Sunday, 18 January 2009
New Times, New Signs and Pacific Poetry Time
We seem to have had a lot of dying and a lot of living going on this past week, notwithstanding the situation in Gaza. The painter Andrew Wyeth, Patrick MacGoohan, John Mortimer, Mick Imlach, Tony Hart and then we have 155 passengers on that plane crash on the Hudson River in New York living against what must be , if calculated, enormous odds. How do you live your life after walking away from something that should have killed you and probably others on the ground? As everyone lived you don’t even have to contend with survivors’ guilt just with the sheer gift of being given your life. A quirk of fate, an act of pure chance, divine intervention, a lucky outcome of the pilot's skill and experience and the weather conditions etc has resulted in a Death 0 Life 155 score line in this particular situation. Here is your life, to do with as you wish. Others die; too young, too terribly, too unnecessarily, too violently or because it is the end of their time but then something happens that decrees that you have more time.
I wonder if sometimes we could just wake up once or twice in a week and have some sense of what those passengers may feel now, elation that we are still here, that we have more time gifted to us. I understand how depression totally robs you of the capacity to feel that but I also know that I don’t celebrate the fact that I have another day to live enough…even if the weather is foul, I’m cold, pissed off about something at work, worrying about the electricity bill, the odd noise the car is making, are the rewrites ok, did I send them off too prematurely to the agent, all those myriad of things that clog up my brain would it all be just a little better, a little more manageable, a little more proportionate, if for a split second I engaged more with that sense of awe at unexpectedly being given another day.
I am beginning to sound like ’Thought for the Day’ or Patience Strong here. An American friend who lives in New York tells me that there is almost no news apart from this crash. It is the immense feel-good factor Americans yearn for at present. Coupled with a new presidency it is the totem of ‘we can do this’, we can pull ourselves out of the economic mire, we can make America a country that other nations round the world don’t revile or at best remain deeply suspicious of. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pilot, Captain Sullenberger, is not up on that platform at the inauguration smiling behind Obama. New times need new signs, a skinny black man from Chicago, a fifty something pilot from California and a flock of geese in perfect formation created them.
PS. You will note that I have discovered why I had such a rap across the knuckles from an employee of the Poetry Society (see Pinda’s comments on previous post) for blogging about Jen Hadfield winning the T S Eliot Award last week apparently before the winner was actually announced. It was to do with the clock on the blog which from the outset I have never taken much notice of. It seems I was set to Pacific Time so that the time of the blog appeared to be eight hours behind GM time. I have now corrected this and am safely ensconced in my own time zone and so can no longer appear to be psychic or have pre-cognition of anything officially poetical. I can’t say that I felt any different blogging in Pacific Time not even the scent of the odd orchid lei drifting across the keyboard. It of course may have lead you, dear reader, to think that I led a strange life posting at the oddest of hours, now you will discover I sadly live life by an ordinary pedestrian clock set to the rhythms of an ordinary pedestrian life.