A day late but better late than never….
Walk towards where you’re going
Walk straight, walk tall, walk firm.
Keep your eye on your destination
Keep your heart like an arrow, true
Try and focus on your arrival
Try to decide what you’ll do when there
Open your eyes to see things
Open your heart to care.
Don’t worry about the bumps in the road
Don’t worry about your fears
Just circumvent the problems
When faced with a blockade… Veer!
It may be the first shoots of spring but I feel inspired to cut away the unnecessary overhang and growth of rubbish to help a better shape take form in my life.
As the hours trickle away at the end of 2013 it feels right to take a few moments to consider the last year and look forward to the next.
The insistence on ‘celebrating’ the New Year is something that often feels forced and unnecessary. Why this night, of all nights do we force ourselves to stay up late and consume food and alcohol in the middle of the night – even when we were up early and have lived through an entire day first? There is an emptiness to the requirement to cheer and be merry at the stroke of the hand of a clock. This is probably why so many end up feeling low and unfulfilled by the New Year’s Eve experience. It never meets the unreal expectations set by film and television and media in general.
It is hard to imagine how much can change in a year – 365 days. Devastating health diagnosis, surprise pregnancy news, new homes, work changes – all of these things alone can spin one’s world on its axis. Together they leave a person reeling. So much difference that for once a New Year is unrecognisable from the previous one when it dawned. Hope and fatigue mingle in the tiny first hours of the newly born year and like the newborn child slumbering beside me, everything is depending on me to make it happen. But that is an enticing – if terrifying – challenge. I will put down this journal. And sleep. And meet the new day, new month, new year face on.
At first glance all looks calm, almost eerily still as if someone had pressed the freeze-frame button. Nothing is stirring in the yard. But then you notice that the panoply of flags that bedeck the edges of the courtyard are snapping into a dervish dance before dropping just as suddenly to rest on their poles. There’s a big wind abroad and it is coming in angry, pouty gusts.
The widows rattle in their sashes ..is Cathy outside??? Then the stillness settles again, this time more reluctantly. For once it is comforting to be at your desk as the weather breaks against your office windows.
A loud clatter smashes the uneasy silence. You rush to the window and see…nothing. The empty space where a flag pole had stood proudly waving its colours. The wind has taken umbrage and torn down its conceited display.
About a month ago I was feeling down. I hadn’t hit rock bottom but I was nearly there. I wrote this which I just found on a page:
“Some days the rain is just too much and you need to retreat. Other days the path is littered with black ice just waiting to slip you up. This winter has been difficult, dark long days followed by bleak cold nights. On a personal level I have had one shock or disappointment after another. Don’t get me wrong, there are many who have reviewed worse news than me over this time, their lives made bleak and unbearable by such news. But somehow I feel that I no longer have to strength of deal with such shocks, that tears are never far from the edge.”
Looking at this with the benefit of hindsight, I obviously knew I was in a bad place, I just could not see it in any way that I could ask for help. It makes you realise how fragile we are. And how self-unaware most of the time. I have thought about taking down my post from 1 January. The message written through tears and pain and an intent to find silence. But I think it is important to stay true, that to delete it would be a disservice to others who have felt at the end of their ability to endure and who look to find solace in the void. I am on the other side. I also need to remember, and try never to go there again.
My first real post of 2013 after the darkest hours at the start of the year. I’m not sure if it was a cry for help, I really tried to blot out the pain and the despair, only luck and a determined loved one pulled me back from the brink.
So I have been taking time to try to get my head back to a space where I can cope with things. I think it may be working- life has thrown me two curveballs since but I am managing to repel if not catch them and run. Today’s photo of the day is a symbol of my intent – a light shining through the dark bringing warmth and hope.
Our press – print, media and web – have huge powers of influence on our lives
I have known for some time that I am a newsfeed junkie: I listen to news while I drive, arrange my meals to coincide with news bulletins, stop my travails on the hour for the news update and follow news bloggers and opinion makers on twitter. I have never considered whether this addiction is having a beneficial or detrimental effect on my well being
Funerals are hard at the best of times – this one was particularly cruel. The church, an over large concrete structure, was chilled and morgue-like. The extras to the drama filed in, blank faced or grim, dragging their limbs to the pews. All around the hastily assembled 50 shades of mourning, style was the last of considerations as we were called to witness, called to supply mute and numb support.
The service seemed coldly ritualistic, with no trace of human empathy, the words empty of connection to the girl at the altar, devoid of emotion. The actors took their cues woodenly, their timing was off by a beat so the ceremony dragged. And yet, beneath this frozen surface glistened anger…diffused by its lack of single direction. It was not visible, and yet it was there.
The parents walked like ghosts to the coffin and laid a bible to rest. The gulf between them and the gathered congregation at that moment as absolute as a child watching footage of the moon landings, visible to the eye but incomprehensible to the viewer in its enormity. Their faces wore the lines of nightmares that had embossed their daylight hours.
We walked out into the Wintry sunshine, sharp eye-watering brightness, with the smell of incense in our nostrils and the sound of unanswered questions in our ears. A beautiful girl, gone. And we turned and walked away because we could.
Teenagers everywhere squealing, and giggling and making their presence felt, an insistence on being noticed. I came out for a bite of lunch to my local food-court and had forgotten that it was half-term. What a mistake.
Sitting at a table on your own is not always the most comfortable of experiences. However when you become the subject of ridicule of a group of teenage girls – who are busily looking around them to see who is looking at them- it leaves one very self aware. Even when you keep your eyes low and averted certain phrases in whispered overtones float to your reddening ears.
I feel old as I think to myself “I would not have done that when I was their age, I was too polite” and I consider whether it is a generational shift in manners or a shift in my viewpoint as I have become older. I suddenly remember that I am now ‘middle-aged’ and the realisation hits me like a sluice of icy water down my back.
One more glance at their doll-coloured over-made-up faces, I gather my overcoat and scuttle away from their youth and their clamour.
I have spent the majority of the last week in a state of Autumn Exhaustion… It is that peculiar first cold/bug/flu/chest infection of the season. Whether from a combination of change of temperatures, increased central heating, lack of open windows and fresh air or simply an attack of the vapors caused by sudden onslaught of dark days and bleak nights, the start of October almost always heralds the ague. Or as I like to think of it ‘the dreaded lurgy’.
This year feels worse (or perhaps it always feels the same, worse as other years) and I wonder if that is because we waited all summer for the symptoms of summer, only for Autumn to crash our hopes. Somehow it feels cruel to have labored for nine months of the year in fruitless gestation, no smiles or sunshine. Just emptiness and dread of what is to come.
The leaves are curling and dancing in a fiery ballet, that is the one bright focus, but when they leave, and the migration is complete….. Will we have the strength to carry the heavy dark days ahead?