These are my musings and observations on my daily life, loves and the laughter that are all a part of my experience of living now in the shires of England.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Poetry - The Language of Silence by Harold Rhenisch

The Language of Silence


Among the wild strawberries in the clearcut

next to a shallow stream


I am left to speak with horses


They carry Plato’s furniture on their backs

In the drawers of the commodes

carefully folded in silk

are their memories


The horses know about balance


Memory is my country

With each passing year it has weighed on me more heavily


and now I speak with horses


it has taken me forty years to come to this


Red ants scurry over the horses’ flanks

as we talk


There is a stillness to the air

It is as if a school of trout

muscular and cold

cat-like


are slipping through trunks

and over my hands



Harold Rhenisch

The Blue Mouth of Morning

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Lost precious memories?

I was deleting a few messages from my phone as I had just received that warning message from my service provider that I was running out of memory storage space. I looked at a few of the messages that I had recently received and once I had highlighted the groups of conversations I pressed ‘select’ to delete them. The phone system checked with me, ‘option 1 Selected, option 2 Multiple, option 3 All’ I could either press ‘select’ or ‘back’. This was the ‘are you sure?’ section of the procedure. I was sure so I chose option 3 to delete them all.

Oops!

After about thirty seconds I wondered why the screen still displayed ‘Deleting ...’ with the option to cancel the process at the bottom of the screen. I waited for a short while then returned to my phone call.

It wasn’t until nearly two hours later that I realised that I had deleted all of my precious memories that I had on my phone in text form.

Then I thought ... were they that precious?

They are obviously not easily replaceable, but I know that I could retrieve them if I really wanted to go through all that palaver but ... I thought about it some more and realised that although it was an accidental delete off all my text, I mean every single text on my phone – both received and sent – that it was not the end of the world.

It made me think that this ‘delete’ was supposed to happen. I now have plenty of free space on my phone to make new precious memories. And, although I don’t really adhere to the whole New Year (is the only time to make a), New Start philosophy, I saw that the timing was perfect.

Then I remembered a poster I saw on someone’s blog about everyday wisdom and I thought how appropriate it was while thinking about the memories that I had just erased:


I have already set about making new memories to add to those erased from my phone - but never lost from my mind. Today I am making more precious memories.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Life enhancing emotions


Some time ago I was thinking about writing about positive emotions that have enhanced my life. Then I got all caught up in living these emotions that I almost forgot to write about them!

There are 10 of these that I try to regularly experience and here are my first 5:

1. Love and emotive expression.

2. Appreciation and gratefulness.

3. Curiosity.

4. Daily excitement and passion.

5. Determination.

I am either a curious or a nosey person, so that is one of the first 5 ticked off the list. I am curious about people and what makes them who they are. I love spending time listening and sharing with different people. This curiosity of mine has not led me into a feline state of near extinction; instead it has brought me to a place of friendship and growing acquaintance with many, many people. It may just start with a smile, and from there I never know where it is going to end; I just love the adventures that I undertake. Real people are much more interesting to me than any soap opera on television.

I am happily growing in gratitude as I learn to appreciate the different learning experiences that I encounter each day. It is the prospect of this daily excitement that fills me with the determination to repeat and enhance the practice of listening to my emotions.

It was like a sudden awakening from a deep sleep when I realised that listening to how I feel was a positive and loving thing to do for myself. I have never returned to that deep slumber although I have occasionally taken brief naps on my way.

I am grateful to several people who have encouraged me to be kind to myself. And when I listen to all emotions - both negative and positive - and take action on them I always experience a sense of well-being.

I appreciate that certain people took the time to see beyond the mask that I felt was permanently fixed to my existence and cheered me on as I fought to begin the transformation into the butterfly I was destined to be. To them I say a sincere ‘thank you’.


More on this soon ...

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Caste systems: what’s the difference?


Two men sat crossed-legged at the side of a road. The younger man looked up, he felt confusion building in him between what he was seeing, what he had learnt and what he felt in his heart, he quickly decided to interrupt the man sat beside him. He had seen a group of tired looking strangers approaching in the distance, so the younger one turned to his wiser elder and asked a series of questions.

‘Master, what type of men are these? How should I treat them? They look different. Is it our responsibility to be hospitable to all strangers or just those we feel comfortable with?’

The elder raised his head – for he had been meditating quietly, then he peered into the distance for a few minutes to observe the people walking towards them, then turned and said ...

‘They are Jamaicans; you know what they’re like.’

or

‘They are white. I know they are dangerous people.’

or

‘They are poor. Not our type at all.’

or

‘They are conservatives. They’ll do anything.’

or

‘They are untouchables. Keep away from them’

or

‘They are Christians. Hypocritical do-gooders – steer clear.’

or

‘They are working class. Don’t mix with them.’

or

‘They are Scottish. They are mean.’

or

‘They are Asian. Not our sort. So competitive.’

When the thirsty and tired group reached the two men they were met with silence. After a brief time, the group sighed and passed by. Their steps seemed heavier as they walked away. The two seated men left their silent meditation after a minute to look along the road at the fading shapes. The younger one shifted uncomfortably on his seat that also doubled as a well cover. But reasoned he had to listen to the ancient wisdom of his elder.


“Owe no man anything, but to love one another.” Romans 13 v 8

Love does not see difference, love sees similarities: love sees love.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Who am I?

Who am I?

Here is an unedited list of the answers I wrote to this question posed to myself four years ago:

Time waster

Dreamer

Writer

Researcher

Friend

Lover

Confidant

Sister

Aunty

Helper

Soul-mate

Planner

Comforter

Calmer

Peacemaker

Bank

Woman

Sick person

Reader

Adventurer

Passionate

Cold

Cruel

Mean

Resentful

The question I asked next was ‘Am I consistent (i.e. static) or am I improving?’

If I were to answer the same original question ‘Who am I?’ today, most of my answers would be the same but some have changed because I have changed. I am the same core person but I have taken action in many areas of my life and by raising my standards for myself I am happily increasing quality in every area of my life.

Who am I today? A happy woman looking forward to even greater times.

Who are you?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Emotions and their messages - part 2


In a previous post I talked about the first 5 negative emotions and their messages. In this one I’ll finish the list of the 10 negative emotions that I have become aware of. Then I’ll go on – in another blog, at another time, to talk about what I consider to be the 10 emotions that have enhanced my life. But before I go there, let me return to the negative emotions that I’m looking at today, they are often linked together and I think they are:

1. Disappointment

2. Guilt

3. Inadequacy

4. Feeling overloaded

5. Loneliness

For many years I have been sharing this advice with people: “Don’t feel guilty, because you’ve done nothing wrong,” the main reason why I shared these words was because whoever I was talking to expressed feeling of regret. However, when we looked at the reason for their regret it was invariably cause by the actions of another person and projected, wrongly, onto my confidant.

Guilt is about regret, but personal guilt is about regretting what you as an individual have done – and nothing else. When I feel that I have breached my own standards I get caught up - in my own personal tsunami of guilt - and I feel out of control of all emotions because the guilt suffocates every other feeling I have. I then wrestled with the negative thoughts about myself for a long time; I was effectively behaving in a self-destructive manner. As with the natural tsunami the guilty feelings reached me with speed and power and disabled me from being active in my own life. It took me a while to take my own advice and realise that I did not have to feel guilty when I had not done anything wrong. I accepted that I was not responsible for the behaviour and outcomes of other people’s behaviour and that was the first step towards freeing myself from the shackles of another person’s guilt.

Guilty feelings would often lead to feeling overloaded and inadequate, followed swiftly by feelings of disappointment in myself. I became overwhelmed and then felt hopeless because I believed I had just too much to deal with. This was especially true when I was trying to make sure that everyone else was happy. At one stage of my life I was, foolishly – that’s what I think now – obsessed with trying to make everybody else happy; to do this I, of course, neglected myself and eventually this lead to feelings of loneliness. It may seem strange to think that there I was busy in everybody’s life but lonely in my own, but that was the truth. I knew hundreds of people but I did not have a real, honest, connection with hardly any of them. At this point I’m happy to say that that is no longer the case. When I really started listening to my negative emotions and their messages I began to make positive changes in my life.

It’s obviously not as easy as it sounds. Well, it wasn’t for me, at least. I mentioned being in a rut (in a previous post) and noting just how difficult it was to get out of it. I had cast myself in a caring role; I had decided that I would be the glue that kept my family and other groups together. It was something I perceived as needed so, in the absence of anyone else volunteering for it, I did it. I realised, before it was too late, that I was making myself super busy so that I could not think about the real things I was feeling; it seemed logical to me that if I was running here, there and everywhere for Tom, Dick and Harry and they were happy then I must be doing something right and I would be happy as well. This was not, in fact, true.

I remember that logic has more than one path to a solution; and in fact logic has several solutions. In any flowchart there are ‘yes’ and ‘no’ options and different conditions that flow from each path. I was effectively closing down all choice to say yes to myself. You see, the reason I relied on logic was because that was my career training. I worked in the Information Technology field from the time I left school. I worked with data for years: binary was my second language. I wrote computer programmes, I designed systems and I analysed and consulted with major companies about the most efficient way to run their businesses. And all the time I was unable to free myself from feeling totally inadequate in all areas of my personal life. My business successes were mirrored by my personal failures, but nobody but me was really aware of them for a long time.


I think it was a homeless man in a London underground station that changed my perception of looking after myself properly. I remember that particular encounter when I reeled in shock at the behaviour of myself and my fellow busy commuters towards him and then, on my first class train journey home from London that day I sat in my comfortable seat reading my newspaper and I recall starting to re-evaluate what was most important in my life, what was necessary, and what was a desire.

Once I began the real journey of my life, the one I am still on, the one I am consciously living, I began to change my expectations to be more appropriate for where I was at the time. I began to appreciate the messages and clarify the signals in my life.

Taking action is always possible, but not always easy or comfortable for you or those around you. Nevertheless it has to be done. Sometimes on my journey I have lost my way, and I almost gave up the dream at one stage, but I didn’t. I’m now back on track and moving again with new focus, confidence and excitement toward the next destination of my journey. Sometimes I still have to say that I really don’t know how this is all going to work out. As a society we are not comfortable with uncertainty, we are better with decisiveness, but not knowing everything is perfectly all right. It has been enough for me to know that where I was and what I was doing was not doing anything to improve quality in any (apart from financial) areas of my life. I am monetarily poorer but spiritually richer today. I have started making better decisions.

It is true to say that I have never been more content for more of the time than I am now. And this is all because I dared to listen to my emotional signals at that train station and make a change; I can honestly say, it is worth it.

Another phrase I would repeat for many years is: “If you keep saying ‘yes’ to everybody else – even when you don’t want to - you are effectively saying ‘no’ to yourself”, I have since changed the application of this to my life and, to paraphrase President Barack Obama, I am now saying to myself “Yes, I can!” to things leading to a positive change for me.


Monday, 20 December 2010

Emotions and their message


I could wax lyrical on each of the 10 negative emotions that are action signals shouting for a change in our lives ... but I’ll try to resist. Instead of taking each one in turn, and blogging at length about my experiences with them, I will, instead, go at this list in two halves. The first one now, the second 5 in a post coming to this space soon. You see, although I am keen to unveil them, I am more interested in getting to the next part of my journey. I want to share more about another group of 10: those are the 10 emotions that have enhanced my life. So with the promise of some joy in the near future I’ll return to my first 5:

1. Uncomfortableness

2. Fear

3. Hurt

4. Anger

5. Frustration

Don’t scream ‘argh’ at the screen and run away. You’re possible thinking that this is the same old, same old. You know it all already. You may well be right and if you are then, unlike me, you won’t need the help to make a change. I knew it all too, but I didn’t do anything about it. Having the knowledge and not using it is as useful as being in a room with an unexploded bomb, a manual to diffuse it and a clock that is ticking away the seconds to the inevitable explosion. It is akin to not facing the reality and running away. I guess if you did evade the reality (like I used to when confronted with an uncomfortable situation i.e. dealing with my emotions properly), then you’ll never really know how to get out of that rut.


Ruts are made deeper and more difficult to escape from when do you don’t do anything different. Time just wears away the prospects of an easy change. If you see something and stay where you are then there is a huge possibility that you will see the same thing again – because you are immobilised. Nothing new and life enhancing will happen if you don’t make a positive change. But worse things can happen to hold you down right where you are if you do nothing in the face of a dangerous situation.

Anyway, back to the list. The message I received when I feel uncomfortable or afraid is that I have to prepare to deal with something; I may not always know exactly what it is, but I do know that it is impending. When I experience the sense of being emotionally hurt I now know it originates from a perception of loss. I remember feeling hurt when I failed at something I had set my heart on and also when my expectations were unmet. I generally only feel hurt with people when I have a real relationship with them, one that has an implied or actual contract of trust and behavioural expectations. It is not often that I tell my deepest thoughts to people (despite the contents of this blog, there are still many aspects of my life that are only revealed in person and after a considerable time) and when I have shared these thought with people, and then, somehow, for some reason, they decide the intimate facts we had shared are for casual consumption, then I do feel hurt. Occasionally I have also felt anger (also on this list) because I have experienced a sense of a violation in my standards and in something important to me. These feelings will recur, but each time it will be an easier process to get past the negative emotions. A recent example happened to me this week. If this situation occurred a month, a year, a decade ago I would have reacted differently. As it is, I am already past it and have processed my hurt in a healthy way. You see, I have had trust with this one person for a long time, and this week they let slip a phrase that was deeply offensive to me, but was obviously part of his regular parlance. It appeared that for a moment he forgot who he was talking to and what he was talking about. Now I could view this as a positive thing that he felt comfortable enough to speak unguarded, but as soon as the phrase was out of his mouth I knew, as did he, that years of trust had been disintegrated. The slur, said with emphasis in the retelling of a situational conversation, was a bit like a flag-raising ceremony. The true colours were on show. He immediately, apologised and tried to make light of it. I ended the conversation shortly afterwards and took several hours (instead of several months) to decide how to proceed with the pain I felt.

With both the hurt and the anger I have had to search long and hard to discern what within myself I need to change in order to be free from those emotions. This time, I found my happy solution quickly. What works for me may not work for you because this is not a one-size-fits-all world, but you will know what is best for you when you reach it: I did.

There is always something I can, and have, changed that reduces the possibility of feeling the same hurt again. Something that is positive for me. It is amazing that even these situations that start out painful can have a valuable and positive outcome – because they teach me something that helps me to grow.

The frustration (the final emotion on this half of this randomly created list) usually happens to me when I feel hindered or held back in some way. I have learnt that when I am frustrated I either need to become flexible to the situation that caused this emotion to raise its head in my life like the Loch Ness Monster or to change my approach. I am happy to say that both methods have been used with great success. And the monster quickly retreats to the bottom of the Loch. It’s not gone completely; it’s just submerged for a long while. And during that time I will enjoy the respite and focus on the emotions that occur in my life that enhance my life. Because there are many more positive emotions that negative ones I’m glad to say.

I can say that with a smile and a sense of happiness, because it is so true in my life.

Emotions and their message


I could wax lyrical on each of the 10 negative emotions that are action signals shouting for a change in our lives ... but I’ll try to resist. Instead of taking each one in turn, and blogging at length about my experiences with them, I will, instead, go at this list in two halves. The first one now, the second 5 in a post coming to this space soon. You see, although I am keen to unveil them, I am more interested in getting to the next part of my journey. I want to share more about another group of 10: those are the 10 emotions that have enhanced my life. So with the promise of some joy in the near future I’ll return to my first 5:

1. Uncomfortableness

2. Fear

3. Hurt

4. Anger

5. Frustration

Don’t scream ‘argh’ at the screen and run away. You’re possible thinking that this is the same old, same old. You know it all already. You may well be right and if you are then, unlike me, you won’t need the help to make a change. I knew it all too, but I didn’t do anything about it. Having the knowledge and not using it is as useful as being in a room with an unexploded bomb, a manual to diffuse it and a clock that is ticking away the seconds to the inevitable explosion. It is akin to not facing the reality and running away. I guess if you did evade the reality (like I used to when confronted with an uncomfortable situation i.e. dealing with my emotions properly), then you’ll never really know how to get out of that rut.


Ruts are made deeper and more difficult to escape from when do you don’t do anything different. Time just wears away the prospects of an easy change. If you see something and stay where you are then there is a huge possibility that you will see the same thing again – because you are immobilised. Nothing new and life enhancing will happen if you don’t make a positive change. But worse things can happen to hold you down right where you are if you do nothing in the face of a dangerous situation.

Anyway, back to the list. The message I received when I feel uncomfortable or afraid is that I have to prepare to deal with something; I may not always know exactly what it is, but I do know that it is impending. When I experience the sense of being emotionally hurt I now know it originates from a perception of loss. I remember feeling hurt when I failed at something I had set my heart on and also when my expectations were unmet. I generally only feel hurt with people when I have a real relationship with them, one that has an implied or actual contract of trust and behavioural expectations. It is not often that I tell my deepest thoughts to people (despite the contents of this blog, there are still many aspects of my life that are only revealed in person and after a considerable time) and when I have shared these thought with people, and then, somehow, for some reason, they decide the intimate facts we had shared are for casual consumption, then I do feel hurt. Occasionally I have also felt anger (also on this list) because I have experienced a sense of a violation in my standards and in something important to me. With both the hurt and the anger I have had to search long and hard to discern what within myself I need to change in order to be free from those emotions. There is always something I can, and have, changed that reduces the possibility of feeling the same hurt again. Something that is positive for me. It is amazing that even these situations that start out painful can have a valuable and positive outcome – because they teach me something that helps me to grow.

The frustration (the final emotion on this half of this randomly created list) usually happens to me when I feel hindered or held back in some way. I have learnt that when I am frustrated I either need to become flexible to the situation that caused this emotion to raise its head in my life like the Loch Ness Monster or to change my approach. I am happy to say that both methods have been used with great success. And the monster quickly retreats to the bottom of the Loch. It’s not gone completely; it’s just submerged for a long while. And during that time I will enjoy the respite and focus on the emotions that occur in my life that enhance my life. Because there are many more positive emotions that negative ones I’m glad to say.

I can say that with a smile and a sense of happiness, because it is so true in my life.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Be honest, be kind

... especially to yourself. It is the season of goodwill and people everywhere, even those who do not believe in Christ, are being kind and somewhat considerate to each other. We often forget ourselves at this time. I am not advocating a bout of selfishness, just a dose of honesty and kindness directed at yourself because you are worth it.

I have honestly been reflecting about where I have been and with kindness I have reminded myself about my achievements. Now this is not more self-centred behaviour this is more along the lines of improving self esteem. And as far as I know there are plenty of people in the world that need a small boost to their self esteem. There are always the exceptions to any rule ... but I won’t talk about them right now.

When I write in my journals I do not edit and correct. I just write. They could be described as my stream of consciousness. Through the years I have returned to them and it always amazes me as to where I was and where I am now. You see, sometime I look at my current situation and, it must be said, that occasionally I think I am in not such a good place – this may be emotionally, socially or a whole host of other -lly’s that I could list. Then, when I look back I can see that, although things may not be totally rosy in my garden at that precise moment, I know that I have a garden! I know that I am blessed with beautiful blooms in my life on a daily basis (to take the metaphor just that step further ...).

I have spent time investigating how and why I feel certain things and many of my discoveries somehow became a part of the fabric of my existence. A big eye-opener was looking at emotions and the messages they convey. There are both positive and negative emotions. Negative emotions give me the message that something needs to change; they are an action signal. With all emotions I have learnt that I must somehow identify the signal and work through various steps until I can take action to fulfil the change needed. It is a marvellous achievement when you can be honest with yourself and be kind enough to yourself to listen and act.

As these amazing facts on emotions helped me enormously I think I’ll do a blog on them in the coming days.

That’s all on the condition that I’m not being too honest and kind to myself that I decide I don’t want to write any more (that will never happen!)

As a taster I’ll just say this is what I do:

(when you get your own emotional message you could also try these four steps)

v Identify the signal (I’m going to look at least 10 emotional categories from loneliness to anger)

v Clarify the situation (by this I mean appreciate the message)

v Change ... your state, your perception or your procedure

v Take action


I’ve continually found that when I am honest and kind to myself I become more confident and certain in what I do. I also become excited to take action.

Now, I don’t know of many people that couldn’t do with a touch of the right kind of excitement in their lives, do you?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Fighting fear


“Fear. It strikes silently but deeply. The pain starts to build deep in my stomach. A small bolus at first, then the size builds and swells across the entire breadth of my midriff. The sense of fear reaches up and grasps my throat. I now have difficulty in breathing. My whole body has joined in this reaction to meeting somebody. The person is not unknown. But the meeting is to talk about myself. Deep things within my heart. Can I do it? I’m not sure I can walk through the door, but know I must. The pain surges in a wave towards my breast bone. I glance at the clock and know I have just 6 minutes to calm my breathing down and reduce my pulse rate. I am so hot. I shake. Despite acknowledging what I feel, I still feel it. Fear. It won’t go away. I have to take it with me to see my counsellor. Shaking, I get out of the car and walk in. The room makes me spin. I sit down quickly and wait for my name to be called. All the time my stomach churns as if I was going to sit an exam.

She opens the door and smiles. I am not convinced but move towards her anyway. Fear goes in first and sits in a chair mocking me, daring me to speak from my heart. I cry for a while then the words start and fear subsides and starts to disappear in front of my eyes.”

August 2002 journal entry

© Marjorie H Morgan

Friday, 17 December 2010

Memories


We all move on. Sometimes we think that we are stuck in the present and that the present feelings will never change. If this is, as it usually is, an unpleasant experience when we are thinking about it, we internally curse our own personal hell that is a tailor made groundhog day.

With momentum comes growth and experience. And from that we learn and grow some more. It does not matter anymore that we were stuck in that moment ... because it has now passed. At the time, that moment was all that existed: it was our complete past, present and future. That moment was the sum of everything that existed in our existence.

I have had moments like that. They have passed.

Here is a fragment of one:

“Where do I start on this journey of self-discovery? Maybe at the point when I felt total release. ... It was easier that I thought. Strangely many things are easier that we worry about in advance. This was too. ... I made up my mind in a second ... and then I was full of action ... that was my life changed forever.

Am I glad I did it? Right now I have to say yes. Tomorrow I’ll say yes too but maybe with a different emphasis. But I do know that there is no possibility of return to a life where I did not feel like I really existed.

Oh yes, I was there and acted a part but it was not a part that I wanted to be in. I felt like a character actor who has been cast in the wrong role over and over again. And yet I repeatedly auditioned for the same part and was continually successful in acting at acting at being happy and settled. ... I now have to know, for sure, and always, that that is the past. Dead and buried, a bad memory.

...

How did I get here, I mean there? ... When did it become the normal way of things in my life instead of the occasional choice? Why didn’t I notice I was drowning in my own life? Now I ask myself what was so appealing about drowning?”

Taken from my journal entry called “Learning to swim”

At the time I wrote this I was just beginning to get my head above the water. Now, I am glad to say, I have achieved a beginners degree of proficiency and I can swim in the direction my life needs to be moving.

I have moved on - one stroke at a time.



Thursday, 16 December 2010

Poetry - Langston Hughes



Border Line


I used to wonder

About living and dying –

I think the difference lies

Between tears and crying.


I used to wonder

About here and there

I think the difference

Is nowhere.


Langston Hughes




Water-Front Streets

The spring is not so beautiful there –

But dream ships sail away

To where the spring is wondrous rare

And life is gay.


The spring is not so beautiful there –

But lads put out to sea

Who carry beauties in their hearts

And dream, like me.


Langston Hughes

Monday, 13 December 2010

Identity - whose business is it?



I am different. I am not unusual in being different. We are all different in some way or another. But we also have many similarities that bind us together.
It is not difficult to find our similarities but somehow, in these harsh times, it seems that it is so much easier to recognise somebody’s difference and to highlight that instead of their similarities.
This is now a regular means of sharing information about someone: to focus on their differences – in a negative way. I don’t think that it is a good way to get to know people. All this does is to create and enforce divisions and it make difference become perceived as a harmful thing.
I think there is a better way to be both different and to get to know people.
I like being different. I like getting to know people. I like people (although I am often overtaken by intense episodes of shyness that can leave me a stuttering blubbering incoherent wreck – and then nobody would believe, especially not me, that I am a people’s person!). Generally I can talk and mix with people fairly well.
It is very unusual for me to take an instant dislike to someone. I can’t even remember it happening at all, although I do remember feeling uncomfortable around some people, but that is invariably for a reason other than what they look like; it will have everything to do with their character and personality and nothing to do with their appearance. I am aware that some people look at others and because of obvious physical differences they are singled out for special consideration – usually negative; this attention is frequently described as ‘good natured ribbing’. I would disagree; I’d compare it to the Roman practice of putting gladiators and animals into vast arenas and then calling it entertainment as they destroyed each other. I am glad that I am not in the section of society that uses other people as sport.
By this I mean that some groups of people will select other groups of people to ridicule. They spend their time making up names and highlighting real or perceived differences. Then they begin their attack.
The vocal group will often say that saying things like carrot-top, ginger-nut, fatty, or gay is just good humoured banter. I think that maybe it is a bit deeper than that. I think that the perception of what is ‘normal’ is so ingrained in the psyches of people – from a very young age – that even at primary schools the way people cope with things they don’t understand or accept is to make fun of them.
My son tells me that for the past four years at least, in primary and also in secondary school, the insult of choice has had “gay” associated with it. Anybody or anything perceived as wrong or bad is berated with “You’re so gay!” or “That’s so gay!”
Why do people make fun of others? Is there a weakness in their own identity or does the malice arise from somewhere else? Society would be less interesting without some variety in both personality and appearance. We could live in a robot-like environment where similarities are manufactured into each member of society. Thankfully, we don’t yet live like that, but our current heterogeneous society is still frowned on by those who don’t like difference. They start to make jokes and use their ‘humour’ to position themselves as better than the group they are pursuing.
The verbal bullies often target those they believe have low self-esteem. When people with a health level of self esteem are attacked by words they normally ignore the perpetrator or they correct them without feeling victimised. But it is not often that there is face to face, one on one, contact. I feel bullies are the ones with the weak self esteem because they invariably move around in packs and often carry out their attacks anonymously using violence and graffiti in public and private places.
This is their way to cope with what they don’t understand. I’ve always found that when I lack knowledge on some matter, the best way to progress is to find out more. This usually works for me. It may sound simple, but often the simplest things are the most effective. I’ll ask, I search, I’ll read, I’ll look, I’ll listen and I will learn. Then, when I have a kernel of knowledge, I feel able to engage in some form of communication which opens up the channels for even more learning.
In my observation it seems that when the bullies see something different to themselves then they try to destroy it without any attempt to understand it at all. Bullies like homogeny. Bullies are afraid – especially of difference. Bullies deal in a currency of fear.
Bullies transmit their internalised fear into the open. By their frantic actions of trying to control what they don’t understand all bullies remind me of the 19th century colonisers: they see difference and then they label it as the ‘other’ (choose whatever negative term you are familiar with) and then they set about, with the use of the powerful machine of propaganda, to neutralise or subdue it in whatever way they can. Just as, in previous times, Africans were demonised, in a similar way in the 2st century, gay people are being castigated; the universal coping mechanism of ridiculing someone in an attempt to isolate and weaken them is still working efficiently in the schools, playground, classrooms, offices and workplaces of today.

I recently read an article that said what people have to remember when name calling commences is that it’s not what you are called that matters the most, it is what you answer to: a point well worth considering I think when one is aware of their own identity.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

So must I - Ken Walsh

It’s funny, Lord, isn’t it?

I mean

We feel guilty about things we needn’t

And we don’t feel guilty

About things we should,

And few of us would agree

On which was which anyway.


You must get tired of hearing me say,

I’m sorry.

I suppose you’d rather I did something

About the things I’m sorry for,

Or that I shut up

And learned to live with myself?


You accept me –

So must I.


Ken Walsh

(from his collection – Sometimes I Weep)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Judge and jury


I think I have it all figured out now. I know why my back was up when I heard a certain comment. It’s because I knew the person speaking was making a judgement on me. My internal reaction was resistance to their opinion. And the thought that quickly formed in my mind was “Who do you think you are to judge me?”

I reasoned, in the way that you do when you are upset, that this person had no right to make any judgement about me whatsoever. Why? You may well ask, well, here’s why... and this reasoning is not based on any scientific study or long research, it’s just based on my gut reactions. I don’t think that person – or any other in a similar situation – has the right to judge me because, in my opinion, they knew little or nothing about me. Therefore, as I’m sure you’ll concur, it follows that logically you cannot make a judgement on a person if you do not know any facts on which to base that judgement.

I think that’s where prejudice stems from: pre-judgement without any pertinent or relevant facts. This was the very situation I found myself in and I was not having it! The man who was speaking to me had adopted a ‘know-it-all’ tone immediately he started to talk. In fact, I stand corrected, he was not speaking to me, he was speaking at me. Because this was obvious I already understood that he had decided that he knew all he needed to know about me and my situation at that moment and that nothing whatsoever I said or did from then on was going to change his mind. I was resigned to his incorrect judgement of me. The only thing I couldn’t decide at that moment was whether or not I could be bothered to correct his wrong assumptions or if I was just going to leave it well alone. I was faced with keeping quiet and walking away or standing my ground and putting him right.

I knew that I had been in this place before so I chose to walk away.

Although he had decided he was my judge and jury I knew that he wasn’t. He in no way represented any semblance of equity and justice relevant in my life so I chose to ignore him. Was that a good decision? It was, at that time, for me. Another day may well have had me standing toe to toe with him and battling right down to the last incorrect perception.

I have heard of people who go through life living as if everybody they meet is a potential jury member that they will need to be on their side at a later point in time, so they act to impress that person not to be themselves. I cannot, and will not, do that. I will, however, take time with people who are genuinely interesting in hearing something new from a different perspective: I have time to share and I have time to hear them when this occurs.

But back to this particular situation: I have some idea why this man chose to cast aspersions on me that day but I also know that he is not in full possession of the facts so his judgement was flawed. Will he ever know the truth? I don’t know. And, at times, I don’t even care. It is not down to me to educate every misguided person that I meet. There are people that I feel it is worth the effort to try and explain some things about myself to them. And sometimes they are open enough to consider the evidence, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, but, as with all things, that doesn’t always work either. So, I’m back to the initial situation. Is it worth the mental stress and time to open up the channels of communication with this person? As it is he looks as if he is a solid breeze block created to withstand all opinions that are not his own. Therefore I desist. I walk away.

This man is not my judge and jury. His statement about me, his opinion goes unanswered. I leave his words flying in the air behind me like the standard on the castle roof: it can blow in whatever direction it will, but it will not affect me. He can stay in his castle, with his opinions. I’m sure I will not be the last person that he shoots his arrows of disbelief at.

I know that I am not a prisoner to his words. I can move beyond them. I have moved beyond them.

I answered the question I asked myself when I said “Who do you think you are to judge me?” To me, he was unqualified to assert his judgement on me. He was like an undergraduate law student sitting in the High Court as the presiding judge: he was well out of place. He had appointed himself both judge and jury but, in my judgement, he was not fitted for either role as he had neither experience nor evidence.

My response was, “Regarding me, your ignorance is complete, you have no real knowledge on which to base your statements, and your opinion is as useful as an ice cream in a sauna, so that is the end of this interaction.”

Jury is summarily dismissed.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sunsets


“People forget you after the first sunset.”

Zarah Ghahramani


The character that said this was full of bleakness and despair. I am full of hope and happiness. And for this reason I wanted to tell you something...

I have not forgotten you, and I will never forget you.

You many never know just how much you mean to me, and that’s all right. It is sufficient for me to know. We have connected. You may or may not remember when or where; that doesn’t matter either. I have enough memory for it all.

You are important to me because you are ... you. It is that simple.

The uniqueness of your being has forever impacted my life. I have changed because I have been blessed with knowing you. Thank you.

In my heart there will never be a closure to our connection; no sun will ever set on my care and regard for you.

I have you in my heart: even through dark times I continue to care; even through the bright times I continue to care. I know that I will never forget you.

I love the beauty of sunsets. They are all individual. They are all special. Sunsets have their place in the journey of each day. Each person has their place in the journey of my life. This is because with every person I meet I have been fortunate enough to receive a unique gift from them; from you I received untold treasures and the freedom to be all of me. Again, I thank you.

Each new day that I have brings a reminder of the wonderful people that I have been fortunate to meet and know.

As time goes by I want you to know that, even when we do not have regular and consistent contact, I remember you in my heart. You are thought of often.

When you love someone you cannot forget about them – no matter where they are.


© Marjorie H Morgan 9/12/10

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