Disagreements

A man died in an industrial accident in a car factory. The machine was referred to as a robot, and because it was first tweeted by Sarah O’Connor, a journalist, the angle was that it was a death like in Terminator. I read of this over Naz’s shoulder, and commented that it was ridiculous. He agreed, and was happy to chat.

It is an industrial accident. We only hear of it because they have an angle to horrify us. Our conversation moved onto Greece, with whom he has no sympathy- “They have maxed out their credit cards. They want to continue spending on their credit cards.” I mentioned Keynes, and he said it was a balance. Greece should sort out its tax system. Our in-work benefits were too generous: simply take people out of tax, which is better than one system to take money off people then another to give it back. He knows people who have lived on benefits for decades, and he thinks it wrong.

I started talking about my experiences in Oldham, but when I mentioned arranged marriages he cut me off. He has an arranged marriage with someone from India, it is just his culture. He is a successful businessman, his brother has a business, his father has a business. Other people should be self-reliant.

Disagreeing, I do not want to convert him but hear why he feels this.

At Charing Cross I listened to an obese man stating quietly but determinedly what he would do, and bemoaning being 26 next day- so old! Then Lucy and Nick sat down. Lucy is cis. Nick is painfully thin, flat chested but petite, with a feminine face. He needs T. She does group work, art with mental health, dementia and learning difficulties among other client groups. She bemoans how difficult it is to get everyone’s name, and how important.

-What do you do?
– I connect with people. Like I’m talking with you now.

She accepts that, not everyone might. Our conversation moves to wild swimming and how lovely it feels, so I tell her of Loch Caolisport, how it is so shallow so that it warms in the sun.

Oh, that is so lovely! Lucy starts to rhapsodise. Imagine how beautiful, to just relax into the water, out in the open in the sun, far from the shore yet able to stand up… Nick, how do you think swimming outside would differ from being in a pool?

Nick grins shyly but says nothing, and I realise she is here as a paid escort rather than a friend.

Stuart Lorimer is quite friendly. He orders blood tests, and I am typing now having waited forty minutes for a phlebotomist and anticipating at least another hour, at the rate they are going. I thought he would discharge me, as I do not need surgery.

I want to know why would I be taking hormones, now. He says purely to stave off osteoporosis. Perhaps I should have challenged him, because they seem to have an effect on energy and lability. He refers me to Penny Lenihan, when I thought he would have discharged me. I quite like coming into London, but am unclear why I would want to be here. He gave me a feedback form, and I wrote that everything was lovely.

Rubens, the descent from the cross

What I do

I heal, love, perceive, connect.

Imagining meeting people new to me, in two contexts in the coming week, I think of the “What do you do?” question, which I dislike- “What work did you do?” is worse. “I am a recluse,” I have said, and imagine other possibilities.

I fantasised, thinking of this post, a hostile questioner. Why should you imagine you are “hypersensitive”? What do you know of the feelings of others?  Most are not hostile. The challenge is from within myself, so I project it onto others.

My challenge is too harsh. Question with the desire of knowing, not of battering down.
-Never just accept!
-well, look for the truth in the assertion. What part is valuable? In tearing the wrapping from the present, do not damage the gift itself.

I have not learned to be comfortable with my feelings. I am not alone in this, and others feel inadequate, imagining everyone else has. I suppressed until I could not, then I fought and feared feelings, my fear making them more unmanageable. Now I seek to let them be, know them, use their energies: transmute my ball and chain into my chariot. Still I fear: I cannot show my feelings, or I will be Condemned.

I heal. And I Love, seeing beauty, wanting to nurture it, not knowing how. I want to do this creative thing, and when I get the chance it delights me. I could search out people needing my Care: I have been aware of such Carers before, and of people who enthusiastically offer them the chance to Care. A fbfnd did this, now hates herself for it and calls it dumping her vulnerability on others by trying too hard to be protective/ over-helpful and other subtle configurations. Possibly she judges herself too harshly. She certainly did me good, and probably that other woman I saw her with, and if she made mis-steps or gained herself when blinded or thirsty it is still generous and lovely of her.

I am not the parasite I might imagine.

I perceive. “You have fantastic emotional intelligence” said Anthony and I treasure that comment. I don’t see people immediately, and castigate myself for it, but I grow to see them. Allowing myself the time for this would make me more comfortable.

I connect. In the gender clinic on Thursday- as I write, that’s tomorrow, I have written ahead because I have been (past, as you read this) in London having fun- I will start conversations, and learn about someone, and enthuse, value and sympathise. God is in these connections.

This is what I want, to release my remaining bonds, to give these gifts where I may because they nurture me. I heal. It is the work I do.

 ♥♥♥

Walking in the park, I was imagining ways that phone call could go, trying out phrases to find what I wanted to express, and how to express it. It really matters to me. I want to hide the bits which might irk or upset her, to be that person who will captivate her: and it could all go completely wrong! This afternoon!

(exaggerating the thought into clear absurdity liberates me of it; and yet-

Thoughts turned to a particular case, in the DAT last century. It was all there, but it was my particular brilliance in putting the case together that got middle rate care- something like £40 a week, then. That thought shocked and moved me and I felt pride and anguish: repeating Me! Me! I did that! It was ME! Pride that I did it, and anguish that I had not valued myself for it. Really, I am the most beautiful, complex, wonderful thing I am aware of.

Is there any way I could get back into law?

Thoughts turned to the Green Party. I did no work at all for the Green Party in the election. I did not push a single leaflet through a single door, I did not support Marion in her work, I would not be a paper candidate in a ward. There is a disconnect. I see something good, imagine I would like to do it, and do not.

Misery. I do not know what I want to do!

Then- I wanted that. Not just to clerk a business meeting but to clerk it in that way with that result.

All these wonderful jobs! Don’t want any of them.

How will I support myself? What will I do? I don’t know. I pray a way might open, some time this year… next year…

EAF Prynne, Jesus is taken down from the cross

Afterlife II

I do not expect to be resurrected, but I will live on in the memories and love of those who survive me. Samuel Scheffler, the philosopher, proposes thought-experiments to show how this affects everyone:

How would it affect your life if you knew that humanity would end thirty days after you died?

Would it be different if everyone was aware of this?

Then, from The Children of Men by PD James, what if no-one ever gave birth again? Humanity might continue another ninety years, but our ending would be inevitable.

Does it matter when humanity will end? In Annie Hall, a child despairs- and stops doing his homework- because the heat-death of the Universe in however many billion years means that everything is pointless. When the Sun becomes a red giant it will envelop Earth, and before then its increased heat will cause global warming. But then global warming may do for us by the end of the century.

For Scheffler, many activities would no longer have meaning: why research on cures for cancer, or any long term project? Why should he write his paper? I would transfer my loyalty to the biosphere: humanity would die, but Earthly life would continue. If all life on Earth would die, right now there are human beings with whom I might relate: my acts would have meaning now even if never after. An instantaneous cube exists for an instant, and most things we do have little meaning even a day later.

Knowing that the lives of others after our death, whether our descendants or not, give meaning to our own lives changes how we consider problems now. Rather than imagining that we should make sacrifices to mitigate climate change for the good of those who come after, we would realise that we make those changes for our own good, to give our own lives meaning.

I wonder if this applies most to altruists. Each person’s comfort matters to that person, and there are some for whom nothing else matters.

Manet, the dead Christ with angels

A suit of armour

I had not spoken to my neighbour. I said “Hello” when we left our flats at the same time, and he barely responded; and then I walked to the bus stop, and they stopped six yards back, and stared at their phones. I went upstairs on the bus, and went to open all the windows; they went upstairs too, and went to the front. Having intended to go to the front anyway, I sat down opposite them and said,

-You know, you moved in a year ago, and I would be far more comfortable if we spoke to each other.

He explained that the last place they lived was a rough area, and they keep themselves to themselves. They chatted, and I listened in, interjecting occasionally. She likes the pretty houses. What do you think of those?

-They look sort of- Tudor? She is unsure of the reference.
-Yes, that’s the intention, the white and the wood.

-Cats are at landlord’s discretion, she quoted, but you cannot have a dog. I would not want a dog, because I would not want to clean up after it, and you have to clean up after it.

-Well, you use a plastic bag, you are not actually touching the stuff, I said. It was the wrong thing to say. She started talking about organising the right photographer, and the right “make-under”. This is not a conversation I could take part in. “It is important to look around,” she says. “The reviews are no good because they are only going to publish the glowing ones.”

She sounds a bit obsessive- yet she is upstairs on the bus, looking out the front window. It is a deeply unsophisticated pleasure, usually for children, and I can’t get enough of it. And on a hot, sunny day? I sense a kindred spirit. She complained about him swearing- “Language,” she said, half rebuking, half wheedling, and I said “Peeved” is a good substitute for “pissed off”. She said “See you.”

I was sitting in the yard and met Andrew/ Andy as he returned from work. He is at the outdoor centre, as were the other tenants in that flat. I had not known it was an avowedly Christian organisation: he is with a “new frontier” church in Zhuzhkov- he is hesitant, as if he does not expect me even to have heard of his denomination. He is going now to prepare a Bible study on Job. I like Job, I tell him.

I must have a change from Cranach, but here is Venus and Cupid the honey thief. Google translate has mixed success with the Latin: if you know better, please share.

dum puer alveolo furatur mella cupido
furanti digitum sedula punxit apis.
Sic etiam nobis brevis et moritura voluptas.
Quam petimus tristi mixta dolore nocet

When a child steals a bowl of honey Cupid
Furano finger careful punxit APIs.
So too short for us and die of pleasure.
He is seeking a melancholy mixed feelings hurt

However, a search found this. And this.

Blogging III

I don’t have to explain myself to you. You don’t have to read this. I started writing here because it felt I had made a huge leap in my spiritual growth, I wanted to share it, and I wanted to explore myself in writing, before witnesses. It pleases me that on Sunday 84 people from twenty countries read forty different posts on my blog, but I write for myself.

I heal. It’s what I do. I record it here: my realisations and my steps forward. It abashes me that I wrote some of what I intended to write today in a post three years ago, but I have moved on since then. “It is alright to be me,” I wrote. I knew that was where I needed to be, but did not see the distance I was from it. I am closer to it now, and still do not see the distance I am from it: if I did, there would not be that distance.

I love writing. I have a talent. I come here to wrestle with ideas and to play with expression, when I am ecstatic, hurting, angry, pleased. The challenge to write a good, politically focused article every 4 days touches me like that phone call from S yesterday- she had found all these brilliant jobs I could apply for! Oooh! Ta muchly for that, ducs. I have written about politics to work out what I think, to pursue ideas where they lead me, or in the case of equal marriage, to pursue self-acceptance against the homophobes. That’s done, now.

I had thought, How wonderful to be a columnist, to engage with news and write from the heart about it, and inspire people with something original! And how awful, to have to be thinking up angles all the time! What inspires me, what could motivate me? I wonder if that would always feel subconscious, something “popping” as if unbidden into my mind. If you have to work it out, you’ve got it wrong. There will be other political questions for me to write about, but I have no idea when or what.

Peter imagines himself to be a rational fellow. He asked, is “The Light” the same as the conscience? I am negative about conscience, seeing it as a conditioned tool of social control. The light is what makes you come alive. You were really motivated about that disciplinary hearing (he is a trustee of a charity). Yes, he said, but I analysed all the complaints and the evidence; and it was important. Yes. It is, objectively, important to get the right result for this good cause; but it was important to you. Everyone does rationality, a bit.

He is also on the committee of the story-telling group. Yes! Us arty-types need to do our thing, but are not usually good at organising, and it is really good to have someone to handle all that stuff.

You have heard the quote, “Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, for what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It is cliché because everyone recognises it is profoundly true.

I had thought to leave Cranach for a bit, but here is Samson and Delilah. It is the same redhead!

Cranach, Samson and Delilah

Goddesses

Goddess face

The officious guards did not stop me taking photographs, only taking good ones. I held my camera furtively at waist height, and stood at angles where the guards I had observed could not see. But I want a record of this exhibition, which included a Hermaphroditus and some very feminine Dionysuses.

Some of these are Roman copies of Greek originals, some are modern copies, such as Athena:

Goddess Athene

Venus 1Venus 2

See how the light on one statue looks so different from different sides.

Goddess washing

You can see the discus thrower’s technique in the snap of his hips:

The discus thrower

A teacher commented on the vases depicting the Labours of Hercules: “See the blood spouting from his neck”. “How to engage teenage boys,” I commented, and she laughed.

Experiment with Light

The Light is that power which illuminates, guides and strengthens us, which some of us call “God”. It can never be known from ratiocination, only experience. In the Experiment with Light (EwL) we sit in a circle in a guided meditation, and individually access the Light, or God, or the subconscious, which guides each of us with something in that person’s life, now. Today, it was mind-blowing.

After coffee and chatting, we gathered in the meeting room, and introduced ourselves. I said how that morning it had felt like reaching Enlightenment, and was actually a huge step forward. We had an introduction, and a practice of Centring:

Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor, hands folded in your lap. Tense all the muscles in your body, as tight as possible, then relax. Check feet, calves, thighs, for any sign of tension. Check your back and neck, which hold a great deal of our stress. Check that your head is properly balanced on your neck, pulling neither forward nor back. Relax your feelings and your mind. If there is any tension be aware of it and let it go. Be present.

After lunch and more chatting-
-Why was that business meeting so right?
-Because I allowed it to be, allowed us to be what we were.

we did the practice. It is in six stages:

Relax body and mind.
Let the real concerns of your life emerge.
Focus on one issue. Try to get a sense of this thing as a whole.
Ask what makes it like that.
Welcome it.
When you accept it, you will begin to feel different.

An image may come to you, or music, or sensations. Jaki is not at all visual, so they explained there need be no visualisation.

I began to feel intense feelings: confusion, hurt, stress, tension, fear. I cried a little, I rocked a little, leaning forward so my chair would not creak. It seemed that I felt my feelings in turn, having time to identify each then move on to the next.

It then seemed that I got Answers. One was, I become that person I want to be– an impossible illusion.
Then, I was myself, just myself- but somehow sorted, not feeling like this. Again, illusion.
Then, I was me- like this, feeling that. Through me the gale of life blows high. I am safe enough, for the moment.

We finish. We have twenty minutes of silence, to mull it over, and may take notes, draw something, or go into the garden. I check my mascara has not run in the tears, and reapply my lipstick: all this contemplation is beautiful and worthwhile, but one has standards. I write some notes, then go into the garden and stare at a complex beautiful pink flower- not a camellia- then a tiny purple wild-flower. Then the brightly sunlit grass, the trees, and the other people.

We share. Godric does not want to come in to the small group.
-You’re very special, he said.
-I know! We grin like children.

Final discussion. This is not therapy, and can take you to dark difficult places, they say.

-I am particularly well supported at the moment, seeing my psychiatrist on Thursday and my psychotherapist on Friday; but when that is finished I will go on with the dark places, healing, because that is what I do. I cleanse out pus, which stinks, and is better gone; and I take off my shackles. Moving a limb long frozen is painful and difficult, but then it relaxes, the muscle stiffness and joint pain goes, and the limb dances. I am rarely comfortable, but always safe.

I was surprised Annie spoke so strongly in favour of Reason. Reason is all we have. How can we communicate what is in our hearts? All we have is words. Those terrorist attacks yesterday (Friday)- so someone was moved by God to behead someone? John Lampen says reason is a useful tool, not to be undervalued, but it has to be balanced with intuition. We may test the spirits, together.

You may feel tired after the EwL. It is deep work.

Several times I felt like saying, I was in a Light Group before. The others cancelled it after a few months. They said we had not got as deep as other groups did, and the problem was me. Perhaps they were right. I did not say it: I would have been asking for absolution, again. I can’t be sure, but it seems alright: I can be in a light group, I don’t need absolution.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes V

Biblical leadership

My latest follower is “Apostolic Mommy and Wife”. I am delighted that she should take an interest in this Christian blog, for much of my posting is about Biblical interpretation and Christian relationships with God and creation. Unfortunately I find her account of Christian marriage wanting.

It was a shock to find the writer on such a pink site, so clearly aimed at women, refer to “our wives”. Is this a man writing? It is unlikely to be a lesbian. I googled it, and found the article was plagiarized from here, or possibly this pdf:  lifted whole, rather than “adapted from” as she claims. This is objectionable, given that she wishes to make money from her site, asking readers to “Donate”, “Advertise with us” or go to “Our Youtube channel”. I am unclear whether the companies she reviews, including Kosher CasualI wore this dress to church today. I was able to sing, dance and shout to praise God’s name – All while feeling assured I was modestly covered- paid for the review.

On modesty, I saw a woman in a niqab yesterday walk across the square. Her loose summer burqa did not disguise the glorious sexiness of her relaxed, confident walk. Modesty rules can never prevent free people expressing ourselves; and as the Muslims recognise, arms and ankles, and singing and dancing, are sexy. The only way to be “modest” in this sense is to erase yourself.

The real author, Dennis Raney, recognises that some women wear the trousers, and even that some men are not strong or natural leaders, but still says that men should lead. God has placed the husband in the position of responsibility. It does not matter what kind of personality a man may have. Nor the woman: in fact Raney does not acknowledge different personalities among women, claiming that all wives want and need leadership.

Raney says husbands should give to their wives, but bizarrely claims it should be giving up: something you genuinely valued, like your golf game, a fishing trip, or your hobby. Rather, he needs to find ways of being with her to enrich them both. There must be room for two in a marriage. I get the impression that the husband Raney writes for finds his wife a mystery, but gives up his golf game because them’s the rules- rather than choosing to do something with her, because he prefers to. No wonder she “resists, fights and spurns” him. I am horrified that Raney imagines that couple could have been living together so long that their children are grown and gone.

The article is not wholly worthless. He correctly says women at different stages of life have different needs; but gives no Bible quote for that. The tiny amount of sanity in the article comes from contemporary morality and understanding. The Biblical bits lead him to make ridiculous assertions, missing the complexity of real life.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes IV

Desire, action, achievement

I discover what I want, when I observe what I do. That is, the desires I actually act upon are opaque to me until I look back and see what I have done, where I have gone.

For example, either two and a half years ago I went from almost complete inadequacy, applying for a few jobs, doing voluntary work badly, to utter complete inadequacy, moping round the house all the time; or, alternatively, I withdrew from the World in order to have time and space for my psycho-spiritual healing. I would rather believe the latter, and it makes some sort of sense. I have healed, having greater acceptance and less pain.

There was certainly no conscious intention behind it. It felt like a failure, being unable to go on any more. Yet I could say that my whole organism, unconscious as well as conscious, has benefited, and perhaps moved towards what she knew would benefit her. On one view, I have Failed, on the other I have Acted, for my own good. Which would you rather believe?

I would rather believe the truth: but belief in failure makes me despair; and belief in my action is at least arguable.

I shared on facebook the mystic cryptic phrase I learn what I want when I see what I do and Lena misinterpreted it, thinking I wrote about what I chose to learn, rather than learning as a matter of observing what was in front of me. Derek got it: his Psychosexual Somatics Therapy course was very much about shadow motivations.

I used to think that I thought things through, made a rational decision, then carried it out. However what I did for that rational decision often had no real motivation behind it, and I did not follow through. Rather, I achieve worthwhile goals; but I start pursuing them before I realise, consciously, what the goal is. This thought comes from Serra considering a particular incident. I wanted that, but did not consciously understand it immediately.

It was a shadow desire, to heal, not one I could consciously admit. Consciously, I imagined I needed to get a job, and could do it. I want to allow my desires to be conscious, like my emotions become. It is hard for me to kick against the goads, hard for me to have conscious and unconscious at war, mutually despising.

It is strange, taking pride in what shamed me so deeply: the old pain of that shame washes over me, and as I delight in the pride, joy weeps.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes II

What I want II

I may not have achieved enlightenment half an hour ago, but right now it feels like it.

What will I do today? There is the Experiment with Light workshop at the Quaker meeting. Do I really want to go? Should I cycle? Well, I may have damaged my tendon; and I have had a cold. I could get the bus. These are the options. What else would I do? I would do my washing and watch telly.

I wanted to watch Breaking Bad this morning, currently broadcast on Freeview 31, it was ep. 5/7. So I did, over breakfast, and watched Mike die with the most wonderful last words.

Do I want to go to Experiment with Light? A day with the Quakers. H might be there. Just possibly, it is unlikely. Do I really want to spend time with these people?

I want to cycle, and I have had pains in the back of my ankle. I put my seat up so that I would cycle on the ball of my foot rather than my instep, so that I would use my calves, which is far better technique, so that might strain my tendon just as it has been painful.

And that was it. I realised.

 I want to be someone else.

I want to be that person- who is always independent, who would cycle to Swanston without difficulty, who would then enjoy the Quaker day. I want to be the person I ought to be. I want to be cleverer. I want to enjoy the things I ought to want to do.

I don’t know where I got that person from.

I want to get the bus to the Quaker meeting. I really want to go now, I want to be in the place where I see reality more clearly. I shower, swearing fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck throughout-

that speech therapist, would not see me unless I asked my GP to see her again, ridiculed my appearance- shirt buttoned up to the neck??? Who dresses like that??? challenged me

WHAT DO YOU WANT????

and I didn’t know and I have not known since and I had Ideas- I want to hide, I want to be safe, I want to survive-

and now I have worked it out. I want to be someone else.

Okayyy- well, you can’t. You have tried that. It hasn’t worked.

Half an hour later I feel happy-

Actually there isn’t a 9.05 bus. Who knew? There is a bus at five past every other hour until it stops. I thought one of the buses wasn’t running. I checked the timetable (why check it, you know it already-

Oh!)

I feel exalted. I am just off to that Quaker thing. So much about my life makes sense now. Who knows what I might do?

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes VI