My 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.
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.
Apparently we should write lists to get through our gloomy spells.
Hoping to achieve:
(1) Better artwork and photography.
(2) Avoiding living forever and turning into a sort of desiccated bat. (I should put at least one that’s achievable).
(3) More friends, casual or otherwise.
(4) Better writing and blogging.
(5) In time, a greater measure of peace. 🙂
(1) Get on with painting… will start again at the beginning as something wasn’t right.
(2) Rouse up new music for my collection. Will try anything except Pooh’s Top 40 and Duran Duran.
(3) Read more books… loads I bought for the Kindle and never got round to!
(1) Write a book? So many people are writing books, though. If I don’t, I’ll be the only person who hasn’t written one, which will be doing everyone a favour.
Things I’ve survived in life already:
(2) Irate hamsters, especially the Russian dwarf variety.
(3) Finding out I’m only average (that’s both depressing and a relief)
(4) Embarrassment (one of the worst indignities life throws at you).
What I love in life and what makes me happy:
(1) Family, friends (including iPad) and cats.
(2) Art and music.
(3) Comforting routine.
(4) Things beginning with C… comments, cadeaux, comedy, computers, cameras, chocolate, coffee, cream, cheese, coconuts, curry, chilli, cinnamon, cashew nuts, clematises, cherry blossom, colours, colouring books, creativity, comfortable slippers and conversation.
(5) Writing, diaries, blogging and haikus.
(6) Reading and books.
(7) Ideas and simple philosophies.
(8) Teddy bears and denim shirts (not necessarily together).
(9) Eggs, mushrooms, sausages and bacon at breakfast. (Not so keen at night).
(10) Roads of Rome, Northern Tale, Trolls vs Vikings and other iPad games.
What’s good about me:
(1) Curiosity and lots of casual research.
(2) Always improving writing skills and artwork.
(3) Trying to be fair even when people make me cross.
(4) Slowly cultivating a little healthy scepticism and caution!
What I’ve learned about myself from all of the above:
(1) There do seem to be a lot of Cs in my lists.
(2) I have no long-term goal!! Is that bad?
(3) No cake listed, but I don’t love it anyway. Especially not fruit cake.
(4) The things I love come together to make an acrostic. Is that to be my new goal in life? I’ve no wish to enter slanging matches with other Wikipedia editors, so can’t say I’m enthused.
(5) Simple living for me, please.
Totally lacking energy right now… nothing to say. Try to do things and they don’t work. Write a blog post and there’s nothing to blog about. Read a book and it’s full of dry bits. Friends and family on Facebook no closer than they were. Makes you wonder what Facebook is for.
I prefer quiet conversations with just one person at a time.
Sometimes feels as though life is something you are forced to do when you would rather keep out of it! There is no way you can say “I don’t want to do this, thanks…. I don’t have the right kind of brain.” I always wanted my life to be a book I could learn from without being hurt in any way.
I’m the heroine of my own story, and I don’t like it at all. I’d much rather read about it.
At the end of the novel I would turn round and be at home with my family. No other kind of existence is imaginable.
But for now the book is still open…. the next chapter could be filled with masked highwaymen (or did we just have that one?) Or howling wolves in a cold Scottish forest (think I’ve done that one as well). Or a shipwreck, and pirate’s treasure. Or there’ll be a hobbit and a gold ring.
Is that all just wistful thinking?
Doubtless his lot is important in his own eyes; and the chief reason that we think he asks too large a place in our consideration must be our want of room for him, since we refer him to the Divine regard with perfect confidence; nay, it is even held sublime for our neighbour to expect the utmost there, however little he may have got from us.
~ Middlemarch (George Eliot)
Sarah has posted some questions on her blog Stars and Rainbows — I can never resist answering these!
1. What is the one thing that makes you happiest, each day?
A peaceful day in which nothing has to be done or faced, and no fires have to be fought.
2. What is your biggest dream?
A more insightful, thoughtful and understanding world.
3. If you could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give to her/him?
Keep in touch with your friends if possible, and keep that diary going! One day you will want to remember, and sometimes what you have written is a surprise… often good as well as bad. Also record your dreams… those are of interest too. Photos are good too, but they are never as evocative or as useful, somehow, as your own words from the past.
4. What is your most prized possession?
My sight. 🙂
5. What did school teach you?
That you learn more when you take an interest and get involved in your studies, especially when you choose additional books of your own (from the library or wherever). I didn’t hear at lessons, and sometimes didn’t hear what our homework was to be, and so home-study and planning were particularly important.
6. What has life, thus far, taught you?
That there’s no point banging your head against a brick wall, and that some people will believe what they want against all reason. Just accept you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and that so long as you get on with some people most of the time, you’re fine!
7. How would you describe your style?
Best when light…. but I keep forgetting that! 😉
8. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
It’s a way of getting your view across, while discovering and talking to other bloggers. It’s a way of venting steam, preferably without scalding anyone. Your blog is a record of your past thoughts and actions, and sometimes a reminder to get on with something that you were putting off and blogged about ages ago…
It’s also that moment when you think “what could I blog about today? It could be absolutely anything!” and feel an anticipatory thrill.
9. What is your favourite meal? Describe it, in a way that will make the reader want it.
Prawn curry! The rich tang of the curry sauce steams and curls under your nose. The plump sultanas glisten alongside sweet pink prawns, nestling on a bed of pearly white rice. At your side sits a large, finely etched glass of chilled white wine — we like ours to be dessert wine. Sometimes you also have a crunchy spiced poppadum — I love to break mine into big pieces for scooping up the curry.
10. Imagine you are off on an adventure, and you need to pack a bag of food. What will your picnic consist of?
A Cornish Pasty or an onion bridie, if I felt a little more adventurous than usual! Sometimes cold quiche, or cous cous mixed with roast vegetables. Normally (more boringly) it would be a Marks and Sparks sandwich with a pricy little bottle of Coca-Cola.
11. What is the one thing that you wish everyone could understand?
It’s communication that’s important, not how one communicates.
Song of the moment for me just now is Sealand, from OMD’s album Architecture and Morality. I had the record years ago and loved it to bits. Recently I bought the CD, and it was mostly for the sake of Sealand. I felt I couldn’t last another week without it. A DVD came in the same CD case, but I’ve not looked at it yet. Instead I listen to Sealand over and over…
Beautiful Sealand, graceful and calm. It says to me that life is what it is… it is sad at times, but all suffering comes to an end.
A review on Amazon said the album has a cold heart, but I listen to this, and see the sun breaking through the clouds.
It sounds better on my old Mac, which still has the Yamaha amplifier and speakers. 🙂 Try Sealand for yourself on the YouTube clip, then get the CD. 😉
Was sitting in the café a couple of days ago, reading this article in The Independent: Thrisis’ management: How to survive a thirtysomething crisis. I’m in my 40s, not my 30s, but could see myself reading this book out of curiosity.
What made me sit up is this line: ‘A thrisis… isn’t about regret but about “looking forward and thinking, ‘I don’t want the next 30 years to look like this.'”‘ I can remember feeling that way in the office (the one that was eventually thrown away by a bigger business as part of a cost-cutting exercise, but we won’t get into that!)
Remembering that state of mind… how I wasn’t even happy in that job, and all I could see ahead of me was more of the same (till I fell off my perch in my lonely old age) reminds me how much better my life is now in some respects. The job part of it has gone, and will not figure in my future landscape of doom and gloom… LOL.
Have you ever felt that way?
Pacian tagged me for a six-word description of my life. That’s even shorter than a haiku!
I thought of mine last night; better put it down before I forget:
Came far, writes much, speaks little.
Even the much-loved and much-hated font I wrote it in speaks volumes (though it depends if you even have it on your computer). I’m allowed six tags but I ‘write much’ and am feeling greedy, so have allowed myself ten. The choice is up to you (and since I have four spare, four can cry off if they prefer) but my ten tags are (in alphabetical order):
Chani suggests that everybody answers these 35 questions. Sometimes I think it’s easier to give a point of view when prompted, rather than come out with odd snippets out of the blue… and some of these things are good to say.
I enjoyed filling this out. Some questions I’ve answered before (but can still come up with something new), whereas others were quite hard to answer, and made me think.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A more inclusive world with more balanced aims and methods… and far fewer control freaks. 🙂
2. What is your greatest fear?
Being misunderstood, spurned and never fully heard.
3. Which living person do you most admire?
I really don’t know. I tried to think whose ways I’ve rather liked recently, and the first to leap to mind was C.J. from the Eggheads. Don’t ask me. That was just the first figure to mind. After Stephen Fry.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Not living up to my own expectations.
5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
The tendency to dismiss other people, views and experiences as worthless or ‘wrong’.
6. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I have to agree with Thailand Gal (Chani) – it’s being ‘hard working’. You have to see the bigger picture and the people around you – not just your own little treadmill.
7. On what occasion do you lie?
Polite lies – “I really enjoyed the dinner.” Or “I would love to come but I’m too busy that day.”
8. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Probably my shyness – that has an effect on one’s demeanour. 🙂
9. What is your greatest regret?
Not knowing older family members better, including my dad who died when I was 24.
10. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
A lad from Singapore. He came the closest to accepting me for who I was.
11. Which talent would you most like to have?
Clearer, more fluent speech.
12. What is your current state of mind?
‘Hunger’ seems to be the best description – not for food, but for all the things I want to say and achieve right now. I want more hours in the day.
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I have to say it, because it’s true – I would welcome nice crisp hearing, just a little bit better than everybody else’s! Just for a change.
14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
2002 Winning the British Mensa Championsh…. oh, wait! That wasn’t me, that was C.J.
Several times Best in Show Oriental… nuh uh, that was Sharky.
Oh I know… getting born. All those other spermatazoa were loooooosers.
15. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A cat – claws and all.
16. What is your most treasured possession?
My little house.
17. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When I worry that nobody understands where I’m coming from and is not prepared to try. A sinking suspicion that people are too busy going round and round in their hamster wheels to stop and really connect.
18. Where would you like to live?
Kenya – or a more rural area of Scotland.
19. What is your most marked characteristic?
20. Who are your favorite writers?
Among them: Tove Jansson, Terry Pratchett, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Cart, Neil M Gunn.
21. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Same as Chani’s – Anne Shirley. She was a writer and a dreamer. I tried to come up with somebody different, but got stuck. Moominmamma? You’d all think I was crazy.
22. Who are your heroes in real life?
My family and pets… apart from that, I don’t know. I don’t know anybody that well.
23. What is it that you most dislike?
Loud ways, narrow-mindedness.
24. What is your motto?
‘It will all be the same in a hundred years.’
25. Favorite journey?
Chuffing across Kenya by overnight train. Dreamy.
26. What do you value most in your friends?
Willingness to communicate; reliability; kindness.
27. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I was just thinking…”
28. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
GMB (without the drinking)!! If you could call him a historical figure. He certainly liked his history.
29. What is your greatest extravagance?
Books. Bears. Gifts. Nice furnishings for my Most Treasured Possession.
30. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Their age – I would roll it back.
31. What is your favorite occupation?
Pottering around at home.
32. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Connection of minds.
33. What is the quality you most like in a man?
Connection of minds.
34. How would you like to die?
In my sleep.
35. If you could chose what to come back as, what would it be?
A cat – a well-loved one in a warm home.
Comments for this entry (during its previous life in Blogigo):
1. ThomasLB wrote at Dec 1, 2007 at 22:01: I can relate to #15. I wouldn’t mind coming back as a cat – but I want to come back as *my* cat, and I’m not sure that’s allowed.
2. Diddums wrote at Dec 1, 2007 at 22:34: That could be the basis for an interesting science fiction novel! Especially if the cat was aware he used to be his owner.
3. Pacian wrote at Dec 2, 2007 at 14:12: Now this one, I’m definitely stealing.
On Saturday I was tramping along in the hot sun, N’s dog Thundercloud at my side. I was thinking about the fragility of human relationships. In some nothing seems to be wrong but they fall apart anyway. All it takes is for one person to lack drive, to fear commitment, or to believe they can have something better with different companions. And yet there’s nothing wrong with living apart – we cannot own each other. It’s enough that people get along and give aid or friendship when needed.
Before that I had been thinking about the impermanence of other things. Nothing that we have thought, said or done will survive for all time. Only if humans somehow survive into infinity will a selection of our works and knowledge accompany them. But if the human race dies, everything we have created also dies.
While on that topic, there are the individuals – the plants, animals and people, dying one by one. It’s terrible to think of those we love just ceasing to be, yet immortality would be a terrible thing. Reproduction would have to cease if we didn’t want to live on each other’s shoulders, eight miles high.
I tried to imagine another world where every soul who has ever lived continues existence in more or less that form. How do they find the room? It must be full by now. It’s crowded enough where we are – how much worse would it be in this other world?
Still musing about doomed relationships and the fleeting nature of people and things, I passed a tiny, beautifully tended Japanese-style garden. Something about it was just too perfect and too manicured to be true.
“Somebody went to a lot of trouble with that patch of earth,” I thought, “and yet will be fighting with weeds and grass popping up where not wanted, and eventually will get tired of it and change it, or sell it to someone else who will dig up the whole thing and plant potatoes. And one day maybe it will all be barren land with rocks and scrub as far as the eye can see – no trace of this little place. Nothing lasts forever.”
And there it was – that phrase, the one that connected everything I’d been thinking. A song I loved as a teenager came welling out of a shadowy corner of my memories. I played it repeatedly in the house we left a long time ago in a town we no longer see. People and animals lived in that house who are long since gone. I haven’t thought about this song for years – and there it was in my head as though I’d been listening to it only yesterday.
Of that I’m sure
Now you’ve made an offer
I’ll take some more
Up till then I had just been trudging and thinking in a dull kind of way, but suddenly something changed. There was joy and rediscovery, mixed with sadness.
I loved that singer. Did he think about the same sort of things? When did he just fade into my past and remain forgotten? When did I become somebody else?
I can’t believe
It’s still the same old movie
That’s haunting me
This song has been in my head ever since that moment and I don’t want to let it go. It reconnects me to my past and brings perspective to the present.
For now it’s the same old scene – but nothing lasts forever.
Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was on Blogigo:
kateblogs wrote at Jun 12, 2006 at 13:28:
What a wonderful post. So evocative.
drifting wrote at Jun 13, 2006 at 07:21:
What kateblogs said!
jasrus1969 wrote at Feb 10, 2008 at 23:50:
Heard this same tune on Ashes To Ashes the other night, lovely tune, very thought provoking and just glad I tracked it down.
Listening to: The slow dance of the stars
It doesn’t matter how tired or bad I feel about anything – I have basic peace of mind. It’s the thing that says “nothing matters,” and “it will all be the same in a hundred years.” It also says “your family’s there for you; even the ones who are dead and gone will forever be in your background. Nothing can alter that.” Mum says I look astonishingly like her mother. They looked like each other, though she doesn’t agree. I must be one of the few women around who accepts the words “you are just like your mother” as a compliment. I don’t know how it is that I can be feeling like a cracked cup in a reject shop, turn around and hold close to thoughts about the the dark night and the stars; all the centuries before and the centuries after… and lie quiet again. It’s a long time and a lot of darkness – but we were here once… warm and real.