I can see clearly now

Let me tell you a secret - artist unknown

Let me tell you a secret – artist unknown

Sometimes you need to go far away to see clearly, and sometimes you need to come way up close and be overwhelmed by what it is you’re looking at before you can actually see it as it is – without colouring.  

A combination of peering in the distance and blinking at proximity, gives a clear view.   You need the opposites to achieve clarity. This can require travelling – mind travel, body travel – some combination of the two.  To get in touch with your inner intelligence is not always easy.

Where does that confidence arise from, if and when it does arise?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it is going through a cycle a few times, and then seeing how you feel.  Being drawn to, pushing away, feeling confused, being caught up in illusion, being disappointed but still in illusion….Stepping outside that cycle, taking a step well back, almost falling over the edge a few times, being enmeshed in the mire of confusion and unsettlement, not knowing what to think and feel. 

And then, one day, you do just know.  You almost don’t trust the feeling of knowing.  But it persists and you feel – free….free for the moment, anyway.  The cycle is deep and persistent, it can always start again.

It doesn’t make you any less feeling, any less compassionate.  Perhaps it even makes you more so.  Measurement is futile. 

You do not need to tell the truth to anyone other than yourself.  In fact, the need to speak, to tell – anything – diminishes – almost to the point of nothingness.  It is at this point that you may begin to wonder about the relationship of insight – at what feels to be this very deep level – and creativity.  It is at this point that you may begin to reflect on the self-indulgence of art.

And yet, it is art which can help us get to this brink.  But it is not art which takes us past this point.  It is practice.

For awhile now, I have been reflecting on how writing (read ‘art’/’creativity’) has come to feel like a pure self-indulgence, and a diversion away from self-knowing or self-realisaion.  This has been a troubling and confusing thought pattern for me, so I have suppressed it at times and gone away from it, other times letting it bubble and resurface.  It has made it hard to write, and I guess it still is – hard-er to write than it was. 

But now I realise that writing enables the process, but is not enough in itself.  Writing this has been easy.

 

Aside | Posted on by | 8 Comments

One that stays, one that goes

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!”
— Rumi

I wake with a clear image in my mind – the seated shape in red, the rising figure to walk away in blue.  The blue rises out of the red, making purple, and is fixed there – as if going but not able to go, staying, fixed in motion.

It is an enduring image, I see it clearly as I write this.  The colours are all of equal weight. The rising one is not a figment of the seated one’s mind, they are both there, both equally real, together.  This for me captures in a peaceful way the feeling of going and staying, without any wanting or desire mixed in to the recipe.  Once it becomes ‘wanting to stay’ and ‘wanting to go’, the tension is there, the conflict arises.

The Space Between the Hare and the Fox: The Space Between the Fox and the Hare - Jackie Morris - The House of Golden Dreams

The Space Between the Hare and the Fox: The Space Between the Fox and the Hare – Jackie Morris – The House of Golden Dreams

I’m reminded of being in a car park just starting to drive away.  I see someone and in that moment my car is driving away and I am being carried.  The red one is unable to move even as I go, but the other, the moving blue one, is feeling an overpowering impulse to stay, to get out of the car and go…  Who is driving who? The car is driving me.  Is any one driving?   I can’t change course, the vehicle takes control.  So I go.  But I’m still here.

Another morning I wake up with another clear thought: ‘I want to fill the space.’  It is so obvious – and so disappointing!  All this time, even on this blog, I keep saying, ‘I want space’, ‘I want to find, make space’.  This is not true.  The lie is a comfortable fiction, it makes me feel good, but in that clear space in the morning before the mind gets filled, I see past the lie.

contemplation

The staying and the going, the filling and the not filling.  The filling of space of time, with busy-ness, is a form of staying.  It’s an activity, a going – that is going nowhere.

Posted in connections, dreams, internet life, Jung, yoga | 9 Comments

Dear World,

Dear World,

Just a few words from me.  I’ve been busy and I haven’t felt like writing.  I’ve got a name for it – ‘noble tiredness’*** – though I stubbornly refused to acknowledge it.  No apology or explanation, but I’d like to restore our connection.

Beginning to write a blog is like coming into the world.  It is being born.  It’s exciting and immediate, and, caught up in the experience, you don’t really think about the World that you’re giving to, the World that’s receiving you.  You are so caught up in yourself.

Dear World, you received me so graciously when I started.  I didn’t know who you were, or who I was writing to.  You came into the picture gradually, or maybe I mean suddenly; and it was quite unnerving.  I did not want all of you to read me at first.  I wanted the rest of you, yes, but not You.

Beginnings are easy.  There’s the euphoria of starting something new, all the ideas that crowd in and fight for pre-eminence, the excitement of seeing letters cross the page, form words, sentences, and pretty pictures in between.

People read and comment.  Looking forward to their responses…it’s fun; even more, it’s delightful.  It’s hard to imagine anything changing.

But it does. 

For one thing, you turned up.  It got harder. Self-consciousness, an old pattern, reactivated.  Thanks for showing me that one all over again.  Extremely deep-set and so hard to eradicate.

What starts out without a history, just becoming in the present and making the future, gets weighed down by accumulated experience.  Becoming a crustacean – both hampered by and protected by that weight, that experience.  

And so then I found I was writing to you, and I told you what was in me.  I thought you understood, but did you?  We had a bit of a wobble.  I couldn’t say a word.  Silence is easier sometimes, and then becomes a new habit.

Writing to you here is a little like tiptoing across water.  Walking lightly so as not to sink.  And the whole screen is like an old-fashioned television full of pixels blurring into infinity.  Or is that just my screen-saver?

There is so much I still have to say to you.  Sitting here in the room with you, I realise it. But I hardly know you as you hardly know me, and is this the way to acquaint ourselves?  It’s been hard work to come to this point, and yet I feel the hard work is just beginning.

You hold a mirror and you ask me few questions, offering the occasional comment.  I am grateful.

God’s World
 
O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists,  that roll and rise!

Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
 
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart — Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, — let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
 
– Edna St Vincent Millay
 
 
**
“Dear Vasco,What is worth doing and what is worth having?
I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause you must rest Vasco –otherwise you will become restless!I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adopting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying. The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this sad situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our conscience and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must act upon it sensibly – you must rest like the trees and animals do.Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development. Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity—cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly—so cruel and meaningless—so utterly graceless—and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this. And of course Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied—they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.So I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat—learn to curl up and rest—feel your noble tiredness—learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow. I repeat it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.Yours Sleepily, Mr. Curly XXXLetter from Mr. Curly to Vasco Pyjama in “The Curly Pajama Letters” by Michael Leunig
Posted in connections, internet life, Jung, Uncategorized, writing, blogging, yoga | 8 Comments

Virtual adolescent on summer break

— For Fran who is as fascinated as I am by this subject, and anyone else who sees a reflection here.  Perhaps surprisingly to myself anyway, I wrote most of this several weeks ago, and the messages/learning keep coming.

About a year ago I wrote a post called ‘Virtual adolescent’.  I reflected on how internet life and interactions are new to us still and evolving. We are all adolescents online at best, and it often feels like we are children.   If anything, I’ve got a little younger online since then.  Sometimes I find the vulnerability of life on the internet breathtaking.  I think we develop coping strategies in 3D life and may be disarmed virtually.  Uncomfortable maybe, but on balance a good thing. 

This year I had the first summer break since I was a student.  Not planned, just the way things worked out.  When I was a student, summer break meant working in a department store, restaurant, or office.  I liked these short-term arrangements, they were so different from how life was the rest of the time, and they gave a window into other ways of living.  I met new people, got things done, made money, socialised, read the books I wanted to read, and had fun.  Somehow life seemed simpler if also more superficial.   The superficiality was ok because I knew it was for a self-contained time.

I felt free to connect with people and experiences in these summer breaks, knowing the connections would be short-lived, so consequences were unlikely to matter much or at all.  These assumptions were largely unconscious and not necessarily correct.  Occasionally they backfired.  Things sometimes went wrong, but not in a big way, and they were almost immediately overcome and apparently forgotten when so-called ‘real life’ resumed in the autumn.

Interacting in the virtual world can be like being on summer break.  In the virtual world we can behave in ways that we might choose not to, or think better of, in our embodied lives.  In our lives off-screen, we make different choices perhaps because the protocols are different and we’ve learned how to behave, to respect others and ourselves, or maybe because we know we have to deal with consequences.  To some extent at least, I like to think we’re grown ups. 

In the virtual world, people make quick connections and equally there may be quick unconnections.  We come and go as we like, we delete our own and others’ comments, we can react quite suddenly, both warmly and fiercely.   You can get a rapid high in a virtual interaction, and almost immediately a sudden plunging low.  It’s a little like a roller coaster.  You can feel you know someone quite well, and then realise you hardly know them at all.

All of these phenomena have their counterparts in embodied life, but online the rich fabric of human interactions is reduced to a kind of virtual starkness.  We are all strangers in a strange land with our sometimes few, often many, virtual ‘friends’.

Those of us who inhabit a virtual world are making our own choices about how we navigate connections and separations, what we consider care and courtesy, what we find acceptable.  We’re making up the rules as we go along.  We might be happy about our own intepretations, but others might have a different view. 

My various online experiences this summer and autumn have led me to reflect on what I wrote about Virtual Adolescence last year:

‘Do I trust those who might come across me online to behave with respect and care? Do I have real relationships with the people I know online only and with some of whom I discuss issues of the deepest importance to me? I think I do, but these are relationships that can be discarded at the flick of a switch without any real consequences or repercussions in daily life. People you think you are connected with can disappear or just suddenly not respond, and you are left hanging/wondering. You could say this is a lesson in learning how not to be attached – but at the other extreme it might become an experience of carelessness towards others and even perhaps oneself. The ambiguous and uncertain status of these connections must have some effect on the psyche and on how we relate to others and ourselves. I don’t quite know what that effect is.’

Now I think I know better the effect – it can cut to the quick, and it does leave me (you too?) feeling vulnerable.  Some people would say, as if to an angst-ridden adolescent, ‘get a grip!  What is all the fuss about?  It’s only a trivial online exchange, it isn’t real life.’  But I think there’s more to it than that.  Online exchanges are as real as we let them be, and the phrase ‘real life’ is pretty meaningless.  Everything in life is as real as anything else, isn’t it?

And experiences of trusting and feeling let down are as real online as they are face-to-face, it’s just that you can pretend to yourself they are less important because you don’t have to look them in the eye.

Trust is not something you turn on and off like a tap or faucet. It is there until it isn’t, or not there until it is.

In the virtual world you have none of the texture of embodied interactions to reassure and help you.  You have the intonation of a Facebook comment to give you an insight into who you are with.  You can pin a lot on a word or a ‘like’, and you can feel total rejection through a deletion or a blanking of your comment.  All the quirks of who you are, your past experience and innate tendencies, can be activated.  It’s a great opportunity to observe these and try and separate your Self from them, and it can be uncomfortable.

For me, it has become an interesting exploration into the relationship of freedom and connection.

I don’t mind feeling like an adolescent again, maybe even being one.  It certainly makes me more awake deep inside; and it reminds me of questions that I have apparently grown out of.  Those questions are still and always there. 

Posted in connections, friendships, groups, internet life, yoga | 6 Comments

In the shadow of a moment

— For Madhu and Viv

Sometimes, in a life, there may be a single moment out of time, when a connection occurs that is breathtaking.  It leaves you speechless and you feel your will bows to something greater than itself.

A moment so remarkable that it makes you stop in your tracks and rise out of your self. 

This is a moment when the psyche connects with itself and also with something/ everything outside of itself.  You could call such an experience a moment of impersonal awareness.  It is so awe-inspiring that you cannot forget it.

If you have had one or more of these moments, then you’ll know what I mean.  And if you haven’t, then just think of a time when you’ve been struck or commanded to deep reverence and silence.  The energy of such moments is very special.  For some musicians I know it might be the moment of a deep connection with their music and  their audience.  Or it could be a time of connection in nature.

There is a particular energy in such a moment – it is hard to put into words, but you feel it inside of you and all around you.  In my experience, having such a moment in mind, the energy lasted for hours, and even now several years on, I can reactivate the lingering reverberation.  I felt a separation between my awareness and my body in this moment of connection – and as my body moved away, carried passively by the car I was driving and somehow could not stop, my spirit stayed and part of me is still there.

I would not be without such a moment.  It brings a different quality to your life. 

There are moments of such experience of different intensity – some mild and pleasing, others moderate and stronger, some intense and even overwhelming.  This last category can be so potent its effect lingers for a very long time, possibly even a lifetime.

Who would not be without such moments?  If you have had any experience at all like what I am describing, then you will know how difficult it is not to become attached to such an experience, let alone overwhelmed by it.  This is particularly true of the most potent variety.

It gives you a feeling of certainty, of connectedness within and without, of direction and support.  Without thinking or meaning to, you invest what was within that moment – the place, sounds, smells, feelings, people – with an importance that cannot be denied.

You can build a path forward from such a moment, which keeps that direction and support alive.  You trust in its inner rightness, you have an inner faith.

But then, fast forward.  The world gets involved in the conversation.  You start to suspect that the experience might have been an illusion, possibly the fruit of your seeking psyche in need; or that the experience may have given rise to further illusions.  Does that matter?  Does it affect the integrity of the experience itself or the reaction it has triggered? 

The world and your mind get in the way to undermine it, like taking in a pure gold ring to be valued and finding out it’s really cheap metal.  All this interference is like rust on a ring, that obscures its original purity and light.  You are no longer as purely connected to that experience.  The memory is still there to be activated, but you find it hard to maintain your faith with all these increasingly resistant overlays, layers of paint covering the original walls.

So you feel a little uneasy and disappointed, maybe cheated.  Over time these feelings are likely to intensify rather than diminish.  You might feel devastated, deeply disappointed,  even abandoned or deceived.  Ultimately you may feel bereaved, as you will feel that you have lost something so precious.  Something that you were not grasping on to, and trying to preserve, but something which was just there, just something that happened.  You did not seek it or chase it, it came to you, as strong and steady as a glance. 

It is hard not to feel such strong emotions when you have invested so much, involuntarily, in the response to this unplanned, unexpected treasure of a moment’s experience. 

Perhaps you invested too much, because it was only a moment.  Yet moments out of time, extraordinary moments, are hard to treat as mundane.  They have a larger than life quality that commands your obedience and respect. 

How can you hold on to that essential feeling even when you see that the moment too has its shadow?  Should you even try?

Indeed the shadow of the moment is where you reside.  From the shadow you can see the light, in the light you are simply blinded.

However, if you stay in this place, this dark and disappointed place, you can only become diminished.  The person you are, the awareness you felt you had connected with, is suffocated and killed.  You end up feeling less than you were.  You and it are lost.

It was your experience, it still is.  No matter what else, it always is.  Only if you can realise that the essential integrity of the original experience is unperturbed, unruffled, untroubled by the noise of everyday life, maybe even by truth – then, despite the rust, overcoming doubt, you can perhaps still unlock the door to the secret garden.

‘It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine.  The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they were matted together…All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rose-bushes if they were alive.  There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they were like little trees.  There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look stranges and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselve.  There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground.  It was this hazy tangle from tree to tree which made it all look so mysterious.  Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens which had not been left all by themselves so long; and indeed it was different from any other place she had ever seen in her life.’

                          –    from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Posted in connections, dreams, Jung, special places, yoga | 17 Comments

A birthday gift: a lesson in karma

I had the most unexpected and wonderful birthday gift arrive late on the evening of my birthday.  It was almost over, strictly speaking.  I am not a huge birthday person, I think it’s in my genes from my father.  Anyway, I was checking my e-mails and there was one called ‘Happy Birthday’ from a name I didn’t recognise.  I was intrigued but not very, having received a strange birthday e-mail earlier in the day from a hotel in the Middle East.  That took me back in time but not nearly as far as this one.

The mysterious e-mail was from one of my oldest friends who I’d fallen out of contact with nearly 35 years ago.  I couldn’t remember much about why this had happened except I’ve gradually fallen out of touch with most people from those days over the years.

What really moved me was that my old friend remembered my birthday after all this time!  Her message was brief and to the point, and for me there was a lot of emotion in it:

‘I was thinking of you today because it is your birthday.  I think of you from time to time and am wondering why we lost touch.
If you wish to write me back, it would be nice to catch up briefly.
I hope you are well.’

For me this was the best birthday gift I could ever imagine – to receive this message from someone I had been close to, from my past.  I felt reconnected, I felt somehow that I still existed, all over again; that this person should have remembered my birthday after such a long gap!  My response was all about me.

 

I have had those feelings myself about others – ‘wondering why we lost touch’.  Sometimes because it was a difficult situation, it was easier to ‘lose touch’ than discuss the difficulties.  Other times just carelessness or…what?  Losing touch means we never have a chance to say goodbye to what was, if it is goodbye, or carry on with what now is.  I dislike that phrase ‘people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime’ – it’s too pat and simplistic, and also very dismissive, as another friend and I were discussing only recently.

When I thought about my old friend, I remembered things, they flooded back in images.  I remembered listening to Carol King, James Taylor and Carly Simon in her bedroom when I went to visit.  Her family was better off than mine and she lived in a nice house in a nicer neighbourhood.  I remembered her father who everybody loved, he was such a kind man, a rabbi.  I remembered the rest of her family too, as I got to know them quite well.  Her mother quite evidently came from a wealthy background and, although well-intentioned and gracious, I found her stern good manners intimidating. 

Specifically I remembered my friend’s handwriting which was large and loopy, quite flamboyant and exuberant.  We wrote each other long letters nearly every day during the summer holidays.  I remembered the much older man she was in love with, it was all very complicated, and I remembered when she went to see him on the other side of the country surreptitiously.  I also remembered her writing in my yearbook something about us having grown apart but still always being friends.  I just vaguely remembered some distance developing between us, we were moving in different directions.

She wrote me some words in her next e-mail about what she remembered – the name of the son of an old family friend, music, school, where I lived.  I suggested that we expand on these words and memories as they were overlapping but different and it would be interesting to compare; to explore what we chose to remember consciously and what we unconsciously chose to forget. 

She wrote back that she remembered our letters too (how could we forget our epic efforts?), mutual friends, our respective loves, and the name of a madrigal: ‘April is in my Mistress’ Face’.

Then she wrote:

‘I recall that you and I lost touch and you suddenly did not reply to my letters…at least that’s my memory.  I had a feeling it was quite intentional, and have wondered all these years what precipitated it.  I know we were not as close later on but I have fond memories of the years that we were and all of our antics and shared passions… I remember your laugh, your handwriting, all the talks about your weekend in Palm Springs …and so many other things, including, obviously, your birthday.

‘I would love to know if you had a reason for cutting off our communication because truly, it has befuddled me these many years later and was at the time very painful for me to be shunned.  I figured I must have done something unknowingly upsetting to you.’

I was quite horrified to read this – the perfect gift had a sting in its tail. 

The language stung me – ‘it was quite intentional’, ‘very painful to be shunned’.

I read her words and thought first and I still think: There was no reason.  Or if there was, it wasn’t important enough for me to remember.   Or I’ve blocked it because it made me uncomfortable.  The truth is that I don’t know what it was that I did or why I did it, but I know I must have done something.  I remember vaguely just feeling the connection wasn’t there anymore.  And I reflect that this is a pattern, something I can see has happened more than twice, and also that others might recognise it.  If a connection subsides, I just move on.  I let myself be carried away.

 

 

I know I’m not the only person to ‘manage change’ in this way. 

You might even recognise this pattern in yourself.   

However, the utter selfishness of this behaviour struck me in the face as I read this e-mail from someone who had mattered so much in my long-ago past.  What commitment or compassion did I show this friend to whom I was so close for a time, and with whom I shared so much?

My friend still felt some painful effect, after 35 years, and enough to have wanted to contact me to find out and solve the mystery.  Was she aware that her birthday greetings had an unpleasant underside for me? I felt the overriding need of her wanting to heal her wound, a wound that I had thoughtlessly caused and long since forgotten.

I feel ashamed – but not devastated. 

This sting in the tail might have a silver lining.   It’s a lesson in karma – ‘what you sow so shall you reap’.  Timing is everything and in a way I’m pleased to have been given this ‘gift’ of uncomfortable feedback, maybe taking some of my own medicine.  With this friend at least, I have a chance to change the situation, leaving it resolved differently and/or transforming it into something else.  And with others?

The pattern of moving on when it suits, remains tempting.  It always will  – it’s an escape route, a relatively painless exit strategy.   Yet we all make our choices, and I won’t do it again.

Posted in connections, friendships, Jung, Uncategorized, yoga | 6 Comments

Coming or going?

When you are going somewhere you love and you know it’s the last time, you look at it differently, with great care and attention.  You want to take it all in.  You want to imprint it on your mind’s eye so you can savour it later.  Maybe you take photographs, hoping that they will capture some small element of the sense and feeling of the place. 

But life is not a photo album, and pictures may become a way of grasping at past experience, trying to hold on to it.

I had this experience recently when I went to a garden for the very last time.  Now I know I won’t go back because it’s closed forever.  And even if in the unlikely event it opens again, it will be a different place.

I knew I wouldn’t go back when I arrived, there was no uncertainty and I was prepared, so I wasn’t exactly sad.  But it was a perfect day, the sun was out, no clouds in the sky, the roses were all in bloom.  It was quiet, with only a few other visitors.  So there was a feeling of saying goodbye to something that was as close to perfect as you could imagine.  Even with a few faded blossoms, it could not have been anything more than it was.  I would not have changed a note, a colour, a leaf, a blossom.

And I felt in that moment a strong longing mingled with quiet acceptance.  I could say goodbye – without sorrow or holding on to the past.  Maybe take a few pictures, though I would rarely look at them.  Like other gardens I have visited, it would be there inside of me to remember with deep fondness.  And in remembering it, I would be in that place of beauty, peace and near-perfection just for a moment. 

Every time you leave someone who matters where there is a risk of it being the last time -perhaps an elderly parent – you brace yourself and maybe give the farewell that extra edge of attention, care and love. Or maybe you don’t.  Every time I hang up from my weekly phone call with my father, part of me wonders if I will speak to him again. And, invariably, I am conscious of the gross imperfections of our communication, what I don’t say to him and how I say what I do, as well as how he communicates. It will never be much better and sometimes it’s a lot better than other times. It is as it is, much as it always has been, good enough, with the characteristic quirks that any relationship develops over time.

I don’t know if I’m saying goodbye till next week or Goodbye. I always remember the last phone conversation I had with my mother before she died and what she said and the tone of her voice. Nothing out of the ordinary, but the last time gives it a special resonance in memory anyway.  And I remember wondering then, is this It?

When something or someone really matters, perhaps you always have that edge of awareness that ‘this could be it’.  You’re not taking it for granted, you’re valuing it, even if that internal valuing doesn’t always translate into words or behaviour.  You’re on that knife edge, wondering.  You’re not over-anxious that this is it, you just feel it might be.

Sometimes you go somewhere and you have the feeling that it might be the last time even though you really don’t want it to be.  You don’t know why.  For reasons you don’t fully understand, you feel that it might be.  And then you realise it was the last time already, and you missed it, something has changed.  You feel there is something else there, as palpable as another person, in-between; things that will not be revealed or discussed, now complicated by the interventions of others.

And when you arrive, it all goes wrong, or that’s how it feels.  Or maybe what happens is right.  It isn’t the last time, but everything is not all right – is it?

It just is.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.


Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half heard, in the stillness
Between the two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

   –T S Eliot, Little Gidding V

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