Spirituality, memory and the question: ‘what is it all for?’

Am currently in Wales, driving around and seeing interesting things in the sunshine.  Mountains, fabulous views, startlingly quiet landscapes…

I keep being brought up short by this BBC Poetry season.  People keep reading poems and I think ‘wow’, and then I try reading them for myself and it sort of doesn’t work.  It has all of the impact of me having a crack at Winterstürme on the strength of hearing Placidò Domingo.

The link between them is a sort of spirituality.  People writing things, expressing things, being connected to the world around them, stopping for long enough actually to notice…   I’m not very good at it.  I want to be, but somehow can’t quite manage it.  I glanced at the programmes for the Royal Opera on the shelf (which form a proud collection, unlike others, which are collected and then lost):  could I remember most of the performances?  Some, yes.  Many, no.  Could I conjur up my first visit in my mind’s eye:  Gwyneth Jones in La Fanciulla del West circa 1995, which, as any opera-goer will know, would have been memorable for one reason or another.  A very vague sense of the production, seen from afar in the mid-amphitheatre remains, but little else.  The rather dank stairs down from the gods to the street (it was a separate entrance in those days – oo, hark at me: “in those days”!)

There are people of my acquaintance that can remember details of our Oxford days that are completely a blank to me.  Many aspects of past experience I seemingly can’t recall (which gets uncomfortable when bumping into ex-‘shags’ in supermarkets).  I’m not hopeless with recall, just that the sense – the essence – of some past experiences remain elusive.  Á la recherce de temps perdu, indeed… And no, I haven’t yet broken the spines of the volumes two-to-five…

Maybe some of this sense is behind the creation of this blog.  I know a few people have ‘dropped by’, but actually, is it here more for me than you?  (Sorry, but I do hope you find something interesting as you drop by!)  That sense of ‘staking stock’ of a couple of days and recording a significant moment here and there is important.  Which is telling, given that I have pitched it at opera and work, mostly.  No mention of friends, my partner, family, etc. that make for those really ‘rich’ experiences about which I am lamenting lack of recall.

Or maybe, just maybe, I should spend less time lamenting and more time noticing what’s going on around me.  Well, for the record, I’m sitting on my bed in a rather blowsy motel in north Wales, tapping away whilst my partner snores his head off in the adjacent bed (bless ‘im).  Richness?  Well, I am feeling quite content…

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