During a brief visit to Australia last year, after a separation of about 40 years I got to meet a schoolmate who I had greatly admired as a teen-ager, and he referred to me as someone “who always was a gentle soul.”
It was one of the, if not the, nicest things anyone has ever said about me, in my opinion.
Having something like that said about you would likely impress most, and I was deeply moved.
It touched me enough that I remember it now, months later, when I struggle to recall anything that has happened just hours earlier.
Unfortunately, even had I truly been a gentle soul as a youth, my track record in life provides little to suggest the assertion is a correct one.
In fact, given any authority or responsibility over anyone or anything, I have almost singularly been a cunt. I was a terrible bully as a manager, have struggled to make and maintain friendships, survived some relationships only because I was blessed to have encountered saints and was an abject failure as a father. I can’t even be gentle to myself (even though I thoroughly excel in self-indulgence!)
And I don’t see a great deal of gentleness in my mind even now, as an old man. In fact, more than gentle soul, there is a great deal more arsehole.
My mind races and I am full of fear, anxiety, bitterness and anger!
But….I have moments when I feel gentle. I got one this morning as I worked in my garden. I love my garden. My parents loved gardening. Dad did part-time gardening jobs for rich neighbors for all the part of his life that I knew him. I should have developed a natural affinity for horticulturalism.
But I hated gardening as a youngster and had no interest, apart from a brief attempt at growing flowers a couple of decades ago.
Moving to Kangaeroo Corner, Mrs. Kangaeroo chose our apartment because it had a garden, which she felt we needed as a place for me to maintain and repair our bicycles.
She later found the amazing Alex Endo, who creates Aussie native plant gardens in and around Tokyo, as I have written about on a few occasions.
And the transformation began….I am smitten by my garden. And being in it makes me feel serene. (Except when I think of how to keep the lawn green in its entirety, in which case I will wake in terror in the middle of the night.)
I don’t often feel that calm….maybe when going out somewhere with my wife (except shopping) and being with my pet dinosaur (when she is calm). And, of course, when I cycle.
Spring is approaching and I look forward to learning and enjoying more in the garden. It’s already starting to look pretty bloody good.
Maybe it will make me a truly gentle soul in my dealings with others?