Island Blog – Intelligent Adaptation

I walk this day around the shore of the sea-loch as the tide ebbs and fast as if there’s a great ocean sucker fish drinking deep. I watch the water startled, yanked backwards by some fierce mother as it is whipped back through the narrows, rock-squashed into a skinny rip tide. It thinks me of my grand girls when Mother decides on plaits and will not allow any escape from said plaiting.

I chat with the trees, the track, the sunlight and even the damn flies having been away for a marvellous four days during which I boarded a ferry, drove over 200 miles and spent 3 nights with my daughter and her family for the first time in too many years; when I left my island home alone, knowing she was empty of life until I returned (first time); when I found my inner brave and launched out into open ocean, as me, as one, as singular, as a widow, as me. Although I knew that it would be more than ok, that I would encounter only k9ndness, the thought of going any further than island rocks scared me. But and but again, no buts, no butts. On the ferry, good lord the slowest and smallest Calmac ferry ever, I sat with poppy dog on my lap and longed to turn back home. Called back to my little Pixty car waiting for me in the bowels of the boat I am safe again. I drive out through the open metal maw and my journey begins. I know it well but haven’t driven it long longtime. My fears? traffic. people. that’s all. (all lower case).

The stay was wonderful. I remembered easily the activity in this home, the go here now, the go there now, thing. We did it all. We checked horses in fields, walked dogs, skirted rivers, watched butterflies, played word games, cooked food, laughed, engaged in private moments, slept and went again. When I left I reflected on it all, the whole colour wheel in captured glances at how it was, that singular catch, the legacy of it. I drove back at my own speed. I am not slow but I’m not fast neither, or is it either? And this this thinks me into intelligent adaptation. Maybe a big jump but stay with me. I have 3 hours for thinks.

In my sudden (for death is always sudden, no matter how expected) widowhood, I find an identity. Initially I was a puddle. For a long time. Now, not. I want to be known as me, unpuddled and rising into a lift of wild water, connectable with the rain that falls from the great Up There. I never knew me. I never was me. I was daughter and then wife. ‘Me’ was for decades irrelevant and unremarkable, as if she didn’t deserve noticing much beyond her physical presence. And, although I have made many adaptations over time I didn’t really know my way through it and, to be honest, I am glad I didn’t. It would have caused fire without available extinguishers. Instead I just kept moving on, learning, adapting and repeat. But now, now that when I go away I come back to just-the-way-I-left-it; when I can go out without saying anything at all; when I can plan new encounters, new commitments, new anything, I feel a quandary of contradictions. I know the old way but that way is dead now whereas I live on inside this loneliness, this freedom, this nothing, this everything, this, this, this.

How to work with the hoo-ha of such contradictions? Intelligent Adaptation. That’s how. Oh, I sound so smart but I am not smart at all, not on this lonely road, not on any road. But I have learned that it is eminently possible to move on from circumstances and situations only if a human wants to. In my journey, particularly through the older years, I find myself the moving on person. It saddens me because I know that there are wonderful people stuck inside the dead past, unable, unwilling to accept the new. Not me. Don’t let it be you. Isn’t this intelligent adaptation? What I went through is peanuts to many. I don’t need to say anything because, and this matters, I found someone professional to talk things out. Private. Secure. My regrets, my pain, my fear, all of it conversationed in the right place; thus I can walk towards the village, watching eagles fly pre buying broccoli et la la, tossing my Hallo into the day, knowing that my very private angst is in safe hands.

I called my bank today. I was welcomed with Hallo Mrs Fairbairns. It jarred me. I am not Mrs anymore and never will be. Many thinks around that one. I think about intelligent adaptation and I know that I can adapt and then rise into the me of me. However, the online thing requires a title. Mrs, Miss, Ms. No. Captain, Brigadier, Princess…… No. Each one of those titles sound like ownership. I was Mrs. I am no longer. Titles bother me, labels confound. It’s probably my issue but I doubt this affects only me. Being boxed, labelled, leaves many of us on lonely streets, wandering, wondering who we are now and where we might choose to belong or to whom. And the wandering is of import because it is not possible to adapt to a whole new life in the wake of the old and familiar one. I might feel lost at times, probably will, over and over, but I am finding my way. My Way. I won’t inwardly growl at being labelled as Mrs because I know the title to be one of respect. I also know that our language is archaic in such an area as this. I want my first name and then my second. But, wait. My second name is now my married name, which is not my name but a gift from the rule book of Traditional Marriagitis. So I continue wandering, the conundrums flitting about me like swallows. Whether or not a definite answer comes, it doesn’t really matter because I am building the new me from the inside out, using intelligent adaptation as my thought and reasoning process.

If all this sounds confusing, it is. Even to me.

Island Blog – Thinks on Why

This morning I was discussing various outlandish things with my faraway son. We don’t bother, he and I, with myopia, moving with a zip straight into deep thinks on even deeper things such as ‘how is it I can remove my feet from my boots without unzipping the zipping and yet find it impossible when inserting them?’ That sort of deep think.

We spoke on the Why of things, the Why that explodes you out of bed of a morning, so excited are you to get the day rocking. Without a Why, we agreed, we would remain in bed considerably longer, rising with a sad sigh of resignation. The day would not rock at all, not even once. So what is your Why? I ask him. He doesn’t know, yet, but with his investigatory brain, he’ll locate it I feel sure. Sometimes it is there, the Why, but playing hide and seek with you. You have to look for it until it leaps out from grandad’s old chest on the landing with a loud Wahoo!

I think about my Why as I walk, reluctantly, the dog this afternoon. Why reluctantly……when the sun shineth down on all his people and the sky could set up a sailor’s trouser factory to match the largest in China? Why, when you have had lunch, prepared supper, brought in the wood, sorted the palaverous palaver for tomorrow’s journey to the care home, affording you a week of peace, no wheelchair motor thrumming like a bee stuck in a strip light, no spills or crashes, nothing lost that can never be found again, not even the wifi going down, deliberately timed for maximum upset? Because I am exhausted. So you will understand that my Why is not in Grandad’s chest on the landing, nor any of the other likely hiding places. My Why is awol.

However, forcing my tired old brain into action I took a wee donder through the limbic region for something that lit my fire. I meandered through sewing, knitting, caring, holidaying, making money, painting, singing, playing my piano and into writing. That stopped me. Writing. Yes. Is this my Why? Perhaps I wouldn’t have to ask that question if it was. I know that, when writing I am totally engaged, time slips by without me noticing and in a life (nowadays) when I could scream at the slow slow ticking away of the seconds as I wait for a day to run out of puff, this is exciting. Had I even begun Book Two I might be so absorbed as not to notice the dull drudge of caring for decades. Is it a truth, then, that I am actively not seeking out my Why in the vain hope that soon this will be over and I will be free to write without endless interruptions? I am not sure this is a healthy, nor a realistic, way to live.

I know one Why that explodes me up of a morning. I am out so fast that it may take all morning for my bed to regain its comfortable calm. My children. And their children. Whatever skirmishes are going on inside my own brain, if one of them is going through shit, or facing an exam or a life test, I am fired up like a rocket. I can’t manage their stuff for them but my support, my texts and voice messages can tell them I am here for them, always and as long as I draw breath. Probably long after that too. But it isn’t right to live inside someone else’s life, or for someone else’s life. It is the Why inside my own that needs finding, naming, sticking on the wall, fastening to my heart. This Why must be writing. It has to be. Writing is the only island in this turbulent ocean, the only thing that eats the indigestible whilst feeding me at the same time.

There are no books at all on How to cope with long term caring, beyond suggestions for joining groups or taking up community singing. Not that I have found, and, believe me, I have looked. With a How there needs to be a What. If the What, for me, is a book to help others caught in this cruel trap with no sign of an ending that is in any way pleasant for anyone, to make them laugh out loud at the funny side and to let them know they are not alone as they plan murder or an imminent departure from their post, then this book is begging to be written. Experiential learning is critical, as it is to pretty much anything in life. I have that in spades. The How is to flaming well get on with it, find a space, make a space, defend that space. Now, not when it’s over. Right now.

And the Why is the writing. No matter that I have no idea how to begin, nor how to couch the awfulness, the drudge and boredom and frustration of it, in polite language; no matter that there are a zillion stupid tasks inside this myopic life all needing Only Me to fix them, from finding a jersey that doesn’t exist, never was red, nor did it have buttons down the front, this jersey crucial and of great value that will never be found, to relocating the wifi dongle that I deliberately put away somewhere deep and dark out of spite, and with many others in between. Many. Others. Not even these can take away my Why, My How and my What.

How I do this, I have no idea. But what I do know is that if I don’t flaming well get on with beginning it, I might as well howl at the moon in the vain hope she will howl back. And I don’t think that has ever happened. My head is a jumble right now. I am scrabbling around inside my knowledge of a day in my current life and there is no space left. And yet, and yet, I seem to recall great people who made space for a dream, who planted its seed with no assuredness of future growth; who tended and nurtured and waited patiently for a green shoot, for validation.

So, if them, then why not me? Why not you?

I leave you with a quote from one hell of a fine woman.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Eleanor Roosevelt