Monday, June 30
Garden, Sundö, 17:15
I woke up this morning in the middle of dreaming that I was at a formal dinner, where the person next to me was telling me how difficult it must be to lose a child. I was emphatically explaining that it was not difficult at all.
I explained that it would be difficult if Auo had been kidnapped and we had spent the last five or sx months trying to find her. We would spend every minute of the day wondering if we were doing the right things, if we were doing them quickly and cleverly enough, and if there was something more we should be doing. We would know that she wanted to be back home, we would know that she was relying on us to fetch her, and (even more difficult) we would know that she would have complete trust that we would be able to do this.
That would be difficult, I explained. What we are going through now might be hard, but it is certainly not difficult.
We don’t actually have to do anything at all. We only have to accept that Auo no longer exists in the world, and that every morning, when we wake up, she won’t be there. Even that is optional. Whether we choose to accept it or not doesn’t matter to Auo one way or the other. The ability to accept this, I said to the person next to me, is like learning to ride a bicycle, to swim or to ski. I added that I can do one very well, one just about, one not at all; and I am not sure about the acceptance thing yet.
What they all have in common is that they are not things you do, they are things you get. Once you get them, they become second nature and they are just how things are. It may be hard to get the knack of riding a bike, but it is not difficult, and once you can do it then you can do it. It might not be difficult learning to ski, yet I somehow never managed to get it. It is difficult earning to fly a commercial airliner with 234 knobs, dials, buttons, and meters to operate. You don’t get that kind of thing, you practise for long months and years, and then you never stop learning.
Things are difficult, I said, when they require concentrated effort that, if it is enough, sees you getting slowly better. Things are hard when you cannot see how you could possibly do them until suddenly you can, if in fact you ever can.
At that point in the conversation I woke up, missing Auo and wondering why I was spending my nights clarifying the difference between hard and difficult. And what sort of dinner party it was that would require me to do so.
It was drizzling when I got up and went outside, and the ground was so soaked and swampy that it looked as though I should go online and find out what sort of food alligators like. It didn’t rain hard today but it alternated between being damp and drizzling petulantly.
Now it is 17:15 and I am returning from the sauna house to make the mini pizzas Naa and I will have for dinner. The swamp is still there and the well has risen to within about three centimeters from the top. Much higher and we can reclassify it as a fountain. The light is extremely odd: a harsh, metallic grey if such a thing is possible.
Later Camilla will tell Naa that there will be work tomorrow, and Irma will phone me with a maths teaser which parallels something that arose in my teaching last autumn, and to which Johnny and I came to no firm conclusions. This version asks for the result of the following:
7 + 7 / 7 + 7 x 7 – 7
It all depends on whether you proceed from left to right (in which case the answer is 56), or whether you perform the multiplication and division first (in which case the answer is 49). However, it will later occur to me to test this on my iPad to see which is right. My iPad will claim the answer is 50. I will type it in three times to make sure the answer I am getting is to the right question. I will then ask the calculator on my laptop, and Windows 8.1 will tell me that the answer is 56. I will ask my Android phone for a casting vote and the phone will tell me that the iPad is correct: the answer is 50.
Since I have no idea how the answer could possibly be 50, I will Google and discover that I have made an elementary error in a part that wasn’t even supposed to be the tricky part. I rendered 7 / 7 as zero when any fule kno it is one. The actual answer is that you do perform the multiplication and division first, as I thought you should, but you have do it correctly!
So the day will end as it started, with a bout of unlikely pedantry.