I am afflicted, nay blessed, with double vision. This binocular sight is not in the same sense as one normally thinks of this perception. In my particular case I saw a single end (and beginning) because of my view into my own heart and into the heart of my child.
Just three years ago I made a momentous decision to end my decade-plus long relationship. Today, after years of separation, it is legally finished. There will not be a great celebration, no party or champagne corks popping, just a moment to breathe and exhale as I step from the end of this phase into the beginning of the next one.
I have never been one to slate my ex partners. We were together because there was something good between us – usually love. We parted because of many different reasons - all of them based on it being the right time for us to go our separate ways. But today is about closing the door on a part of my history and continuing to create my present with my family. As a unit, we are, as the saying goes “small but perfectly formed”.
By the end of today I will truly be able to say ... “It is finished” in the style of the Master orator. A chapter of my life will be legally over and I am happy in a calm way.
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
Every love's the love before
In a duller dress.
That's the measure of my lore-
Here's my bitterness:
Would I knew a little more,
Or very much less!
Jokes bring out laughter – well, that’s the desired effect usually.
Jokes sometimes lighten a serious situation by the injection of humour.
Jokes can bring people together or tear groups apart.
Jokes are like a smooth covering of butter on a dry piece of toast when one is following a strict diet: an act of rebellion.
Freud would agree. We need more humorous revolutions.
The butterfly in a field full of flowers alights on the normal species and suck up the familiar nectar. Then they fly off to the next similar plant. The butterfly is happy and satisfied with the nectar it gets and usually it remains this way. However, children are like butterflies that are blown off course and forced to land on a new type of plant. As they look around at this different environment they are enchanted and all thoughts of the old familiar routine disappear from their minds.
Reaching out and testing the new nectar proves that other things hold as much interest and promise as the last experience did. Like their winged counterparts children grow up and they float from one attraction to another. Whenever a child gets a new focus they remain fiercely loyal to it ... until a fresh wind blows then somewhere else.
Living Now ... I am living now. If my father had been living now he would be celebrating his 101st birthday today.
My father lived a long, and often hard life. He saw many things people should not see and endured experiences that would make him weep. Sometimes he would take his anger and frustration out on the family. I didn’t understand him for most of my life. It is strange that since he died I have started to understand him a bit more – at least I think I have.
My father worked hard to move from his humble beginnings in Jamaica, where he owned nothing much more than two kid goats, to a comfortable mortgage free home that he lived in for over 25 years after his retirement. His work ethic provided for his retirement.
His legacy to me is greater than a financial one. My father has left me with an enduring example of the benefits (and costs) of consistency, commitment and perseverance.
He lived through times of great social advances and terrible tragedies; he was part of the British war effort in the Caribbean. Michael Morgan helped to rebuild the industry of Britain after WWII when he worked here relentlessly as an engineer. Although we had our many disagreements I retained respect for his journey.
I may never truly appreciate my father but this I do know ... Michael J Morgan was a giant. My parents both facilitated my growing environment. My mother also made a path for me to be who I am in this world. She too was a giant in her own unique way.
My siblings and I are but dwarfs that have been allowed to stand on the shoulders of giants. It is now up to us individually to see further.
Apparently, the cold spell has arrived, without warning the temperature dropped as did the leaves. The frost fell overnight, it was on the cars and the roads, even the grass was crisp underfoot. A crunch of ice was heard with each fresh step on the pavement. This was my morning wake-up call as I noticed that everything had changed.
I realised that I would have to enter into a new phase of my oh-so-British obsession with the weather for this end of the year. The Americans would call this season 'Fall' - I begin to understand the term now. Everything falls.
Yesterday evening there was a significant drop in temperature to below 8 C. The night dragged the temperature lower still. This morning it had not risen much above 2 C. I knew for sure that the new season had arrived. In a mere twenty four hours the temperature has fallen by over 10 C. My heart dropped with the mercury.
Although the sun is shining brightly in the clear blue sky it is no consolation to my bones. I don't like the cold weather. That is the only reason why I have not yet moved to a country I love so much: Canada (the Canadians do have better systems for dealing with the cold than us Brits do so it is still a serious consideration).
When a cousin first arrived in England from Jamaica he awoke the first morning and looked out of the bedroom window. As I passed by his opened door I saw him stood there with a puzzled look settled on his brow. I asked if he was OK.
"Nah man," he answered. "I see the sun shining but me caant feel it. Me nuh understaand whaa gwann."
"Welcome to the mocking sun," I replied with sardonic laughter. "This is Britain in November. You left the warmth near the equator I’m afraid."
It looked like the same sun he saw every day of his life in Jamaica, and indeed it was but from this different physical perspective the sun did not touch him as it did just one day earlier.
Things are not always as they seem. Things are not always as we are used to them. The familiar things fall away and are replaced by new strange times.
We will adjust – it just takes time.
From my late evening excursions yesterday I began to think about the layers of clothing I will have to wear now. Layers of protection against the persistent pain of the near zero weather. The wind is the worst. It works in conjunction with the sun and creeps upon you unawares. Unsettling you without warning.
There is nothing I can do to stop the weather change. What I can do is to adjust my behaviour to match it and manage my attitude through this fall time. I have to focus on the things I can control; the cold weather is not one of them.
By the time we British have adjusted to the cold weather it will be spring again and the earth will be bringing forth new life. We can have our own spring in our lives at any time. When the autumn or fall visits us we must, like I did today, dress appropriately and plan to suit the current time. There is no point acting like you are in yesterday or tomorrow. We must dress both our bodies and our minds to best equip us to deal with the wind and the frost that may beset us on our paths. We must deal with the present because this is where we are.
As soon as this season in my life is complete the next one will appear and I will be ready. I will see the signs.
We have today. We have now.
I, for one, am using my fall time to see the beauty around me and find my moments of happiness in each and every day.
I may, however, be doing it wearing a hat, scarf, gloves, thermals ... you get the picture I’m sure.
Laws of Attraction
Feeling attracted to someone can come upon you suddenly. The psychologists say that you decide within a matter of seconds whether or not you are attracted to someone.
It can be a word.
It can be a look.
It can be a picture.
All it takes is a moment of a moment and the process begins.
It may be a mere glance. But with the connection the computer centre of the body feels the pull towards the source of delight. The engines are fired and the wings are unfurled as the heart takes flight towards the goal.
I was not expected anything, so it was a very pleasant surprise as my heart started to beat faster when this attraction grabbed me. I could not focus on the matter in hand. All I wanted to do was to have my attraction verified and reciprocated.
I scanned for any clues that would indicate if this person could sense my attraction and if they had been struck by it too. In the mean time I tried not to be too obvious. I knew my body was betraying me. I could feel every part of my body glowing and the pheromones were firing like the guns on a practice range. Intensity filled the air and I struggled to breathe.
Attraction is beautifully enchanting.
It is always a great feeling of superb and delightful intensity.
Passion is urgency.
Rare to this flesh-eating scenery
which devours the evening
at Morne Rouge
with a sun which sets
as if falling from the sky
you would stand with a mirror to your thoughts
deflecting the rays which bounced
proud, exquisite African
I would watch
as you stripped
curving its black form
to bend time
and take you
back to your kingdom
you came out of the sea
clutching a branch which as not
Smooth as ivory
it was naked as bone
You held it out to me
my gaze fell from it to you
it to you
and then back again
I thought of skeletons, piranhas
and your own shrinking will
I could not answer when you called
You called my name again
I did not turn
I walked away without a backward glance
The urgency had gone
of the longing
(Collection: Long Road to Nowhere)
I know how uncomfortable I am with standing in front of people and talking. This fact was confirmed yesterday when at a friend’s house. Someone suggested that we play a game called ‘Impressions’ where we imitate how we see each other; all the children readily agreed and eagerly jostled for their turn to take centre stage and do their acting bit.
It was fun to watch them as they all exaggerated the behaviour of us all, but when my turn came I was without an ounce of confidence. The same thing happens when I play charades – even with a small intimate group of people. I find myself floundering and immediately unable to think clearly. I am sure, in that moment, that I sound and look stupid so I feel myself becoming jelly-like in my actions. I’m standing there, smile nervously placed on my face just wanting my turn to be over. Scared that if I refuse to take my turn that more attention will be focused on me than currently is. I’m already convinced that if there is any positive response to my act within an act it will only be because of the sympathy vote. I know I am dying on my feet.
Let me contrast this dread with an earlier incident. I still don’t believe it was really the same person: me.
This time ... I spoke without hesitation on a subject I believed in and I did not shake or worry what the listeners thought of me; there were many more people present on this occasion – most of them I didn’t even know at all well.
I know that this time, when I was talking in front of people that it was the belief that made the difference. Believing made it possible for me to eliminate any desire to waiver or back out early of the interaction.
In the first situation I was acting as somebody I was not, and I was totally unsure if my impression would be shared or received with charity. In the second case I had no doubt about my position. I was strong and had a firm foundation. Nothing could shake me, not even my usual ever-present self doubt – it had been silenced by my belief.
I got my watch fixed today. That may not sound like a big deal to you but it meant me going back into the world of time keeping. You see, for the past three years I have be largely watch-less. I do, as most people, have a mobile phone that I use to refer to for the time, but it is not quite the same as a watch.
As I left the watchmakers with the newly repaired timepiece loosely strapped on to my wrist I was immediately conscious of the time. The woman in the shop said to me, “I’ve set the date and time for you.” I, in the usual ritual of shop transactions, said “thank you” several times as I handed over the watch, then the money, then took the guarantee. I repeated my thanks one last time as I left the shop and looked at the time on my hand.
I checked the time several times before I reached the end of the shopping parade. As I did so I reflected back into the past. The watch no longer reminds me of a time when I was tied to time. Although my days are still regulated in a ritualistic fashion goverened by the school time-table, I still have a fair amount of flexibility in my working day. A few years ago everything was strictly limited by what time it was; it was not, however, my timetable. Back then I was marching to the beat of somebody else’s schedule. My time was not my own.
Now, with the watch again on my wrist I feel that I have been sucked into the mainstream of society again. But, this time, I can – in some small way – better control the use of my time to suit me.
It was my choice to get it fixed, but I have doubts about how much I will be wearing it in the coming days.
Maybe it is just a case of getting used to the feel of it on my wrist again ... who knows? I’ll see how I feel about keeping time in a week or so.
Does that phrase qualify any woman with any special abilities of perception or understanding of ... anything? Why do people believe that by giving birth, having children, nurturing small humans that they are any more qualified than any other person to spout forth on any topic?
Many women have used this phrase to dismiss the opinions of other people – especially childless women. All the hearer gets is an opinion that the speaker is being reactionary and possibly unethical. Using one’s status as a mother cannot usually justify any personal claims to knowledge on any subject: for example, the distribution of AIDS medication in sub-Saharan Africa, or the deployment of troops into Afghanistan, or the veracity of presidential comments regarding the deforestation of the Amazon.
It is true that motherhood does open you up to a whole range of particular experiences, fears, hopes and expectations from yourself and those immediately around you and your brood, however, being an adult carer for the younger generation is not a magical key to worldwide knowledge.
Speaking as a mother is generally regarded as a euphemism for someone who has abandoned all vestiges of rational thought and regards everything outside of their immediate control as the evil “other” that needs to be eliminated without further ado. I wonder what would happen to people’s credibility if they all started sentences with “Speaking as a ...”? Would the bedrock of society crumble and people start wailing in the streets?
“Speaking as a ...cyclist I believe that motivating and encouraging people allows them to develop and grow.”
“Speaking as a ...stonemason I know that it is essential to situate the bath and the shower in close proximity to each other.”
“Speaking as a ...teacher I promise to build bridges even where no rivers exist.”
“Speaking as a ...plumber I believe that with the right bike, training and confidence you can ride on any terrain.”
“Speaking as a ...fisherman I know that learning the formulae for the equations will help you in the examinations.”
“Speaking as a ...politician I am sure that if you strike a stone often it is better than if you strike it once very hard.”
“Speaking as a ...writer I believe that with the right bait you can catch a fish, land it, clean it and eat it in a short period of time.”
You get my drift I’m sure... speaking as a mother, I mean.
I would liken you
To a night without stars
Were it not for your eyes.
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Each person ‘reads’ a situation differently. A certain action may appear neutral to one person yet to another person this same action is incendiary. This is because of our different experiences and histories.
How do you ‘read’ me?
How do you ‘read’ yourself?
Advertising is all about how people read certain symbols and signs. You can advertise yourself (or others) in a positive, negative or neutral way.
Consider these two pictures (and associated text) used by the BBC relating to the potential election of MPs to the shadow cabinet.
28th September 2010. Diane Abbott.
How did you read these pictures? Did you managed to concentrate on the attached text or were you swayed by the image?
‘Reading’ each other is something we do all the time. It is also a way that others can persuade us to view someone in a different light.
I think it’s important to be conscious of what you read and accept or reject views that do not fit well with you.
Be careful how you read today.
Poetry is pure joy. Poetry is bottled beauty. Poetry is love.
The theme for the British National Poetry Day on 7th October 2010 is ‘Home’.
Sometimes a person reminds you of what it is like to feel at home. That may last ‘just for a time’ ...
Just for a Time
Oh how you used to walk
With that insouciant smile
I liked to hear you talk
And your style
Pleased me for a while.
You were my early love
New as a day breaking in Spring
You were the image of
That caused me to sing.
I don't like reminiscing
Nostalgia is not my forte
I don't spill tears
On yesterday's years
But honesty makes me say,
You were a precious pearl
How I loved to see you shine,
You were the perfect girl.
And you were mine.
For a time.
For a time.
Just for a time.