Rumination, or call it reflection perhaps. Free of the destructive connotations of the former, the latter seems more wholesome. A liberating appraisal of a life lived less well than it could have been.
If we led our lives again, how many things would we change. How much thoughtlessness would we leave to others, how many errors of omission would be reversed. And those many things which we ought not to have done, what a fine thing it would be to erase them as if they had never happened.
Rumination we are told is a pointless pursuit, especially when its subject is something which we have no power to change. And yet, while it may be true that we are none of us given the power to rewrite the past, can it not be that salvation may be found in the present. Today we are given the chance to put right the mistakes of a less wise past.
I do not believe that my core personality has changed over the past six decades. But in younger days some of us may be inclined to try and fit ourselves into round holes. Which is not at all wise for square pegs.
Tolkein may have brought all this on. I found myself in the Shire recently. I seemed to join that party as it left Bag End and crossed fields and forests which I had last visited aged 11. I saw the trees in their green finery, I smelled the damp morning mists rising in the gentle sunlight from the grass. I stayed with Tom Bombadil and hid from the dread Black Riders.
People talk of visions and lucid dreams. They happen.
Childhood memories resurface later in life, it is said. I have found myself back again at glorious Christ Church Oxford more than once in recent weeks. And instead of carousing with owners of stately homes, I found myself singing in the cathedral choir at evensong. And mixing with quiet and bookish sorts. Eating dinner in the exquisite dining hall, rather than frequenting pointless and expensive dining clubs.
Living in ancient libraries and listening to erudite lectures on topics as diverse as I could find. Music and art and learning. Not childish and indulgent debauchery.
And commerce and money and power and ambition. Where and when did all that start I wonder. Certainly that 11 year old who read of Gandalf and Bilbo and Frodo was a stranger to all such base concepts.
Songs of Innocence and Experience, wrote Blake. But does it have to be thus. Must childhood necessarily be corrupted. Do we have to grow up, or like JM Barrie’s hero, can we fly to Neverland and never return.
Written a while ago, spring has mellowed these rather melancholy winter thoughts.
Perhaps I will write of spring.