The “Unthought Known”
Last week my gorgeous mother-in-law, now aged 97 and one of the most insightful women I know, said to me, ‘Sometimes you don’t know you have a thought until you speak it.’ Such a short sentence. Such simple words. But never a truer, more wise sentence was spoken. Her words ran through my mind yesterday when I thought over my post from 21st December about the midwinter solstice – there was something in that post that wasn’t spoken – an ‘unthought known’ as the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas says.
So yesterday, over a sneaky hot chocolate and mince pie (when I should have been Christmas shopping!), I got out my notebook and tried to write ‘out’ my thoughts about my midwinter post. I will spare you the few hundred rambling and scrawling words but if I had to put my thoughts in a Tweet, I think they’d boil down to, ‘Childlessness has given me a different way to look at and experience time.’
Being somewhere as ancient as Maeshowe (described in my last post), thinking of the thousands of midwinter sunsets that have been channeled into the tomb, being so close to the notion of passing time made me less afraid of, and less angry about, my childlessness and more aware of my potential. Perhaps it was the combination of the hugeness of the universe and the infinite smallness of me made me think that, without children –whether adopted or biological – everything I need to be happy and fulfilled is in me and around me. And perhaps, being childless means I get to think about and use my time here differently to people who have the rhythms and routines of childcare. That doesn’t mean I think my version of time-use is better – just different.
It’s sixteen years this month since I gave up hope of being a mother. It’s still hard – especially at times of the year like this. I will have moments this Christmas when the yearning and longing will feel more than my mind and body can hold. I know that in the years to come I will often wake up in the early hours of many mornings still not believing I don’t have children. But the hopeful thing is that now I can also focus on what I can do, what I can achieve and how I can create ways of passing something of me, no matter how tiny, into the future.
Tiny Speck; Huge Potential
As we lurch inexorably towards Christmas and all that means to us, let’s make ourselves the gift of time, to seize the moment, do something different, create a new festive tradition, leave a tiny (or a huge!) me-size mark on the universe, channel some light for ourselves and/or someone else, let go of our shoulds and musts even if just for an hour or so…believe that, even though we are tiny specks in the universe, we are and we have all that we need to pass on something of our amazingness to the world.
I think I’ll leave the last words of this post to Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins…
Believe, believe in me, believe
In the resolute urgency of now
(This clip has two songs – Tonight, Tonight is the second)