Island Blog – The Feral Way

I love who I have become. I fought hard to become her. This is true but requires texture and depth explanatorily. By dint of the collusion, or collision, between my own rebel spirit and my obvious need to remain feral (with domestic appearance) I began the Beguine. However, this dance, should it be a requirement for life, requires a partner even if he is crap at dancing and refuses to learn the steps. No matter, for now. What I mean is that the outcome, the people we both became as a result of many influences, the greatest of which (or is it whom) was each other created another thing. I did not become the woman I am proud of all my myself. And he did not become the man he became all by himself. No. It was a collusion, a collision, a pull back, a lot of swearing and door slamming, a deal of punishments and witholdments and a lot of coming together for happy times along the road, no matter the outside troubles, most of whom were the in-laws.

Since he chose to leave, I have gone through the swingles. I have self-doubted, doubted more, felt angry, lost and pointless. I decide I need to learn self love. Well, that’s what they tell us and it has a hook to it, one I grabbed because loving self sounded wonderful even as it had always meant ‘selfish’ and that word nobody wants as an addendum on their CV. I puzzle back through my memories and remember well dropping to my knees in the face of the word of it, although not literally. My belly clutched itself into a fist and my lungs decided to pause for too long. My dress suddenly looked like a balloon and my make up, drag queen. It took days and nights of introspection before I could actually bring my whole self back into the room. Selfish? No, no no, not me, not me, surely…….Total agony, judgement, no point living on. You may guess I worked on the stage.

Moving on to the nownow I am set back a bit from the bloodpain of that judgement, one I oftentimes laid around my own shoulders like a wrap made of scalpels. Now I am able to consider and, best of all, to challenge. I know that the word ‘selfish’ has many meanings and that being selfish is, at times, many times, a grand thing, but it is the intent that matters as intent does in every move we make. I don’t want to put another down, nor elevate myself above another. I know that. To me this is one of the most pointless and ridiculous things we ever do as human beings. Nobody wins, especially the ‘selfish’ one, not in that scenario. But in order to be who we long to be, that person we might keep secret for fear of the ‘selfish’ title being foisted upon us, is the one who will never sleep, who will never leave us, who will always keep knocking at the door of our heart.

Learning to self-love is a journey worth making. I hated myself for decades. I allowed the bright moments of external acceptance to be my rewards for being whom someone else wanted me to be and thus acceptable, loved even. Those moments lit the rooms of my life and I hoped they were enough, but they were not, are not. And the good news is that this true person, the real one, is still looking for me to love her, is faithful as a dog and still there, still knocking at the door of my heart. For a wee trip back into the old definition book, I looked up Self Love and here is what came up, in the dictionary, on Google and in Roget’s Thesaurus:-

What is another word for self-love? ; pride · conceitedness ; ego · egocentricity ; egotism · pomposity ; pridefulness · pompousness ; smugness · vanity

Hmmm. Methinks change is required. I flounce, I dance away from this, I barf it out, but it is still there in print. All of those definitions are about being either less than or more than someone else. So where am I? In a wasteland and waiting patiently for intelligent change. I’ll wait along with Self Love. She’s a powerful woman /man. Androgynous. And the way out of the old thinking. The feral way.

Island Blog – A Beetle, Selkie Song and Kitchen Units

I met a beetle last night in the middle of it. The night, I mean. He was rather spectacular with a long oval back, shiny black, indented white. I was sitting drinking a herbal knockout tea around 2am and he ran along the wainscot, bumping against it every few seconds as if he had forgotten where it was. I hunkered down to watch him and he saw me, rising his pincers at me, his body an oblique accent with waggles. I laughed a guffaw, almost blowing him right back to base, and then apologising as he had to do the whole journey again. So brave, I schmoozed, as he repeated the laborious thing. I wondered where he was headed, and my eyes followed him as I thinked. He likes the dark. I just turned on the sun, well, for him, anyway and he is freaking out. He scuttles, bumps and scuttles again his way to where the old kitchen units don’t meet the ground, a thing that seems legion in old houses build almost 200 years ago and with no thought for foundations nor levelling. At least not in inanimate things. I suspect there was a great deal of levelling going on between sentient beings. As he got closer to that perfect lift of warped unit and sinking floor about 6 spiders scooted down their silken ropes, their legs clutching and flailing. Oh don’t be silly, I said to them. Just look at you all, you skinny little things and look at him, armoured up and with a serious pincer waggle going on. They ignored me as they all pretended they had just popped out for air without any beetle-munch intention, performing a few trapezoid spins and then disappearing back into my units.

I wonder, often actually, about the wildlife inside my units. I have met plenty over the years. A family of slugs, no, a whole township. Spiders of every size and colour. Mice. There have been times, when I felt so compromised and overwhelmed that I might take a deep breath prior to opening a door in search of ordinary dinner plates for an ordinary dinner and been quite prepared to encounter some big predator, one that has grown weary of a spider/slug/mouse diet and is ready for change. It has never happened for real. Not yet. Living in the places I have lived, around horses, cattle, sheep and feral children, anything has always been possible and I am no fool. I am prepared. Have always been. Mostly I don’t mind at all but since the old man is gone, I am requiring myself to learn my own courage. Things can overwhelm even as I know for sure that I was always the bravest. However, being brave beside someone else, a husband, a wife, a child, is so much braver than mere courage for self and alone is a load scarier. My beetle encounter teaches me. I could imagine an infestation of waggling warriors or I could decide to marvel at the extraordinary beauty of both the chance encounter and the creature itself. I am just glad I turned on the ‘sun’ prior to entering the lift and luff of my kitchen, thus avoiding crunching this stunning creature under a careless foot.

Later I walked the Tapselteerie loop. As I rounded the point, the breeze caught my breath, salty, straight from the great wide ocean. I saw Sgeir Mhor rock, peaceful today. A singing came to me. My dog twisted and stopped dead at the sound. The Selkies, I said. No worries. I hear them, I tell her, the seal people singing. It is a beautiful song and we stand awhile to listen. I wander home in a smile. Ah wildlife! The one thing that is a gazillion things. Is that a collective noun? And if I am wild, does that make me a part of wildlife or do I need to grow more legs or feathers, or fur, or fins to join this glorious freedom?

I feather home. Open the mail box, deal with probate, answer emails, remindings of the duality of my life. Wild at times, unwild at others, and yet, and yet, if I am learning anything from my innovative (and feral) children, I am beginning to think that, although I have no plan to scuttle nor waggle, nor, if possible, inhabit the night, I can become conscious of both worlds, of all worlds. Being conscious is not about knowing what the hellikins you do next, but about just being open. Life can feel like boots stuck in mud, can it not? But we don’t have to stay stuck. I am learning and loving the learning even when it scares me. Remember the Selkies, I tell myself. They were there and you couldn’t see them but their song, their perfect pure song reached you and stopped you in your tracks.

I am learning. Curious. And learning again. Now, this is living.

Island Blog – The Circus, Night Fairies and Life

I have baked a honey cake and drizzled it, put a wash on, changed a bed, dressed, applied slap, made a cauliflower cheese for supper, wished a grand-daughter happy unicorn birthday, swept the kitchen floor, prepared a salad, ate breakfast, fed the birds and the dog, danced to Ronan Keating’s new single and it is now 7 am. There is something manic about me, I am beginning to believe. Residue automatic morning-ness from when the tourist business was up and running, endless children, many of whom I didn’t know, also up and running, and food food food required by hundreds kept me cartwheeling from first light. Half the time there was little point washing up as meal demands bunched together like giggling girls on an outing. I whisked, beat, baked, stewed, roasted and steamed mountains of produce. It thinks me I am unable to step out of those running shoes, even now, when days are slow and gentle, mostly, with the exception of the odd crappy day wherein I cannot run for the life of me. My legs are leaden and my mind is a roundabout on speed. However, I am happy to report that such days are rare, not least because I can’t be bothered with any sort of sickness, mental or physical, disallowing either much space in the room. Be off with you, I say, but don’t go bothering anyone else because you are just not welcome. Try outer space.

Mornings bounce me like Tigger. I wake with the birds and absolutely cannot turn over for more sleep. Despite my passionate love for my recycled plastic bottle filled duvet and my feathery down pillows, I have too much energy fizzing through my veins to lie a minute longer. I have to be quiet, though. Himself won’t rise till about 8 and my kitchen is a floorboard below his bedroom. I don’t think they lagged things much in the 1870’s. I tiptoe through my tasks, interested, excited, curious and particularly curious when I discover that the washing pile is gone. Who has gone-d it? There is only me who washes in this house. I discover it a little later through a downstairs window, bobbing like bunting on the line. I have no recollection of hanging it there. Perhaps I didn’t. Perhaps the Night Fairies did it for me. How sweet they are. I remember them from my young harassed mother-days. They always surprised me with their kindnesses but there were times when I would rather they told me what they’d done because I might then have avoided wasting precious time in search of something I knew I had left just there the night before. Just there stares back at me emptily. I began to suspect collusion with the Night Fairies. Once, when I was certain of a pile of bed sheets awaiting a spin in the belly of my washing machine, I found them half way up the stairs, draped into an Aladdin’s cave and with two guilty looking collies curled up inside, each one enjoying a bowl of muesli.

Perhaps when life has been a circus for long enough, the circus becomes the life and each performer becomes the circus. I think I have. And I don’t mind one bit. I think the circus training has kept me bouncing through all sorts of horrible, kept me mostly up and taught me that nothing in life is going to get me down for long. I just wish I could share this with everyone else. Life is such a precious gift, and always too short. Living it right up to its end is the only path to happiness.

After all, stumble stones can always be turned into building blocks.