For the third time this week Mary has invited me out to wave and cheer at the Olympic Torch. It is becoming a theme for us; I would stay home unless called away, while she would go out unless held back. We hurried down to “Ye White Hart” to meet Jane, who gracefully surrendered the table she’d bagged at the “Orange Pekoe” to follow us down to the riverside where we joined the crowd in having our happy disposition tested by some warm, soft, but substantial Summer rain. Setting a good example to anxious adults like me, some small children clustered beneath a polythene pram cover and shouted and waved joyously at any branch of a tree that floated past.
Soon we were waving damply but warmly at the Gloriana, and all the rowers in white, and feeling the glow of our own appreciation and encouragement, and delighting in the reciprocal response of an oarsman’s raised straw boater, Mary explained that she is not inspired by sport so much, but drawn by her love of the feeling of unity of people coming together to celebrate. Her heart is good, and resonates strongly with any active, communal metaphor for harmonious ambition such as we find in the Olympics.
We separated; Mary went to Guildford to do some grand-parenting, and I returned home to do some writing, and prepare for our gig at New Wine on Sunday. Alone there, I lit a fire, put on some sombre music (like a typical left-brained introspective!) and reflected on how because of her I enjoyed something that I was not drawn to, and how we can remain quite happily married even though we are so different, and remain different even after nearly 40 years. It’s because we do appreciate each other, and up to a point accept our differences, and when we arrive beyond that point, we deal with it. If we do that, we can be “bigger” as couple. Not only do we have 115 years of experience to offer (!) but also a broader spectrum of vision and understanding, provided we allow each other our differences and let them serve us.
After all, if all the oarsmen had been all “left-oared” or all “right-oared”, we would still be waiting now, to wave at the Gloriana.