Friday, 19 July 2019

Oh hello blog, i may have neglected you as a way to get words out of me, as a way to understand how  the world feels to me. There are lots of ways to communicate and the how and the with who makes a difference. My notebooks are private, my blog obviously isn't. Emails may or may not be. Conversations are as private as the participants allow.
Before Jon died in 2017 we wrote emails to each other for about two years, back and forth conversations most days, often inconsequential chit chat, sometimes deeper stuff. When he died i missed his voice on the other end, the response, the return. I carried on writing emails for months, occasionally still i will email tho' i know he won't answer. But emailing dead-Jon feels unprivate, it's not me talking to him, it's me talking to an empty space, or a space that is Jon in my head, and i don't know if other people occupy that empty space, if i send him an email does it get seen by people who are not him the never-will-receive intended receiver. I guess we can never know these things. 
Privacy is something held within. People are more or less private it's a personal choice. As soon as a word is uttered or written to another it ceases to be private. Though there are people who hold our words private, counsellors, therapists and if we are lucky a few close friends we can trust with our secrets. 
Women who have been pregnant will know the super-secret wonder of a child forming in our wombs in the weeks before we tell anyone just in case the baby doesn't stick. I am lucky i have not had a child i needed to lose, or lost a child before it could live, how it feels to live with those feelings i will never know. There are feelings that are hard to express, that cannot be given voice, or which are terribly hard to voice. Those feelings become secrets.
Secrets can be good, can be great, but not always, some secrets are terrible. Holding feelings in can feel like safety but always holding is difficult and bad feelings held in and not allowed expression can become dreadful, unbearable. 
We are living in a strange political climate at the moment and some of the big frontsmen appear to be terribly damaged to the point of psychosis. When deep emotional wounds are left to fester within they may find outlet in cruel language and acts.  Or else terrible unfathomable depression. I know from my own bad self that mostly it is driven by things that cause me pain, feeling worthless, feeling rejected, feeling wrong. 
What is a bad self ? Why would i think part of myself is bad ? Is my bad self worse for being witnessed or worse for being shoved away, forced into submission and given no release, no breath, no light. When Jon died i was insane with grief, books and blogs say it's not insanity but it felt like insanity, insanity caused by grief but definitely not straight, not common place everyday normal. I think tho that maybe being insane with grief when someone you love deeply dies is an appropriate response so maybe that's why the books and blogs etc say it isn't insane. They also, all of them, state clearly that burying grief will not help, that each of us must live it as we need. 
I felt at the time that Jon's family would have liked me to grieve less, not for my sake, but theirs. Go away, be neat and tidy and out of the way, they brushed me away like rubbish and still that hurts and i don't know quite what to do with that hurt as over the past year and a half i have slowly recovered my sensibilities and begun to occupy my now and point my gaze to what next instead of what was or what could, or might, have been. 
Because what was still occupies space in me, and what is connects to what was, and what will be meets the was in the is. My lived experience with Jon was intense and marked me so of course it is still part of my now but i know that it is also done, that he is dead and who he was with me lives only in me. That won't be how it is for everyone grieving i think because often grief is shared with others who loved and cared for the deceased. But still each relationship is unique and i guess that's why mourning is such a lonely journey. 
For me it has been a kind of mapping process. A connecting of memories, places, moments, books, music .... and feelings. Feelings i think are the most personal of all our memories, I might see a mimosa tree for instance and it will take me back to the place we stayed in Italy where there were several flowering but as I fly back to that time i am at once again in the feeling of that holiday. I am in my now seeing a mimosa tree, but i am also in my past with Jon, on the platform of the deserted station, finding a boar's skull, looking over a bridge at the rubbish clogging the river, seeing Naples far in the distance from our bedroom window, exploring the roads and pathways around the village we were staying close by to, and so on. I am also in the future knowing that what is done is done and cannot be undone, that flights of fancy, what ifs, are strolls within my imagination and will never be reality but that my path keeps going. 
In that moment when i see a mimosa tree (other memory joggers are available) time meets time. And time meeting time is a place. A place in me. A cave within a labyrinth of caves. 
Ever since i was a child i've been a walker. There are lots of types of walker and i think maybe the way a person walks maybe matches their thought process. I'm a wanderer, maybe a roamer, i'm not a hiker, i'm mostly a solitary walker, there isn't a right way or wrong way to walk but different types of walker need different types of journey fellows if they choose to walk in company. 
When i was a child i used to roam the paths and roads and lanes around our home. We lived next to some water meadows and close by was a clay-pit where fishermen would sit in the gloomy shadows surrounded by midges in summer, once a pike stared up out of the water, it's head the head of a monster, still remembered, another memory that sits within my labyrinth of caves along with the gorgeous gloopy threads of toadspawn and the light on the water and the mud gap in the hedge that was how to get to the pool.  
I loved walking with Jon. Right from the beginning of our relationship it was something we shared. He took me to the paths at the back of his housing estate and the housing estate where his mother lived. We wandered together from word go. In many ways our wanderings were like the wanderings of two children. Two children roaming free in a beautiful garden world, our own garden of Eden.  Innocent and carefree we stopped to look at bugs and flowers, to listen to birds, got lost together and found our way out of being lost together. We learned to read maps together. I learned how to draw a map inside my body by treading paths, linking places together until i could draw them in my head. This is a practise i continued to do after Jon and I broke up and which i have found is a sanctuary process since he died. 
I apologise for going on about Jon, he was someone i loved, he wasn't perfect, and i could have grieved less if i had loved him less, as maybe i should have done, i would have grieved less but love is what it is, it's a feeling given free-ly not a creative accountancy game where you hope to get more than you give, tho i think maybe well balanced books make for easier relationships. 
When i was doing the sculpture trail in 2017 (blogs about this are from around about this time of the year in 2017) the area around the trail was unfamiliar. My friend David and I had a little explore and some of the places around the trail we'd visited before because he had family roots in that area and so we'd looked at Heckingham church and Hales church and walked around Loddon a little. My commute to the trail is longish but lovely. I catch a bus from Norwich to the road that leads up to and past Hales Church and i walk from there to the site, the walk takes about 40 minutes, i often see deer and hare and buzzards, some of it is grassy paths some of it is quiet roads, in good weather it's gorgeous. In 2017 i was my sculpture so my day was that, it was an odd enlightening experience, a chance to know how it felt to be seen being. It's all in previous blogs so i won't go on except to say that every time i walked to the trail i passed a crossroads. I came from one direction and took the turn to the right but the roads straight on and left called to me. Always i planned to go back to explore them and it is this that i've done as part of my research for this years trail piece.
Over the course of the past year i've been exploring the roads and ways around the trail site, building a new network of experienced wandering around my historical self. The first walk i took 4 deer crossed the road once, twice, three times, four times, i felt my knees buckle and my self crumble it was a moment i would have shared with Jon and weirdly at the moment i broke i felt his arms around me and his voice saying "it's alright, i'm here, i'm here"  i don't care if that seems mad it was my experience and it's mapped on that road and so i know that even tho he is gone forever as a body the feeling of him is always there if and as and when he is needed/wanted and maybe sometimes when he isn't wanted. 
My piece for the sculpture trail is giving me head issues at the moment because it isn't pretty. And it isn't clever. And maybe anyone could do what i am doing. In fact, yes, anyone could do what I'm doing.  I asked for a cave space within the shrubs at the end of the garden and have been gifted a beautiful space. I am wrapping the network of branches around the space, the space that is the cave, the inside of the cave. I want the branches to feel like the walls of a cave. I want them to feel like chalk lines marking out the paths that lead to the cave. 
Just after Jon and I split up in 2013 after my degree had finished and he had left for Gozo i went on a strange walking holiday in the Dordogne with a group of people i didn't know well. I'd been told about the trip by a woman whose work i'd admired in the degree show, i'd got in touch with her, we'd met for a cup of tea, we talked about walking, she told me about the trip, i got in touch with the man who was leading the trip, someone had bailed so there was one space in the minibus which i decided to take. It was a trip to walk and look at Lascaux amongst other caves with paintings and carvings and I'd wanted to see Lascaux for some years so it was sensible to go and i needed to pick myself up and get on with life after the shock of being dumped just when i thought Jon and I would be adventuring together. 
The trip to the caves was a beginning and ending, beginnings and endings belong together, sometimes they overlap and sometimes their meeting is marked by a sliver of thin air. Jon and I emailed semi-courteously for a while pretending to be civilised until my yoga teacher lent me the "Fuck It" book  and i decided that whilst he was quite within his rights to leave me neither he or his horrible family could tell me what to feel and if i still loved him, goddamn it (or fuck it) i was going to let myself love him. I knew i was supposed to behave, to accept rejection politely, to let him go without making a fuss but i decided to let my wild grow instead because it felt honest, because it felt good and i grew out my box, was unruly and thorny, gained mass and flowered and i'm glad i did. 
Oh, i must have needed to get that out.
I am talking about caves. I am talking about visiting caves and caves inside of me and the inside of the tree cave that i've been given to draw the map of the territory i've been walking this past year, this past two years, ten years, life. Inside my cave are my memories, my memories of Jon and the part of our lives we spent together, also my memories of other people, places, times, moments. Because inside of each of us i think is a cave, at least one cave, in which time and space and passage of time and presence all meet together in a place that is called Still. 


Thursday, 25 April 2019

What do you do when someone you love dies ? Not someone you are fond of or someone you have an affection for, but someone you love, someone whose being resides in your heart ? When Jon died I asked my daughter this because I knew that she knew, she replied "you live, you live mum" ...
My experience of grief is only one experience of grief. My grief for Jon who I loved. It is different to the grief that other women who loved him will be experiencing because their grief is their relationship, the man he was with them, the woman they were with him, the chemistry between them that made them them. 
The interaction between two is always very slightly different, even day to day between the same two, one and an other is another recipe. Even if one of the two is a thing like a place or an icon. The individual within the story is the difference. 
Yesterday I watched a film about a little boy who died of Meningitis. A dad talking about his young son dying. A film of him playing with his little brother, performing and playing. It is an agonising watch. I have not experienced the death of a child. The pain is unimaginable. It stops me in my tracks, there is no breath. I see those who are having to carry their loss from a point of innocence, not knowing, of sympathetic pain, of understanding that is limited by my lack of experience, please god may that always be my good fortune. 
Experience is the teacher. I have my experience and you have yours. I know what I know and you know what you know. If we allow ourselves to meet with open hearts we may find that we have common ground and through that common ground we may be able to share our experiences and learn from each other how it is to be another. 
This is what has happened to me since Jon died. I was felled by his death, my blog is testament to that. And i have a stack of notebooks, and sketch notes in 2d &3d, and close friends who have held my space and listened when i have felt shot down, who have re-lit my light when i have been in darkness. 
My grief is not comparable to the grief some one feels when their child, their baby, dies. It stems from a different relationship, so how could it be ? But I think grief has meeting places, the loneliness seems to be common ground, sadness is too mild a word to describe grief, but it is in the mix a kind of whole sadness maybe, I can't explain this feeling it has no words in me, it is akin to love but love in darkness maybe rather than light, those who know what I mean maybe will let me know. 
I have felt since Jon died that I am occupying a completely different world. And this too seems to be a shared connection. The world itself has not changed, it carries on regardless as if nothing has happened, day breaks and night falls, relentlessly marking the time between the last point of contact and the end. Does no-one know that this great person once lived and now doesn't ? But it is only the few who love a body whose world has changed, the rest of the world carries on oblivious to the pain that those who are grieving are coping with day in day out. And all the videos and blogs and memes and poems seem to say this that grief is not a finite thing it is there and sometimes it is less pressing and sometimes more. 
Last week I decided to open the email that Jon sent me just after Easter in 2017. We had had an argument. His emails had become less frequent and more offhand and I knew he had started drinking again if he had ever really given up, he said he was drinking daily as a habit because I had asked him what he did with his days and he had told me that he'd have a couple of drinks mid morning before returning home in the afternoon. At Easter I asked if he was seeing someone, and if so i said i should back off, because I was not sure if the days when his emails didn't come were days when he was with someone or days when he was blacking out, and if he was blacking out that wasn't a good thing. He replied rudely, I replied rudely, we exchanged a vicious spat of words. I did not like the way he talked about the woman he was seeing. I decided on Easter Sunday that year that I had to let go so that the woman he was with had a chance to bring out the best in him without the jealousy of an abandoned ex creating more difficulties. The email i opened last week did not suggest he was giving her his best but it may be that he was being a better man with her than the person he was in the email, i hope so. 
When I opened my folder of Jon emails and scrolled back to Easter '17 I found a time-bomb. An unopened email he had sent in August '17 that I had erased from my memory. I believe i blogged (about a year ago i think) about how at this time I had repeatedly woken to loud banging on my door in the small hours of the night that my first thought on waking, or maybe still in dream, would be "it's Jon" but then i'd know it was not real, that he was not knocking on my door, that it was only a dream, that it was not Jon. But this unopened email spoke of his missing me, of how he woke thinking of me, wondering if I was married to, or "besmitten" with, someone else, asking me to email. I didn't see it. I don't know how it got in my Jon folder. I don't know how I would have responded if I had seen it then. I felt betrayed. I was furious and heartbroken. Furious and heartbroken is a very odd combination of feelings. It hurts now, knowing that he like me was wishing we were still in contact at that time.
One of the things about emails and letters and texts is that we don't know if the other person has received them. When I accidentally sent an email to Jon in September giving us our last conversation, and me now two still unopened mails, he will have assumed that i had read his August email. I hadn't. Would it have changed the way we communicated then i think so, tho' how i do not know. Embodied contact allows us a greater depth of feeling because we are witness to movement and shape, smell, sound, space, timing, and so much more, all the subtle signals that our animal bodies recognise without even knowing, the light in someone's eyes, the curve of someone's smile, the inclination of bodies, the touch and how the touch is received. I felt, and still feel, sure that if Jon and I could have met for a coffee we would have met as old friends who loved each other still.
A certain generation (type) of people may remember a computer game called The Sims. The Sims was a model for life, a way of telling people-stories, soap opera lives were lived out on a screen under the hands and in the mind of the game player. Births, deaths, marriages, work, love, money, learning, friendships were all there guided by a god-like handler. The first version of the game was quite manageable especially after you got the cheat that gave you unlimited finances. Unlimited finances make a difference to wellbeing it seems, funny that. As the game evolved with add ons and new versions and real time relationships it became more tricky. Want to get in touch with that friend, in the first game people didn't age with you but later they did, their friendship didn't just diminish if you accidentally dropped contact because you were busy building your house, or making out with your new lover, they aged with you, some of them died. I'm aware that The Sims is something my sons and I would recognise as a formative experience but it's not a catch all. My point is really that relationships need nurture and the easiest way to nurture a relationship is to give it time and space and love and light just like anything you want to grow to flower. A plant may flower without attention but like The Little Prince's rose that flower becomes your flower when you give it your attention. 
I wanted to blog today because this past week has been a funny one for me. Opening Jon's Easter 2017 email on the two year anniversary was a challenge i had met in my mind before I did it. Discovering the one I did not know about was a shock. It was kind of loving, so kind of nice, but it made me cry a lot. Last year at Easter his daughter's mother wrote to me saying they had letters I'd written to him and would I like her to send them to me (I said yes but I have yet to receive them). That made me cry too.
Sometimes when a feeling is difficult it is best to meet it, chances are it won't go away on it's own and will keep nagging and nudging until it is met so I decided I needed to go back to Bungay and to tread some of the soul paths Jon and I wore together in the years we were lovers. 
My relationship to Bungay did not begin with Jon. I was friends with a girl from school and I remember staying with her for a weekend and bicycling around the town. And later, when I was very nearly full term with my first baby, her father and I stayed the night with a friend of his in the old pit where he lived in a caravan with a goat and his dog and some chickens. Because I was only 20 and her father just 21 the friend seemed fantastically old, I suspect he was probably mid thirties or fortyish, but people in their thirties and forties look old to the young i think tho' they may not feel it. The caravan smelt of pee and I was very keen not to have my baby there so when the bus failed to turn up we walked and hitched back to Norwich. I think we walked about 9 of the miles and I suspect that my daughter's determined nature was in part forged by that experience. 
Since Jon and I parted company I re-met Bungay through the sculpture trail at close-by Earsham where/when I met my friend Andy who lives there. But Jon is a big part of my relationship to the place. So if I need to feel really close to him it's where I go. I think this is my third trip since he died and each trip has been for a specific reason, a need to connect with that which was best in us, to the time and place where we were most solid, where i feel/felt closest to him. Time passes, I cannot undo Jon's death. All I can do for peace of mind is endeavour to accept and understand what is. That's not easy. And as I said at the beginning of this blog, my grief isn't comparable to anyone else's because it is mine and something only I know. Someone who has lost a child or a sibling or a parent or a husband/wife may wonder why I am bleating on about Jon but their wonder is not really my business because grief just is, no-one in their right mind would ask for grief if they know how grief feels because it's like a stain that can not be over-painted, the pain of the loss is forever, i think. I'm sorry if that is un-comforting. But I am wondering if the pain i feel for Jon, because of his absence, is how he maintains presence in my life and reminds me of the pleasure we shared. 

Saturday, 20 April 2019

I promised myself that I would write a blog in which I spilled a little less of my blood onto the "page" but I don't really know how to do that. I think I write in blood because I don't have any ink. Call ink style and blood passion. My blogs tend to come out of me when my heart is bursting with need to express myself, when my mind is on fire with thought and I can't hold it all in. 
But what I want to get started on is blogging a quiet pilgrimage I am taking. Using the word pilgrimage I hope gives a sense of the form of the journey I have embarked upon. I do not know if I will reach my destination but I have started the path and that is enough. 
Lots of people walk the coast of Britain. I've been following a few blogs over the past few years and most recently a man on twitter who is doing it the adventurer's way with a tent. But I am not an adventurer. I have however wanted to walk the coast of Britain for years now, maybe as long as twenty, thinking about it and not knowing how to start, where to start, making it all more complicated than it needed to be. 
Because in October last year I just began. I walked from Southwold to Lowestoft. Just because I could. I started in October because October was the anniversary of Jon's death. He gets the whole month because his actual death date is different from the day I found out by nearly two weeks so in my body he has two deaths, his actual death and the death of him that happened later when I picked up his sister-in-law's email informing me of his death  
Southwold was the beach Jon took me to on our first proper date. And we walked the length between Dunwich and Kessingland over and over again in different parts during the six years we were lovers. Starting at Southwold meant that my coast walk began with Jon as my journeyman, a ghost journeyman. I suppose that I hope that walking and walking will help me to lay his ghost to rest. He is not, for me, an easy ghost to lay to rest. I meet him everywhere. And sometimes I like that and sometimes I don't. 
I took the first step of this pilgrimage on a date that was before the actual anniversary of Jon's death but was the anniversary of a friend and I going to Southwold the week before he died. It was a strange day. I was tearful and thought I saw him on the bus and we found ourselves in places that he had taken me to on our first and last dates, places that connected me to him where memories had been made, and places he'd shown me that belonged to his childhood. I couldn't get him out of my head. I wanted to be there alone, or with him. My friend kept saying I had to give up on him. I had. I couldn't have given up more. But it hurt. I guess my head had given up, but my heart hadn't. Hope still defying reason.
I digress. I took the first step on my pilgrim path because all the time we have choices. October 2018 was the anniversary of Jon's death and I needed to force myself back to life, to seize the day, carpe diem. I took two walks in October and have taken four since then. Southwold-Lowestoft, Lowestoft to Gorleston, Great Yarmouth to Caister-on-sea, Caister-on-sea to Winterton, Winterton to Happisburgh, Happisburgh to Mundesley. 
Mostly I go by public transport and mostly I go alone. So far the exception has been Winterton to Happisburgh when my son, at my ask, helped me out by driving me to Winterton and then parking up at Happisburgh and walking back to meet me at Sea Palling. Mostly I like going by public transport and walking alone. Walking alone gives me time to think and public transport especially buses allows meetings to happen that wouldn't normally. 
This walk, this long walk, began with a trick. I was just walking from Southwold to Lowestoft, no big deal. The second walk was more conscious, on my birthday, the anniversary of the day after I found out he was dead. Lowestoft to Gorleston. One walk and then another and another, beginning. I needed to begin and then I needed to keep going and then when Amis joined me I needed to ask for help because I could feel myself stalling, and I wanted to share what I was doing with someone I loved, someone living, a tangible, physical presence. Ghosts and spirits are all very well but not the same as flesh and blood, body and living soul. Amis' help briefly made my path warmer and sweeter, less lonely. Time and space are gifts. I was glad that Amis accepted the gift of my time and space and gifted me his in return. Time and space are gifts worth treasuring. 
Following my day with Amis I walked Happisburgh to Mundesley, passing the shameful nets at Bacton a week or so before the sand martins return, the cliffs looked mean and grim and bleak. I am so thankful to the people who got those nets removed. They stand as heroes in my eyes, everyday people who rose to a challenge and beat a system that says birds lives are worth less than money and man. I wonder if that is the mark of civilised society, the ability to understand that that which is not us, is not "I", is as of much value as us, we, ourselves, "I". 
Food for thought maybe for my next stretch Mundesley to Cromer. My walks are not too long at the moment and it might seem like I'm dawdling, taking this walk at such a leisurely pace and with no certainty of reaching it's end but it's a choice I have made to allow myself to be slow, to let myself go gently. Going gently, taking things softly, means I will do what I set out to do, I don't respond well to a whip but I give all that I have if my heart is resolved. I want this journey to be a healing path. I am walking it widdershins, tempting the devil I suppose but my hope is that the pull of my road will give me time to work out where I am going and will find me moving forward even if my forward is met by sometimes going back in time. 



Monday, 25 March 2019

Part Two ... because there is more, there is always more. I'm going to write about memories, again, history, personal and social, the who and how it is told. I imagine that Jon will slip into the story because although some people might say "oh shut up, get over yourself, he left you, he died, no one cares" their opinion has to be nothing to me because though he was surely and often a git i loved him and loving him changed me. I cannot deny the changes that happened to me and in me as a result of our knowing each other and so he stands as a markable, remarkable presence. 
So where to start. That so wasn't necessary, but i don't know how to write so there it is and there it is again. Where to start. I am currently reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I have just read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, and Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. Each one of these books are a historical account of a story. Wolf Hall tells a story that has been covered by many, a story that perhaps most English people over the age of seven have an inkling about, and a viewpoint or opinion even now, nearly five hundred years on. Private Peaceful is one of those books that makes you weep for all the men and women killed for living in an unjust time.  Michael Morpurgo, the author, addresses the injustice of 290 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed for desertion in the first world war with his usual grace and gift for engaging with heart, his own i think and his readers. Private Peaceful is a story told by one man, about his life and his brother's life and all that touched them. It's a story about a single death but also the life that led to that death. And living after death i suppose too. It's about how lives link and connect. Because we are linked. We are linked even if we don't want to be, sometimes the links we don't want are the hardest to break. The Sense of an Ending addresses human connection on a very personal historical level. It's a quick read but every word is meat. The story could be anybody's story. If we get to be old the likelihood is that somewhere along the lines we will have done something that perhaps at the time seemed like little but later turns out to have been a wrong. I have wrongs sewn into my seams. I imagine most of my friends and loved ones do too. 
What is it that i'm trying to say by mentioning my recent reading matter. I'm mentioning my recent reading matter because Wolf Hall in particular is making me think about how and who tells a story, or history. And because Britain is my country, and we are in a spot of trouble at the moment, and having a historical moment, and it's causing strife and disorder in the highest court of the land, i guess parliament is the highest court unless you count the Queen. Wolf Hall is also about Britain at a time of upheaval, and to me the story resonates with the history being made today. Maybe it is always like that to a greater or lesser extent. 
Wolf Hall, the book, is also set in my history, my history with Jon. How can something like a book be part of relationship story, i guess in much the same way as anything else if connection was made over a book then the book stands as a open door leading back to that connection. 
Wolf Hall won the Booker Prize in 2009 Hilary Mantel, the author, seemed to come from nowhere though in fact she had been a working author for years just not very well known except among her peers. I remember Jon reading it and talking to me about it, sat on the sofa in his living room, my reading it now flashes back to the time, i wish that i'd read it with him but books come when they are meant to and back then i was battling demons on all sides, work, college, my family and his, and all my energy was engaged in not giving in to feeling worthless and worth less than worthless. I am reading it now and thinking about him and that's nice but also quite sad. He's here reading it with me, as is my son, who read it last year, and who is thankfully still living and with whom i can talk to about it. Not talk to a past him but a present him, a now him. 
That's one of the big "fuck-off"s with death, i think. Not being able to hold another conversation except in your head, never to see the other person, to laugh with them, or touch them is really painful. I remember Jon talking to me about his mother after she died. He said that after she died she was easier to get on with because he didn't have to deal with her bad bits and could just relate to the best of her. I didn't know her. I gathered quite early that she and his sister-in-law had been at odds. And that her family rep (Jon, his brother and his brother's wife) was as someone difficult and unpleasant. But that at her funeral someone else had said to him how kind she was. I did not know her so my judgement of her is of no worth, she may or may not have been as described, she may have had reasons to be as she was described. Because people often do and may not know or want to acknowledge why they are as they are. 
Reading Wolf Hall has been mind-opening. Who can fail to be intrigued by that period off history ? It has legend written all over it and creative types have played with the storylines and characters over and over again. It is to me to read about Thomas More who wrote Utopia, to know him as a not-nice character, a torturer, a religious zealot, a mean husband, the image i'd had of him was as a gentle family man, someone almost saintly, this had, in the main, come from a 1970's film i have seen more than once. How easy it is to fall in with a narrative if it is the only source drawn from. 
This has been some of the problem with Brexit. Maybe any conflict where sides have arisen. I guess all the time there's a need to look more than one way if wanting a rounded understanding is wanted.  If wanting a rounded understanding is needed. If I see only my own point of view as valid then all i can do is dance on the spot and hope that enough people will dance on a spot close to me so that i feel myself not too isolated. Alternatively if i am prepared to see, to feel, to engage with other people's thoughts, needs, feelings then i have opportunity to step out of my spot and make my dance a more moving thing. My opening out to others creates space for interaction that holding myself tight shut like a shellfish on a rock will never do.
Because i don't think any one person can always be right. Most of us will have come up against someone who believes themselves always right. But, really ? Really ? I don't know how to deal with people who are never wrong. I suppose that the drip dripping of time will wear them down in the end but whew in the meantimes saint's preserve me from having to spend too much time with those who are are without fault. 
Er hum, where am i going ? History. Memories. Well a lot of my blogging has been about memories this past year and i have a project idea building at the back of my brain about memory, same as a million other artists, authors, play-writes, poets, film makers and all the others with a calling to the arts. But memories are a very personal form of history. And yet even as we write and read back to ourselves our own histories, they trip and fall and become imperfect. When i wrote a few weeks  ago about the church at Wenhaston and the devil weighing the souls, that was my memory, but returning a week after i saw that my memory had missed St Michael, and that he was the one doing the weighing and the devil very close by was just looking on waiting for the wicked to be weighed and passed on to him. And before that i spoke about my hair being green when i was pregnant and straight after i remembered that it was probably pink and blue and bleached a good white blonde and the green had been cut off just before i got pregnant.
Recognising the holes in my own memory make losing Jon feel harder because i know that the time we spent together is passing into kodachrome dream-like images, images that replay and feel real but also not real. I don't know how better to describe the feeling. It's hard to accept someone i love being so physically cinematic, so physically distant, but that is how it is for me now. It hurts, i don't want a sugar coated Jon, i want him good and bad, as i always wanted him. So, and there's that "so" again,   i find him in books, and fields, and hedgerows, and, and, and: and what i find is feeling, the feeling of him, it's not him, but it's him as i knew him, sometimes brilliant and sometimes a bastard. And the bastard is not such good company but i did learn a lot from the bastard in him just as learned a lot from his brilliance. 
Do I close there ? I struggle with endings. Some people are good at them, are masters, but i don't know how to close, for me there is always an after. Perhaps it is that sense of one thing leading to another and another and tho' threads drop and fall away new threads pick up the stream and go forward. Now I am walking the coast path very very slowly and maybe I'll blog about that next and put in a picture or two to lighten my blog. But it's life isn't it, it keeps going.
In a few weeks time Britain will or won't be a part of the EU but life will go on and the body of our country will have moved little. What the politicians are fighting over is a lot about money, i think, and power. Some care about the human cost and some don't. And i'll give my vote to those who do. And some care about planetary cost and some don't, and similarly i'll give my vote, my coat, to those who do. And that in the end is all the little man/woman/child can do is give their coat of arms to the causes they feel most strongly for, whether in their personal or political life. And there perhaps i'll end because it's as good a place as any.   

Friday, 22 March 2019

Here goes again ... launching myself into another blog ... many years ago when i was a child my dad used to sometimes take me as his sailing crew. I wasn't his preferred crew, my oldest sister Vicky was keener and more competent, but sometimes, not often i would be there in the boat with him. It would be planned the day before, getting up at whatever time was needed to catch the high tide, gearing up and going to the boat yard to rig the boat, it was a Tideway, a wooden clinker-built boat that my dad maintained well because that's how my dad is. When the boat was as rigged as it could be on land he would wheel it on it's squeaky trailer to the harbour slipway, along with all the other boats and their sailors, with me following. I was a bit of a puddle of a child, not sharp or clever or agile, I suspect taking me out sailing was a bit of a chore for my father, but the thought of launching into my blog brought back the memory of getting into the boat, leg deep in water and over the side before my dad pushed the boat out getting in as the boat sailed out into deeper water. I think of the salt smell and the clinking of metal ropes and the flapping of sails and the shouting and excitement and i think thats a good memory to have tho' i suspect i was really only part present as i was/am not really all with it, more often than not i am faraway in some dream world.
Memories are funny things. This year past has been full of memories of Jon, i think i've mentioned that before, and as memories of time i spent with him and without him have surfaced within the net are other memories and they are all very live, vivid and visceral in quality.
We are as living beings and bodies a container for the life we've lived, I think. I am repeating myself please excuse me. Repeat is a thing, part of our patterning. Here we go again, this way of living that actually doesn't quite work for us hitting up against the same or a similar obstacle and until we learn to meet it in another way. 
We, who is this we ? I've noticed i slip into this when i blog as if i can speak for others when i only speak for me. because how can i know how it is for someone else. Maybe it's only me that repeats mistakes, responds in the same way to some one or something that gets to me, makes me feel bad, or good, tho' feeling good would seem like less of a problem. But then what if good is an addiction, this drink makes me feel better, now i need this drink to feel better, now the drink doesn't necessarily make me feel better but i need it because if i don't have it i feel awful. I'm speaking with very ancient knowledge about drinking. Falling back into my late teens when my drinking was no more than any eighteen to nineteen year old's drinking but when if i hadn't had my daughter it might have gone bad. 
I am throwing up yesterdays because over the past few weeks i've been thinking about time. It began when i started using my instagram account. 
I'd had a look at Patti Smith's and looking at hers gave me ideas about how i could use that platform to make notes in a slightly different way. All social media platforms eat time. This blog is no exception. But if they perform a useful function then they are worth the time. This is a kind of diary. Twitter and facebook i mostly use as scrapbooks/notebooks often posting stuff to myself much as i might jot down a note on a scrap of paper. Face book memories are great. On twitter and facebook i get waylaid by national and global politics, then i become someone i don't like, mouthy and horrible, but i can't seem to help myself. I guess it's one of my patterns, it forces me up against a version of myself i am not comfortable with but can't let go, a part of me that has to fight when i think something is foul. A legacy perhaps from feeling desperately vulnerable when my children were small and Thatcher was in power. Anything that triggers feelings i recognise from those days tends to make me edgy and ugly. My body contains the fear and darkness of those days. Or maybe it is something even earlier in my life, something wary that hates to be confined. 
But back to yesterdays and why i am throwing those up in this blog it's because beginning to engage with instagram has made me wonder how long is an instant ? Is an instant a lifetime ? A lifetime of a species ? A lifetime of a world ? Is the lifetime of a thing that lasts less time, a mayfly for instance, of the same worth as the lifetime of something more long lived, a human, you or me ? Does their instant  weigh the same as ours ? 
Here I am a series of breath filled incidents that occur from the moment i'm born, or maybe conceived, until the day that i die. Does my instant go back into my ancestral past ? Does it go forward beyond my dying to my descendants and those i have touched whilst still alive ? 
It feels strange to me that a person's instant might end when their physical body ceases to live because those and that which i love and value is part of my being and so continues to be part of my being. Will that go on forever. I think of the me that got up early to go sailing with my dad, that me is still me, and the person i was before i had children, and later the young mother and the woman i am now. Every part of my being is part of my instant, my now, and in that instant, that now, even tho' some of the people and places i was once connected to are no longer accessible physically, their being still lives in me until i forget or die too, until i dissolve into the ether. 
I can feel resistance like a wall of wind as i write now. I am trying to finish this blog but i keep writing and then deleting what i've written and starting again. I don't know how to meet my next day.  I want to talk about Jon but also I don't. I want to stop grieving, I'm tired of grieving, is that a terrible thing to say ? I want to let go. But also i don't. I don't know how to move on without losing him. He was important to me and so the thought of forgetting him hurts. But forgetting will happen I think. Is that why i am calling my life a single instant so that the time we had together still retains some presence in my everyday ? He was far from perfect but a person doesn't have to be perfect to be loved do they. 
Understanding is a curious thing. The effort to understand can be unbearable, filling space with questions and mind-noise, but understanding itself, i feel, is quiet. I wonder if maybe the only path to understanding is to let go of some of the questions (some questions are un-answerable) so that silence and softness allow understanding to nestle gently in the steady beat of my heart, so the steady beat of my heart can carry me forward into tomorrow. 
I think this blog is to be continued ... this is maybe part one 

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Two blogs in a row because the karma thing keeps coming up, my thoughts feel unfinished . And also because my blog serves as one of my notebooks, easily accessible and something i can refer back to, an old fashioned diary i guess. I write in notebooks too and sometimes i'll open one up and come across thoughts written years ago. The other day i found the one i was scribbling my pain into when i first heard that Jon had died, the first weeks when i was obliterated by grief. 
Why bring up grief, and Jon, again ? It's over a year since he died. Shouldn't i be over it now ? Shouldn't i have moved on ? Shouldn't i let go and stop making a fuss ? And of course that sort of is what happens. Life goes on, the absence is not exactly filled but becomes familiar. Tears which were daily are now not so frequent but sometimes, sometimes, grief grasps you by the throat and pushes you against the wall, and all you can do, all i can do is go with it, let myself feel whatever it is that i need to feel. 
There will be triggers of course. The spring weather last week did it, Jon loved those first few days in spring, he'd have been out in his garden with his shirt off in shorts, all hop-skippy in the sunshine. And, before the spring weather, the rugby which he loved. I remember him buying himself an England rugby shirt in the last year we were together, little things like that made him sweetly happy, he wasn't good at treating himself so it was nice when he did. Before i knew Jon rugby meant nothing to me, big blokes running round a field with an H shaped goal and mud was how i saw it. Jon explained it to me a little; and talked about playing rugby at school; and because the six nations was something he loved i loved it too; we'd arrange our weekends around the games he needed/wanted to watch and snuggle up in the warm to watch them together, it was all very cosy, wintry afternoons on his sofa  are cherished memories. 
And see that's how it goes with the missing of someone who is dead. In my head i can go back to those times and that's nice and i am glad to have so many gorgeous moments to crawl back into but it hurts that they are done, that there will never be more, that he can't feel the sun warming his flesh, or the rugby rush of testosterone. 
And so i return to karma. Because maybe that is also what karma is. Maybe it is the traces you leave in another, traces you leave whilst still alive and also after you are gone, after you are dead. 
Way back in the mid eighties when i was first pregnant with my daughter some members of my family were not thrilled. My paternal grandmother sent me a letter saying that she didn't want to see or speak to me again because the child was a bastard, and my aunt wrote suggesting an abortion. People have reasons for doing and saying the things they do and say. I was a feisty nineteen year old with green hair and attitude and no one was telling me what to do so i can't really claim to have been put upon tho' it wasn't the warmest of family welcomes for my daughter. 
But there was one member of my family who responded with extraordinary kindness. And with that kindness she left her mark. That person was my Auntie Leska. Auntie Leska wrote me a letter saying she thought it would be hard but that she was pleased i was keeping the baby. She knitted clothes for my unborn baby, wooly tights with braces in the bright colours i asked for. It meant a lot. Even the arrogant teen that i was knew that i was being shown how to be good. 
Here, this is what i mean about traces and karma. Our lives leave marks, good and bad. Some people leave us bruised or broken, some leave a stain or a scar. Others by their being give hope, make good, make things better. Our memories of those who have marked us is how their karma is carried forward. My Auntie Leska is long dead but what she did, who she was when she knitted my daughters layette made a difference and means she still lives in me as someone who showed me kindness, and my daughter, and maybe my grandchildren too. 
Last summer i went to Wenhaston, Suffolk to see a small art show in the church inspired by an artist called Becker. It was good to see the exhibition, the work gave me food for thought, but i was pleased too to have been drawn to the church because there is a fantastic medieval painting on one wall a part of which has the devil weighing out the dead's souls. Is this perhaps a version of karma ? There it is, the good deeds and the bad. And in the end by your life shall you be known. 
But a life lived looks different from different angles. I am very far from being saintly, when someone pisses me off i will lay curses on them, and hope that life slaps them down. But curses backfire so i try now to hope that people get what they deserve. However this too is unreliable, lovely people get hit with horrible things and horrible people seem to be able to be horrible with impunity. Hashtag Jacob Rhys Mogg for instance.
So that's what i mean about karma being more subtle than my British brain seems to be able to grasp. And i think it's because stories look different depending on your perspective. This i guess is at the root of most conflict. Two people with different ideas of what's right will fight it out, to the death if necessary, if neither one can find it in themselves to see, if only for a moment, the other person's point of view. If both parties are able to step into the other one's shoes then conflict resolution might be easier. The problem would likely be the same but seen through understanding eyes, listened to with understanding ears, felt with a body that recognises the other as equal, maybe then the problem becomes objective rather than subjective. I hope what i've said there is what I mean.
I can talk this talk, we can all talk this talk but conflicting interests are not easy to resolve even if everyone is tired of fighting and longs for peaceful resolution. What am i waffling on about now ? It sounds a bit Brexit-y, but it isn't so much that, what I'm thinking about is how i am struggling to let go of feeling angry with Jon's family, their manners seemed hard when we were together and drove a wedge between us. I have struggled to understand why they were the way they were then, and later why they didn't offer him more help, why they seemingly just let him drink himself to death. 
In the week after Jon died, before i knew he was dead, i was talking to my son who had just come back to England after two years in Singapore, i was saying how the time when i was with Jon was the only time in my life when i'd felt like i'd got it, that i was winning (winning is a word Jon gave me, if i was having a difficult time he would say/text/email me - "are you winning?").  i said how i didn't understand his family. He suggested that maybe Jon and his brother weren't close, as i am not close to my sisters. I guess that could be why. In 2016 after he had been hospitalised a second time I wanted to walk him dry, to get him close to nature which i knew from our time together put a spring in his step, an appetite for life and twinkle in his eye.  But i needed their help, i needed them to be on side. I wonder if they hadn't hated me so much they might have helped, i wonder if he would still be alive but it's neither here nor there because what is is. I guess that is their stain on me and maybe i have left a stain on them. My refusal to give up on the beautiful memories i have of him is perhaps annoying to them, maybe it upsets their story because i tell it from another angle and rather than join the dots they need and want to keep to their story and not connect to mine tho we were together for six years and shared so much. 
That's life isn't it. When Jon and I fell out and it wasn't worth fighting over i'd let hm know i'd given up by saying "hey ho" and i guess that's all i can do with his family, all i can do is say to myself "hey ho" and let go.  

Saturday, 2 March 2019

I had not realised it had been so long since i blogged. I see from my posts page that i had an aborted attempt in late January but it stayed as a draft and won't get published. But it's not for lack of thought just lack of clarity of thought. And that may seem laughable as my blogs are usually just a meandering ramble through the inner workings of my mind. 
I have been wondering if that is good enough. I have been wondering if airing my thoughts as if they are of consequence is ok. I have also been conscious that words are one thing, and words are part of my work process, but that words are not my medium i am not a writer or poet, i play with words i do not work with them, maybe i will one day but at the moment my voice in writing has the timbre and crack of a young boy on the edge of adolescence. I have been thinking i should put more pictures in my blog, make it more about my work as an artist. But then where does my work as an artist start and stop. Vocational professions are not the same as sensible jobs that pay the bills. A vocation is something undeniable, whatever you do it calls you back. 
Many years ago i remember having a shiatsu tutorial while i was training. It was a moment when i met one of my edges and as i was walking home i remember thinking "oh no, i have a vocation to be a shiatsu practitioner" and then thinking "damn, now all i'll be able to drink is water, and i'll have to be  more perfect than i want to be" i did not want to be that person, i ran away, stopped training for a few years, refused the vocation. But then my body brought me back, my elbows ached so i went for a shiatsu treatment which inspired me to go back to my shiatsu books and complete my training and then my elbows were fine again. It sounds a bit mystical but i find life follows a truer path if i accept my body as my guide. 
Recently i have been thinking about karma. Now although i have practised yoga for about thirty years and read about other cultures the culture i stem from is white British christian. That's fine. It feels and sounds a bit heavier and more solid and unbending than i want to feel but that's my roots and because of those roots my relationship to the idea of karma can be a bit crime and punishment, eye for an eye, simplistic. My experience of karma is more subtle. I am sure i am not alone amongst the people i know to hope that karma will catch out the people who i feel have wronged me, or, who i feel are wrong per say (people who kill or maim animals, people who preach malevolence and so on) but damn that karma button it doesn't seem to work like that. And i think maybe it doesn't work like that because karma is not so caught up in the instant and my simple animal being is. 
Of course if someone metaphorically bites me i want to bite back but that is reaction not response. If i pause and think around a thing there is almost always a path that brought me and that other into conflict. The conflict may not even be about me, or them. 
The evening i heard that Jon had died my son gave me a book, i was still in innocence having been away and not picked up the email informing me of his death. The book sat on my shelves for over a year, books are like that, they are patient messengers. The book is called Frog by Mo Yan and there's a line it that caught me sharp "Can blood on one's hands never be washed clean ? Can a soul entangled in guilt  never be free ?" those questions seem to relate to karma and the trace we leave behind. 
Now about that vocation to be a shiatsu practitioner, it turns out that i am fine with being a person who mostly "only drinks water" and as regards being perfect that was always an impossible task because believing myself perfect would be the imperfection, perfect is not possible although sometimes for a thin slip of a moment it can feel as if perfection is a thing that we hold in our hands only to know that holding it too often breaks the moment and there's no going back. 
Because there is no going back. "Can blood on one's hands never be washed clean ? Can a soul entangled in guilt  never be free ?" what do you think ? I think that each of us leaves a trail, a tale, although seemingly we might start anew all that we left behind us is there in our wake. 
When i met Jon and fell in love, i took him as a blank page. But that was stupid. He said he was an alcoholic, had been to prison, had slept with his wife's best friend, Auntie S, and so on and so on, but in that blissful whirr that is head over heels in love i let myself believe that that was his past. But our pasts are never our pasts. Our present being may ameliorate the wrongs we have done another but they don't undo the wrong. And everyone gets things wrong. 
remember asking Jon what he did with his daughter when she visited and he said "i couldn't even look after myself let alone a child so she has never visited" talking about the time between his time in prison and the time i knew him. He told me another time about breaking his parole and staying in a hotel and then in the woods before he was caught and it was in those heady weeks when we were getting to know each other and his sinful ways were not an issue because i had a small bucket of sin of my own. But i think now that, of course, that was his tail, his trail, his tale, the story/stories he told me were new to me, but were also lived by those who knew him while they were happening and were likely not good memories. 
What am i getting at ? Karma. Our lives are full of mistakes and the expectation that others will forgive or get over our mistakes is unreasonable, when we wrong another we violate their line. The knack is to try not to do that but life is constant compromise. If I make a mistake that mistake passes into the history of the world. There are many worlds, great and small, and each of our actions has a consequence within a world because not one of us lives in complete isolation. I think it's the consequences that are our karma. 
This is why i say that karma is more subtle than brutal desire for vengeance. Karma keeps going, it keeps going and going and going, it may not be you that reaps the dividend of your ill will or carelessness. See how for instance it is not the generation that has polluted that will bear the brunt of climate change but the generations that are being born now, that it is the children who are speaking out because those who are old have failed to respond with common sense to a real threat to existence.
That is a great example. It happens at lesser scale too. Our family lines are made up of the ancestors who bore us. Our mother's womb and the squit that our fathers invested in our mothers is our birthplace. We are the product of that womb, that squit. They are our inheritance, and more precious than gold, or land, is who we are, what we give to the world in our being. A child conceived and carried to term is witness to the connection it's parents made and bears the karma of that interaction. It comes into the world as a product of that union, carries the essence of it's parent's and their parent's and their parent's quality as it's non-negotiable life spark. 
Oh what ? Am i being preach-y ? I think i am. I think i am saying "be love" "be your best" because being anything other than that will ripple out into the wider world and that wider world will surely be sweeter for the love and the best of you than it will if give it your bad. 
I write, as always, as I think, the punctuation is lousy, please accept apologies, and whether this blog is my good or my bad i can't tell it is only me. Maybe now i need to sit on a rock for a little while and contemplate a little further before i throw more concrete words out into the ether.