Train conversations

Taking the train up, I sat next to Emma who was happy to chat. After drama school she was in a musical on Shaftesbury Avenue, and now works for Barclaycard. She rarely visits London but is going for a Sherlock convention: the actors will be there, and she will have her picture taken with “Benedict” [Cumberbatch]. Myleene Klass visited her office, and she shows me a picture of the two of them, one poised, one embarrassed but happy. I would find it interesting, but not enough actually to go.

Going North, I sat by a proud mother and her 19 year old son who had just done the London Marathon. She is head of customer relations. The man sitting by us had done ultra running, and told war stories: his main knee injury was on a 5k run in the North-East, where he had not checked out the course and there was a steep hill down just at the start of it. His knees had not warmed up. She saw her son at 12 miles, and he looked “anguished”, then at 22 miles and he looked much better. “Only four miles to go” said the man. “You were just behind Chris Evans”. People had their names on their shirts, and spectators encouraged them by name. Some had not put on vaseline: their shirts rubbed their skin, and drew blood. The exhausted son thinks his toe-nail will come off. He put his feet in his mother’s lap. “They’re sopping wet,” she said, and removed the ankle supports then rubbed them happily.

Peter, the tenant from whom H sublets, was in the house. He had been at a pipers’ meeting. I said something about crunlooers (he can’t pronounce crunluath either) then we talked of the Jacobites. They should have gone on to London, I said, knowing he would have an opinion: he says they could have taken London, but not held it. Cumberland was in Stone, Staffordshire, not knowing where the Prince was.

Jamie said some people have huge ups and downs, and need hospitalised; some have small ups and downs, and can cope with ordinary life and work; and some have larger ups and downs and are arty types. I suppose he knows his market, I suppose we are. The course is Transforming Shadows, looking at those parts of ourselves we suppress. People tell us not to be that way, and we take it in. Some over 45 will have been told not to be that way with a slap round the head. We are all terrified of rejection, desperate for approval, so behave in the way we think will be approved. We all contain all human possibilities. We seek comfort, but all art and life comes from the edge of the comfort zone. When we are uncomfortable, we are juicy, visceral, potent. Feel! Be visible! Life is precious, and there is the Real person underneath the masks. Just as we breathe and digest without thinking of it, so we heal, mentally as well as physically.

Life continually sends us challenges, to show us our uptightness. We manipulate, control and condemn to avoid feeling. When angry, all our old anger comes out, disproportionate to the stimulus. Even if the other person is wrong, my reaction is still the product of my own life: rather than reacting I should pause and feel, then choose the action. When willing to feel, to know what (not why) the feeling is, we can heal.

He talks of “full body listening”, being present in the moment with myself, or wu wei, active non-doing.

His way of accessing the real person is by writing with the non-dominant hand.

John Lavery, Portrait of a Lady, thought to be Mrs Ralph Peto

8 thoughts on “Train conversations

  1. Oooh, writing with the non-dominant hand must really get one going inward and outward and I guess persisting with it you really get to “say hello or…” to your real self. Interesting concept, must try it myself 🙂

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  2. That’s funny. Your conversation about using your off hand made me think of something that now seems almost metaphorical. I am not good with my left hand but I keep trying and getting better at it until I succeed.

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      • I’m not sure. It never ocured to me to pay attention to that. I was usually focused on what I was doing. I’ll start trying to cut my food with my left hand for a while and pay more attention. I know that example sounds stupid but it’s something I’m horrible at with my left hand.

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