Monday, 28 April 2014

Stand and stare.

Alan Bennett says he can only write in the house when it's completely empty. He doesn't have three boys then, or workmen going in and out, or a cleaner, or a husband. Not one that we know of anyway.

I haven't updated the old blog for ages and one of the reasons is that over the Easter holidays I was hardly ever alone in the house to write, and then I was working (more videos) and then I had workmen coming in and out (new decking, having the kitchen done trashed the old lot). Here it is

And the other reason was that I took a little break from social media, which started by accident over the holidays and then, when I realised I hadn't been on Facebook for a few days, or on Twitter, I continued deliberately. 

I think I'll see how long I can abstain for, I thought, a bit like keeping off the booze, just to see if I could. And it turns out I could. At time of writing I haven't been on Facebook for more than two weeks. It has ended up being a sort of monastical online silence. Not that I was chanting. Actually I was planting. This is some of what I was up to

And it was as I was out in the garden enjoying the beautiful emerging spring, rather than blogging or Facebooking, that I kept thinking about the Center Parcs ad, you know the one where they quote the poem, "What is this life, so full of care…" I googled it actually. Here it is in full 

WHAT is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs, 
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass, 
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
 Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
 And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
 Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
 We have no time to stand and stare.

W. H. Davies

And while standing and staring in the garden I discovered something. I discovered that 'family' is not a constant thing, it is a thing that we make, something fleeting, precious, that requires time and commitment. But most of all, time. 

What is a family after all? A group people living individual lives, going off each day in different directions to mingle with other different groups of people and experience different views of the world. 

But those moments when we are back together in the holidays, under the same roof, pottering in the garden, eating a meal, watching a bit of TV, going out to the cinema or a restaurant, these are the times when 'family' happens, that curious indefinable alchemy we sentimental types hold so dear.

I decided that family is a series of fleeting happenings and shared memories that when woven together make something bigger and more important than the individuals in it. Apart we are just the pieces, the scattered patchwork squares, together we are the tapestry.

So you could say I was concentrating on my tapestry for a few precious weeks there, looking 
inwards at how it is put together and taking care that this fragile thing made of disparate pieces is a strong enough whole, rather than looking outwards at the world via Facebook and Twitter. It has left me strangely calm, sleeping well and deeply each night, refreshed even.

Perhaps we all need to take a social media holiday occasionally? Time to just stand and stare.

Love E x




  1. Lovely post! I sometimes hanker for the life before social media; especially for my children (says she upstairs reading blogs while she should be cooking dinner). Off I go immediately to whip up a fish curry...

    1. Thank you, I agree, I think I'm a bit all or nothing, either hide from it completely or I'm on it all the time. Not quite sure what I'm doing advocating abstaining from social media when I write a blog tho! :)