Thursday, June 23, 2022
I'm listening to portentous music on headphones at my desk. It's a catchy little track entitled "Cleans the Aura and Space. Removes all Negative Energy." No really, that's the name of the whole thing. There is a low note which reminds me of Joy Division's Atmosphere, and a bit of a drum thing, as well as wind chimes. Somewhat mesmerizing; you have to stay with it to see what will happen.
Two things I've been thinking about:
- If you do the work, the Universe/God/Spirit will meet you where you are.
- We are here on this earth to heal each other.
Tuesday, June 07, 2022
While wheeling my trolley around the supermarket on Sunday, I bumped into a woman who was mouthing to no-one in particular, but perhaps me, because I'm the one that was right there in front of her "I don't really want to be doing this anymore." I smiled in that British way (smile and nod, says Vivien, it's what the Queen does, amazingly diplomatic but not really committing to anything) and continued to trundle, rounding down the pasta aisle, being temporarily fascinated by the different kinds of couscous and pausing. I felt bad. I should've said something encouraging. It didn't sound like she was in good shape. As she turned into my aisle I caught her eye and said "Me too! I really don't want to be here much either." "I just don't like shopping, she said. I've lost so much weight" - she points to her jeans which hang off her hips - "and I cook for people who don't really eat and seem to be happy with the same thing every time. I have so much anxiety about shopping." She trails off and uses her right hand to push her floppy dark blonde hair out of her eyes. She looks apologetic, but she's smiling a little. She points outside the window "My husband is sitting in the car.." and rolls her eyes benignly. "Why?" I ask. "Have you told him you need him?" "No," she laughs."He wouldn't get it. Since the pandemic he thinks he's exempt from going into supermarkets." I give her a sympathetic look. "I'm so anxious," she repeats. "I have a job interview on Monday, nothing big, just a job at the farm shop." "Oh but that's wonderful," I say, "it will be good to get out and be around more people, don't you think?" "I hope so," she says. And then we're at the checkout; she's next to me. And that's when I do that thing that embarrasses my children so. I say, "I know this may sound a little nuts, but I spent a long time in California" (I always say this; it's code here for woo-woo/hippy-dippy but also kinda cool). "There's a breathing thing you can do that really helps for anxiety.." and I go on to describe box breath. The woman thanks me politely. I'm wondering if I will regret this. I think of my children and how mortified they'd be.
I woke up feeling alone in the world today. (It's nothing to worry about; it's something that goes after I've been up for a while). I said something like "We're basically on our own, let's be honest" to Charlie, an existential cry into the void from a seven year old. "You're not" he says, and irritatingly I know he is right. But as if the universe heard this, I rode through a triangle this morning, a triangle of grass with a road sign in the middle, and at the very moment that I rode through I saw my friend K peering through the round window of glass at her front door, my friend Jane in a smart small grey tractor, cutting the buttercups in her horse field, and on the hypotenuse, a grey electric VW driven by no other than my friend Lizzie, all together and at the same time. It made me think about the nature of time, and how it really isn't linear. For me, at that moment, having woken up feeling alone, the universe conspired to have three people I know be at the same place at the same time. I know, it's a little silly too, but it does remind you to print out these words and stick them on your mirror:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Saturday, June 04, 2022
One of the things you can do, if you're in doubt, if you're shaken, is to stare at the person you love across a table in candlelight when there are other people around and they don't know that you're looking at them. Just watch them twinkle and interact when you know they're hurting inside but they're a master at appearing unruffled and erudite and sound and engaged. Watch them objectively, as a visitor would, forget that they're a part of you, that you've forgotten sometimes where they end and where you start, forget the irksome horribleness of the day, not created by them, but just circumstance - forget circumstance - and watch. You may have a glass of wine, but maybe just one because you are driving, and you may be using your sparkle as a shield - it can be a useful place to hide - and you may have also done that special meditation that brings the white light in when you think nothing could possibly work. You may have driven across the Cotswolds in despair while trying to apply mascara and wondered about the state of the world, and how indeed you are going to survive with horribleness you have witnessed. You may have heard things you should not have heard, so much of it that your chest filled with jaggedy energy that made your mouth dry and your heart pound. You may have spoken to your child - a man now and wise and empathic - with whom you have strange telepathy - and listened to his words, your son, who is now advising you in his quiet, kind way on how to negotiate your way through the darkness. But then, after all of this, at a dear friend's table, with a white cloth, and candles and a small china dachsund sitting in the middle of it amongst the blowsy flowers, watch your person dispassionately, as if you are a stranger, and see how it feels to witness love for the first time - kind, unconditional, rising up through the suffering. This is a good man, you think. This is a brave, sexy man. This is the person that loves me. This is a person worth fighting for.
Friday, May 27, 2022
(for my daughters)
I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.
I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,
I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Hello world! We're in that weird noman's land between Christmas and the New Year, and I'm staring out on an unusually blue sky. It's 3.41pm and the sun goes down in about ten minutes because deepest December. In my new office I have a wide expanse of sky, bare trees on the right, a few clouds on thee left, a couple of planes making vapor trails, the garden wall strangely without birds (we had pheasants this morning). It's very very still and very very quiet.
The madness of Christmas - three days of a full house of seven children and two children - an eighth couldn't make it because of Covid - has given way to that still, small quiet. Three days of joviality and forced joviality (God bless McD with his lateral thinking games) and small triumphs (a three year old learning to ride a bike for the first time, a perfectly cooked turkey) and odd sadness (a funeral, a death). And now we're in a period of contemplation.
My sister was cremated on Thursday. It was a small service for very close family followed by a bigger memorial in a very jolly church, decked for the holidays with a Christmas tree festival, which helped make the thing more bearable. Her children were magnificent and stoic and I was proud of our family, standing together in solidarity. She died of pancreatic cancer, like my brother before her. I find funerals weirdly uplifting and enjoyed doing my own research into the sister (half-sister) I didn't really know very well, and discovering wonderful things about her like her encyclopedic knowledge of birds and trees, her decision to get a tattoo at age 70, going to India after wanting to for fifty years, and loving it. Most of all, I was glad to find that I was wrong about her, that I'd carried a child's memory of who she was, a memory that serves no purpose now, a memory that had failed to incorporate the loss and tragedy she'd lived through.
(There is a pigeon on the wall now, lit by the last of the sun's rays, pecking at the ivy.)
And then a client died. I found out on Boxing Day, very early in the morning, and was up with it through the day, trying to find out information, issuing statements, trying to make sense of it all. Two things I will say about Hollywood: People are very kind and reach out with condolences when this type of thing happens, and it's lovely. They come out of the woodwork, people you haven't heard from in years, and they text you and ask you how you are and what happened and who will direct the next project now? But there are also those who like to insert themselves into the action and find ways to connect with the deceased, big themselves up to show how close they were. It's very, very strange behavior.
So much grief lately.
And so much chatter/clutter.
I tried to explain this to McD in the middle of the night. "How are you feeling?" he asked (I've been coughing coughing coughing with non-Covid bronchitis). "I feel like there is too much chatter," I said. I have this sense that in order to capture time, or make more time, the only way to do it is to quiet one's mind and allow some peace and quiet to make itself at home in one's mind. I'd been scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, twitter, insta, google, facebook, looking for things people were saying about the lovely client, and suddenly realized that I had no more room, only word soup sloshing around between my ears. I wanted some quiet. I wanted the equivalent of a pristine white room with just one small camp bed to lay down on. I wanted to silence my monkey brain.
(A hawk now, spiralling up, up above the wall, as the stars begin to come out.)
Time is a construct. And filling one's brain with monkey stuff feels like a dreadful waste. What if better things want to come in? What if there are great ideas that want to come visit?
Imagine your brain as an inbox. And the only emails that are coming in are things like google alerts, wayfair promotions, jetblue offers. But what you want is a great, well-written email from a friend. Do you know what I mean?
So this week is going to be expanding the mind week. Keeping it nice and clear and clean and uncluttered so that it can be open to more interesting things. No more tabloids in my head please.
Thistle, my Frenchie, seems to have developed Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) so she supposed be crated and can only walk on a harness in the garden. No stairs, no jumping, no walks, no excitement, etc. It's hellish. So, no dogs in the bedroom (for the first time ever in her life) and no proper walks. I could cry just writing about it. The vet has her on three different meds - pain meds, inflammatory, muscle relaxants - so in the mornings she is confused, discombobulated, completely freaked out by the new system. What the fuck, I think. What is the point of having a dog if they have to live in a crate (when they haven't been crate trained) and can't be in your bed and can't go for walks? Is that actually a good life? Is that worth it? I'm not sure it is. She is nearly 11, a good age for a Frenchie. There has been so much grief. I can't even think about this.
(The sky is almost completely dark, and the clouds have grown to cover it over. Someone is shooting by the river. I hear a shotgun. A few starlings fly overhead).
I think this is what we need to come back to:
- the sound of birds
- folding oneself into nature