Tag Archives: friendship

Across the Universes

imageMy Christmas tree has turned itself off. Since this is the modern age and the consumer has to do what she is told, the transformer uses a timer setting you can’t change or override, which usually means it turns itself off during Christmas Dinner.

I tried to be elegant by restricting the decoration to a scheme of deep blue, silver and white baubles, but the baubles don’t even match… different sizes, different shades… it looked uneven, like a water-stained ballgown. So I threw the rest of the box of baubles at it… all colours, all styles. Didn’t matter. I don’t think there’s a single bare twig now, but it looks livelier, sparklier and less like I tried to do something and failed. The red baubles in particular seem to bring focus, unless it’s just that they’re distracting you from the rest of the chaos.

What I take from that is that things you throw together can succeed better than something intricately planned. There’s far more energy and joie de vivre when everything’s included, not just the specially chosen. Chaos and order…. you’re merely a part of it, repeating the experiences of generations upon generations of others in your own unique way. You retell the human story.

In your own life you get to ‘do over’ a lot, though occasionally you have to accept the loss of something that plummets from the tree… such as a friendship fragmenting into a thousand glass shards. You may wish it had turned out differently, but that particular bauble has now gone.

Now and then, however, the bauble disappears into shadow and you search around cautiously, trying to find it without cutting yourself. A little while goes by before it finally comes to light, amazingly still intact.

Some baubles break, others go missing for a while but survive. At times you aren’t sure which, and have to step carefully.

Friends are precious, even irreplaceable, but they are also fragile.

I expect you are sitting at the other side of the screen, frowning at my chaotic ramblings. You likely have a mug or glass at your side. I don’t know what you’re drinking… coffee or tea, or maybe hot chocolate, or beer or water. Or Bovril. Chicken Bovril is nice… I like that.

Probably you’re wondering why you’re reading this… you could be doing something nicer, such as weather-stripping the house, leaf-blowing the snow or cleaning the drains. It’d be more useful, but doubtless you’re the efficient sort who has done all that already. So you’re stuck.

I wonder where you live? Maybe New York in an apartment high up, and the lights sparkling all over the city? Or a cottage on thunderous dramatic moors, with a sluggish internet connection? Or across the road from me, even? Can you see me waving out the window? No, well, that’s all right. I wasn’t waving… my curtains are closely drawn.

So many things to do. I get confused and find myself standing still, looking over my shoulder…

…oh yes, I meant to change my wall calendar to December before it’s too late and the whole month blows over. What IS that, exactly? A warrior hobbit? I wish I could flip back to October, to that nice angry dragon. I could, really, but that would be cheating, and I won’t have got full use of the calendar. I don’t know why I got it — I never write anything in it.

Kind of like my blog.

I’m getting the déjà vu sensation an awful lot lately. I keep thinking I’ve read things before. I even feel I have written things before. Have I already written this blog post, word for word, and posted it maybe nine years ago? Bits of it, then? Or perhaps I’m catching glimpses into a closely parallel universe where I’ve done all this stuff alrea… but that is such a depressing thought I shied away from it. It’s bad enough to have done all this once, but twice…?

Do you remember reading any of this before; does any of it ring any bells? No, not this bit, but I have a funny feeling about my drawn curtains. Perhaps they’re the portal. Close them, shutting out the real world, and in swims the fantasy world… sorry, the parallel universe. That’s just the real world twice over, so it’s no wonder I hate the idea!

In this chaotic universe, anything can happen.

If that’s true, then perhaps it’s not a parallel universe, but a repeating one. We are doomed to retrace our steps over and over till we get them right. Don’t you get the feeling that most of the time absolutely nothing changes, and we just make the same mistakes over and over and over? Every so often someone thinks a little deeper or sees something a smidgeon of a different way and improves everything just a fraction. Even if it’s an incremental change by one person, it could have a remarkable effect on everyone else, like lights going on all over… and suddenly the latest round of existence is a whole lot better than the one before. And so it goes.

This has been difficult to write. For the past little while I’ve wanted to… no, it doesn’t feel like a ‘want’, it feels more like a ‘very much not want’, like I don’t even want to be here. I’d rather go back into space and be a simple star again, spinning a little, perhaps, whistling a happy tune, burning up any asteroids that wander too near. Who decided I should sit on this earth with an increasingly labouring heart, to blog, question why and… and edit?

Sometimes there’s good stuff, like… cats when they’re sleepy and purry and not killing things. Bears when they’re sleepy and furry and don’t have a headache. Family when you discover how to get along and aren’t torturing each other.

It’s a chaotic world, though, at least to our limited senses. You get both the nice and the nasty together, like the soothing sun on one level and icy deeps on the other. The velvety blue with hornets or jellyfish hanging in it. The yin and the yang and the sweet and the sour… you never know which it will be; can change so suddenly.

Or simply end.

And, after a long pause, like a bonus song, start up again when you weren’t listening any more, and go on for what seems like forever.

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The Point of a Grudge

WordPress continues to suggest possible blog topics (I enjoy this!) Some look interesting; others I’ve done already; yet others make my toes curl in horror! The latest one was, “What’s the longest grudge you’ve ever held? How long do you stay angry at someone or something? Why do you think we hold our grudges?”

I don’t want to describe any of my actual grudges, but I had a thought that although we eagerly forgive and move on, forgetting is quite another thing. We are taught that it’s a good thing to ‘forgive and forget’, and maybe most of the time we do, but some things are burned in our memories and continue to shape our lives.

In a somewhat less than Pollyannaish way, we may be mistaken about how negatively we were impacted by something. If we were done out of a job or promotion that we really wanted, our loss might have led to a better path in life, or to our meeting someone we otherwise wouldn’t have met. But to us the original sin remains… it was an an injustice, and will be remembered as such.

We may bear a grudge against someone without realising how much he/she has been hurt by us in turn. We don’t know everything that goes on in other people’s minds, so sometimes all we remember is our own pain.

In The Full Cupboard of Life (from the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith), Mma Ramotswe said she believed in forgiveness. “Why, she asked herself, why keep a wound open when forgiveness can close it?”

Though I remember being confused by the way Mma Ramotswe approaches forgiveness… She forgives people and moves on, but cuts them out of her life. That’s something I can’t square with my notion of forgiveness. Perhaps it’s just another way of saying “I forgive but I never forget.”

I meant to say there are REASONS why we remember — we must try to avoid similar experiences in the future. We were always told pain has a reason… to stop us doing something damaging like putting our hand in the fire.

Most grudges should not be allowed to affect future relations, except where they safeguard us from future harm… they do have their uses. But we should not be TOO self-protective… if we remove people from our email lists for every slight — real or imagined — none of us would have any friends.

Mum says, “life is too short… the only acceptable reason one could have to end a friendship is boredom.” With our Grudgometers alive and ticking, I don’t think any of us will ever be bored. 🙂

Friday Hair Blogging

We both have colds… Mum had to cancel her flu jab. I told her next year she should make sure of having the flu jab before she starts playing Bridge! The nurse says her chest sounds like an organ. I’m not like that but I feel funny around the middle… sort of cold.

So, keep away…..

Just now we were watching The Coach Trip (one of their eternal repeats) and a couple of men said (rather sadly) that they are good at annoying people without meaning to. “Yes,” confirmed one of them; “it’s very easy, really.”

“Actually,” I said to Mum, “it IS easy to annoy people. It’s as though they think they can pick and choose their friends, and that there will always be new ones along. Not like in the old village communities!”
“There, people picked their enemies and stayed with them,” said Mum.

One of the boys on The Coach Trip was saying how he rather hated two of the girls, but instead of making up with them, he continued to keep his distance as it was easier just to make up his mind and stick with it. I wonder if it’s important for human beings to be able to say “I really don’t like so-and-so,” as a matter of pride. It seems to be a way of expressing your identity, particularly if a whole group of people decide that So-and-So really isn’t cool.

I keep musing about friendships, don’t I!

Anyway, to explain the title of this blog post, I came here to apologize for being so quiet, and to show you one of the reasons I have been ‘away’… trying to draw hair and fur in Photoshop! It’s not easy. It sounds easy when you know how, but all of the time you’re working on it, it looks terrible, till suddenly (after several minutes of slaving) it begins to look possible. And you have an unsettling feeling that it could easily go bad, or not be a success at all. Maybe it will be a bad hair day!

PS: The Pom-Pom was the most aggravating to make. And WordPress crunched my last hair picture when uploading… Now it looks duller than it was. I hate having things forced on me… like with the double-glazing regulations!! But that’s another story.

Experimental hair drawing

Colourful Pom Pom made in Photoshop

Hairy Heart made in Photoshop

Mousy hair drawn in Photoshop

The Passing of a Kind Person

On one of my sites there came the news that a long term member had died. She was around and posting very recently, so it was a shock to most of us. People who had been at loggerheads were writing in and saying how upset they were.

I am sad that D has gone. I’m sad for her children. I’m sad that I didn’t know more about her — I didn’t even know she was ill. Someone said D had been working through a list of people she’d had differences with. There was only one person left on the list, and though they weren’t reconciled, they were discussing it… and now the chance was gone and he was sorry. He wanted us to be honest and kind to each other in our postings and thoughts, and not shut people out. He said that we should bear in mind that the person we’re cold-shouldering today could be dead tomorrow, and it will be too late.

I had been thinking about that a lot recently. I’d woken around 5 that very morning (before hearing about D), and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was worrying about people miscommunicating and kicking each other to the kerb over minor things.

D was brave to tackle these difficult issues. If you worry about getting a bad response from someone, it seems easier to remain silent. Even if you know you won’t be around very much longer, people still have the power to cause hurt.

I think that guy’s right, and Mum keeps saying to me (whenever similar issues come up), “life is too short.” I can’t imagine her falling out forever with her best friends — they each have a core of stability, and you know that even if they get annoyed with each other sometimes, the channels of communication will remain open. And that’s how it should be.

Sympathy and Snoopery

I enjoyed Andrea’s blog post You just don’t get it. I seem to respond that way to people’s stories… recently a friend was talking about a parent who died, and so I talked about my parent who died. I remembered the darkness of those days and could share that with her, even though I didn’t know her father. In any case, it seemed better to express myself as “I’m with you” rather than “I’m looking at you from a distance and I’m sorry for you.”

My friend (who has always been chatty) seemed OK with it, but not everyone would want such a response, perhaps.

I realize (from reading around) that people sometimes wonder why a friend always brings the conversation back to him/herself. In some cases that friend is more interested in talking than listening, but in other cases that friend has listened and is using this method to say “I’ve been in your boat and have felt that same muddy water swirling round my ankles. You’re not alone.”

Sometimes I have a problem not unrelated; if I’m telling someone about my day, I’m happy if they reciprocate and tell me about theirs. I feel awkward sometimes about saying “well, what about you?” in case they don’t really want to discuss it. Someone I know gets irritated when one of her friends starts a phonecall with “well, did you have a nice day? Why not? What went wrong?” Her reaction is “I only want to tell you about it if I decide that myself.”

I like to be told about friends’ experiences… but I don’t want to come across as nosy or irritating, so I tell my own stories. Some of my friends seem to understand that my story is just half of the exchange, but others haven’t a clue about it. Some even take it as a request for advice, which can be infuriating!

Just a few days ago, I was reading Intensity by Dean Koontz. In the first few pages are two close friends (female students) chatting, and when one asked a personal question, the other laughingly called it ‘snoopery’. The first friend said she was dodging the question, and the second friend finally answered. I found myself thinking that the first friend, by insisting on a reply, had more courage than I have these days, but then I used to have that kind of friendship with Honey… I would say we were more like sisters, only I don’t know how many sisters have a relationship so relaxed.

It left me wondering what friendship means; if it means different things to different people; how much we are allowed to ask questions or be involved in another person’s life, and which questions we are allowed to ask? If email is seen as a ‘non’ way to talk, just as internet friends aren’t viewed as real? And why one person might be quite secretive about nothing at all, and another person is open about all sorts of things.

I suppose I’ve wandered away from the starting topic, but I enjoyed Andrea’s post because she put into words this thing… how people try to connect in different ways, and don’t always recognize those differences.

Telling the Difference between Dreams and Reality

This is a problem with growing older. You start to wonder if something really happened or if you just dreamed about it.

I have a friend called Honey. She went to America, started a family, and we lost touch. It got so that I didn’t know where to look to find her last known address there. I sometimes thought about firing off a postcard to see if it would find her, but the problem lay in finding an address to fire it to.

The years crawled by. Christmases came and went, and no cards crossed the ocean.

Sometimes I realized that the silence was so complete that absolutely anything could have happened in her life and I wouldn’t know. She could be divorced, mother of 12 children, a successful bestselling author, a multimillionaire with her own island… or living back here in Britain.

Life continued to pass in a fog, and then one day I thought to myself “that’s funny, didn’t Honey send me an email? I’m so sure I saw an email, and I was going to read it, but somehow here I sit, and there’s no email. What happened?”

I realized I must have dreamed it… sometimes I dream about her. Sometimes we’re getting on and happy to be with each other, sometimes we’re falling out and angry. Sometimes she’s calm and cheerful but walking away, not listening. So it made sense that I would dream she had got back in touch. Obviously I woke up just as I was about to read her message, because I didn’t remember reading it.

A few days later (three days ago) I fired up my email and found a message from my sister, saying Honey had been in touch, wanting her email address given to me so that I would write.

“Whoa,” said Mum…. “that’s spooky!”

The worst of it is, I’m not quite sure what actually happened. Was it a dream after all? Had I seen a message from her waiting for me? And then, for whatever reason, it was skipped over and forgotten about. That doesn’t make sense… if I was scanning a folder of emails, even my Trash Folder, and saw a message potentially as important as that, I would read it immediately. If it had been from Honey, I would have remembered about it, and answered her (probably immediately). If it had been a spam message from a spammer using the same name, I would have checked it first (just in case) and then dismissed it so completely from my mind that I would have difficulty recalling.

Or it might have been a dream. That’s exactly the kind of thing I dream about. It’s kind of spooky either way.

PS: Honey tells me that a few nights ago she was dreaming about Marks and Spencers prawn sandwiches, something she’s not had for years. That made me smile, because a few days ago we were getting sandwiches for lunch from Marks and Spencers, and I stood and stared at the prawn ones wondering if I should get those… but in the end I went for the chicken and sweetcorn. They were very good; some sandwiches taste like cardboard, but not these. While I was eating them, I had yearnings of my own… I miss the beef and horseradish sandwiches Marks and Spencers used to sell when they started.  I liked them so much that I chose them every time, and now they’re gone. We used to eat them in Princes Street Gardens.

All the time that we were not keeping up with each other’s news, I wonder how many thoughts like this we had in common without even realizing.

Vale of Tears

Dreamed there was a kind of flood disaster; people were standing around looking for help to get their loved ones to safety. When I looked round and said to the nearest person, “please help me get Zipadee out,” he fixed on me and said “help me get my brother out!”, causing me to feel frustration and irritation… how dare other people put their loved ones before mine?

All round me, that was happening… people asking for aid from people asking for aid.

I was too late to save my friend and she turned into a clear raindrop, being borne away in a huge river called The Ocean of Crystal Tears. It looked just like its name; there was no blue, mud or weeds in it, but it roiled and foamed so much you couldn’t see through it to its depths. It was icy cold.

I was telling my sad story to two important elves from The Lord of the Rings… Galadriel and Elrond. As I talked, I held myself firmly in check because I feared I might break down, and they looked as though they would like to weep themselves. But they turned to me and said “your friend is not alone; the River Mississippi saw her plight, and has dived into the Ocean of Crystal Tears to bear her company. It snakes through the centre, warm and brown, sparkling and laughing, enclosing your friend and keeping her safe till the journey’s end, when you will see her again.”

Involuntary Betrayal

Yesterday I was an unsettling mixture of cheerful and miserable. Cheerful because I was finally getting on with things, and glimpsed Big Sister for about six seconds (I was starting to wonder when I last saw anybody I knew). Miserable because my PC’s hard drive finally failed and I have to buy a new one. Now is definitely not the time. Also miserable because of a book I dipped into at lunch time.

The book (which I don’t want to name for fear of spoiling someone else’s experience when they reach for it – but I can tell you if you want to know) told a true story of a little boy who befriended a wild animal. It waited for him every day at the same spot in order to be fed. One day it approached some strangers and was killed. The little boy, of course, was devastated. His father said “that was your mistake – you took away his fear of humans.”

It’s one of those stories you wish you’d never been told, but because you know these things happen, you file it in the box in your mind labelled animals killed for being too trusting. Having put the story away, I got on with the rest of the day without thinking about it. But later at night, as I was about to go to bed, I pushed the window open and stared out at the moon, which was very bright but not quite full. How do people know whether it’s waxing or waning? It must be waxing, surely, because I’ve been such a bundle of apathetic uselessness recently, and it’s only in the last couple of days that I’ve pulled myself together and got things done.

I found myself thinking about the little boy’s friend who came and waited for him every evening. I tried to imagine refusing such a friendship, or weaning the animal off it gradually by failing to turn up every so often; letting the times you didn’t feed it stretch out longer and longer, till finally it stopped coming. But I also imagined staying in the house knowing it was out there waiting for you, searching for you with shiny hopeful eyes. How could one go through with that, even for fear of what other humans might do?

A paw patted my bare foot softly. Surprised, I turned back into the room. Sharky’s tabby form was lying stretched out by my feet as he winked and twinkled at me. The light tap of his paw on my foot had been no accident. I felt he had deliberately drawn me back from my voyage to the moon so I would stop thinking about an animal who died far away and long ago.

Sharky dozing

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was on Blogigo:

1. Pacian wrote at Sep 10, 2006 at 16:09:
I was in a sad mood the other day after reading a book with a slightly nasty ending. I hate stories that try and pretend that life isn’t hard, but a little *too much* honesty can be difficult to cope with.

2. Diddums wrote at Sep 11, 2006 at 00:23:

As my old pappy used to say, “a trouble shared is a trouble doubled.”

Actually it wasn’t my old pappy, it was a friend who sometimes reads this blog, so I better not be caught out in a lie!

3. kaz wrote at Sep 11, 2006 at 20:55:
D is for declining, but a D moon is the opposite. I loved the story, funny how things like that can affect our mood

4. Diddums wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 01:41:

Thanks, Kaz – and the thing about having blogged about it is that I now remember it every time I visit my page. Maybe I should blog about something different now, and get it out of my head…

5. kateblogs wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 11:20:
That sounds like the Yearling – it has a similar theme, but events take place a little differently. I know what you mean, we all know about the harsh realities of life, but don’t always want to be reminded of them quite so graphically.

“I’ve been such a bundle of apathetic uselessness recently”

Same here – I’m a little like Worzel Gummidge when he hasn’t got his thinking head on at the moment.

6. Diddums wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 13:35:

I don’t think I read or watched Worzel Gummidge – he reminded me of Catweasel, and the whole scarecrow/old man thing depressed me when I was little. 🙂

7. Kim Ayres wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 15:41:
To answer your waxing/waning bit – if the full curve of the moon is on the right, it’s waxing, and if it’s on the left, it’s waning.

8. Diddums wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 16:08:

Ah – now I understands what Kaz means by saying a declining moon is the opposite of a D – I didn’t realize. That’s interesting to know – thanks! I looked at it again last night and there was even less of it than before, so Kaz is right about it being on the wane.