Island Blog -Time for Change

I’ve been reading.  A lot.  Around 8 books so far and, if I so choose I will read for most of the day.  My passion is for a beautifully written novel with an interesting back drop such as war or abuse or some other big struggle.  My interest lies in the ways a person, usually a woman, pulls herself out into a new daylight, learning many big life lessons en route.  Yes, she will have to have courage to take every step of the way, fight for her freedom, fight for others, keep the song singing in her heart, reminding herself, in the face of derision, the rattle of old chains, menace and physical threats, why she is doing anything to rock HMS Polite Acceptance in the first place. She will face loss and pain and sadness.  She may risk poverty, danger, loneliness and a lot of fear, but something so strong will not be denied from way down inside of her.  Nothing drowns out that voice, the one that says Only You Can Do This, Only You.

Well dammit.  Can’t somebody else hold this hot candle for a bit?  I wish I’d never started any of it.  Life wasn’t so bad, was it…… under someone else’s regime/tyranny/control?  Prejudice and domination are acceptable, aren’t they, for those who don’t challenge, like most of the rest of the world, or, at least, a lot of the women I know, those who stick to the man-made plan and just grow great tomatoes underneath their glass ceiling.

Trouble is, this isn’t living for she who will not be kept down, she who has a gift to offer and a subsequent duty to lead by example.  She has chosen herself, and now it’s way too late to go back to straightening the antimacassars. She doesn’t have to be Joan d’Arc of course, cutting swathes through armies, trees and kingships, but she does have to keep going.  It may be on a bike, or on foot, or crawling at times, but she can not give up.

I know this all sounds like a historical drama but I believe that, in this age of consumerist suicide, there are women, and men of course, out there who see how isolation is slowly draining us of our life blood.  High earners live skyscraper high above their real needs, the things in life that aren’t things at all, such as time with family, no mobiles on the table, no TV blaring out sugary princess tales of utter nonsense.  I love the pixar movies myself, but they are no teachers of the truth if they are the only truth.  If parents are always too busy or too stressed to give time, play and teaching to the little ones, then nobody else will either.  I’m super glad my kids had the freedom from all of that, even if I was often too busy to play with them.  The toys they had were few and often made from whatever was kicking about the farmyard, waiting for them among the trees or washed up on the shoreline. For them as parents, it takes considerable effort to divide their time between workload and family needs.  There is so much distraction and way too many lonely children, teenagers, adults as a direct result.

Instant fame is unattainable to most of us. Glamour and a size 8 body, impossible in reality without starving for months and a big bank account, and yet just look at all those compelling images air-brushed into racks of glossy magazines.  Being the fastest, the brightest, the thinnest, the best, is not all it seems.  Just count the numbers who kill themselves on the way.  What brings us the most glorious contentment lies at home, among loved ones, friends, neighbours, sharing time and certainly not just at Christmas.

And, like those who said NO MORE in the face of huge pressure to retain the status quo, who risked derision and unaskedfor advice, who had no idea where to go, nor how to go there, we can all make such a choice.  We may be only human, but we are more powerful than we imagine.  All we have to do is to ask ourselves this:-

Am I running my life or is my life running me?




Island Blog – Fun and Monkeys

Today I will be painting.  Not a wall, but with acrylics on a board I prepared earlier.  It’s years since I picked up a painter’s brush and I must confess to feeling excited at the thought.  I have drawn a confusion of circles, squares and oblongs, and plan to simply play with overlays of colour.  Back home I would struggle to allow myself such a dose of fun, fun for its own sake.  I ask myself Why is that?  But answer comes there none.  It just wouldn’t fit into my schedule and would never be added to my jobs for the day.  This thinks me.

I walk back into the lodge for a top up of good coffee and discover a family of Cervet monkeys inside the food bins.  Monkeys are quick to take advantage when all humans leave the room.  They scatter as I round the corner, bar one.  I can see its tail hooked on to the side of the bin and I can hear it rummaging in the depths.  I clap my hands and its (very cute) face appears, a chicken leg in its mouth.  As I clear up the chaos, I ponder monkey fun.  Of course, it isn’t fun in their minds, but it makes me laugh, despite the mess they leave behind.  What happens to fun as we grow older, I wonder?  Is it only for the young?

Although I am on holiday (and when we’re on holiday, we do allow ourselves to play) I can see no good reason why I shouldn’t continue playfulness back home, and not just at weekends.  Even the dullest of tasks has an element of fun, if I can find it. However, life does change us.  Troubles, illness, sadness, work, all conspire to keep our heels firmly grounded and our eyes on the ‘sensible’.  I think it has a great deal to do with disappointment and a growing sense of failure and regret.  If we are very honest, we will admit that, back then, when choices were an option, we possibly wish we had made a better one, one that would have given us a different life altogether.  Maybe more than one;  maybe a load more than one.  This may sound like a waste of thinking time, but who defines waste?  Indulging in such a fluffy thought may not change anything on the ground, but what it does do is to make me consider my gifts, lifting them to the surface and into the light.  I remember that young girl (already on the brink of domesticity) with her bonkers dreams and ideals and I realize that I have managed to relegate them to the trash bin of disappointment.

I search for more things to look at.  There’s a deal of squished gooey yuk in this bin, but among it lie the gems.  The gems that tell me I could have done anything I chose to do.  If I had practiced my piano like a good little musician, I could play really well now.  If I had gone for that interview at drama school, I could be famous now.  If I had kept up singing lessons I might be travelling the world singing arias from the inside of a golden frock.  If I had come to writing seriously as a young woman, I might be on the Best Seller list by now.  So, what does this all tell me?  That I am wallowing in a wistful and pointless regret? Not at all.  It shows me my gifts and makes me look at them closely.  These ‘maybe lives’ are not mine, but neither is the real me a walking to-do list.

Talking with others, I ask them about their gifts.  Oh, I’m not gifted, is the usual response.  It seems that gifts are for others.  Ah, but you are gifted.  We all are, every single one of us, but the world has a rather mean way of defining the gifted word.  Prodigies, the celebrated, the successful, the geniuses, those whose names are plastered over billboards and on everybody’s tongue have the rest of us retreating into the background feeling, understandably, a little cheated.  But, if you do rifle through the waste bin of life in search of your gifts, you will find them.  By just looking, you have made a new choice.  I’m looking for me, is what you are saying, even if I very much doubt I’ll find anything.

You will. And when you do, you’ll remember who you really are.  And that is when the fun begins.