I’m walking home from the hospital in the rain along Edinburgh Road in Carntyne. Grey, overcast, a storm ahead and with no way to prevent my partner’s decline, nothing to stop it happening. Human beings are weak and we are small, we are powerless and at the mercy of the elements, the forces of nature, the cycle of life and death.
He’s not getting any better, he’s not going to get better. The words go round and round as if repetition makes them easier to accept. The end is not imminent, it’s not today or tomorrow, and we will bring him home – but vascular dementia is terminal, and terminal illnesses terminate. Every day that passes brings the final day closer, the last bridge to cross, the last chapter of the story is being written, and today I realised I am already mourning for a life that is draining away like the water that splashes on the roadway.
They say that the secret of wisdom is to learn the difference between the things you can change, and the things you can’t, and what you can’t change you must accept, however painful. And this is one of those things that cannot be changed. Sometimes it hurts so bad, it sears the soul and scorches the spirit. Yet you must accept it like the Carntyne rain. Every day another little bit of the life we have together dies. and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, no dam that can hold back the stormy waters of grief. A black hole of uncertainty looms beyond the fear. I keep walking in the Carntyne rain and tears mingle with the sky and the clouds, going home to an empty heart. This is what hopelessness feels like.
I would do anything to change things, to make him whole, to stop this happening, to restore the man I love. The English man who taught me how to love and who freed my heart from the prison of cynicism. I’d sell my soul to Satan. Worse, I’d even vote No. But there’s nothing that can change it, no cure, no remedy. All there is is heartbreak and acceptance, resignation – but no regrets for a life well lived. And so I know I will keep walking through the cleansing rain, carrying a bundle of precious memories that nurture and sustain – his gift to me.
In the cloudy sky above the East End, moisture condenses around a particle of dust liberated long ago from a distant hearth where people loved and laughed and told stories around the fireplace. It gains mass and a droplet is born. The droplet falls through the air, slowly at first, then gaining speed it sets itself on the trajectory that defines the life of a raindrop. It dances in the breeze, it curls and twists and falls. It splashes on my head, drips down my neck. You are alive, it writes in cold rainwater along my spine. You feel. You have become aware. Feel the things you can change and change them, the raindrop says.
The rain washes off the Naw stickers that appeared on the lampposts after the Orange Walk. The Carntyne rain on the British parade.
And then I grow angry. Angry at those who tell us there is no other way, who insist that we cannot change things that can be changed. Angry at those who choose hopelessness, who coccoon themselves in the comfort of cynicism and think that it makes them wise. The wisdom of the fools who don’t know the difference between the things we can’t change and the things we can. The fools who protect themselves with an ersatz umbrella of bunting and parades and the PR smiles of a Prime Minister who isn’t paid to care, the narrow horizons of those whose only aspiration is to feel superior to those who have less than themselves. The chained souls who believe their foolishness is wisdom.
But some things can be changed. We can weave words and cast spells, we can work magic with words which evaporate the cynicism. There is a better way, the rain says. The druids and druidesses of Scotland are changing the world with their message of Yes, conjouring up a Scottish rain of words to wash away the dust of three hundred years that lodges in our eyes and blinds us to our own potential. The magic incantation of Yes, the glamour that reaches deep into the soul and powers the heart and feeds the brain. I feel at one with myself and with the rain. And I know that life is good and precious. Too precious to waste on the false gods and fake authority of a Parliament far away.
Yes, says the rain, as it casts out the hopelessness like a demon expelled. Crushing the cringe and washing it away down the stanks along the Edinburgh Road. It cleanses and it makes us whole. And the rain says – choose to live your life, choose to make a splash, choose to water the soft grass on the roadside verge where the flowers blossom in the summer. Choose to drink the sweet water of choice. Choose to fill the rivers that flow to the sea and begin the cycle of life.
I stand in the rain by the side of the road. Yes is a life well lived. Yes is a life without regrets for what might have been. You don’t regret the things you’ve done, you only regret what you could have done but didn’t do. Live without regret, take your destiny into your own hands and own it. Define yourself or be defined. I stand by the side of the road and listen to the rain. The skies over Carntyne weep with joy for hopes that can be made real.
Yes means taking your fate into your own hands. It means recognising the things you can change, and taking action to change them. Take the power and own it. Take a leap of faith in yourself.
Yes means being alive and powerful like the rain in Carntyne.