A mystery worth solving.
It is easier to have my head back against the headrest, the forces cease to be uncomfortable. When the thing stops to let the others off, I have a gorgeous view, and look down at the pier. One of us had wanted to go on the dodgems and eat candy-floss, perhaps to reunite with childhood; I wanted to go on this thing, because I did not do enough of that when young, and one really should, you know. Or I wanted to.
I took my wig off and left it below, as Nadia had worried it might fly off. Unlikely, but something to avoid. My aventurine necklace came loose, though I did not notice it, and when I stood on the pier again it fell out of my coat, and snaked between the boards into the sea. I am a bit upset to lose a £40 necklace- and the story I create is that I got it to symbolise and catalyse Emptiness, and its work is done. It can take my condemnation into the sea.
The exercise was to say to another what I would like to do with them, and hear them. We did it in three stages: with the response “Yes please!” (whether the other wanted it or not); then “No”, which can of course be belied by body language and tone of voice, and finally a neutral “Thank you”. Quite a deep exercise, some found not enough time to process it. I noticed my difficulty in asking for things, and I noticed with one other in particular, and myself- I think we were projecting, saying what we would like the other to do to us rather than vice versa. I asked two others, and this was not a general impression.
Tricia had a party and barbecue, and put me up. I had friendly chats with DerekandUli, and a glass or two of wine. Silly, really. I did not need it to relax, and it simply made me more tired, and less responsive, than I would otherwise have been. Sub-optimal.
After, I snuggled briefly with S. She held one wrist down, lightly, and circled the other with thumb and forefinger. At first I wanted to respond with action- but this is a conventional rather than heart response, out of fear. I let her, and liked it. I think she noticed. This passivity: oh, I have denied it and fought it and condemned it, and now it frightens me- surely nobody will want that in me, it is so ridiculous; and now I think, well, it is who I am and how I am, and it might be better to just go with it. Fighting disnae work.
A police car blocked the A6, and the car in front of us stopped to ask the policeman what road he could use instead. The taxi driver, who had nearly clipped his brake-light, got upset at this. He should not have just stopped! He should have put on his hazard warning lights! Yes, he should have. And probably all thought beyond a panicked or frustrated not-knowing-what-to-do just left his head. Sometimes you have to notice what ought not to be in fact is, very quickly. And- the taxi driver dealt with it, well enough. I should have commented on that.
And I was sorry to hear that M had split with his partner, but then thought, why? Perhaps it is right for both of them. It means pain, but that pain may have been inevitable, and the pleasure worth the pain. And perhaps it is my pain that bothers me, losing one wee bit of evidence that things are OK.
Fragility is not vulnerability, that beautiful openness to possibility and risk which sets us free, or sensitivity, which is both easily hurt and intuitive. These qualities are a burden, as they demand my Understanding and my Action, which I have always demanded of myself, never satisfied. Fragility is not brokenness, being affected by past hurts. It is not just my state with my scars and my damage, but my natural unscarred way of being.
Fragility is me, freed, allowed to be, my flinching and softness permitted and not judged, because the judgment just hurts. It is not “masculine” or “feminine” because whether I am a man or a woman, whether I am authentic or deviant, is just more judgment.
Fragility is me categorised. It is a word rather than a sense or feeling, because I reach understanding through words, communicating with myself as well as others. It is not a box or a boundary, but a stepping-off point, a possibility, a permission. It is a word which fits without constraint. It is OK.
Hello. My name is Abigail, and I am fragile.
I reached this understanding in the HAI Room of Love. It is not Pupating, or being born again, but it is a new understanding, a step forward. It is liberating for me.
The bus draws up as I kneel in my nightwear in my ritual space, and I do a thought experiment:
What if I were to get the bus into Swanston, dressed like this?
It would probably be OK. I might get a few looks, but perhaps not many. It is unlikely that anyone would approach and be horrible to me. It really is not all about me. Our self-consciousness and desire to fit in prevents us from doing that. Much of my resilience comes from the way society is- my fear does not fit reality, though it may be part of the matrix which makes that safety for most of us.
Making connections is a different matter- that comes from my attitude: I want a superb bearing, and approachability as I am a nice person.
These teenage speculations arise because I do not trust myself to know how to interact with other people well, and hope thinking about it with words may help me improve.
The Thameslink train stops at Blackfriars station. There is blue plastic stuff covering up something- work in progress, probably- but through it- gosh! That’s the Thames. A station on a bridge over the river! How cool is that?
Thameslink has not been operating long. Now, I can go down two levels at St Pancras to the new Thameslink platform straight from the Swanston train, and-
yes, I know, not everyone finds railway stuff fascinating. But Will, a Cockney, did not know of it. Victoria was the station for Brighton as far as he knew.
You leant your head against that instrument as if it were alive, I said to the young man in the bright red coat.
-It is, just about, he says.
-Yes, I know, I play the piano.
His friend plays keyboards, and often rags him about not having to cart his own instrument everywhere.
There were two toddlers on the train who wanted to go and look at the baby. No matter how young the child, they always love playing the adult to a younger child. “Yes”, says the mother, “and at their age there aren’t that many children they can do that with”.
-They’re changing the nappy,” says one girl, happily. More than I really wanted to know.
The child had wailed to have its nappy changed, and a few minutes later is wailing for some other reason. The most distressing sound there is, I understand, we are all programmed that way- and I listen to it with my happiness undimmed. Imagine, to have trauma repeated many times daily, that awful succession of needs you cannot satisfy except by wailing- imagine the abandoned misery of the wailing- Thank God we don’t remember it!
Perhaps we do-
And there were the two women: getting on, one said “I’m glad I can face the direction of travel, as I won’t be sick now” and I said “I’m glad you’re facing the direction of travel too”. They grinned, and got out their respective phones to check the Textstorm and emails. Only briefly, they did start chatting to each other eventually. A man pointed out that if the train crashes into something, those facing the rear have the spring of the seat to take the shock- though you would also have me thrust forward onto your face over the table.
This morning, on the seafront at Brighton in bright sun and strong wind- too strong for a dinghy, but I would have loved to be on the lone yacht tacking into the wind out there- I saw a man with headphones, and thought-
Why should you walk through the field in gloves,
O fat white woman whom nobody loves?
The grass is as soft as the breast of doves
and shivering sweet to the touch
Why should you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much, and so much?
I want to value my fragility
and this feels like-
No, not a pupation, but a step forward. A useful lesson. My sensitivity is a gift and a burden, one I have so resented, and I want to stop kicking against the goads. So- value it, perhaps even use it!- perhaps later. Baby steps. “Fragility”- a bad thing, a dangerous thing for me, Shadow, something to deny-
something to acknowledge.
I had a new appreciation for that Lowry I saw at the Lowry Centre, after seeing the sea today, the swell crashing on the beach, the colour of it; and I thought with friends in this place I am Happy. That is the first time I have used that tag in 620 posts!
Throughout my shouting in anger and weeping, I have been in a playful mood, never wholly overwhelmed, and I am in it now- along with the frustration, and the fear, and the perplexity. Waiting at the surgery for Yvonne the counsellor, I sit in a plastic chair beside a table. Accidentally I tap it, and notice how amazingly resonant it is! It could almost be used as a drum. That delighted me.
I felt in our third of six sessions that I merely stated the problem, rather than did anything to sort it. I went in wanting to discuss relationships at work, and Resilience- “Failure is not falling over, it is failing to get up again”, I quote, bitterly. What did you get from the last session? I am immediately angry and weepy, and find it hard to get the words out. I say a bit on that, then “I have two topics of conversation which might pass the time for an hour” and she picks me up on it- we are not here to pass time. And I am irked that she picks me up on the words I use: of course we are here to work. But it was when she said “It’s clear that you’re…” that I exploded. No, I am not. (Can’t remember what it was now.) So refreshing and wonderful, actually to shout at someone!
Am I upset about all this Old Stuff, and can I simply work through that old feeling and be free? Actually, it seems to me that I am upset about how things are now, which is subtly different, linked to that long chain of happening, but not the same as saying that was awful and I am still upset about it. I do not know what I want, because I cannot imagine ever achieving anything I wanted. Or, I want not to feel uncomfortable emotions, and that is my overriding aim at all times.
I tap her superficially similar low round table. Not remotely resonant. Disappointing.
How am I with other people? Well, I am terrified of their reaction, so I must be perfect at all times so that it will be alright. Hypervigilant- though this does not stop me knowing the Right Way to proceed, so that if a manager tells me what to do which is not the right way, I will ignore her. Well, it wasn’t. I was Right. And yet- in this moment with her, I am watching her, and any reaction is not because she is tired, bored or distracted: it really is all about me.
Apart from that I was simply restating the problem. She observes that I am hard on myself, needing to be Perfect (though Perfect according to my own Rules which have no relation whatsoever to reality or my interests) and I talk of not knowing what my feelings were, or not doing Toddlerhood properly, never mind teenage, or Graeme McGrath stating that psychotherapy would merely threaten my defences without provoking useful change.
A table that can be used as a Drum! Plato’s theory of Forms will need completely rewritten!
It is wonderful to shout at you, you get paid to take it! No, she says, only if she feels I am “making progress”. Just a little too far over the boundary, then. Leaving, I suggest to her next client we could just go for a coffee, and bypass Yvonne. We grin.
I watched a bird of prey above the rooftops. Its soaring is beautiful: such a precise twist of its tail, to change direction; a great strong beat of its wings; and most of the time it simply floats. It finds food on the wing, so spends its time in flight, and is therefore supremely good at flying: gliding, with minimal effort, using the air currents and thermals. Compare the rapid flapping of a tit, who flies to get somewhere, to get out of danger, to a nest out of harm’s way, but hunts on the ground. The tit’s flight also is perfectly fitted to its needs, and its circumstances, but less obviously beautiful.
I did something sensible today. I am fair pleased with myself. Part of me tells myself that it was completely obvious, and I should not have taken thirty months to start doing it, but, well, I am doing it now.
I have been with Yvonne this morning. I surprised myself, by getting so upset so quickly.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
And I said, “No, fuck you, I want a LIGHT, and if I don’t get one I am not fucking playing.” So I sat down, and fuck me if I am going anywhere.
Do have a look at the text. It is only the first three lines which are usually quoted- as by Judith on Wednesday evening, she showed off her framed, beautifully calligraphed copy. The rest is pretty meh- it is easier to state the problem than the solution. As I said with one of my first poems:
Out of our poverty comes our wrong
We see we’re worthless, and call this Truth-
Hollow men filled with straw, forsooth!
So pleased with our findings, we sing so long,
We don’t miss the beauty or good from our song
Onywye. Something sensible. The gas meter on my rented flat uses tokens. When the token is used up, the gas cuts off, which is a bit of a pain when I want to shower. The meter is outside, so I have to dress, go outside to trigger the “Emergency Credit”, and then put cash on the token before that runs out too. Irritating. Bastards, why can’t I pay by direct debit like everyone else? Because, initially, because I had not rented for more than a year.
So, I have at last decided to put money on the token before the credit runs out. Simple, really, and then I will not get my gas cut off. Rather than just resenting the credit-meter, and being discommoded for it, I have done what the gas supplier wants and stopped suffering. After thirty months in the house. I am both pleased that I have done this sensible thing and angry with myself that it has taken me so long.
I read Russell for Russell himself. Taking in an overview of Western Philosophy would be too much like hard work, but I love his intellect, his expression, his forthrightness. Xenophon was “not very liberally endowed with brains”, indeed. A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand. I would rather be reported by my bitterest enemy among philosophers than by a friend innocent of philosophy.
He may have been clever enough to achieve consistency.
Logical errors are, I think, of greater practical importance than many people believe; they enable their perpetrators to hold the comfortable opinion on every subject in turn. Any logically coherent body of doctrine is sure to be in part painful and contrary to current prejudices. The dialectical method- or more generally, the habit of unfettered discussion- tends to promote logical consistency, and is in this way useful.
I am not sure I am sufficiently endowed with brains for consistency. If Russell had meant Universalisability, the idea that the only morally acceptable justification of an action is one which may be applied to everyone, then yes; but he used the word coherent rather than universalisable.
I am always learning. On hearing an idea I might feel it did not smell right, before I could articulate what is wrong with it. Or, I can be persuaded to change my mind. I don’t think it possible to hold a coherent body of doctrine on every subject in turn. On some subjects, I am passionate, and on some I have a position but am not particularly committed to it, and my passion is not proportionate to the importance of the issue generally. If I sought coherence, perhaps the challenge of contradiction would move me towards greater truth, and perhaps the effort to be coherent would make me unable to defend any opinion. How wonderful, to be able to hold, never mind create, a coherent body of doctrine on every subject in turn!
And-Oh!- is the man himself not utterly beautiful?
This was not in my thought when I started this post, but fits. A United Methodist minister officiated at the marriage of his son to his son’s male partner, and his bishop has referred him for trial by a church court. This comment delighted me:
The only choice either has is to honor or break his ordination vows, and each is upholding them in his own way (at least in the current formulation):
Question: Will you, in the exercise of your ministry lead the people of God to faith in Jesus Christ, to participate in the life and work of the community, and **to seek peace, justice, and freedom for *all* people?**
Response: I will, with the help of God.
Question: Will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church **accepting its *order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline*,** committing yourself to be accountable with those serving with you, and to the bishop and those who are appointed to supervise your ministry?
Response: I will, God being my helper.
Until the Discipline reflects justice for all people, the schizophrenic nature of our ordination vows will remain, and each clergy will continue to struggle with the choice of the best faithful fulfillment of them and price paid in the process and struggle in ways not knowable by those not “bound” by these vows. I feel compassion for both of them as being faithful to the same vows takes them in different directions.
Inconsistency is so painful and difficult, and it allows us to grow.
First, there is Ein Sof, the Infinite. It is no thing, and everything, simpler than the simplest thing we may know, more truly existing than any thing.
From Ein Sof emerge the Sefirot. The first is Ayin, Nothingness, or Keter, the Crown: that archetype of humanity, in whose image humans were made.
Out of the depths of Nothingness shines Hokhmah, Wisdom. It is a point, which expands into Binah, understanding. Binah is the womb, the Divine Mother, which receives the seed of Hokhmah and conceives the seven lower Sefirot.
First born are the right and left arms of God, Love, Hesed, and Power, Gevurah, which is also known as Judgment, Din. For right ordering, love and judgment must be in balance. That balance is the torso of God, Tif’eret, Beauty, or Rahamim, Compassion. Judgment without Love threatens to destroy life, and this is the origin of evil.
Netsah, Eternity, and Hod, Splendour, form the legs of the body. The phallus is Yesod, the life force of the World which is the foundation of all matter. Yesod channels the light and power of all the aspects of God to Shekhinah, Kingdom, the Presence of God.
The divine marriage of Tif’eret, the balance of love and judgment, with Shekhinah, the Kingdom, is the focus of religious life.
God is one and three and ten, the super-rational impossibility rationality cannot grasp. Grasping at this imagery reduces its value to nothing, because the imagery is the gateway to understanding and not Reality itself. And- the imagery is a myth, with power to lead the mind towards understanding. Let it be, live with its impossibility.
The Sefirot form a ladder of ascent. Through contemplation of the lower Sefirot we approach Binah, the womb of being, who cannot be known, but sensed like the movement at the edge of my peripheral vision. I sense her by my intuition which I cannot justify but by saying, it is my intuition. She is a question, and not an answer. At her centre is wisdom, which we absorb by contemplating it, beyond all knowledge. Through wisdom we approach nothingness, and union with infinity: I am not I, but all things.
Standard issue mystical experience, as described by psychologists, in other words. I get all this from “The Essential Kabbalah” by Daniel C. Matt, actually the preface which forms the kindle free sample. So many paths to the mountain-top! I will not be studying Kabbalah, it is enough for me to follow my own path, but I profit from knowing it exists, and people find value in it. Reading Lao Tzu, it seemed that I found in it what I already knew: that is, some made no sense, and I could see lessons I had learned in other parts of it. I do not want to be a collector of mysticisms.
My name is Clare.