Did you ever make mud pies in the garden when you were a child? There was something particularly exciting about stirring up some soil, water and old leaves in your bucket, creating a mucky, bubbly potion – giggling away at its grossness. I have no idea why we called it a pie as it was far too sloppy and definitely not edible, but it was a top-notch afternoon activity. I hope the legend of the mud pie lives on for children today, despite our new electronic toys.
The last 6 months have been a mud pie. However, in this case, you can’t abandon your bucket, shut the doors, close the curtains and forget about it. You also didn’t make this mud pie – it’s somebody else’s and they spilt it in your garden. Ew. The brown slush is less hilarious when you didn’t add the flavour of fun yourself.
The ingredients of frustration, anxiety and ultimately heartbreak caused by cancer, coronavirus, racism, war, climate change, all perpetuated by a colossal disappointment in our… I would say world leaders but that seems too complimentary, so let’s say men elected to make decisions instead. It’s a revolting recipe. It’s pungent and lingering so even when you first wake up, before you’ve even opened your eyes, you can smell it. Sometimes you can taste it too and you panic because it’s getting thicker and filling your lungs with grief. You’ve got to get a glass of water to quickly wash it away.
Yesterday there was a storm. Storms are like mud pies. Exciting and a little bit magical if you let your inner 5-year-old loose but my initial reaction was to worry. Why are the Gods moving their furniture?! What’s happening now?! Is it going to rain for a lockdown and forever?! I was suddenly distracted by the lightening. It flashed across the dark sky. It looked pretty, tainted purple. Then came the roar of the skies. A deep, throaty groan that echoed through the air like a hungry bear awakening after months of hibernation. The rain pelted down, it didn’t even land on the windowsill, it was too angry and assertive. It landed straight on the ground rippling as it arrived on the soaked tarmac, and hurried down the incline like it was running late for a meeting.
I definitely didn’t feel like dancing in the rain, but it was beautiful to watch. 2020 so far has pushed the boundaries of my emotional resilience and it’s been challenging. The walls of well-being have been weathered…but they are not broken. Sure, they’re a bit less shiny than they were this time last year but they’re definitely still standing. Ugly but functional. Sometimes we need reminding that if we weren’t fragile, if we didn’t cry then we wouldn’t be real. You are complex and beautiful instead – the bricks and mortar in your mind are only metaphorical.
Then, as quickly as it started, it was all over. The ground is wet but otherwise there is no evidence of the storm. The rubbish on the street is still there, the neighbours across the road still have their window open, a car alarm is going off somewhere in the distance. Not close enough to be annoying, but close enough to be heard. The clouds have passed and the sky is blue again. Not bright, vivacious blue but pastel, wallflower blue. The same but different. Somehow it all looks a little bit fresher, litter included. The air is lighter too. Just like we will be when we come out the other end of whatever you, he, she, I or they are going through.
The same but fresher. Hopefully wiser. Certainly still loved and maybe even more grateful. We will make a toast and the bubbles will be that much bubblier and the strawberry on the glass that much sweeter because healing is inevitable and if you don’t have anyone to heal with, please know you can heal with me. We can make a mud pie.