“Perfect!” I smile my biggest smile. And why not. The low sun has just started to peak over the houses uphill, clearing the faint frost from the slate roofs and the birds are as delighted as these men who take away our rubbish in the pouring rain, pounding wind and freezing snow.
I stand watching the young men skip back and forth from the lorry with bins of various sizes. They move with such ease, almost grace, you could choreograph a ballet based on their performance - bend, lift lug and toss, jump back to drop off the empty bin, leap to the next door and another pile o’ rubbish. What poetry surrounding us, yet most mornings I see little of it. My eyes do, but the body and mind are bugged by the various consequences of my condition, so each day provides a meditation on rising above the murk to sense existence.
A slight welling within as I recall days when I too could spring about with such ease. Wobbly as I am, I am at least still here to wobble. At this age, friends, icons, people up the way, are fading and dying yet I am still able to enjoy the morning, how good is that!
I clock a man I notice at various times each day, he is dragging his feet up the incline and I nod. As usual, he ignores me and his shoes scuff the pavement. Sadness exudes from his slumped shoulders, his forwards tipped head, from the slouching movement of his body. You sense he’s not going to give you much, has given up but must pull his being through the day each day until he can no longer continue. What, I wonder, made him like this?
A van toots. It’s one of the builders we hired to help with some task or other. I shout a choppy greeting and get a cheerful reply. These minute contacts, fleeting as they are, are my social existence these days.
This is the hour of the van, they speed this way and that as they dash off to plumb in this, wire up something, cement that, build up or knock apart yet another place. It’s a young man’s job and some of these guys who helped us are in their fifties. Mind, at that age I was capable, even at sixty I was alive, at seventy we moved back from France, but we’ve recently had to decline a holiday with friends in their second home which is not far from where we once lived. Insurance at first declined me, though now four months later they’ll accept me but at far more for one week than my monthly pension.
Our builders calls me ‘Spike’ because I can still rally, be it for the briefest of moments, to help them. That I then must rest is normal, to grumble, even inside, is to loose the plot. This is what is, this is life as it pans out for me, each day is precious, to forget that and to wallow in self pity is to miss out.
Further down the street, where the shops begin, the recycling men are still skipping back and forth, tossing the bottles, plastics and paper which our consumptive lifestyles mean we must discard each week. What systems support our every day lives! We are not islands, we could not survive without each other. To face the monumental challenge of Climate Change, we must work together to reduce what we use, what we throw out and we should try to live as slightly as possible. Flying, fun as it may be, through life as we have been doing, is no longer a sane option.
I watch the young men, admire their stamina and effortless fluidity. Beauty and grace. are to be found in the midst of rubbish, this dance of the garbage is testament to this, a reminder that life is not always easy or pretty, but that there is beauty to be found in the most mundane of tasks. It is a reminder to appreciate the small things, the moments of grace that are all around us. Doing so enlivens our brains, awakens our minds, what better meditation than appreciation?
Rising above my own frosty mire, with a renewed sense of gratitude, for these simple things open my ‘heart’, I remove our bins from the street and go inside for a welcome cup of tea.