Dutch Interior III, 1928, oil on canvasAm I projecting? Of course I am. How could I approach another’s experience, except through my own? It seems to me that we are uncertain, and feeling overloaded, and not communicating well- then I thought, it is certainly true of me, though I would say that the stress is the exhilarating side of too much. I looked up just now and saw a plane tumbling and spinning, its wings going over and over, apparently out of control- would it crash? Then it pulled out of the spin; the pilot had been practising tricks.

So, then, is it just my own delight in conflict? It happens. I have managed to get people fighting over when we hold our meetings. You would have thought arranging meetings was simple enough, we fix a plan and stick to it. Now I receive emails saying my changes are insufficient, and others saying I should not change things. The emotional vampire can enjoy the display, or even my own intense emotions as I watch it. I have my preaching thought through:

Friends, this is not a zero-sum game. This is a loving and creative Spirit-led process in which we go beneath the apparent question to find our Friends’ needs and desires, and how best to move forward together.

That is true, and my saying it could be me scoring points for myself, rather than being genuinely constructive.

Putting my washing out, I found Ben and a young woman he introduced as Steph’s daughter Trish. Collage painting, sandpaper gouache mirror and threadWe greeted each other in a warm friendly manner. Then he said he would like to apologize for the other night, for the noise Steph was making. Trish scoffed. “You apologise for someone else?” I don’t know- Ben’s attempt to appear to be the reasonable, sane one? It backfired with me, and I expressed my sympathy with Steph being wound up. “Fuck off” is what I say when I am wound up. Or, worse, his moulding of reality: he keeps repeating such ideas, refusing to hear any alternative, to mess with their heads.

I said, “I don’t know. You have to sort it for yourselves. If you want me to preach at you, I will say that human beings get better at stuff, it is what we do. We work things out, we find ways through problems. You will sort it.” Ben said “That’s so wise. You are so intelligent. Isn’t she intelligent?” Trish went in. Ben had to go in too, he explained.

Next day, though, Steph explained the noise had not been her. It was her friend, who had smashed a bottle with the intent of slashing her wrists, but Steph and Ben together had dived on her to stop her. She had been assessed by the Community Mental Health team, and kept in overnight. Now, Steph was worried the landlord would want her out. I tried to reassure her.

I had an email, please give me X because you did not give it to me when we last met. I emailed back, you did not ask me for it. She emailed, “I did not know I had to ask you”, which because I thought she had known that she would need X, which I had, I found rather petty. Well, either you approach me or I approach you. But perhaps she had not known she would need X.

3 thoughts on “Harmony

  1. Wow, this is some wild ride through the jungles of suburbia … have you thought of playing the Pet Shop Boys in the background. I do think one of the benefits of independent (private) schools, about 25% of whom are scholarship, is that they teach manners, how to argue, how to say “f off” by tone of voice. We have so many American sayings for these occasions: “Good luck with that.” “How’s that working out for you?” and so on. Anyway, another good post, Clare.


    • My last use of that particular expression gave an opening for my enemy to say “you don’t know the mind of Jesus Christ”! I think I managed to put him down, with the aid of my delete and edit comments feature. In England, we can invest “Can I help you?” with forbidding menace.


      • Ha! Well, also by speaking to the truth. When I left my briefcase sitting by itself when I went to the bathroom … I returned to find the police carting it off. “My briefcase,” I shrieked. The policeman turned to me, looked me over, gave me my briefcase and said, “You are a very stupid boy.” Well, indeed. I was.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.