Time can be measured, the measures can be named, but time is.
It cannot be stopped. The sun comes up and the sun goes down but when there is no more sun, it is the end of everything we know and I don’t mean KFC. Casting about for a place to begin this morning, I looked up January. The temptation to dismiss January as a month of cold Monday morning is considerable. What I found was Janus, the two faced god, he who patronises (I quote) beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. I was momentarily soothed. The image was January as a work in progress. Better than headlines screaming disaster when there is damnall I can do about it.
This January one of the kindest women I know eventually began to realise that she was kind to everybody but herself. Her behaviour has altered. She is (dare I say?) steadier. This January another friend who has had a year of upheaval including the disintegration of a long partnership and the hospitalisation of a beloved niece finally faced some uncomfortable truths – and promptly bought two dresses. Hasn’t happened in 20 years. They are targeted sale buys as she is about to go into very much warmer weather, travelling in the job that has kept her sane over this “passage” period, out of one set of things and into something else. Nobody would deny it was painful but at least there is movement. Janus.
We usually think of two faced as being a bad thing. It can be. Most of us have been let down or felt ourselves to be so, by a work colleague or an intimate, or even at the hands of a professional we trust – and it is painful. We say “There are two sides to every question” but that’s minimal. There are all sorts of aspects to everything. Looking for things to be simple is misleading and frustrating.
Another friend’s eyes were streaming. And they itch and they hurt and you must know how miserable that is. But she was prescribed certain eye drops and that’s what she has used – not the same bottle, but the same stuff, for years. I suggested she might question this, with the doctor (not big on the GP), OK, with the pharmacist (she has a tame one locally) or even with an eye specialist – a one off but sometimes worth it. Things change. Janus.
Not everybody has means. But most of us have some means and it is important to have them for what you need them for. Always prone to migraine, I had a run of what I called headaches recently because they took place in the head but they were characterised by distortion of vision, not pain. There was a particular one where I went to put a face on a GP who has gone out of his way to be helpful. Until now, we’d not met – communication had been written and once by phone. He checked me over and commented on slightly raised blood pressure but was honest enough to say it was in no way conclusive. I went home, thought and went back (more money) to my eye specialist, he who had melted in the summer heat into a much more accessible person than I had first thought him. He listened, ran the tests again and referred me to a neurologist who specialises in headache.
The latter recognised every symptom, explained, put me through all sorts of balance and co-ordination tests, explained some more. Nice man, cost the earth. But I left him knowing how to proceed.
The other day I fell in love with a Braque lithograph. I recognised it, it took my breath away. I priced it. And the admirably approachable owner of the shop reduced it, almost at once, but I went away to think. And this is what I thought : God forbid I should be so unlucky as to have a brain tumour but if I have further problems, I have already put my hand up to transfer back into the NHS clinic of the neurologist I consulted. I have a reference point, I know how to proceed. It is 2019, the NHS is overrun, small specialist crisis like mine are casualties of its purview. Janus turned his face against the Braque, better uses for the money.