The Sanity of Trivia

I sobbed my way blearily round the forest this evening.

Nothing to worry about: melodrama rather than tragedy. One of the best ways to release tension is to trudge after a blithely unaware dog’s behind, whilst letting out great crocodile tears and bawling quietly, composing long maudlin blog posts in one’s head, which will never be published, about how the winter’s gone on too long and it’s soggy out there, and nobody loves me and anyway I’m sure I have ‘flu.

But the world this evening was full of trivia, the kinds of whimsy which dries the tears and bids you Climb Every Mountain.

There’s the sun of course, which made a rare cameo performance, on our walk, a glimmer in a day which also featured gobstopper-sized hailstones and sundry torrential rain.

And then there’s the stuff at home. Felix has acquired a very small robot with his Easter money. It is a thing to behold: a sort of four-legged scuttling thing. It is the size of a grown up hand, and its remote so tiny that it could be a school eraser. Felix loves it so, he turns the control off and still fingers it lovingly, the memory of every scuttle etched in his fingertips.

It lives in the bedside cupboards in his bedroom. They never used to be bedside cupboards until he decided he must move his bed next to them. It is not an arrangement a mother would choose: the bed sits wonkily unparallel to them, and obscures the lower ones, but this is now his centre of operations. One of these days I will walk into that room and he will swivel the bed round electronically to face me in a surprise piece of adaptation.

He will announce in Machiavellian tones,  ” Ah, Mrs Shrewsday, welcome,  I have been expecting you…”

The shelves are full of his beloved stuff. His latest addition to the cuddly family, Carrots the Easter Bunny, is tucked up on one shelf, and Scuttle the robot is pride of place at hand height. It is an eight year old bloke’s room.

Trivial stuff has the power to charm.

Maddie is on revision ready for exams, but she’s perplexed with a bit of music homework which remains to be taken care of. She is grappling with key signatures: the thing that makes a scale a scale. It’s complex, and we sit by the piano talking about tones and semitones.

And I flash back to the moment I began to learn the same thing: every scale built on the same pattern of gaps between notes, carefully regulated by signs which seemed like an exotic foreign language. I remember because I had no piano at home, and my teacher got me to draw a keyboard out on cardboard and trace the patterns between the notes. Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone…

On the television a documentary compilation of Pathe News has just shown a man who has turned a bath into a car., and is driving it around, presumably in London, with taps gloriously polished. Taken in 1960, it reveals the bath has its own number plate and is fully taxed and roadworthy.

And the dog is wearing his cone once more. He is worrying at sore paws a little too much and he’s back to clattering round the house, knocking the walls as he tries desperately to slip unnoticed into his usual haunts. A scratching session  now sounds like someone has invited a timpanist onto the landing. And going up the stairs is a whole new world of co-ordination.

When the world seems a little harsh, and every scrap of sense of proportion has disappeared: it is trivia which is that cure-all miracle elixir which restores balance.

Should you experience the urge to sob melodramatically round a forest, I recommend a stroll around the house to look at the little miracles which rest on every shelf and snore quietly on scattered floor cushions.


44 thoughts on “The Sanity of Trivia

  1. I hope the sobs released all thei built up stress from the last while. Sometimes it’s only when we can start to relax that protection from succumbing to the paralysing fear of loss, that we can do so. Your delight in your children’s worlds is a healing place to be. Can I come and visit there when it all gets too much?
    But then I have my own special ones coming next week and I have a day of leave to spend with them . Their company once took me from a space where every few minutes I was sobbing unless drugged to the eyeballs, to calmness and able to cope again.

    1. The sobs did their usual job. I felt so much better afterwards. And there’s not a soul to hear me in the forest. Amazing to hear how the presence of children has meant so much to you in the past. Glad they’re coming to stay soon!

  2. I love your “trivial” examples of life as we should appreciate it. I have a built-in warning button that frequently goes off in my mind when I wander too far away from cherishing the ordinary. Every day that is the same as the one before is a day we basically have it pretty good…believe me, I grumble well, and often–but basically, I know better 🙂 I love your gentle reminder, Kate. Debra

  3. Morning Kate. I used to find blubbing around the wood with the dog was quite theraputic, actually. Although I might also be consoled a little by a driveable bath tub. 🙂

      1. Deal! I was thinking the bathtub would purely be for ‘around town’ jaunts. The bike for everywhere. 🙂

  4. Hopefully, the cause of your sobs has been suitably dispelled. It is always the little things, the daily give and take, the kids’ idiosyncrasies that give us peace. To look around at all the good in your life, especially the trivial things, is a great way to stay grounded and connected.

  5. I love a good melodramatic sob- apart from anything else they leave me exhausted and then I feel like I’ve done exercise. I do find that I’m better placed to appreciate the trivia once I’ve got the WoeIsMe out of the way 🙂

  6. Dear Kate, I recently had the same sort of sob round the woods hereabouts, then came inside and the bird whistled at me, making me smile, while a message from Jennifer blinked on the phone and all was well with the world again. My aunt used to say after a crisis, of which there were many, “have a good cry, Penny, then get over it and move on”. So, we do.

    1. Penny, that is why I love my visits to Lie On The Cutoff. You have similar traits to me 🙂 You could have been describing me, just then, and yet the Cutoff always draws you back to the small joys of life. Thanks for that beautiful comment.

  7. Sometimes, I just cry, and I don’t know why. Okay, I do know why, but the men don’t want to read about that. Whatever the cause of your tears, Kate, I hope you are now feeling better and stronger as a result of your constitutional cry. And, I hope the thing is not recurring but is over. Here’s a giant hug, if it helps.

    1. It helps 🙂 Thanks, Andra. Sometimes it’s not one huge thing but being overwhelmed by all the smaller things, isn’t it? I think a good cry is just incredibly healthy…

  8. Much love to you, Kate. Frankly, a good cry in the woods with the dog sounds like the best way to work through those moments when everything piles up. I do hope it’s a sign that the stress is letting go some.

    The image of Felix with his mechanized bed and Machiavellian tones is priceless. I am waiting for the day I return home to find my Felix has built an addition to the house straight up through his ceiling while I was grocery shopping.

    Maddie has my sympathies. I continued to argue with key signatures all the way through my degree. I just wanted to sing.

    1. All the best on the day you discover your Felix’s solar. They are ingenious beyond words, these small boys, aren’t they?

      I hated music theory right up until I started to compose. Only then did all the disparate rules they had crammed into my brain actually form into a whole.

      Having heard that voice of yours: I hope you sing in public still…

  9. Loved this . . . especially:

    One of these days I will walk into that room and he will swivel the bed round electronically to face me in a surprise piece of adaptation. He will announce in Machiavellian tones, ” Ah, Mrs Shrewsday, welcome, I have been expecting you…”

    I have shed more tears in the past 7 days than I have in the past 7 months. Distracting myself with well written posts re trivia helps.

    BTW: WP has provided a quick fix to change default settings:

  10. I could have stood to read this two days ago.. my wailing was relieved by a quick phone call to a friend where I confessed all manner of self-pity and the wonder why I even both when I’m truly so fortunate. Your son’s bunny is adorable.. surely these miracles of ours are the most precious:) Sometimes I think we feel sad because we just need to feel sad.. for those little things that we try to ignore that pile up.. Just like the rain before the sun in your walk:) xo Smidge

  11. Dear Kate, . . . your last paragraph reminded me of these lines from Robert Frost:
    So when at times the mob is swayed
    To carry praise or blame too far,
    We may choose something like a star
    To stay our minds on and be staid.


  12. Yes, nothing quite as cathartic as a good sob – hope things are looking up soon. Kids certainly have the habit of wanting their rooms arranged in such a way that is not quite in keeping with magazine rooms 😉 roooroomsagazines 😉 rpp

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