At my desk ~delving into past and present

At my desk, this spring day, I read these words

 

My Mother’s Other Life

Before we go out
to dinner or a movie,
after a long day…..

my mother would stop
in the middle of our rushing…
…and say,
calmly, just a second,

sitting down on a black-cushioned,
straight-backed chair placed
beside the door solely

for that purpose: to rest
briefly, to deeply breathe in
and out until her heart

slowed down and her face
calmed……

Philip Terman

And I listen to them, too. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/76392/my-mothers-other-life

Am I hearing my mother’s other life or my own other life?

Last night I finished reading Connon Girls ~ A Study of 20th Century New Zealand women at university, by Marie Peters.

Once that was my other life. I was a Connon Girl.  Some fragments of my story are written within the text.

Connon Girls by Marie Peters. Flower photo by David Dobbs

Back cover of Connon Girls

Do I miss my other life? Not really. It’s a good place to sit , for a while, but from my desk, this spring day, my life is present here ~ mostly.

Nectarine in full bloom, Sept 6th, 2017

For I am a mother, and for a mother there is always an other life.  My daughter sings it.

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133 thoughts on “At my desk ~delving into past and present

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I do miss the past but I am content to be in the present. Although some days go by so quickly I wonder if they were an illusion, or if they really happened!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And thank you for taking the time to share in my world. Just out of curiosity, do you have a quiet space where you read and write blogs? I have a space but it’s not always quiet!

      Reply
      1. Art and Soul Space

        Mmm. Good question. Yes – mostly. My funny little studio/spare room, which is generally quiet. As I say that, a noisy plane passes overhead! Well, it’s relatively quiet for the inner west of a large city.
        Also, I live with one other person only. That person is very respectful of people’s space. What is the not-quiet element of your space, I wonder?

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That sounds fairly quiet (aircraft noise excepted). My main computer is in the open plan kitchen area. So most of the noise comes from extractor fan, dishwasher, oven, people etc; in the evening, the noise is just me on the computer, the ticking clock, and the fridge hum. It’s quite amazing how noisy a modern kitchen is!

        2. Art and Soul Space

          I always admire people who are able to focus in an expansive daydreamy creative way in the midst of busyness, noise or distracting people activity. Not my forte. x
          I wonder if there’s a little ditty or artwork about your humming, whirring kitchen.

  1. navasolanature

    You have captured a serenity in your present moment. Now I can sit still more and just enjoy a breeze or a bird but the hectic life of being a working mother is still in my consciousness and more so as one of my daughters is just about to give birth and will need to go back to work too. I love your words about being a mother and always enlivened by our daughters lives and songs.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My working career was next to nil after marriage, so I was, and still am, in awe of mothers who work outside the home. I hope your daughter has good maternity leave conditions. Will this be a first grandchild for you?

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Awww…..it’s nice to be missed. When I disappear for awhile I wonder if anyone will be waiting for me when I get back. 🙂 Sadly, one blog friend is no longer waiting. Did you follow Jeni, the Hopeful Herbalist? She died in June. 😦 I am glad you enjoyed my daughter’s voice.

      Reply
      1. Born To Organize

        It’s heart-wrenching when someone in this community passes. I’m sorry for your loss. It is nice to a post from you, and wonderful too that you stay connected to us, even when you aren’t posting yourself.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yep, but it’s good when partners, spouses, and/or children, keep the blogs open, so we can have a nostalgic visit, from time to time, to our departed friends.

  2. Letizia

    Your daughter has such a lovely voice.
    It’s so important to take moments in the day to stop and breathe and to pause. Take notice of ourselves and what is around us. What are we rushing towards, really?
    Enjoy the early days of Spring. Here it is starting to get cooler as Autumn approaches. The trees have one or two leaves that are turning. I am seeing fewer bees and butterflies.
    Be well, my friend.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And the same greeting of wellness to you, Letizia. I hope you are getting all the rest you need. I have enjoyed reading your recent posts, and sharing them with my daughter. Enjoy the early days of autumn.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Lavinia, I am happy you like my daughter’s voice. Appreciation from another singer is a great compliment. The song is a cover of a popular Korean pop song. My daughter arranged the lyrics from an English translation of the original lyrics. She is experimenting with different singing style. She is a classically trained singer.

      Reply
  3. Steve Schwartzman

    You’re fortunate for someone of our age to have a mother still living.

    The poem’s mention of breathing in and out deeply takes on a different resonance for me when I hike uphill here in the Canadian Rockies.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Not only a mother but a father too. That’s fortunate and a source of amazement to all the family. My parents didn’t really expect to live much past 70. When you are breathing deeply in the Canadian Rockies spare a breath to tell them I intend to visit one day. Are the Rockies as wonderful as I am led to believe?

      Reply
      1. Steve Schwartzman

        Yes. As you know, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado on our trip three months ago. It was good, but the Canadian Rockies are better. Eve and I have been enchanted with all the mountains, lakes, and glaciers here. We do hope you’ll get a chance to see them too.

        Reply
        1. Born To Organize

          I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Colorado Rockies this summer and the Canadian Rockies two years ago. Both are breathtaking, but the Canadian Rockies are in a field all their own. Stunning!

  4. shoreacres

    Your post has left me unaccountably sad — tearful, even. Why that is, I’m not sure. You certainly have stirred into consciousness certain of my own other lives — stories that never will be written in these pages — but more likely, it’s only that most of us in my part of the world are a little raw since the storm: a little too aware of how quickly everything can change, and newly sensitive to all the ways that loss can come.

    But you have spring, and we have hints of autumn. You have your daughter’s glorious singing, and we have the birds on their accustomed branches, singing as though a second spring has come. That’s a good enough life for the present, especially with the poet’s reminder that we’d do well to “rest briefly, to deeply breathe in and out” until our hearts slow.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Supposedly, one is not supposed to say I understand how you feel,or how so many are feeling in Houston right now. But I believe I do understand a great deal: that incredible loss; that life; that building; that home; all different. As we said here after the earthquakes, there is a new normal. And although there is a frantic desire to rush about trying to put things to rights, sometimes it pays to just rest, and restore our hearts first. I think your photos and observations belonged to that calming space. And I was so taken with My Mother’s Other Life that I have put a chair back in the hallway. A contemplation chair. I had one there for several years and then decided to move it. That was a wrong move. 😀

      Reply
  5. Clare Pooley

    How lovely to be able to hear your daughter’s voice! This is real progress I think.
    I had another life before I had my daughters but it seems so long ago and far away. I am the same person I was then but I have so many different layers now and have experienced so much. I love your beautiful nectarine tree!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Clare, this small progress is so precious and so fragile, like the blossom on the nectarine tree. Fingers crossed it will bear fruit. 🙂 The layers make us who we are, but sometimes they weigh heavy like a too hot sweater on a summer’s day. It would be nice to be able to rip them off, sometimes. 😉

      Reply
  6. lensandpensbysally

    Lovely to have your thoughts return to print. You’ve created a tribute to the individual and to motherhood. We are the sum total of all the parts and those parts evolve with a vengeance. The sun shines and dissolves into another day, and we add another layer. Even though the past has brought us here, we live in the present.

    Reply
  7. restlessjo

    Hooray! You did! 🙂 🙂 It must have been strange reading about ‘your’ life, but what a lovely trip down Memory Lane. I’m so glad things are finally calm enough for you to post again. Hugs, darlin!

    Reply
      1. April

        Love Grover Washington! I do have songs that take me to places in my life that were good times. The moments I felt strong and invincible–which now I see was actually mania. Good songs nonetheless.

        Reply
  8. KerryCan

    You’re back with a flourish–a poignant, lovely flourish. You make me think about my “other life,” or lives . . . Regrets, I have a few but, then again, too few to mention . . .

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, there are bound to be regrets, a few, just a few. 🙂 All in all, I am sure, when we add up l the different sides of our lives, we come up with a wondrous whole. Oops, I nearly wrote ‘hole’ instead of ‘whole”.. There will be some of those holes as well. 😀

      Reply
  9. Leya

    Welcome back, dearest friend! A beautiful post that went straight to my heart. And that voice…♥ There is much love and warmth in your post, but also sadness in the middle of your lovely spring picture. Enjoy your spring all the way.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Liz. And I must say, seeing the beautiful view at your holiday spot filled my heart with a sighing for a missing part of me. I am sure our genetic make up doesn’t forget the landscapes which formed it in the way back time.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I hope my blogging energy is here to stay. 🙂 Lovely to have your comment, Nath. I miss our conversations on your blog but I know it was necessary to change and develop your blog. I loved your swimsuit post; the swimsuits look so comfortable and stylish.

      Reply
      1. Nath @ BEAUTYCALYPSE

        We can always have a chat here, eh? 😊 That’s so nice of you to say, thank you. I’m super happy that you keep reading, even though all you can do as a reader is like the posts in the WP reader. 🙈But I so needed a break from all those senseless plugs and folks promoting the hell out of their stuff using my comment section and getting angry if their comments got blocked. I’m enjoying the quiet, but still missing the interaction. Hope you have a wonderful Spring!

        Reply
        1. Nath @ BEAUTYCALYPSE

          And somewhere in Berlin someone is glad Summer is over.
          The bugs have bugged me to the degree of us getting a full-blown mosquito tent for our bedroom! 😀

        2. Nath @ BEAUTYCALYPSE

          No; your comment just didn’t APPEAR in my “New comments” section 🤷🏻‍♀️
          No mail either, though 😱

        3. Nath @ BEAUTYCALYPSE

          WordPress are tinkering, I suppose. Comments appear with a huge delay, and posts don’t show up. Very weird indeed.

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          🙂 I don’t want to keep you here all day but I noticed you had commented on Sally’s lensandpens. I don’t really recall John Berger but I found some of the words in the New Yorker obituary very pertinent to some of the unwritten ideas in my post eg ” In the print companion to the series, Berger stresses that visual art is a way of reckoning with entropy and loss. “Images were first made to conjure up the appearances of something that was absent,” he writes. When we are separated from the people and things that we love—whether by oceans or by years—works of art testify to both their enduring gravity and their distance from us. Those works also generate new kinds of proximity.”

        2. Tish Farrell

          Episode 4 is my favourite – total eye-opener. He wrote novels too. You’ve reminded me that I meant to seek one out. I got side-tracked by Georges Simenon and his West African ‘Tropic Moon’ novella, which then led me to another…

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          I haven’t read any Simenon since I was obliged to in French class. But he came to my attention again recently with the screening of the Maigret series starring Rowan Atkinson. Tropic Moon sounds very noir. Glad to know about Episode 4

        4. Tish Farrell

          Yes that new Maigret series is on our ‘to watch’ list, though loved the Michael Gambon series, which was also on YouTube. I’d put Tropic Moon alongside Heart of Darkness for insight and historical importance re white men mucking around in Africa. Also some wonderfully spare writing. The tropical heat is almost overwhelming.

        5. Gallivanta Post author

          Not sure I have seen the Michael Gambon series so that can go on my ‘to watch’ list. And when I am feeling in a strong state of heart, I may tackle Tropic Moon. Or feeling in need of some tropical heat. 😀

  10. thecontentedcrafter

    Your daughter’s song makes me feel sad. Her voice is beautiful – her emotions are raw. Her refrain of ‘I miss you’ is unceasing. Our daughters are always so closely entwined with us, no matter how old they are or how separated we are by distance and life style. I do not know if that is ‘other’ it is certainly ‘part of who we are’.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s 6 years since my daughter left home. 7 years since the Sept earthquake which rattled our world. We bear the pain still, though, for me, it is no longer raw, unless I dwell on it too long. And, Pauline, perhaps you are right about ‘other’……. our lives are more integrated, or ‘entwined’ as you say.

      Reply
      1. thecontentedcrafter

        It’s so hard to believe that 7 years has passed and yet for so many still unresolved! The world has changed has it not? After I left my comment last night I began to think of our lives as rivers – always moving, always changing, sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful – the molecules of water never at rest, but always the same river…………

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          So much unresolved indeed. I heard that the Anglican Church will be making a decision on the Cathedral this weekend; let’s hope it is something definitive. Our lives as rivers……a lovely concept especially if I think of our incredible braided rivers in the South Island. In NZ’s case we might have to add pollution to the list but that fits with life too. We have toxic parts too.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Su Leslie. I am glad you enjoyed my daughter’s singing. During my young years, from about 12 to 20, I lived away from home for my education. I was homesick at times. I saw my family about twice a year. How hard it must have been for my mother. Mothers and daughters adjust to these situations but no adjustments ever truly compensate for the loss of touch which occurs during long periods of absence.

      Reply
      1. Su Leslie

        My mother in law and her younger sister went to boarding school in Dunedin (from the family farm near Gore), at probably around the same age. M-in-L then stayed on to study at Otago. Both women missed their mother badly, and it must have been terrible for her too. They were her youngest children and she was a widow. My mother and I have lived in different countries for most of my adult life and I miss her every day.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Ditto for my mother and I, and my mother and her mother; the hardest part is when the mother gets older or ill, and the daughter can’t be close by. My mother has mild dementia, and sometimes I am sure she doesn’t really know who I am when I phone. Skype conversations are much easier.

        2. Su Leslie

          My mother is nearly 81 and in reasonbly good health, but every day that passes increases my anxiety. My brother and his family live close to her, but it’s not the same.

  11. cindy knoke

    Uncommonly interesting women with fascinating lives and stories, like you.
    Do you see your life as past, present and future?
    I don’t.
    The older I get I see my life phases as all muddled up, none separate from the other, an ongoing somewhat messy narrative….. hopefully with a bit better plot than opera! (smile)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Such an interesting question, Cindy. I don’t think about the future too often, but I think all the phases do appear to me as a continuum. As you say, a very messy one, most of the time. As for opera, those plots, in their general madness, are closer to life than I want to believe! Big Smile.

      Reply

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