Sometimes ideas come at one for a variety of directions at the same time, coalescing in something I can’t really explain. And that’s good.
It started with this post of Mary Smith’s, about being in Robbie Burns house, in the space where the great man wrote and lived and ate and thought. And Mary swept the same floor as Rab’s wife, Jean, standing as if in the same shoes, decades apart.
And I thought about Dickens and his museum in Bloomsbury and his desk and me standing there, looking over the chair, imagining the shoulder hunched, pen poised, searching for a word, imagining him there, not there. And me there, not there. Like Mary. And Jean. And Rab.
And then there was Stephen Hawkins, as severe a scientist as you’d imagine, positing the existence of parallel universes, multiverses and whether in one such, Burns is drinking, watching Mary sweep and in another Dickens is glancing back at me, watching him write.
And my mind went back to a memorial in Christchurch, New Zealand that stands on a bare plot in a destroyed part of that fine city that was ruptured by the monstrous earthquake in 2011. It’s an ’empty chair’ memorial, each white painted seat representing one of those lost in the quake. The idea of the empty chair comes from when Sir Samuel Luke Fildes RA stayed with the Dickens after his death. He was the illustrator of Edwin Drood and, seeing Dickens’ study conceived the idea of the empty chair and desk. His painting of Dickens ’empty chair’ is as if the great man had just popped out. Much like in Christchurch and at other similar memorials – something similar was done after 9/11.
And in Christchurch we were encouraged to sit on any chair and, well, just sit.
And then there was Winnie the Pooh, and I remembered that great fluffy-stuffed philosopher’s advice for these occassions
Sometimes I Sits And Thinks
And Sometimes I Just Sits
And cry a little, and not really know why, because that’s good too, because if there are those multiverses, those chairs might not be there, or they might still be filled and people might laugh and live and visit old places and be inspired.
Or just sit and think a bit.
So if, when, I make it to Rabbie Burns’ House, in Dumfries, I may also cry a little and, really, not be able to explain why.
And that’s good too.