Monday, 6 October 2014
This week I've been remembering my own motivation from times past and how it hasn't always taken the form I might have expected.
Back in '97 I'd moved into a house that my brother had just bought. He was newly single, I was long term single and I wanted out of the house share I was in. I also wanted a dog. Badly. The first day in my new home I got in my car and brought my Nellie Bean home. Ten months old, skin and bone. The house didn't have a garden so we went out five times a day to the fields. Every day I'd see a woman in the distance. She had a young baby in a back pack and two big goofy mutts of indefinable origin bounding around with her. At this point I harboured absolutely no thoughts of motherhood or even a relationship, and I was more than busy with just one dog, but something in me reacted in the sweetest way whenever I saw her. Some part of me knew, on a deep level, that I would be that woman. I did nothing (consciously) to move in that direction. I didn't (consciously) think about her beyond our daily encounter. And yet, ten years later there I was, in a field with a baby in a backpack and two mutts of indefinable origin at my feet. Nowadays the baby is running around and the dogs are different but I'm still doing it. And it's like some kind of fixed point in an otherwise fairly random life. A point I was supposed to reach. I don't know who she was, we never spoke or even acknowledged each other, but I think of that woman at least a couple of times a week, nearly twenty years later. She was a quiet motivation that drove a part of me I wasn't then in touch with. Something in me recognised her and maybe saw my future self.
In a lesser ways there have been other instances. Soon after we moved to Chalfield I started to see women out running with their dogs. Two women, to be precise. And again, whenever I saw them, something would stir deep down even though at that time I had no thoughts of ever running (I believed I hated to run) and neither Nell or Jackson would have taken to or coped with it. But something stuck. When I adopted Dooley I told the woman who owns the sanctuary he lived at that I wanted to run with him, despite the fact I still believed I hated running. Why did I say that? And now, I'm 'That woman who runs with her dog up at Chalfield' and it feels like coming home.
About three months ago I saw another woman, again running in the lanes around my home. She is, I'd guess, in her sixties, lean and fit, runs comfortably with a smile on her face and she has long silver grey hair that she wears in a plait down her back. She is so beautiful and vital. And I get that feeling that being an older woman who runs with a smile on her face and silver hair down her back is in my future. I know it the same way I would if someone sent me a photograph from from 2024 because thanks to the woman with the baby and two mutts, and the women running with their dogs, and possibly other women over the years before I was even vaguely self-aware, I now recognise that kind of motivation. That kind that is part longing, part recognition. The kind that is a lighthouse guiding you home. I see it, hear it, sooner these days and use it to steer my course.
Meanwhile I keep a part of me on the look-out for the next beacon. And I quietly wonder if it is, in a way, all a bit timey-wimey, and if some young woman with an awesome scrappy puppy and no plans saw me with Evie, Nell and Jackson back in '07 and felt something smile in her heart. Wouldn't that be grand?
*beautiful photo of Nellie Bean - an infinite beacon in her own right - by the equally luminous Pen of McKinley-Rodgers Photography.