Epiphanies tend to come to me when I’m in the shower and haven’t got a pen. Which is what happened on Valentine’s Day, but what with it being #WorldBookDay today, and the imminent release of Glasshouse, it’s hit me again.
It struck me as funny that I should write about everything being in the mind, and then give my husband a CD as a Valentine’s gift. I chose to buy him a CD because I could wrap it up, and he would have something to open on Valentine’s Day. My mum always used to say that it was nice for people to ‘have something to open’ on Christmas Day (or whatever), even if it was just a chocolate snowman. I have an old car. It has a CD player – I don’t think USB ports had been invented when it was made – so I play CDs in it. My husband, however, has a new car. New cars do not have CD players. He downloads his music. I could have got the album through iTunes (or whatever). In fact, it would have made much more sense to do that, but I didn’t because then he wouldn’t have had anything to open. Which is ironic, as I continually write that everything is all in the mind.
A CD is a physical thing that comes in a case. Being grateful for small mercies, the case is usually cardboard these days, but it nevertheless comes wrapped in plastic. I got some shiny paper and lovingly wrapped it up, using – in good old Blue Peter fashion – lots of sticky-back-plastic. Then I put the present, with a card in a nice gift bag. I did this kind of on autopilot, while knowing that everything but the CD would be thrown away or lost, and that one day the CD would be scratched to hell, and we’d have to throw that away and get a new one.
I hold on to stuff so I won’t forget the feelings I had when the stuff was new. Yet when I came across a handful of champagne corks I’d stashed away, I couldn’t remember what they were supposed to remind me of so I threw them away to make more room for my notebooks.
And later in our lives, will we even remember how to use a CD, let alone the Valentine’s Day it was supposed to remind us of? Meanwhile, all the shiny wrapping paper from all the gifts is rotting in landfill, or has been incinerated, slowly killing the planet on which we live.
My front room ceiling is falling in – yes, literally – in part due to the weight of all my books, yet I love to have a physical book that I can hold and smell, and write notes in. Although the Kindle version of Glasshouse is available to pre-order, loads of people have told me that they are waiting for the paperback. Both versions have their place. Although not upstairs in my house, it seems.
We know we can’t take Things with us when we die (or whatever). I’m an atheist, but my mum ‘lives on’ – if you will – in the hearts and thoughts of me, and her family and friends.
Something has shifted in me. It makes sense environmentally and philosophically for us to enjoy the moment while it lasts, and to not try to capture everything on our phones when it takes our attention away from the potential beautiful moment we wanted to record; to give my husband a digital version of the album, which he can then access from his car, phone, computer – anywhere. In any case, we need to make space for all the dinosaurs and trains our three-year-old is collecting. I’ve posted this on my website so I can share it now, rather than keep it in a notebook which I’ll keep hidden in my secret drawer until it rots, or I rot, (or whatever), or on a memory stick which could fall out of my back pocket and be lost forever in Tesco’s carpark (or wherever).
Everything is all in the mind, so I’m going to try to remember that (see what I did there..?), and if any of my life endures in any way, it’ll be through other minds – be that physical or digital. In any case, it’s all subjective.
However you’ve been reading today, I hope you’ve had a great time and totally lost yourself in it.