Struggle, gifts, trains and delight

Struggle, gifts, trains and delight

I doubt that you've noticed, but I certainly have - I haven't written to you in two weeks.

I'm finding it hard to write at the moment. I'm not sure why, but I can't find the place from where the true words come.

It's a relief to accept that, and it immediately suggests the way forward - write, then, from that place. Write from the place of struggling to find the true words.


There are two levels of vulnerability.

One is to reveal struggle from the vantage point of solution - historical struggle, struggle that has been overcome, struggle that has been educational or entertaining or both. Struggle that is fundamentally finished, because it has been mastered.

The other is to reveal struggle in the middle of struggling. There is no vantage point here. There is simply turmoil, noise, a sea snake frantically beating its tail against a wooden deck.

One of the great privileges of writing these little things is that it connects me to you. It has created and / or deepened genuine affection, a fellow-feeling, a certain kind of love. So when I write about struggle from the midst of struggle, I immediately feel the need to qualify it: I'm fine! Don't worry! You don't need to send me emails checking!


I'm fine. Don't worry. You don't need to send me emails checking.


This week, I started reading a book by Lewis Hyde called The Gift.

The gift, he says, is 'a thing we do not get by our own efforts. We cannot buy it; we cannot acquire it through an act of will. It is bestowed upon us.'

When one person gives another a gift, a relationship is created between them. A gift engages people, it creates emotions. A commodity, on the other hand, is designed to be consumed without creating relationships.

A gift, says Hyde, must keep moving. If a gift turns into a possession, it dies; indeed, it turns into a curse on the person who hoards it.


On Sunday, we were lying on the carpet of the living room, Annika, Rahi and me.

"Do we want to go to the train station?" asked Rahi.

The train station is close to an hour away. But Rahi loves trains.

Annika looked at me, and did that shrug which means, yeah? I nodded in resignation.

"Yes," said Annika.

"Let's go!" said Rahi.

On the journey there, Rahi sat next to the window and at each stop he said, Oh, look, my friends live here.

Really, Rahi? Wow.

Yes. Look. There. My friends live there. There!

We got off at the train station and walked into the concourse. When Rahi saw the trains he ran full pelt at the bars of the viewing area, shouting with a mad fervent note in his voice, "Trains! ICE! Regional trains! S-Bahn!" His legs kicked and his body shook, his eyes disappearing in the size of his smile.

It is a strange beautiful thing, to be so delighted by life. What happens to us when we grow up?