Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Begin from the beginning.

But one never can.
Once upon a time. . .
In the beginning was the. . .
No. I'm just not much good at Gospels. Even John's.
Time to cut my losses, pick an arbitrary starting point and settle for a continuation.

An Arbitrary Starting Point

The detritus of a union meeting. A pile of votes being counted by two foreigners out the back. I was one. An acquaintance, for whom I had considerable respect, but whom I would not then have presumed to call a friend, was the other. He was furious and it seemed to me that desolation was inseparable from that rage.

I said "What can I do?"

It was not a whim but it was unplanned. I had not gone to that meeting with the intention of saying anything of the kind. He would have had every right and more to spit at me, because the offer should have been made months before and it shouldn't have been an offer. We both knew it.

But demonstrating a rare gift for patience in the face of provocation, he refrained. And I became part of a fight that was intense, wonderful, exhausting, enraging, embittering and desolate.

Looking back, I've slowly come to realise that that moment was a central event in my life. Not the central event, any more than there is a beginning. But before that meeting it was still possible to walk away, to continue my long-planned long-range trajectory undeflected. The day after, it was not quite as possible and in those following, it became gradually, inexorably less so. A balance of opposing forces subtly disturbed.

It's one of a very few decisions which I have no need to regret. But it would be deceptive not to acknowledge having become less trusting, more wary, more weary and far less sociable than the person who made that decision.

I'm not sure, however, that this is a bad thing. But I digress.

Let me tell you a little about that respected acquaintance who has long since become a rare friend. We don't speak that often now, living in different countries, but in March he often comes to mind.

He is obstinant, stubborn, fiercely confrontational and famously uncompromising. Blunt, angry, demanding, argumentative and completely lacking in small talk. A bull-headed, mule-footed gadfly. Uncomfortable.
Those are his good traits.

Not to mention ruthlessly honest. Curious. Eloquent. Principled. Patient beyond reason or endurance. Brave. And possessed of that rare combination of generosity and great-heartedness which is grace.

I would not want to lose his trust.


Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

Congratulations on your bloghood!

You are a rare and precious soul, a very good word writer, and those 4 words just kind of say it all.

"what can I do?"

Once you ask that, and receive an answer from wherever it may come, there is no turning back :)

3/03/2006 2:02 am  
Blogger Man Eegee said...

Felicidades dove! I'm excited to be able to read your writing on a regular basis (no pressure, eh?) You have such a passionate soul that pours out from your words, thanks for the honor of being able to read and share in it.

3/03/2006 2:24 am  
Blogger Nanette said...

Dove - one post and I can already tell that this space is going to be a gorgeous, incredible feast.

I'm happy you are sharing it with us.

3/03/2006 2:42 am  
Blogger dove said...

Thanks for the lovely cake Ductape and all three of you for your for the too-generous words.

Right. Off to get dinner.

3/03/2006 7:33 pm  

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