Time for more words, on the start of an eighth decade. What a heavily weighted time to face such a marker – not so much for celebration though we tried our best. So I put the bookmark between the pages and now re-opening to the paper stub, can observe how far in this book I have progressed.
Some logistical questions surfaced this morning over breakfast; where and how to obtain what food. Still not ready to post Brecht’s Dream of a Great Bellyache. That well may come later, when it is felt.
Following that conversation, more significant questions percolate and clamour from the depths. I seem to be calm about giving up small things in life, but how many of these small things does one give up before the fabric of self starts to fray or tear? Of what is the self composed? How much change gives opportunity to challenge and expand the self, at what point does the scale tip and compromise identity? Some rise, others fall. We are not there yet, far to go, but are moving with startling speed towards the bend in the road that others in the past have traversed, beyond which there is no return.
Questions that are about small challenges, but of course then there are the big ones, those that truly loom. About the common good, about the big plans, about movement, about freedom, about history, about fascism.
On that note, one part of a long poem by Bertolt Brecht:
Call to arms
We hear, you have been taken sick with tuberculosis
We entreat you; see this
Not as a turn of fate, but
As an attack by the oppressors, who
Exposed you, poorly clothed and in damp housing
To hunger. That is how you were made sick.
We charge you take up the struggle at once
Against sickness and against oppression
With all possible cunning, rigour and tenacity
As a part of our great struggle, which
Has to be waged from a position of weakness
In utter misery, and in which
Everything is permitted which will aid our victory, a victory
Which is the victory of humanity over the scum of the earth.
We await your return, as soon as possible
To your post, comrade.
– Bertolt Brecht. Svendborg Poems. 1939.
Translated by Tom Kuhn and David Constantine