Sunday, 14 January 2018

How do I keep it alive?

In the previous post I described how I dreamt of becoming a fully functioning human being. On Friday night, for reasons I might go into later, I got back in touch with the missing part of me, and understood which part of me that is.
    It’s me from my early teens until my early twenties, the worst part of my life and the time which led up to the ‘black hole’ described earlier. Most of the time I keep that part hidden from both myself and other people because it’s still so raw. It’s bloody painful to let it out, but at the same time it’s bloody wonderful. It makes me feel real.
    For the whole of Saturday, even though the weather was as dreary as it can be – cold, windy, heavy with grey clouds, muddy – I was happy. The part I had uncovered on Friday evening was still with me. I was firing on all cylinders. I was a complete person.

A happy walk on a dreary day: along the canal with Frog and Dog yesterday.
Today, even though the sky is blue and the sun is out, I’m miserable. I’ve lost touch with my missing part. I’ve closed off again. I’m back to the dark dreary depressed me.
    So the question I’m asking myself is, how do I keep that part with me? How do I keep it alive?

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Some people call it God

As you may know from previous posts, I’m a great one for seeing the universe in symbolic terms, by which I mean that what happens outside us reflects what’s going on inside us. And, as you may also know if you’ve been paying attention, a couple of months before Christmas I acquired a new computer.
    As soon as it was plugged in, and while the computer man was showing me how to use it, it started to misbehave in dramatic fashion. The screen would flash and then break up into something resembling an Escher painting (see below) and then the whole machine would die. Sometimes it restarted itself and sometimes it didn’t.
    The computer man was aghast - the machine had behaved perfectly while he’d tested it in his workshop – and blamed us. Eventually, after we’d swapped all the peripherals (plugs, leads, screen etc) and the machine still misbehaved, he agreed to swap it for another new one, but suggested we use it with something called an ‘uninterruptible power supply’ which is a small box that evens out fluctuations in electricity and keeps the computer going if the electricity drops out. This we did and the new new computer has behaved much better than the old new one, only failing twice (so far).

The other night I had a dream over which I’ve been puzzling ever since. Someone was offering to ‘sort me out’ - unravel my problems and turn me into a fully functioning human being. I was so happy. I felt that wholeness was only a short step away. The only trouble was we kept being interrupted  - two old friends turned up, someone came to ‘do the flowers’ – and eventually I woke up.
    I was so disappointed. Why did dreams keep doing that to you? Why did they lead you on and then desert you just as something really interesting was about to happen?
This morning, twenty-four hours later, I decided to write out the dream and try and work out what it was trying to tell me.
    ‘It’s the interruptions that are important,’ Frog had said.
    Ye-es, I thought. But what about them?
    But then, as I wrote the final line of my account of the dream, which just happened to mention that the person wanting to sort me out was a bit like the computer man (something which I hadn’t previously admitted either to myself or Frog because I was slightly ashamed to have been dreaming of strange men) the answer came to me.
    I was like my computer. I too needed an ‘uninterruptible power supply’.
    I think some people call it God.

And here, because a picture of a small black box isn’t very interesting, is a picture of Exmoor between Christmas and New Year where we went for a walk – along with most of the rest of the population of Devon and Somerset (but I’ve managed not to reveal that in the photograph).

Exmoor at the end of December

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Is that metaphorical?

Because they’re shooting pheasants round home this morning and Ellie hates the noise – she runs back if I try to walk with her – we drive a couple of miles to some National Trust countryside.

As we leave the carpark the river is high. I hope there isn’t a sudden surge and car is washed away.

The river is high as we leave the carpark
There's no sign however of what Frog calls ‘witches’ knickers’ – the pieces of plastic bag draped over trees by flood.

'Witches' knickers' (in May 2012)
There are lots of other people around and the paths are muddy, so I go off piste and head for ‘my’ island.

But it’s gone. All there is to show for the grassy knoll where Ellie and I have spent several happy hours is a band of ripples and some grass-tops.

Grass-tops and a line of ripples: my one-time island
Ellie is as surprised as me.

Ellie wondering where the island has gone
We find another spot to sit and I watch the scudding clouds and the racing river - keeping an eye out for flash floods. The sky is like a friendly giant and I wonder why humanity ever wanted to tame nature.

When we get home I tell Frog what's happened to the island.
'Is that metaphorical?' he asks.

Monday, 25 December 2017

That shiny happy person

As the website My Horrid Parent says, criticising parents is still taboo, and it is especially difficult to do when the abuse is psychological rather than physical. More often than not you can prove the results of physical abuse, whereas psychological abuse is invisible. It’s hard to quantify and hard to explain. After all, if parents clothe and feed you, make sure you have a good education and give you material things, what is there to complain about?

I have touched on the subject in previous posts, not I hope in a spirit of blame but because I need to untangle the situation. As a child you blame yourself and carry on loving your parents. As you get older you make excuses for them. They did their best. They didn't know what they were doing. They had good qualities as well as bad ones. You understand that the abuse was the result of their own pain.  You try and look at the situation from a karmic point of view and be thankful for the chance to learn and grow. None of that however gets to the root of the problem. It misses the point. First and foremost you have to name the actions for what they were.

And a funny thing happens when you do. Your perspective changes. You flip. You stop being a victim. Suddenly you feel free. Suddenly you are that shiny happy person you always knew was inside you but only appeared when you got right away, preferably to Australia the other side of the world.

I’ve been reminded recently of the pictures of the Dutch artist M C Escher. Is the world black or white, convex or concave, going up or going down? That shiny happy person comes and goes. One moment I see her, I am her. The next I’m not.

Image result for escher

Image result for escher

Image result for escher

Those few of us who do dare to criticise parents feel a kinship. We have struggled through the snow and reached the safety of the pub. It’s cold outside but we have each other.

And I hope that soon the shiny happy person will be here to stay.

And here finally are some Christmas rules that Frog has picked up from Facebook (from a liberal American he follows).

1. Do not go into debt trying to show people how much you love them
2. Do not go home to see your family if it damages your mental health
3. If someone criticises your weight, eat them.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Artists and farmers

House-building is like road-building. Demand is never satisfied and at some point one just has to call it a day. Sadly, that day has not yet arrived in Devon.
    A few miles away from us in the middle of the countryside a whole new town has recently appeared. Where the inhabitants come from, what their skills are and where they work I don't know. A farming couple however, displaced from their farm by the development, has recently set up shop on land two fields away from us.
    They started with one barn, then built another, then installed a caravan so that someone could look after the animals in the barns, and now have a house. Before the house was built, I protested strongly about it to the planning department. My protests didn’t have any effect of course and luckily Sue and Jon are charming and have not held them against me.
    This morning, as Ellie and I struggled up the lane through the mud and the puddles, Jon came hurtling down the hill in a vast tractor with lethal prongs sticking out of the front and a vast muddy trailer behind. He slewed to a halt in true Devon fashion next to Ellie and me so that we could have a chat.
    Jon is a sensitive man, deeply upset by his exile and committed to both his animals and the organic way of farming. As he talked I realised that artists (of all kinds, including me) and farmers have a lot in common.

We both spend most of the time on our own
We both wear terrible clothes (Why make an effort if no one is going to appreciate it? Why not just be comfortable?)
We both work for love, not money
We’re both independent to the point of pain
We both feel misunderstood by the world at large.

When Frog and I first moved to rural Devon in the 1970s, the population consisted largely of artists and farmers, with a smattering of complementary therapists and not much else. It was good to be reminded of that time.

As I have no photos of my own of 1970s' Devon, here are three by the wonderful James Ravilious. (Follow the link for more and better quality.)