Monday, March 23, 2020

The Geography of Man 

The year was 1624 when John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” Yet, some think as Hugh Grant’s character says in About a Boy, “I am an island. I am bloody Ibiza!” While I’m no island, I’m a pretty good peninsula, joined to the mainland by a thin isthmus with a narrow two-way road. You are welcome to join me, though the trip may sometimes be foggy, stormy and difficult. Have no worries though, I often make the trip to the mainland, usually daily (or so). More often in the summer than winter when I prefer to be undisturbed, asleep in my cave.

It can be quite pleasant out on the Peninsula of Peter (if we have to give it a name). There are seasonal berries, light winds that can sometimes be quite strong. The peninsula can often be shrouded in fog, to be honest, and the sun rises later there. This thin strip of land is unassuming and is overlooked by many. The thing is the soil is good and fertile and the small verdant landscape is varied but predictable. It’s hard to get lost on the Peninsula of Peter. It is close to the water which some say is why the mornings and full moon nights last longer here. Sometimes affected by ill weather, this temperate place stays mostly hospitable throughout the year.

What marks this psycho-geographic spot is not its lovely trees (birch please, those tiny leaves flutter like paper in the summer sun and blow like confetti on an October afternoon), or dirt road, or rocky beaches or lush wetlands. No it is the solitude. You can be alone here like a dream besotted nap. You can be as alone as you like but never lonely. Thoughts here are full of the sound of birds, the smell of grass, the flow of clouds and the stretching of shadows. Books, music, film and art are our wallpaper. Day dreams are like slow motion aerial photography that float by with contemplation of places been or adventures to have.

In this time of pandemic when some have suffered to be apart, here on the Peninsula, we’re fine. Why if we weren’t having a local epidemic of our own it would be considered a workman’s holiday. Yet, we are enduring a most painful and straining full body invasion of urticaria, an itchy and burning skin condition, that makes bathing painful, dressing difficult and sleep impossible. The body steams out sweat so quickly that it leaves the resident of that skin shivering cold, thirsty and quaking with anxiety about the next wave of hurtful, stabbing of a thousand needles that become an overpowering storm of the sufferer’s nervous system. Instead of lolling around in a house of snacks and naps like Christmas-come-early, the Peninsula of Peter has become a sanatorium of delirium and darkness where the ill convalesce in hours that feel like days, where days feel like weeks, where the nights are fitful and everlasting and the patients wander in unfocussed ennui and despairing discomfort. Naming that discomfiture as “pain” has been a moment of truth and speaking it aloud is a most mournful noise.

Friends, the Peninsula is not asking for a fundraiser or volunteer hours or for your pity and concern. The Peninsula only wishes you respect the current roadblock, now so common in these isolating times of pandemic. Do not pass the roadblock. Do not dismantle it. Do not disturb it. Note the roadblock’s impermanence. Note its slapdash pile of planks and rocks and know that when the tide turns and the fog rolls away there will be summer and a free flow of traffic once again. There will be a cook-out of fine foods and beverages and cups will be raised and overflow and spill and the sound of the birch leaves and caw of the crows and smell of the greenery will whirl about our heads in such a way that you will forget the desolation of our internment. Long live the Peninsula.

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