I stood by the kitchen shelf and noticed a spot I had left unclean last night. Or perhaps, I had kept the mug there later, but it was left, so I wiped it. We should wipe what we can when we notice it. It is how kitchens, and perhaps, lives, remain spotless. Just then, the music was playing as it always does, and then, a song came on, and for a second, I did not notice it. I was still preoccupied with the spot on the black marble. Then, almost like some old memory buried far below the surface of my current life and days, I recognised the song. And like a song often does, it took me back on a trip down to that year, to the person I was at the time, who does not exist anymore—not as a fault of his own, but life and only life.
There is only so much we can choose over what happens to us. The rest happens as it happens. People are resilient not because they can brave impossible things but because they can adapt. The tenacity we so often talk about and take pride in doesn’t come from heaving the load; it comes from manoeuvring. The elasticity of being a person keeps us alive and going. When I say I am living, I also say I have murdered every person I have been before, attended their funerals, and given candid eulogies. To live means to keep changing; to change is to do this over and over again. Then, a song comes along and stirs something up. For a little bit, you find yourself in another city, in another year, doing things you do not do anymore, dreaming dreams you don’t want anymore, saying things you haven’t said in a long time.
This, too, is a kind of grief, but it is a grief that has settled down. I thought of what I thought of when the song played, and I smiled as I returned to the weekend afternoon. I returned to the spotless shelf, to the cup of coffee, hot and fruity, and to who I am now.