26 January 2014

Remembering forgotten potatoes

On a bus now, back in Leith quite long ago... the remembered moments never stop, all jumbled together with the new ones that come rushing in, and on that bus there was an old dishevelled man who was looking at a crying baby that was struggling in its mother's arms.

And some women were cooing, and smiling at the baby, as women do. But the man was muttering quietly, and I could hear him as he said, 'Poor bleedin' thing... poor bleedin' thing. I just hope you don't have to suffer like me. Poor thing.'

And the new life quietened, soothed by its mother's attention, while I looked at the man and saw a tear forming in one eye. I realised he was probably drunk, just as he shook his head suddenly in great agitation and wailed out loud, 'Oh... fucking hell! I forgot to get the potatoes! She'll kill me. No fucking potatoes! Fucking, fucking hell!'

And we jostled along in our dirty bus, along the deep canyon of the street and then taking a turn down towards the water, where seagulls wheeled in the sky and some gentle waves hit the harbour wall, and I looked at the baby, then the old man. The baby, then the old man... And I saw my past, my future, and there within me, my present, and I let out a long sad sigh. And I very vividly recall on that bus, as I looked at the baby, the old man, and me in my thirties, that I thought, 'We get a chance of everything, if we survive... A shot at everything, young, teenage, middling, ageing, old... Just one shot at it all...'

And now I am recalling the day, aged sixteen, when I stepped out into a busy street, preoccupied with some thought, and foolishly looking the wrong way for traffic, until a bulky vehicle whisked by me, brushing my clothes and missing my head by a centimetre or so. That could have been it then. So nearly was it then. But it wasn't, and so again, all of us survivors, currently, we move on, never understanding how, or why. Never understanding what is going on. And always wondering...What is out there, around billions of stars? Millions of civilizations? Looking up? Wondering for themselves what is out there? What marvels? What horrors? What dangers, dreams and opportunities? What is out there, around billions of stars experiencing billions of moments? Moments just like mine, and yours, but nothing at all like mine, or yours.

And a drop of rain smacked into the glass of a window just a few feet in front of my face right now, and it was perfectly aligned with my upturned eye and the pale disc of the sun just visible through thin cloud. The solitary raindrop then slid slowly down the pane of glass, gathering some molecules from neighbouring wetness as it went, while losing many other molecules through evaporation. I call it a raindrop, but it was a different thing, a different entity, a subtly different phenomenon every moment of its existence. A simplicity built from ever-changing complexity, and a complexity that is built and powered, I think, from deep simplicity. A mixed up mixture of mystery. Just like me.


Claude said...

Fascinating story. Very well done!

susan said...

I too remember sitting on a bus, but at the time I was a young mother holding a very beautiful 18 month old baby boy on my lap. A very old lady became quite tearful as she gazed at us and said, 'I once had one who looked just like that'. I knew in that moment a day would come when I would feel the same.

We move from moment to moment and there is a strange beauty in each one.

John Foster said...

Truth is beauty and this post is beautiful. Peace, for each individual, I believe to be an acceptance of the eternal now; does it not?

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Thanks all (and nice to hear from John again)

Sean Jeating said...

Having re-read this almost a month later, again I do feel touched, moved, somehow excited. Chapeau!

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Thanks Sean