The need for stabilizers

December 5, 2006

Our family’s journey through life hit a turbulent patch recently—about which it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to give details on the Internet—and as we’ve searched for a calmer flight level I have been neglecting to write this Blog. It’s the same for anyone; in the midst of emotional turmoil, we can’t sensibly concentrate on much else. Alice Munroe in her short story The Moons of Jupiter, describes this phenomenon very well:

“I’ve had people tell me that waiting for life-or-death news they’ve stood in front of an open refridgerator eating anything in sight—cold boiled potatoes, chilli sauce, bowls of whipped cream. Or have been unable to stop doing crossword puzzles. Attention narrows in on something—some distraction—grabs on, becomes fanatically serious.”

Her words ring true, don’t they? Earlier this year, knowing that her sister only had hours to live, one of my relatives sat up all night trying to solve So-duko puzzles.

Distress inevitably happens, and when it happens to me, I come to understand all the better what is important to me and who are my friends. They’re the ones I can confide in at such times. As for what’s important, I realise over and over again that, for me at least, it’s poetry, music, quiet landscapes and the open sky, the sun, moon and stars.

“Night after night in my sorrow
The stars stood over the sea,”

wrote R.L.S., and R. Vaughan Williams set it to music. Chris and I are learning this song at present. But what is sorrow like for someone who has no poetry to fall back on? I can’t imagine that.

Schools should educate for this purpose only. Our children need to be given the inner resources to bear up under the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Their education shouldn’t just be a path towards financial success or prestige. We’ve got to give children the necessary stabilizers for future turbulence in the soul.

On a lighter note, perhaps (an ironic sense of humour is another crucial stabilizer for me), when I sat in a coffee shop the other day trying to relax by skimming through the local paper, the following line on the Obituaries page leapt to my eye:

So-and-so [a French name], after a painful fight with his family…

Good heavens, I thought! There was a comma missing, though. The next line continued:

by his side …

One Response to “The need for stabilizers”


  1. […] 3rd, 2007 Sorry for that break in transmission. Once again I’ve been too paralysed by private preoccupations (never mind what, just appreciate the […]


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