Sometimes I really struggle with being a forgiving person. In my formative years, I was a bit of a doormat and gave people chance after chance. Unfortunately some of those people, now no longer in my life, did not deserve those chances, and I have now learned to not be so accommodating. The scar this has left is that I have a tendency to feel hard done by as soon as anyone “wrongs” me. Sometimes I’m so keen to defend myself and be sure I’m not taken advantage of, that I see slights where none are intended; I feel pain at the slightest knock to my ego, and sometimes I really don’t see the funny side of what turns out to be genuine banter. Worse still, sometimes I try and hold people accountable for what turns out to be a true mistake or error on their part- the true knife is in the intent, and if there is no intent, how can there be a wound? Of course you can hurt others unintentionally, but kind words and apologies are time honoured remedies for this ill. And this is where forgiveness comes in. I need to hone the art of recognising when someone is genuine about their mistake, and make room inside for that little warm spot that swallows the hurt and transforms it, absorbs it; dissolves it with laughter, embarrassment or simply a kind word. Because the forgiveness not only reassures the instigator; it cools the fires within the one who got burned, divesting them of anger and making for a brighter, happier day.
It’s my Wednesday (Monday, urgh) again and it’s decidedly grey today. Grey sky, still heavy with rain- 60 hours of non stop rain since I returned from camp at the weekend. Rivers and becks and streams so swollen and people in fear for their homes and businesses: not good, but not surprising after the damp and darker summer we had. Grey faces on the bus, tired and turning from the wan light fighting its way through the curtain of cloud; vitality seems to have vanished, or maybe it simply hasn’t awoken at this time of day. Grey streets and houses, rain streaked yet dirty and sorry looking; why does grey mean bleak to us? These dim skies and soaked walls hem us in and make us feel… Claustrophobic? Hopeless? What is it about the cocoon of damp and bad weather that gets us down so much? I’m nearly at work now, nearly to my grey desk in my grey office; maybe that’s it. When all outside is grey and grim, what is there to differentiate it from the cages we build for ourselves indoors?
Time apart has not made the heart grow fonder;
How could it?
Nothing in the universe makes me love them more.
They are the most precious
The most beautiful
The most vital in my life.
The blood within my blood
More essential than food, than air.
Yet everyday my love grows
Like the steps of my child
Or the hair, or the nails- unstoppable, inevitable
So as the wheels turn
The road passes
Grey and stern
While green fields and trees
Whip past my eager face
I remember the beautiful time apart
With friends, with family
And tie these golden memories with silver twine
To give to the two I name as “mine”.
The Celts are renowned more for their celebration of the “major” sabbats- Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasagh and Samhain. Yet nowadays even those of us following a Celtic based tradition tend to celebrate the inbetweeners- the “cross-quarter” festivals- the solstices and the equinoxes. They change slightly from year to year because their significance is based on where the earth is in relation to the sun. The equinoxes are moments of pure balance; day equals night; light equals dark. Nothing outweighs the other; nothing has an advantage. Symbolic of peace, tranquility and calm, but also the feeling of hanging in the balance, the calm before the storm; the moment where we pause, reflect and prepare, before sudden change, activity, bustle. Historically at this time of year we would have been racing to get ready for winter, knowing that the night is coming to swallow the light and bringing with it cold, frost, death and darkness. But for now, we have a still point, a moment where we can gather ourselves; our resources; our energies and know that we are ready; ready for whatever the darker months may bring. We remember that they do not only bring the darkness without, but the hearth fires and joy within our homesteads, and that equally while we burn the fires to ward off the darkness, we accept the darkness as a vital part of the eternal cycle. We do not spit at it, hissing like a cornered cat; we prepare well and know that we are safe within our chosen havens- with family and loved ones to help out; with food and fire and knowledge that the sun is but a turn of the wheel away.
I’m going away for a few days, camping if you can believe it- camping in September, in England! Must be nuts. But honestly, we always go around this time of year, and it’s usually lovely. Weather aside, it’s really wonderful to have this time set aside for catching up with people you might not see that often the rest of the year; renewing old acquaintances and building new ones. There’s usually activities to do but the point is there’s no obligation to do anything except turn up, relax and be yourself. It’s an utter unwind session. These last few hours before setting off have become a bit tense- I’m trying to make gingerbread, tarkha dahl and write all at the same time and I’ve already boiled my chickpeas dry, argh! But the main thing I’m trying to do is leave some notes for my boys so they know I’m thinking of them while I’m away. I wish they were coming with me but the big one doesn’t like camping and the small one has more needs than I can carry on the bus. I will have an amazing time, but I will miss them so much. So I’ve left them an envelope for each day I’m away, so they know I’m thinking of them. Tonight’s is simply a goodnight kiss. Tomorrow’s is a letter and a game to play with daddy, while Sunday’s is a drawing activity and a scavenger hunt, with the idea being by the time I get back they will have treasure to show me. I’m looking forward to being able to talk to the small one about all the things he did this weekend, and hopefully he won’t miss me too much. So camp, here I come. Bags packed, shoulders braced, bus fare in pocket. A proper holiday.
There’s a warm space inside all of us, soft and safe; no particular shape, but it’s probably curvy and if it was an object, it would feel just right to hold, like it was made for your hand. Sometimes this space is empty, and when it is, it calls out to be filled. A hollow feeling in your gut can warn you of this; a peculiar hunger that can’t be sated by the usual mastication and digestive processes. It’s a strange space, because sometime a tiny thing can fill it right up. The more it fills, the warmer it becomes, and you feel this like a glow emanating from your belly. Sometimes it even feels like your heart is radiating heat. The heat is also strange because even though only you can feel it, people around you can see it; you shine like a firefly, pulsing with inner luminosity. Some days you can search and search and find nothing to fill this space. Other days, you don’t even have to leave the house. A certain smell that triggers remembrance; the sound of a car door closing; the feel of arms around you; the sun rising after a long and joyful night; the taste of bacon and a hot cup of tea; all these things fill up my space, my happiness space. When it’s emptying, I remember the times it was full, and even just that memory can top it up a little, to keep me going until the next joy injection. Sometimes I’m running on fumes, but I don’t think I’m ever on empty. Right now it feels like the walls of the space are stretching to deal with everything that’s inside it!
Finally, thanks to the help of a friend, the PC is back in business and co-operating with me and this means it shouldn’t be too long before this CD is out.
It’s called Laying it Down and that’s because there are tracks on here that I have had since I was 16 years old. They needed laying down- recording, setting in digital stone- not to say that they can’t be changed or improved, but it’s time for me to stop saying that they’renot good enoughby refusing to record them and finally admit that they aremore thangood enough and let others hear them. Some people who know me will be amazed that some of these tracks haven’t seen the light of day before, at least in a public forum, simply because of the length of time I have had them and been playing them to select audiences. Last year was the first time I played some of these tracks to people other than close friends, at a gig in Dewsbury. I was terrified- me, who has been performing since I was 13. Self esteem is a strange thing. It often flows within me when playing music with others, but when it’s just me- I alone and no one to catch me should I fall from musical grace, it simply flows away- leaving me a quivering wreck!
I said “No more! Enough procrastinating and out with it!” So It’s taken a few months but finally, the deed is done, and there are ten tracks combining my old stuff, my new stuff, and some lovely folk songs I have put my own signature on.
Once the album is totally done, I’ll be blogging again. Watch this space!