coned off mentally

 

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Last week we were in London. We sat near the river. In front of us was an area of grass, taped off so that it could recover from its well worn state – presumably picnickers, sunbathers and walkers like us had rendered the grass threadbare. To the side, was an area marked off by linked metal barriers – the kind that are used for crowd control. Behind this protection were some pallets of building materials, a pile of some sort of mixed aggregate, some bags of waste and general rubbish – an adjacent building site suggested its purpose. Later we saw a newly laid concrete pathway, blocked by traffic cones, linked with tape.

Cones, barriers and tape to block areas off where we shouldn’t go. Areas that are out of bounds.

Do you think it’s like that in our heads too?

Memories marked out as ‘no go’ areas. Blocked by our unconscious mind as it considers them dangerous places, where we might get hurt; just like a building site. Our subconscious taping off parts of our personal history that need to be left to recover, like a worn out lawn; vulnerable, fragile and otherwise exposed. New experiences coned off, whilst we make sense of them, give them perspective and meaning; allowing them to set into our map of the world like newly laid concrete pathways.

 

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one world … each

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He offered her the world.  She said she had her own.

Monique Duval

There is no reality. There is your reality, my reality, his reality, her reality. The simple fact is that what we see, what we hear, what we pay attention to, what we interpret, what we delete, what we distort, what we generalise, what makes sense for us… is all uniquely us, even when we seemingly experience exactly the same thing.

His world, her world, my world, your world.

 

losing things

losing things

Do you lose things?

I do.  Keys are a favourite. Today I lost my phone – only for half an hour.

Sometimes I lose things that aren’t actually things.  Like losing my way, or losing interest. I seem to lose time too.  I look up and realise I seem to have lost several hours.

How do you lose something that doesn’t physically exist?

Ultimately though, these are all recoverable, or when push comes to shove, they don’t really matter. They can be replaced, recovered or simply forgotten about.  We move on.

Don’t ever lose your curiosity though. Or your sense of fun. Or your compassion for yourself. Or your sense of who you are. Or your sense of belonging. Or your sense of value, or place in this world. Or your humanity. Don’t lose yourself.

These are harder to recover from. Hold them close. Guard them devotedly.

unable to fulfil our commitment

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A couple of months ago I booked a one night stay in a farmhouse. We were travelling to Norfolk and needed to stay over. We booked via an online website. A broker. A middle man.

A few weeks before we were due to travel, an email arrived, from the broker.

“Unfortunately, the owner has informed us they are unable to fulfil the booking.”

My first reaction was, ‘damn, that’s a shame’ – it looked nice and I was looking forward to staying there. Quickly that evaporated into a sense of betrayal and deceit. Why had the owner let me down, and worse, why wouldn’t they just say why? I wanted truth.

Unable to get more information, I was ready to move on with my life and put it behind me. The broker had other ideas though. Daily for two weeks I got emails asking me to book an alternative. A venue they could recommend. It was twenty miles away from where I wanted to be. So, I ignored the emails. They served only to remind me that I had been let down. To continue to feed my disappointment. To turn it into a grumble, a bitterness.

Eventually the broker emailed a confirmed cancellation.

Then, two weeks before I had been due to travel, they emailed me, inviting me to have a lovely stay at the very place that had been unable to fulfil my booking. Now they were annoying me.

Then today, three days before my aborted stay, I received a new email. It says, “It’s time to put the finishing touches on your trip. Whether you’re travelling halfway around the world or just down the road, you deserve a great stay. So we’ve put together tips on how to make the most of your time and money.”

When we get it wrong, we simply get it wrong. When we get it wrong and then keep reminding everyone we got it wrong, we really, really get it wrong.

How often do we as human beings, interacting with others around us, effectively ‘send an email’ through not noticing our mistake. Through blindly repeating it? Through inadvertently drawing attention again to the error? Through not seeing another human being with their rights and needs?

It’s not about always being right. Nor is it about never making a mistake. It’s about noticing when we get it wrong. About truth, about honesty. But more, it’s about respect. It’s about noticing an individual. Seeing a human being. Honouring another person and their feelings. Their clever marketing, their smart systems, their ‘customer service’ failed to see me. A commitment to see the person. That’s the commitment they were unable to fulfil.

the ultimate expression?

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I watched Jesus Christ Superstar at Regents Park Open Air Theatre last night. We were lucky to be in the front row, where the lead actor sang solos right in front of us. His face maybe six feet from my face.

Pain, anger, terror all etched on a blood stained face. Every emotion every torment, every hope of his character leaking from his teary eyes. Every anguish, every struggle, every fear trembling in his voice. His sinewy body straining in desperation, twisted in unrequited love, taut with vulnerability.

It left me wondering “Are those who perform in musical theatre the most human of us all?”

wisdom in the comedy

THE BIG BANG THEORY

He appeared normal. He spoke and behaved just like anyone else. The fact that he had no heart was very well concealed. Well, that’s not entirely true. He did have one. It was just not in his possession at the moment. And this is where the story gets complicated. The woman who had the darn thing was blithely unaware of the fact. Well, that’s not entirely true either. She knew that she’d left the relationship with more stuff than she’d entered it, she just hadn’t done a proper inventory. Regardless, his dilemma remained the same. A woman had absconded with a vital organ and the gnawing emptiness he felt was a direct reflection of that vacancy…

Chuck Lorre – Big Bang Theory

The point here is that our organs misbehave, or go awol. Sometimes our breath is caught, sometimes our stomach flips, sometimes our throat temporarily holds a lump which will neither be swallowed, nor be ejected. Sometimes our heart flutters like the wings of a gently rising butterfly. Sometimes our mouth appears to have lost all ability to contain moisture, a vital lubrication which seems, sometimes, to have inappropriately descended into the palms of our overly damp hands. Sometimes our eyes leak and we cannot stem the flow, however hard we try. Sometimes our gut aches, like an ever tightening knot, dipped in an acidic solution. Sometimes our jaw aches as if the laughter will never end and we are in its grip forever.

Bodies, organs, chemicals, breath, feelings, emotions … being.