This week I have been caught in between several minds about my life – the past, the present and the future. Part of me needs to think things through… another part would rather not think… and… so on.
Luckily, at the end of this week I was whisked away to another time and place.
My partner’s family gathered for a celebration… not at their country pile, not at Downton Abbey… just at an hotel which mimics a time and place of that sort. It is real but not real, and that is a rather nice land in between in which to take a break.
My partner’s family are lovely and very different from my own family of origin… which is again, lovely. Yes, they have issues, all humans do as it is a part of the experience of being alive and living, but there is always a true bond of love running through everything with them. My family wouldn’t know love if it labeled itself succinctly and hit them in the face repeatedly.
I did not know all of his family, but the ones I do know… it was wonderful to catch up with them and their life adventures… and the ones whom I did not know, it was a pleasure to meet them all. It was an embracing hug from all… for one who does not particularly like hugs, but at times sees the joy of them.
In between socialising, I wandered around the grounds of this magnificent hotel and explored its secret nooks and crannies. Signs abounded and I felt that each one had a message of sorts for me. Whether I understood them of not…
No, thank you… I’d rather not mind my head at the moment, it’s full of chaos and it might lead me astray…
However I will pass through this threshold to see what lies on the other side… I’ll try to avoid hitting my head. I once used to long for amnesia… now, not so much, good memories are beginning to outnumber bad ones…
So many ways to go, which shall I choose… maybe all… following paths hither and thither, roaming without a map or a destination in sight…
On the day of the solstice a door closing at dusk seems… not so ominous as dusk is a long way off, kind of like death seems to be at times… so I ventured onwards without fear of being locked in or locked out – unsure of which was which, what side I was on of anything really…
A sign beckoned me to look closer and read its ancient wisdom… yes, yes…. when all within is at peace… how rare that is, but when it is, how blissful…
Just keep going, don’t stop too long or you might congeal and turn into a statue…
A statue who seems to whether all the storms of life without a care in the world… it’s easy to appear that way, but it is just an appearance which is easy to give. yet not so easy to take.
Through a gate seemingly guarded by angels… to a place in between… a place of momentary rest…
Not here, the sign warns not to linger… well, one sign – plus fence to add gravitas – warns of danger within the confines of this chapel. The other sign which can’t be read in the photo, claims that this place is still consecrated and open for sanctuary to all who seek it… but you may get in trouble for trespassing… I don’t know, this church is giving mixed messages.
Yet close to the church is a folly which can be entered… which is rabbit approved…
But perhaps it only is for rabbits…
Keep going… to another place…
A terrace in the clouds… sort of… a place between rooms, a sun trap which is highly recommended by butterflies.
It was nice to get away… it gives a certain much needed perspective – outside of yourself and your routine – but you can’t run away from yourself or your life… well… you can try… but it always chases you, hunts you down and forces you to face things.
Perhaps those things aren’t as bad as they seem, and even if they are, best to face them head on… then maybe you can pass through them, pass through the in between and find out what lies on the other side.
Such is life… a mix of mixed messages both good, bad and many shades in between…
The adventure continues….
What uniform can I wear to hide my heavy heart?
It is too heavy.
It will always show.
Jacques felt himself growing gloomy again.
He was well aware that to live on earth a man must follow its fashions, and hearts were no longer worn.
On the walls of the room which I had as a child…
A room which served as my mother’s walk-in closet and store room before I arrived on the scene and which still retained all of her belongings after my birth, me being one of those many belongings which she collected and had to find a place in which to put them should she ever need them.
…was a typical 70’s wallpaper pattern of psychedelic stripes.
Breaking the flow of the stripes intermittently, arranged seemingly randomly, hung some of my father’s paintings from his early period.
That period was a time when he was a struggling artist who could not afford the materials of his craft. He improvised, economised, did without what he didn’t have and made what he did have work for him.
He dreamed of and spurred himself on with what one day he might be able to create if he had access to all of the paints, canvases and other tools which were out of his reach yet could be attainable if he pursued them with determined focus.
The paintings were small. Little windows into other worlds. Worlds which his eyes had seen, his imagination had translated and his hands had rendered into simple lines, abstract shapes, with a limited palette of colours.
I couldn’t tell what most of them depicted, even if I squinted my eyes and turned my head at an angle, but my eyes and mind tried to make sense of them, give them a form which was familiar to me, as I lay on my child’s bed in the half-light filtering through the shuttered windows of the room.
There was one particular image which I called – The Dead Pigeon. It was of a seascape, or at least I thought it was, with as its focal point what appeared to me to be a pile of bird bones, speckled with blood. I don’t know why I decided that the dead bird was a pigeon. That’s not a bird associated with the seaside, and I was aware of that even then. Perhaps it was the shades of grey. Perhaps it was that I loved pigeons.
Adults don’t always like pigeons, and often consider them to be vermin, creatures who carry disease and poo on everything like critical killjoys. However most children tend to love pigeons… and poo… they see the fascination and beauty in many things which the adult eye and mind finds repulsive.
Children can be morbid. Morbid is the sort of word an adult would use, perhaps to describe a child who is revelling in something which the adult finds… morbid. Who exactly is the one being morbid?
There is much about nature, human nature and the natural world, which a child understands better than an adult because they see it with an accepting eye, curious to know, absorb, and learn, yet allowing it to be free and fluid. Perhaps what is seen will change, evolve, grow, reveal more facets of itself.
The child is open and expansive… the adult narrows and restricts.
Moving from viewing life as a child to seeing it as an adult is a rite of passage, but a passage to into what and where?
A child does not view death and dead things the way that an adult does, perhaps it is because they do not fear being mortal. Life is an adventure, an experience, an experiment, to be lived here and now. Not something to be viewed with eyes looking backwards filled with regret and nostalgia and eyes looking forward with dread and trepidation.
A child’s perspective sees the past and the future as being in the same place as the present. Yesterdays and tomorrows are a part of today.
I was later told by an adult, talking as they do to a child they see as being… those things which adults think of children and their mental capabilities, that my painting of a dead pigeon was actually of an old boat, beached and decaying. It was a dead boat. It’s skeleton bleached by the sun, its vibrant paint almost completely chipped away by the elements. The flecks of blood were not the blood of veins in a living being but the last scraps of pigment, paint, the blood of an artist.
Yet, even though my eyes had been opened, examined, found to be defective and in need of glasses with lenses prescribed by an adult so that I could see what was actually there rather than what was not… to me the image was still of a dead pigeon. My dead pigeon in its little window into its world by the sea. A world into which it had welcomed me when I did not want to be where I was, whose sounds of surf and sand had muffled noises which I did not want to hear, and which had kept me company in the lonely dark hours while I waited for the other shoe on the ceiling to lose its adhesiveness and drop with a thud, squashing the joy of childhood.
That is not a cherry.
Maybe you knew that.
Maybe you never saw it as a cherry.
It looks like a cherry to me.
A succulent, ripe and delicious cherry, the kind which makes you long to eat it…
…but I have to remind myself that it is not a cherry because I am an adult now.
Your head’s like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune’s all we are.Grant Morrison