Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Writing

Keeping Perspective

I never posted my last blog post…. that’s two or three I wrote that never got online! Well, I hope this one is luckier.

A day or two ago, this writing prompt from WordPress arrived in my inbox:

I Can’t Stay Mad at You
“Do you hold grudges or do you believe in forgive and forget?”

Topical. 🙂

Several weeks ago I searched for ‘forgiveness’ and discovered it’s defined in a way that doesn’t match my understanding of it.

It seems if you forgive someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will continue to have anything to do with that person. It merely means you won’t be acting on ‘it’, whatever it was.

It makes a certain sense if you see forgiveness as a form of self-regulation. If someone damaged something of yours, you might choose not to chase them for reparation. In such a situation, perhaps other things would be of more value to you — community goodwill, for instance, or family ties.

Whether you continue to deal with that person is another issue entirely, and has nothing to do with forgiveness. Well, that’s the impression I formed after reading around.

I always saw forgiveness as continuing to see and speak to the person without changing towards them. If you cut him or her out of your life, that doesn’t seem like true forgiveness. How can you forgive someone without letting them feel it?

I don’t know what to think now. I don’t know enough to know the truth of it, and maybe none of us do.

I enjoyed the following:

Forgive (The Word Detective)

Still on topic, and looking back at the blog prompt… do I bear grudges?

Most of us do, I imagine. First I wrote, “we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t,” then realized cats, dogs, horses and birds in trees most likely bear grudges. Yes, birds sitting on rooftops do; also those flying over your washing. That line of thought was tying me in knots, so the best way of releasing myself was to cut the entire phrase loose…

Yes, I bear grudges over plenty of stuff that has happened to me over the years, and though I don’t act on these things, think, or even talk about most of them, I can still get grumpy when I remember any. Like the time the janitor rapped my knuckles with his keys when a few children were taking refuge in the hallway for some warmth. That really hurt… and I wasn’t shouting, swearing or doing anything wrong… I just didn’t want to be out in the icy playground. How old was I? Six? Seven? How long can we bear a grudge? Oh, as long as we live!

‘Grudge’ is an odd word, but less of a mystery than ‘forgive’. It’s to feel bitter about a wrong done to you. I guess it doesn’t even have to be a wrong that a human, cat or dog has committed, but something more abstract such as… life circumstances, perhaps. You can bear a grudge against the world. The phrase ‘done me wrong’ is interesting, though — very sure of itself.

Perhaps when someone wrongs you, it’s not always something intended to hurt you in any way or to any degree — just a fallout of how things actually are. In that case, what is it we grudge or forgive?

I was interested in the suggestion that ‘forgiving’ means not taking offence at all. Most of us will feel hurt by something, and need a way to move on from that, but what if we can bring ourselves to realize “it’s just how it is” and that no one was being actively malignant?

Can we realize in a comfortable fashion that something is not worth taking offence over? Or does it always take a bit of ‘processing’ to reach that point? Sometimes you have to work out the dynamics of the situation. If they are not clear, then nor are your feelings.

At any rate, there’s often a bit of a battle in our minds when feeling wronged or hurt. The way old grudges fade is when you see them as a curiosity, a bit of social history — something that happened to someone else a long, long time ago. We can’t possibly remember all the ins and outs after all this time, and sometimes we wrong ourselves as well as others if we judge an isolated experience without having all of the facts. Then again, when you find something similar happening all over again, and the same negative feelings surfacing (the ones you’ve long lambasted yourself for giving way to), you suddenly remember why you reacted the way you did all those years ago and appreciate afresh the rollercoaster of emotions you were dealing with back then. You are also faced with the unsettling realization that you’re not really a wiser, mellower being! You haven’t even shown more understanding of your younger self, and (it turns out) you still have those fierce internal battles to deal with. They were only dormant because no one was stirring the magma.

So, forgiveness… what does it mean? I always thought I knew, but life is messy. You can’t say “I forgive” and literally never think of it again, unless you really understand everything and know there’s nothing to forgive.

One way or another, it works best when you are still actively engaging with the other person. It’s a live, warm connection. Your experience of the person continues to update (and isn’t frozen at some point in the past). That’s a healthy situation. Less healthy is thinking you know someone based on something they did years ago, while more recent information is lacking.

These are general thoughts only, and wouldn’t fit all cases. At times we are wise to ‘cut all ties’, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly and without considering one’s own part in it. We are a community for a reason — there has to be communication. Forgiveness should be about allowing that communication to continue.

Have just noticed I’ve blogged on this topic before, and my perspective does not seem to have changed. (The Point of a Grudge). Having gone through some kind of recent upheaval, I’m glad I can say that. 🙂 A tried and tested viewpoint! I prefer my older post to the newer one, especially as I forgot about Mme Ramotswe’s take on forgiveness.

Posted in Books, Hearing Loss, Life and Family, My Cats

Emotional Toil

Well, I finished Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, and had mixed feelings about it. Some of it I agreed with, some of it made me uneasy. Parts of it were uncomfortable reading… descriptions of the hurtful rows couples can have makes you curl up in a ball. It’s not just couples, of course; you can have these painful clashes with anybody whose good opinion you value.

I haven’t had any huge arguments lately, or ruined friendships (that I’m aware of), though the other night I didn’t understand something Mum was trying to say till she blew up and stamped about and threw things. I thought we were having a chummy evening in, so it was a shock. What did I do? Turned out she was asking me to stop playing with the cats, as it was distracting her from the TV. I thought she was saying other things, and kept right on…

It sounds both funny and stupid, but it made me feel quite ill. It reminded me of something on TV about a deaf Dalmatian dog; it couldn’t hear warning growls from other dogs and would keep right on… and got attacked. It haunted me at the time, and I couldn’t help remembering it.

I did some stamping and door-slamming myself (retreating upstairs to watch my own TV), and didn’t forgive Mum for two or three hours.

The book said you can get blazingly angry about something all in an instant, but if you stop and think about it, you realize there’s an underlying emotion such as hurt or fear. People get angry because they feel threatened in some way. I didn’t have to think about it very much, I knew about it already. It came before the anger.

The treatment meted out by other people to their friends and partners is not pleasant reading. It makes me want to reach through the pages and shake some of them till their teeth rattle.

It’s purely opinion, but I was dubious about some things in the book. I giggled when reading about a study of one particular group of patients. Some received therapy along with their treatment; others did not. The ones receiving therapy left the hospital an average of two days earlier than the rest. I said to Mum “do you suppose they were trying to escape?”
“I’m quite sure of it,” she said.

I imagine I would have been one of the schoolchildren hinted at (further along) who consider mediation and therapy at school to be an invasion of privacy. Ironic… here I write to the whole world what I’m thinking, but clam up when therapists/consultants/whoever are talking nicely to me in a quiet room. I even clammed up when the university tutors were trying to discuss my thoughts about things I’d read, which was completely missing the point of having tutors… but that’s by the way.

There was a bit about timid cats catching smaller mice than their more courageous brethren; I took issue with that use of the word ‘courageous’. It’s supposed to mean you’re scared but go for it anyway; not that you weren’t particularly scared and waded joyfully in. Mum said it showed a basic misunderstanding of cat behaviour.

Finally I finished the book and handed it over to her in case she wanted to read it, and she dropped it in the bin. “You’re supposed to make up your own mind about it,” I protested, and she said “I have… I’ve had bits of it read to me!”

Finally she relented and pulled it out again, but I don’t care what she does with it. I’ve begun reading Cat on the Edge by Shirley Rousseau Murphy and it’s wonderful. I already see the hero cat (Joe Grey) as being my own Sharky, though Sharky wasn’t ugly and grey with half a tail. It reminds me how I would go off my chump when he (or any of the cats) disappeared. I could just imagine him doing some of those things… but I won’t give away any more, except to say that the pretty girl cat (Dulcie) reminds me strongly of Delilah. Nobody could be cross with her for any reason.

Am taking it to bed, along with cuddly moose, cuddly mouse etc.

Posted in Christmas and New Year, Injury and Mishap, Pet-Minding

Watch Your Step

Never mind the Miracle of Birth – the Miracle of Healing is the one! Imagine if we couldn’t heal – we would be a mass of cuts, grazes and breaks, and probably wouldn’t live very long. I won’t remind you about acne either.

At last my injured foot is starting to feel like a foot again. I can go out for a couple of hours’ shopping without it blowing up like a hand of mini-bananas. Sitting in a cafe yesterday with Mum, she told me one of her friends is in hospital because she fell. She’s got damaged fingers, a broken wrist, wrenched shoulder and bashed knee. Sounds excruciating. Shortly before Christmas is a bad time, but isn’t that always when things go wrong? Or perhaps it just seems that way.

What threw me off balance is that I originally thought I had broken toes only, and would be back to walking dogs in a couple of weeks. Not until the days and then weeks crawled past did I realize the whole foot was damaged – lots of bruising with torn muscles and ligaments. Mum told her neighbour I wouldn’t be able to walk the dog again till after Christmas – that’s a 6 or 7 week healing process. It’s unsettling – usually you have an idea how long things are going to take to heal and sometimes it’s quicker than you think.

I suppose I should view it as a kind of holiday, but the loss of funds is not good. I’ve spent so much time at home that my whole outlook has shifted and I see everything from a different angle – a most disturbing sensation. And all of this is because I washed the floor. I should develop a new mantra. Dirt is good…

Posted in Injury and Mishap, Technology and Software, Teddy Bears


Spammers are tenacious. Here’s an illustration:

Almost ten years ago I was foolish enough to put my email address on my website. Worse than that, I had several different email addresses. One was for a giant grey mouse (stuffed toy) called Mou. Years ago I removed all email addresses from my site, including Mou’s. But the spam is still coming, and today I noticed one (in the trash folder, waiting for the delete key) with the subject heading Stock Tips for Mou. As it happens, Mou doesn’t live here any more – Mou has moved out and is staying with my mother. Mou would want me to write back and let these kind people know “Mou is no longer at this address” – BUT – I happen to know better than to communicate with spammers. Not that it’s really possible, as they have no real brains there to be communicated with. The light’s on, but nobody’s home.

Limping on from spammers, I took my broken foot to the doctor, worried by friends (and a website) who said that it’s a myth that a broken foot will heal beautifully without expert medical attention. Doc took all of two minutes to look at it and said just to carry on the way I was, because it’s healing. Mum (a retired nurse), who never advocated taking it to doctor, said “tell all your internet friends that mother always knows best!”

Well, I pointed out to Mum that the doc didn’t ask me to wriggle my toes, and he didn’t test the joint of the broken toe, which is where the break is – I think it will be OK; I have asked it myself to flex, and it does, but with a certain amount of pain. But then I told him loudly “THIS is the sore toe” and he knew better than to touch it! He said yes, it was broken, and he could see a sort of crumpled bruising along the ball of the foot, but everything seems to be fine. Carry on healing…

He admired my new suede fleece-lined boots with the pom-poms. They are split down both sides so it’s easy to get the sore foot in, and then you simply bind a suede thong round the leg. He said they looked soft and roomy yet supportive.

Still hirpling – we went to town but my foot got tired after a couple of hours. I bought it a pretty pink and blue sock made from a thick soft silky wool – it’s just for lounging around in. I bought one for the other foot as well so it won’t feel left out! Then I started on my Christmas hopping – er, shopping.

I wonder if Mou would like a laptop?

Posted in Books, Injury and Mishap, Pet-Minding, TV and Films

Fevered Fantasies

Today I had to clean up a bit of mess in the lino-covered hall and left it wet. Of course, next time I walked that way (barefoot and rather fast) I slipppppppped! Skidded into the wooden threshold of an open door, and fell on my knees. I leapt up in a fury, dried the floor where I slipped, and then realized one of my toes wasn’t working well. In fact it hurt. I think it’s broken in two places, and the toe next to it might be broken as well.

Well that wasn’t clever, and it wasn’t fun! I had been about to take the dog out for a walk, but it was out of the question after that. I didn’t really need to anyway, as he got such a fright when I fell down (screaming) that he did a puddle in the porch.

I cleaned that up as well (making a big thing of hirpling brokenly about) – then retired to my sofa to look up a family medical book. That was pretty stupid because I couldn’t find a single mention anywhere in it of how to handle fractured toes. It only discussed fractured legs and arms, and when I came to where it said “there might be damage to the nerves and veins” I felt so unwell I put it down and concentrated on breathing deeply, looking at my bears.

In the end, the toes seemed straight enough and the right colour, so I have just been resting. My mother said I can splint the broken toe by strapping it to the next toe, but – er – I reckon I’m just fine for now! Thank you very much. Cancelled appointment with dentist and read a short novel from beginning to end (Thebes of the Hundred Gates by Robert Silverberg). After that I watched TV – things like Monk and a show about the possible appearance of aliens if we discover an inhabited planet orbiting a red dwarf star. They seem to have populated this hypothetical planet with triffids (or something very similar). And “lurking in the pond is a killer – hysteria.” I couldn’t help thinking (rather hysterically) “First you tell us there’s no alien life out there, then you say we probably weren’t looking in the right places. I rather assumed you were looking everywhere – no closed minds.”

I wonder if I would really want to visit another planet only to be mugged by hysteria and any bacteria we don’t already have here. Well I’ll leave it to the pioneers. My bears and I will only visit when there’s a proper settlement and established vaccines. I could be the first pet-minder to look after a mudpod or a tame gulphog. One can dream – and it takes my mind off my broken toes.