In matters of human nature it is a truth universally acknowledged that things will always get worse before they get better: a theory me thinks we can apply to everything from re-arranging the living room to family disharmony.
It seems to we have reach crisis point before we can start to see that one way or another from the worst mess or biggest crisis we will be able to create order and joy all over again. But heavens: just because we KNOW something to be true, doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when we are right in the thick of things.
This weekend we have been gifted both a new mattress and a scrumptiously fabulous (but absolutely huge!) gas barbecue. I also got it into my head that if we are to have people round on Saturday evening for dinner we need to clean every carpet in the house, re-arrange the living room furniture and basically turn the house upside down just in case said visitors turn out to be nosey parkers and decide to inspect the inside of our bathroom cabinet. All that and the sun is shining and life has to go on and writing has to progress and lovely friends visited and children carted to and from school and brows mopped and family disharmony tolerated if one is not to blame for it.
So today I sit on an armchair that used to be on the other side of the room, drinking iced mint tea and trying to pretend that all around me is in order, when there is a mattress on the landing, a Rug Doctor in the dining room, a garden that is pretty but upside down in our efforts to make way for giant barbecue, books stacked haphazardly left, right and centre, laundry half done, a cupboard spilled on to the floor in a search of a set of table mats I apparently no longer own and almost everything that used to be under the bed now in wibbly-wobbly piles around the room after swapping the mattress and causing chaos. Not to mention the fact that the carpet is still wet and thus walking in and out of the kitchen on and off slippy carpet is a hazard and Finley has been under strict instruction not to walk on the carpet with grubby garden feet and so has taken to hopping from one sofa to the other as if he was a bird!
Oh my. I can’t see how life will ever get back to normal. The house looks hideous. I feel demented. I’m making people cross.
But of course it will. For this is the way of the universe. The storm before the calm. And when we are stood right in the center of the tornado it serves us well to still our mind, prevent hysteria of the taking to ours beds with a glass of medicinal whiskey kind, and with one eye on the goal (impressing visitors/resolving upset/creating peace of mind), take the first step on the road to joy again.
Thought is required. And baby steps, one after another. Should we suffer from bull at a gate syndrome we have to temper our urge to rush in and try to fix things half-heartedly for a hasty resolution and instead attempt to make progress systematically, without panic or hysteria: doing what we can and remembering to look after ourselves in the process.
It is tempting, you see, to shove things in cupboards simply so that they are out of sight. To pretend we don’t feel things that we do. To put sticking plasters over huge hurts and try to hang curtain rails up with glue and it never, ever works. Nobody said it was easy (but darn it: no one ever said it would be quite so hard), however chaos was never calmed with an aspirin. Chaos in our heads and our living room floor is calmed with mindfulness and hope and work and lavender oil. Always lavender oil…
Work: that’s the key. Accepting that things are the way they are right now and working towards changing them for the better. Getting busy with a vacuum cleaner. Putting things away. Creating space where there was none. Saying you are sorry. Talking into the early hours. Talking at all. Wanting order and harmony enough to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
Nothing is forever you see. Not with commitment to making things better. Not with the belief that now is not always and not, oh definitely not, with the belief that we can fix anything worth fixing, if we adore our home and love our families to bits.
I do believe we can fix anything.
And if not then we simply have to pour a lot of good wine down the necks of our lovely visitors and hope they don’t notice that their feet are wet. Talk at those who will not talk to us. Keep cleaning till we drop and accept the things we cannot change.
(All photographs from this week on my Instagram feed.)