THE WAY THINGS ARE
Colette NiReamonn Ioannidou
For ages I have been engaged in a ménage a trois, but before you sanctimonious old fuddy duddies go gasping in disgust for your oxygen tanks, I’ll explain. My French neighbour says it’s fine to use the above in the abstract, so breathe easy. My love affairs are with professions I would have chosen if only… If only I was clever enough I would have been an astrophysicist working on space projects or dabbling fortuitously like amateur Irish astronomer *Rose O’ Halloran, the first to see giant sunspots surge on the sun’s limbs. If only I had the cash (it’s not the most financially lucrative of professions) to be an archaeologist delving into the prehistoric past. I forget my own phone number (always was that way, nothing to do with age) so I’d be hard pressed to remember dates in that time/numbers related field. And taking measurements on site or calculating possibilities, forget me. The when would be haphazard digging in memory channels and pulling out a rough guess. I do try to absorb numbers but they tend to slide off my memory as snow might off a hot volcano.
The other thing I lack is patience and that wouldn’t sit well with either of the above. Lack of patience is also why I never stuck with the piano lessons my mother sent me to, or the ballet lessons I started and initially loved. I like to moan that my piano teacher was old… she was, and she had lost patience with teaching mostly untalented kids that plonked her keyboard tunelessly. She was a tyrant of a ruler in that little front room near the village sweet shop and she also used a ruler to whack little fingers that hit wrong notes. I wasn’t a child resigned to sit and allow my skinny digits to be chastised; I had a temper. So Matilda-like moments of willing the lid of the piano to fall on her bony hands by sheer force of thought sometimes arrived. Otherwise, she was a lovely old dear who also taught my talented, productive sister.
I adored ballet; my mother bought me pictures and books of ballerinas in various poses that I could copy-draw or paint; no patience to excel there either. I loved the stories and the thrilling music, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Peer Gynt and Coppelia. I delighted in my black practise pumps, smelling of sweet soft leather and then my blocks… oh joy, oh sore skinned toes! I wasn’t mad about that teacher either. However, on reflection, for all my love of the dance (and I still find it entrancing) I wasn’t patient or talented enough for the discipline of ballet. Yet at times life offers compensations.
While working at the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation I was delighted to meet two men who had escaped the earth’s gravitational pull via a hellforce under their arses that shoved them on towards the moon: an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut. Both of these star sailors were very attractive men with the significant glamour of having been part of something unique and wonderful, a job that required high intelligence, resourcefulness and courage; one I would never be able to do. I was awestruck as well as star struck with admiration for all the marvellous men and women who dared to go beyond the boundaries of our planet in an overblown cigar tube, the early explorers not knowing what might lie ahead. There is that link between both my enduring loves – the very ancient and the very modern and people who dared, ala Star Trek’s couldn’t-care-less split infinitive – to boldly go where no man (woman) has gone before. When prehistoric people crossed land bridges seeking better places to hunt and gather they, like space explorers, were entering alien territory. Our early forerunners had no idea what dangerous animals might stalk them, what hostile primitives they could encounter, but still they advanced. It’s in us to boldly go because it’s in our nature to want to explore, to seek new places and try new things.
I wouldn’t be capable of working profitably at any of the professions I love. Yet, variety is the spice of life and, thanks to an intuitive mother, my trying, even for a limited time things I would never be really good at, added to my knowledge and interests. Activities that can be enjoyed even at a distance rather like observing that beguiling old moon some humans have actually stood on or sailed close to and at which primitive humans also gazed in awe and wonder.