Island Blog – To Break through Sunder

There can be times in a life when torpor sets in. Or so I am discovering. Perhaps it begins with a yawn one morning when noticing a floor needs sweeping or when what to eat for supper is of little interest. Noticing such a fledgling state of mind at this stage might bring on an internal slap, a ‘get up and get on with it’ admonition spoken out loud or in silence, the voice sharp, matronly, critical, judgmental even. But if, as in macrame, this torpor is permitted daily freedom to build one knot into a pattern, it soon becomes an accepted, if not acceptable, un-presence of mind. And before I know it, I am its obedient servant. Perhaps such times are allowed now and again. Too many of us (and too much) are driven by expectations, our own of ourselves or those of others or worse the ones we think others demand of us, most of which are imagined and therefore not real. However I am not one to just allow torpor nor stupor to dupe my mind, at least not once I notice what’s going on up there inside my skull. I sense the danger of ‘can’t be bothered’. It smells of metal and lemon pith. ‘What’s the point?’ is another one. This one smells of sleet and cold porridge and comes with a shivering wind. I can turn from both, berate this inner crazy and perform a task of beauty which may well be the preparation of a delicious but simple meal or the sweep of my mindful brush across the kitchen floor. It might be a gentle wander through the woods or just the opening of my ears to birdsong, my eyes to the brave tulips about to bloom, or perhaps my ears to the miraculous sound of my own breath, in and out, in and out.

I can’t always manage it of course. Who on earth can? Life is not always a daring, bold adventure but sometimes a battle to just get through the long hours of a single day. One day can awaken fresh and happy in an unexplainable way. The next doesn’t really want to wake at all, again for no obvious reason. I am learning to accept this conundrum knowing that the happy and unexplainable day, within which I felt light on my feet, full of energy and laughter at pretty much everything, is a gift and the other is a reminder to love myself no matter what, to be kind as I would to anyone else. To love oneself is, of course, is the hardest thing to do and not just for me. So much about loving self sounds like arrogance, self-importance, narcissism. And therein lies the problem, the reason a person might never even try to love the broken adult self, let alone accept the possibility, no, probability, that loving oneself can heal every wound, eventually.

And it is simple. Not easy, not at all, but simple. How simple it is to someone else, after all, without judgement, wanting only that they are warm, safe, secure, free and unconditionally loved. Yet we seem inept at best in gifting all of these to our own selves. My way of rising from the sunder of my past is to actively silence the inner judges, all perceived, imagined, long dead and of no use to me at all, not in my present life. I doubt they were ever of much use to me. To be reprimanded for a ‘crime’ at any point in my life came, after all, from outside of me, loudly, angrily, thence some punishment or other would ensue and I would survive it. It was done, over, behind me. Why on earth would I continue the punishment within and for years, perhaps? What lunacy! What lunacy indeed. Knowing this, seeing it now, I can laugh at the addles in my brain, the old wiring, the macrame knot pattern and with loving fingers, unpick the whole thing, bit by bit. I can notice the triggers that tug, no, yank, at the ties that bind me to my long ago and then I do something for myself. I might listen for the birdsong, step out barefoot onto night grass or even sweep the floor. Something, anything, that tells me I am here, I am important, a part of a very long and beautiful story, one that I can add to any time I like. I make mistakes, poor judgements and many failures and I know that I can wither at the perceived enormity of the mountain they make in my path, or I can laugh at the mountain, turn away and head in a whole new direction where the sky is wide open and the fragrant wildflowers tickle my bare legs as I walk.

Island Blog – About the Real

I walk into another evening alone. Oh yes I did have a great friend staying and other friends here making music, yes I did. And then they all go back into their shared lives. And I am so thankful they came. I loved the moments chuckled between us, the laughter, the conversations, the music. I really did. But after them there is just me, just the old loneliness.

In our ‘out there’ lives, we don’t mention loneliness and yet it is rife among us. We don’t want to speak out the word because it invites questions, or fixings, or mentions of Spring and daffodils and light. We see it coming so we keep quiet. We say we are fine and after a little chat about this, that and the weather, we turn back into the lonely. It doesn’t begin after the death of the one we shared everything with. No. It creeps in after the probate is sorted, the paperwork filed, the busy time that keeps us, well, busy and then stops dead like a train hitting the buffers. The shunt of silence is deafening and it isn’t going to make noise anytime soon, bar the odd visit of friends, the lift of music, laughter and shared time.

So what do we Lonelies do about this? Good question. I will work on it. Many of us are just short of 70. What options are out there for us, we who have stayed solid throughout maybe 50 or more years of being one of two? Well we may not be able to see them options but they might just be there, out there, somewhere. So what I say is this, as I wander, restless, through an empty house, more empty than it was when the other of two was away for a bit…..do you remember your dreams? I am working on that. Dreams I had as a young woman with no clue just don’t make sense now. However, a person without dreams, without aspirations, is basically dead whilst still breathing. It doesn’t matter what you do in the loneliness. But it matters if you do nothing. I catch the lift of the young woman I was, at 18, before marriage and kids and a most adventurous and demanding life subsumed me, or tried to. It never worked, this subsuming thing although it took all my spirit strength to remain Me. And now, on my own is mostly wonderful. I no longer have to say where I am going, nor when I will return. I no longer have to explain myself. I no longer this or that, and that is a void I do not know how to navigate. I was this woman and for decades. Now who am I?

There’s a question. The real is the truth. Lonely is real.

Island Blog – Disparity, Contradiction and a Heart

How strange it is to be the meeting point for two opposing thoughts. My head feels like a boardroom just before two factions arrive to wrestle a great big problem into acceptability. One side thinks A and the other, B. How will this ever resolve, wonders the mediator? How could it when both sides are absolutely certain they have the answer? A contra-diction in the making.

And so it is when a fear walks in first, into my mind. Go away! I shout threateningly, pointlessly. It doesn’t move a muscle, this fear, just stands there, shoulders squared, feet planted and growing bigger. It’s irrational of course. My fears always are. They aren’t ever real, but imagined and yet they burn holes. They really hurt. But I used to think I knew enough not to ask them questions like ‘Oh do tell me how you plan to pan out?’ because, if I did that, they might be only too ready to paint me a vivid picture of destruction and disaster, all so very believable, all so very terrifying. This was my old thinking.

This time I just indicate their allotted seat and pour them a glass of water. I do this because I know that they will not be shoo-ed away. I cannot forbid them entry. They are, in that moment, too strong, too righteous. Ignoring them doesn’t work either. It doesn’t disappear them. I have learned this over longtime.

When the other faction appears through the doorway, we sit down together. The difficulty in finding any sort of resolution lies in the fact that this meet is between the feeling of fear, and logic. In other words, neither side comes with the same level of bargaining power as the other. Let us say that the fear is of possible sickness, possible disaster, possible loss and that those on the side of logic just cannot get it. Why on this goodly earth would you allow to apocalypse something that hasn’t even happened and probably never will? It is tempting to go with that sensible, logical kind of thinking, but in the end a mistake. The thing about an illogical fear is that, when it is dismissed or suppressed in one guise, it will just evolve into another one, to return another time. It is like Covid, silently attacking at random, no rule of thumb, no logic.

What I do is this. I welcome both sides to the meeting. Hallo, I say. I see you. Let’s talk this through. I am the mediator after all. My varying fears are not silly. They are very real. Look at them, sitting smug on one side of this table, watching me. I decide to let them start. Even though it scares me, knowing how they can spin their spin. I take a deep breath. Courage mon brave! Describe yourselves, I say, and wait. They do. I follow them, watch them grow and develop themselves into monumental cataclysms.

We all do. The logic faction snorts derisively, but doesn’t interrupt. It’s not their turn yet. When it is, they deconstruct each possible cataclysmic development, turning it to dust. I feel rather sorry for my fears now. They just got annihilated by clever talk straight out of a textbook, and, yet, they are still here, albeit now looking a bit sheepish. They did embellish things somewhat, t’is true, and they probably wish they hadn’t gone as far as they did; the end of the world, death, destruction, mass murder, tsunamis etc etc. But when I consider each deliverance coolly, I can see a use for both factions. I can appreciate the need for fears as warnings, just as I can appreciate the need for logic. I can see that feelings are just feelings, and that thoughts are just thoughts. As I look around the table I notice they are all just children, the result of childhoods good and childhoods bad. We are not really opposing factions at all, but just vulnerable kids trapped in adult bodies. None of us are right and none of us are wrong. We are just different, have learned different ways to survive, different ways to cope, different ways to live.

I thank them all for coming. I employ sensibility and compassion, both coming straight from my heart and not my head. I acknowledge both fears and those on the side of logic. I tell them all they are valued and appreciated, in balance. I suggest they talk to each other without prejudice, open, interested, listening to what the other says instead of listening for an opportunity to contest. I feel the air soften around us and in my head. I tell them I am stepping out of the room for a bit, distancing myself. By the time I return with coffee they are chatting like old friends.

Although I know the fears will rise again, as they do for us all, that meeting of so-called opposing factions teaches me that we humans have enough heart to solve any problems, however overwhelming they might appear at first. The key is to appreciate whatever floats into a mind, to notice it, to say Hallo, sit down, let’s talk. Wishing fears away, or dismissing them with confounding logic, only holds sway for a short time. I know where my fears come from. Self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and from believing all the horror stories in the media. The world is not like that even if the tabloids and news programmes would have us believe it. We make up the world, we people, all of us. And we have big hearts, remember? I have also learned the art of stepping out of my own head, my own room, when fear and logic lock heads. Neither of them will win, this way. The removal of my sticky fingers, my gobby mouth and my imagination is always a good thing.

Let us take control of how we deal with our minds. Let us learn how to take a step back when turmoil hits the boardroom. Just through observation and without any attachment to either argument, we can solve any issues inside our brains.

It isn’t the world that needs fixing. It’s our minds. When they are seeing the good in everyone, the beauty in the life around us, when they decide to be unbiased and open, to step out of the current melodrama within and to think, instead, with our hearts, the world will automatically heal.