Opening The Black Box: Part 5

The days and weeks pass. Chest pains that I've had for years are as bad as ever. It will be some time before I get to see the healer or maybe faker. Hypnotherapists have been known to indulge in confabulation: the creation of false memories. In the meantime, a full on brawl or a good run through a plate glass window would be nice. Back in the powdery old office that's more like a shed, I make a call to my counsellor friend. She has some better ideas than plate glass and brawls. ‘It will be a while,' I say to her, ‘before I get to see this guy.' ‘Feel free to call me any time if you need to talk.' ‘Okay.' ‘And by the way,' she says, ‘Pain is not your enemy. It's your friend.' Another day of adult premonitions passes—and time for dinner. Our teenage children and younger ones gather at the table. The aroma of a spicy Laksa soup has my mouth watering. We say thanks to the High King and talk about the day: an embarrassing story about an embarrassing teacher at school topping the list. Meanwhile, my woman and lover, without even trying, has dished up something else I don't even know the name of, which tastes amazing. It's her way; never before tasted recipes and never before heard songs from her inexhaustible treasures. But in my preoccupied state, these treasures are taken for granted or barely noticed. At my writer's table—in the future called now—I reflect on Spenser's Faery Queene and the fact that this beloved (partially read) poem of my premonition days had become a favourite; a sweet diversion. In there, as CS Lewis observes, ‘Images of good appear with a veiled, mysterious, even hidden character. But at first we don't see them at all, we just see images of evil.'1 I think I really get what Spenser is doing in his Faery Queene. It's as if the bones of real goodness can only ever be truly felt whilst embedded in the flesh of another human being or of everyday life. All attempts to explain, to spell out, to ‘bone out' such goodness from its natural body of flesh ending in a butchered failure: a so-called goodness that looks stupid, naïve and contrived. Hence, the beautiful Princess Una of the Faery Queene wears a black cloak and is always veiled as she travels with the Red Cross Knight on his adventures—patiently being there *with him* whilst he wields that sword and clashes steel against steel, gets lost, finds her and finds the way again. He doesn't know it but he needs her more than she needs him. And she doesn't seem to know it either. And so, in my premonition world, I'm quieter than ever: soaking in the normal routines of family and of her: my archetypal Princess Una. So glad to have this one who keeps me sane without even realising it. And this home, this little meal table: friends visiting, jokes and laughter. Now it's another day and more unfolding. Being used by a girl at the hostel. I've had enough. ‘I'll tell everyone,' I say to her. ‘They'll laugh at you,' she says. Hadn't thought of that. The terror of being laughed at will silence any little boy. The adult me is feeling stupid and ignorant. There I was wondering why the hell—at the time—I'd never spoken a word of this #%*! to anyone. This sensible adult is a million miles away from this boy, the oldest part of me, who knows so much about me and has so much to tell me. Another day and I'm back amongst my dust-coated books looking at a portrait of Mum and Dad. I can't take my eyes off it: angry eyes. Fists clenched. I want to smash it. They left me in that place. ‘I forgive you; I forgive you,' I say, whilst holding back from the smashing. ‘No,' a thought comes to mind. ‘You don't need to forgive them.' They're not to blame! They had no idea. They trusted someone. She was dying. They were on a journey of their own to find a healer. Desperate. On a ship to the other side of the world for God's sake! It wasn't their fault. The night passes, long and slow. Waking up early, I think of that river out there, waiting for me to come and swim. But I just don't want to get up, I want to sleep away the darkness. Alarm bells ring inside my head. I know this feeling. It's a sinister voice from the hostel: an immobilising, crippling presence of something that hates all that is beautiful and good in this world, in me. It's time to fight. I walk down to an inky black river, which has a wobble of silver. Diving in, I swim and swim until the sun comes and turns everything gold: liquid God as far as I'm concerned, a God who pervades all things, visible and invisible. Who loves me. So, F#%*! the evil presence! I'm swimming in God. A good way to start the day. 1 CS Lewis (with Alistair Fowler) Spenser's Images of Life (Cambridge University Press, 1967, 2013 University Printing House, Cambridge CB2, UK) p.79-80

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