciating the moment and paying attention to things outside of me have let the happiness in. There is no mention of the fact that all of this summer I lived on £1 a day. I was too busy being pleased with life.
This doesn't mean I never whinged or felt bad through the whole year, I had better add, before my friends start laughing and phoning me up to remind me I was (and am) capable of being grumpy, irrational (they can probably write a scary list) etc, but the process of being happy interested me most of all.