So this evening I opened another tin of sardines. To eat on toast of course. We all like variety so I have to sell it to myself. “Heavens” I say. “The tin opens more easily if you hold it with your left hand”. I ruminate on that as I munch the meal which tastes very similar to the last sardines on toast I had two days ago.
“If you examine it closely, the packet is pretty green. A sort of Limy Green. “I wonder how they came up with that colour” Another questions gets me through another meal and so it goes on. We search for variety and new points of view in a life which is largely built on routine. We love routine because it provides structure to the day, but variety makes the routine bearable.
I have always been averse to what I consider self indulgence and can live a very minimalist life. Sometimes circumstances make that minimalism so stark that even I struggle to put some light and shade into it. The strange thing is that, with other people ,I am pretty indulgent and don’t mind how vaguely they construct a routine and hide it behind any new experience they can thrust into their life.
Why I am so hard on myself is difficult to say. My childhood had much oddness but a couple of things stick out on the catering front. Once in the kitchen when I was about ten years old I saw a fruit cake my mother had bought for a church ladies tea party I asked her if I could have a slice. “Why” she enquired. Not being able to think of a good reason I replied, “Because I’m hungry”. “You’re not hungry “,she said, “You’re greedy. If you were hungry you would eat dry bread”. Going on holiday for a fortnight she packed twenty four tins of stewing steak with similar numbered tins of potatoes and peas. In her mind that solved the catering problem for the holiday. Don’t get me wrong. She was a lovely lady with many qualities to admire, but her appetite for stripping things down to their basic essentials could occasionally be overdone.
Ok that is a bit nutty, and it’s not an example I got anywhere near following with my own children but it has had an influence on me. Why I am soft on others yet hard on myself is question I ask myself. The answer is I don’t really know. What I can say is I have grown more indulgent with myself as the years pass. Can we say more forgiving ?
There is line near the end of the film, “Girl Interrupted” when she speaks of her fellow inmates at a psychiatric unit as she finally leaves the building. “They were not perfect, but they were my friends”. That chimes with my approach to life. Let us hope the feeling is mutual