Who what where when why

I’ve always looked for answers.

“Why” has been my catch cry, with “How” found just behind.

Understanding for me is like air. Without it I can’t survive; or won’t. 

And yet, this year, my questions went unanswered. 

Why turn left instead of right in the forest? Why leave when you promised you’d stay? How do you live when nothing about your life is familiar? How will you manage, alone? Why couldn’t you just be happy enough with what you had? 

Who are you, now?

I looked for answers in the predictable places. In other people’s opinions, at the bottom of wine bottles. I said yes to every single event that came my way, lest the answer be found ‘out there’. 

I stopped cooking and ate perfunctorily. I pushed aside books, once my world, for late nights and second-hand cigarettes. 

I didn’t run, I took the metro instead of walking. I was in a hurry. To get places, to see people, to be in the after. Moving on. Moving forward.

Never standing still.

Today was a wholly unremarkable Sunday. I woke early, dressed warmly, and walked to the Bois de Boulogne. I fought the urge to check the map, and wandered where my feet and my heart took me. I’d packed a sandwich, and a book I’d been meaning to read. 

It was colder than I’d realised, and I started to head home. I’d eat lunch by the heater, after all. 

I came to a small river and a quiet voice said ‘jump it’. I said: why?

‘Who cares why?’ 

Checking to make sure no horse-riding, trail-running, dog-walking other people were in sight, I did. 

Beyond the scrub, a clearing stood. Sunlight streamed onto a log-bench and autumn leaves carpeted the floor. 

Here, before me, was the answer. 

How do you live in the after?

Read the books, nourish yourself with food and words and kindness. Walk in the forest on cold, clear days. Jump the rivers, and if by chance a sun-lit spot reveals itself, sit awhile. 

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