Tag Archives: Life

Physician – heal thyself

historicdesignin00john_0049 copy 2I am not sure how to start – why I should even want to – connecting is not the straightforward process I would like. I am in a fug. I cannot straighten my own perspective on the world I experience – and having just removed myself from the benefits of prescribed medication for the first time in a couple of decades, I am trying to be gentle on myself, but now I am needed.  My husband has retirement challenges – the common experience of finding how to re purpose one’s life.  I know I can only enable – not do anything, but it’s not easy seeing the person you live with struggle with the existential loneliness that is being human. We all struggle with it to a greater or lesser degree – a universal challenge then – but he, like me, is not a great fantasist. He cannot imagine something that is not apparent. And I am beginning to consider that the art of delusion should be on the National Curriculum in order that we maximise the potential of mental wellbeing. So how can I help? Probably cannot. I choose to try and stay kind – not leaping to judge, remembering its the tiny things that make a person feel loved. But part of me is 6 year s old and screaming ‘What about me?’

And so it is. And it will go on being like this – worrying for him, about him, wanting more for myself, feeling anxious that my sons and their loved ones are going to have to feel the pains of being human.  The only real answer is non-being and I don’t think that will do down well with the family.

So tell me how you manage those feelings of hopelessness, lack of worth, lack of meaning.  Tell me how a walk in the woods nurtures you, listening to Bach, stroking the dog. What am I missing?  My rational self understands all these strategies, even believes in them, but there is still a deep well of loneliness that refuses to be filled . It’s not completely dry, but it could do with some refreshment. This once voracious reader cannot connect with the writer’s I love, something has broken and I don’t think it’s them.

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Before the fall

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This is a wonderful spot for a picnic – there we were on the slope overlooking this little river at Glen Etive last Sunday, watching a fantastic stag watching us as he dominated his landscape.  My husband is a real photographer – whereas I am a beginner – and as is his wont, he finished his sandwich and jumped up with tripod and camera to capture a one in a thousand shot . He didn’t manage it. I heard him before I saw him, in one glorious arc lose his footing and fall face forwards down the slope . My consciousness sort of disappeared I think. I moved, found myself next to him without knowing how, looking at a very deep gash gushing blood from just above his right eye. I didn’t know where else to check. He was horribly shocked from having to drink in his own blood as it flooded into his mouth. Horror scene.

Cut to the following day – put together like Jack that tumbled down the hill by a gorgeous young doctor at Fort William ,  he was wearing his stitches like a veteran.

What surprised me most was how physical shock attacks – I was functioning enough to cope on the hill – made a compress, found a sleeping stranger down the road to check him over- drove an hour and a half to the hospital – but the following day I was  a wreck. Cognitively even more impaired than I normally am in a morning it  was back to hospital to check out his dizziness. All o.k. on that front , but suddenly my back seizes up in chronic pain. Bizarre.

A week later and we are all good. And I am even more aware of how lucky I am to have him here with me. But when we go picnicking up waterfalls again, and we will, I think we will equip ourselves with a phone to message and possibly a flare. Often there is no signal up those hills and if he hadn’t been able to walk back down, we would have been in a much worse predicament. We are sensible , we have all the walking gear – but that doesn’t exclude accidents that can turn into nightmares. As the Scouts say ‘ Be Prepared.’

Some of the shots that my husband has taken in the past – and some of my own – are available in the sites that can be accessed on the pages in my blog if anybody cares to take a look! I love his photography and they can make great subjects for my work at Society 6 and Redbubble which goes onto lots of products. Here’s one I made earlier!

stonework by anipanicuillens instnov5

weekly photo challenge – Earth

 

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Morning

I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.                          Sarah Teasdale

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/earth-2017/

My spirit home is Scotland where I return again and again.

Inheritance tracks Part Two

epsein

Baby awake . Walsall Art Museum

This is the second poem I want to share .Motherhood is such a large part of my persona that watching my sons develop into young men brings their absence from my daily round into sharp relief. Nevertheless it is an experience that has shaped me and tested me . As a young woman in my twenties there was virtually no consideration of the possibility of me having children – life was simply busy, and I had none of the maternal cravings that others seemed to feel.  I had never been around babies – I was the youngest – and had no extended family that included them.  I lived to work and to play , and did both probably harder than was good for my well being. So motherhood arrived in my early thirties – a biological imperative kicked in which I could neither explain nor ignore.  I was ignorant of all things to do with being pregnant and  further on ,of small human beings that had lots of demands. I was adrift in an alien landscape without a map.  I struggled. I loved this little stranger with a ferocity I had never experienced. He was a baby in pain during the first few weeks, and was not thriving. I was encompassed totally by my responsibility towards him, and increasingly tormented. It was not a happy time, and yet it was full of wonder and awe  and deep, deep love.

This poem by Sylvia Plath suggests the alienation that I felt at that time.

Love set you going like a fat gold watch. 

The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry

Took its place among the elements. 

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue. 

In a drafty museum, your nakedness 

Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls. 

I’m no more your mother 

Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow 

Effacement at the wind’s hand. 

All night your moth-breath 

Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen: 

A far sea moves in my ear. 

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral 

In my Victorian nightgown. 

Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square 

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try 

Your handful of notes; 

The clear vowels rise like balloons.

My first outing without my baby was instigated at the insistence of my husband and mother, and I was literally harangued into making an attempt to rejoin the world. I went to Walsall art musuem , where I was moved to my core by an Epstein bronze of a baby’s head. It inspired me to write my own poem. Its not a good poem, but it reminds me.

Bronze baby

Bronze baby, Epstein’s child.
Perfect depiction of infant
beauty, human fragility.
Lovingly carved, sculpted
polished, held. Immortalised
infant head of exquisite
timelessness.  How I want
to secrete you, cradle you.
placed so unprotected
in our midst.
You spoke to me that day,
slashed through silence,
touched a delicate, fragile
part of me, the voice I was
so unsure of. In the newness
of my motherhood,
you showed me what it means
to be a child.

I took your message away,
kept it safe, inviolate,
next to my heart. Today,
a decade late, I know
the voice I heard was not
the sound of my  newborn
but my own, untended
and unheard.

The only philosophy

Poecard

 

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’…..
………….But the most complete experience of all, the only one superior to music, is silence:
When the inexpressible had to be expressed, Shakespeare laid down his pen and called for music. And if the music should also fail? Well, there was always silence to fall back on. For always, always and everywhere, the rest is silence.”

From Aldous Huxley ‘Music at Night’

When I was seventeen I had my first adult trip to London. That is, I and two friends travelled unescorted from the Midlands to London in order to go to the theatre. The play was Amadeus, about the composer Mozart , and it changed my life. I remember walking out into the landscape of London at dusk with the music still playing within my head, and my heart felt as though it had expanded. I loved my life, I loved the paving stones, I loved my two companions dearer than I had loved them before, I loved the light, the sounds, the very air I was breathing.

I had experienced the transformative powers of listening with an audience to the exquisite sounds first heard by Mozart, then passed on by him to the world for all time.

I was seventeen quite a long time ago. I have lived several lives, some of them have been my own – to paraphrase Stanley Kunitz. I know more and less than then. I know more facts, more detail, more pain, more sorrow, more joy, more excitement – and yet I feel I know less. I am less prepared for life at 55 than I felt at seventeen, when nothing felt improbable, and I felt hungry for experience.

Yet last Sunday I returned to that state of euphoric shared experience when I hear Karl Jenkins conduct his Requiem for Peace ‘The Armed Man’ as well as other scores at TheRoyal Albert Hall to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. Was it Nietszche who said ‘Music is the only philosophy?’ On sharing that concert with how ever many in the auditorium , I felt again the transendence that

music can bring to me. Nature too sometimes moves me to the same level of consciousness, but music can take me there so quickly, so efficently, a motorway route to a temporary bliss. Bliss – what a good word – encompassing sorrow inside it as well as joy, that bittersweet sensation of tasting death and yet steering away.

I wanted to thank Karl Jenkins. This is it. A thank you from the depths of my being for showing me what humanity looks like in its greatest form, a generous, powerful force of love that knows no boundaries. There are no boundaries.

 

Benedictus -The Armed Man -A Mass for Peace

 

 

Hold on to your hats U.K!

 

whiteI was shocked and stunned by the result our country delivered on the E.U. referendum. The build up to the vote was not our finest hour. Frankly , we look pretty hideous at the moment . The thing is – I don’t quite believe it.  I don’t believe that the voters wanted this result – is that arrogant?  I think the whole affair has been mismanaged – in fact I was anti a referendum for this reason – we have a government to govern. That is the point of them – to argue out in a reasonable manner the pros and cons of policy.  I think the public are astute, but the populace cannot , by definition , read and inwardly digest the intricacies and complexities of economics and social policies via the media. It cannot happen. There will be a small minority who can unpick all the necessary argument and come to a judgement secure in the knowledge that they have equipped themselves with the available information from all sides and critically examined the opposing argument. The vast majority are too busy surviving, or too lazy or disinterested.

Now we are in this position the various factions are running about like headless chickens because they didn’t believe this could happen either. Big mistake.

However, what is important now is that cool heads manage the coming months. Britain will survive because there is no choice.  We may have to build some bridges , and that work will be done. Most people I meet are honest, well meaning, and committed to making life better for themselves and for their companions. What is essential is our humanity to others is not compromised. None of us live in a vacuumn and if compassion is at the forefront of policy making as well as daily living , there will be nothing to fear. Fear is the only outcome when the politics of the far right starts to seep into our daily governance and our daily lives.

We need to recognise the danger that the far right brings , remembering the recent past atrocities that shaped our modern politics. It always appears unthreatening in the build up to taking power, and morphs into monstrous totalitarianism almost imperceptibly.

Compassion is the key. Retain it in the heart of politics and daily living and that monster has no oxygen .