Island Blog – Still

A word with more than one meaning. This morning I awoke about 5 and thought, rats, but only one, so, rat. I love the dawning mornings even if I am ready for lunch by 10. I came down for coffee, could smell it long before it was brewed, the good strong ground stuff and black as soot. I heard chaos in the skies, gulls in a frenzy. Hallo, I thought, there’s a big predator bothering these noisy sky-jackers. Then I saw them swinging and dinging around a faraway tree across the sea-loch, circling, rising, punching their white bodies into a space between the woodfull banks of the other side. I pulled on the bins, eyes still cloudy with unslept sleep and the lenses kept clouding from the heat of my eyeballs. Ffs, I muttered, wiping again and oh, again, with my wiper thingy until the glass and my eyeballs stopped posturing. Finally I catch them, two huge sea-eagles sitting quite the thing on a branch that already looked exhausted from the weight of their task. I saw the heads of the two, beaks moving langourously from one sky-jacker to the next with a barely visible shift of the neck muscles. Still. They were still in the face of the frenetic. I like that.

The sky was still, the clouds, not bothered, no wind. They sat like fat observers of my village, my home, me, no judgement, just watching. I felt the calm of both the clouds and the eagles move towards me, me in my jim-jams with soot black coffee on my tongue and in a way too early moment. It calmed me, smiled me. I said Thank-you for waking me at just the right moment to see the very perfect thing. I looked again and the eagles were gone. I missed their gone-ing, but here’s a thing – the sky-jackers kept pinging about the tree, squwalking and squealing like unwelcome thoughts. I have these too, I said to no-one there. I might be stilling myself, madly, only to find that, although no human interrupts this stilling process, my sky-jackers are within. Well, blow that.

Let’s take a look. I know I can’t ‘blow that’ because blowing that is what I have done for decades. Now I actually want to notice the interruptions when I am madly being still. I confront them. What do you want? I ask. The minute the voiced out loud question spills from my mouth, they begin to reply. They’re flapping like dingbats in a turmoil. What does this tell me? That they want me to listen to them. Ok, ok, I say, patting down the air around me. Form a queue. And they do. Ok, first…? I hear First. First reminds me that I had decided to check my household bills about 3 weeks ago and procrastinated because the thought of doing that is the ultimate yawn. I write it down and promise I will check that list this very day. Next? Next marches up with yet another thing I knew some while back demanded my attention and action. And so the list goes on. I actively respond to all of the demands. Then I still. I am like the not bothered clouds with no wind. And that is all it takes.

Cousin to this process of sorting out the immediate buzz flies or sky-jackers in my life is to respond to those who sing at me in a lower key. They come from way back. They are the Dodo, the Great Auk, The Tasmanian tiger of my life. They are, so called, extinct, but they are far from that. These other selves, our past selves, are still alive and kicking inside us and longing for love. I know this. My little girl and my teenage self were both angst ridden and for many years. And that is how it is and was. But because of studies into connectivity with our past, and with the exciting knowledge and support we now have access to, to heal our young hurts and breaks, there is the chance to be still again, to be at peace with the strong, bright and beautiful souls we have made of ourselves, no matter our beginnings. And we did, those of us who did the work. Just look at us! We changed neglectful, unthinking parenting into warm protection for our own children. We did that. We became eagles on exhausted branches not fussed by sky-jackers. We decided not to be bothered by old thinking peckers and baiters. We stood strong and our children are free-er than we ever were.

And for those of us who are still working on ourselves, allowing the mistakes we made as innovators of a future we had no manual for, we might like to say to ourselves this:- Well done. You shifted the time belt. You decided, whether consciously or unconsciously, to make a change, to do the old in a new way. To love instead of judge, to let a child think for his or her self. Go you. It isn’t done yet. But it is on its way if (thanks Maya Angelou) Still we rise.

Island Blog – Not One Word

Although I make a considered choice to live in the present and always did, there are times when my brain and I are not working in sync. Like today. Today I feel 107 and furious at myself. I ask, Why are you feeling like this? even as I know the only way to trudge through such a day is to allow the unpleasant feelings to come to me so that we can have a wee chat. I don’t want to, nonetheless. I want to bat them away and for them to go bother someone else. But they are ours, says Myself and I roll my eyes at her. So damn wise she is and infuriatingly so, especially as I know her to be right. I whine a bit and decide to write a blog on the whole fiasco because writing is my therapy. There is nobody here with whom I can discuss this, speak out my feelings and receive reassurance. Not any more. The ordinary little conversations of old are now firmly parked in the past as I would not assault a passer by with my whines and moans. It just isn’t done, duckie, I hear my old ma say to me and I bat her away too.

My way of meditating is to walk entirely in the present moment, noticing everything and so I trudge out for a walk, noticing. I notice that the hungry deer are stripping the moss from the base of the big old trees. I notice a new primrose and the fat slug of an incoming tide as it squeezes through the narrows. I notice the sky, flat white and remember I need milk. I notice that the potholes have been filled in and that my neighbour’s attempts to keep out the rabbits is failing again. By now I am bored stiff of noticing and my brain still whirls and whorls, chuckles and gloats. Shame, it hisses, guilt and shame, regret and a refusal to accept that it is as it is and it was as it was and it will be…….Stop! I yell, and startle another walker, causing her wee dog to bark. Sorry, ignore me, I say and she smiles kindly. We wander together, my brain finally silenced with its ‘you are never enough’ nonsense, its criticisms and judgements, its false truths, the lies it tells me about me. I tell her I feel ancient as those trees today and she tells me she is going stir crazy with being stuck at home. She also finds her meditation in walks and we laugh a bit together. It helps.

I listen to an audio book for distraction, empty the bin into the wheelie, lob the wine bottles into the glass bin, the empty ones, of course. I think about supper. Good lord girl, its miles till supper! I know, I know, I snap back but this day has lasted a whole week and I am bored of Time and her achingly ponderous walk, as if she’s in trudge mode too. Next door my young neighbour is busy with planks and angle grinders. He is doing up the kitchen or the somewhere inside the house and he is positive and occupied and productive. As you were once, says Goody Two Shoes. I sigh. I remember. I also remember wishing I wasn’t any of those things but could, instead, sit for a long while watching a sunset or a bird or the grass grow. How strange is this life, so full of care etc etc. Used to be my favourite poem. Nowadays my poems of choice are on loss and loneliness, empty days and long. sleepless nights. Perhaps I need a poetry rethink.

I know that days like these come unbidden and unsought, that they blindside me and that I am always ill prepared for their assault. I know I have to get through them and that they will, like all things, pass. I imagine I am stronger, have grown in some way because of them but it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time. Acknowledging that I am only a newish widow, lonely, looking back on my life and the mistakes I now regret, is key. The judges are there and probably always will be but they will fade if invited in for that chat, or so the books tell me. I am not sure I can trust myself to be civil, however. What will they look like? My mother? My husband? That crow of a teacher who decided I was the devil in a frock? Probably all three and others too who helped me feel I was never enough. How does anyone converse with such a group without losing their cool? I don’t have an answer for that, not yet, maybe I never will. But wait……maybe I just let them in, pour them tea, sit them down and let them have their say. Once the tonguing is done, perhaps I rise with dignity, smile and show them out, saying not one word.

Yes, that’s what I will do. Let them think what they like. They think they know me but they don’t, not as I do. I check my brain. It’s asleep.

Island Blog – Words and Showing Up

When I was a student, I learned how to write good English, to enunciate clearly and to employ slang or swearwords only in the playground or in whispery corridors. Now, still a student, still learning, I play with my words. Words are like music, they sound soft or harsh, harmonious or discordant, resonant of the very thing they describe. Onomatopoeiac. My dad would have a fit at some of my words. I think he considered loose language to be a sign of laziness, an unwillingness to search for and then to produce a word most fitting. He had a zillion words in his mouth and was never short of just the right one, bringing in a goodly measure of humour and exaggeration, just like a pro. Once, with his head inside the drinks fridge, he announced that ‘we are perilously low on lemonade’. He could spoof it anytime he chose. I think I get my passion for word invention from him, from Roald Dahl and from other great storytellers who lifted words up for scrutiny, oft times laying them down again, all tapsalteerie, just for effect.

To play with word assemblage is to dance with fairy feet over the rules of engagement. Words have double flipped over the generations. Some have been lost, new ones found and elevated to dictionary standing. Playing scrabble with me is never going to please a dictionary pedant. In fact, no dictionary pedant would even consider it. There is only one person I can play scrabble with and that’s my youngest son who has more crumjumbling words in his head than anyone else I know. The game invariably dissolves into hysterical laughter as one or other of us attempts to explain the meaning of whatever word we have just laid down on the board.

We are taught not to exaggerate, not to overstate with words and yet where’s the fun in rules like that? Sounds very beige to me and I love colour and lift, nonsense and musicality. Life is tough enough already. We do well to remember that having fun is good for our health. And, in that, I take courage and inspiration. Could be the lyrics of a song, a line snatched from Twitter, Facebook or Instagram; could be a flow of words from a passerby #therearelessofthosefornow; could be a crash landing in my own head whilst buttering a salmon steak. Could come from anywhere but if there is music in it, then it grabs my attention and I take a good look see.

This morning, around 5, the sun cast red across the sea-loch. A fingermist hovered over the still waters, tree reflections shimmying like dancers. The goddess of the breeze obviously thought it was her turn. Tickling the surface with her fingers, she lifted the runnels and rivulets into bubble swirls and sent them all on a trajectory for the wide open maw of the Atlantic Ocean. Gulls dipped, oystercatchers twillopped overhead in a cacophony of oystercatcher-ness, and one lone young whitetail soared like a big showoff almost level with Cirrus, although, of course, he was nowhere near those ice clouds. It just looked like it from down here, from stuck down me, gravitously cemented to Mother Earth with my neck a paperclip as I watch and watch till, with barely a wing beat, he slides 10 miles to the other side of my looking. A lift of light and the starlings arrive like a football crowd to the bird table. There have to be 15 of them, babies open-beaked and squeaking, parents madly gathering seed, feeding, gathering seed, feeding and on and on till Lady Night finally says Enough! Sleep!

I remember it well. And I am glad I do. I have known the times of overwhelming, my times of flight, high as Cirrus but not quite, my lifts, my joys, my swollen ankles, my sleepless nights, my troubled days, my moments of supreme peace, my ages of gloom. All of these colours, all of these states of being, these words are me, are you too. It is how and who we are. It bothers me (for about 3 seconds) that the greatest requirement in this life is to keep showing up, first, to keep learning, second, and to keep applying said showing up and said learning, ad infinitum for all eternity, forever and then some.

Easy Peasy.