Acceptance LIX

I have the stubbornness to bash my head against the things I can’t change, the lassitude to tolerate the things I possibly could, and the idiocy not to see the difference.

I am pleased with that line. I said it in sardonic bitterness, but then thought, that’s close to what the twelve-steppers pray for. I even have the wisdom to tell the difference, just not as quickly as I might like.

I am sad. I am hurting. And this fills me with fear, in case I do something embarrassing because of it, like burst into tears, or behave like creepy stalker guy, which would be unbearable; contempt, because I should have recovered by now; and anger with myself for feeling this way, preventing me from useful action. I had two hours with the Samaritans bloke, which has enabled me to articulate that, and also to feel the depths of my sadness. I had a good cry. I would have denied it because the feeling was too unbearable, but no longer do that.

I showed courage. I went somewhere, facing my distress, fearing that I would do something embarrassing. I am rewarded: I see that I did not. Perhaps I could trust myself more. Perhaps I could trust others, not to hurt me, not to want to hurt me. Of course just because my suspicion is greater than it need be does not mean it is never appropriate; but too much self-protection just restricts me, as I protect myself by withdrawing, and that is tedious, dull and uncreative.

He did his thing. No, I am not suicidal. I don’t want to discuss options or goals. Society gives us so many conventional ways of having fun or advancing to useful goals, and sometimes we might even fool ourselves we are enjoying ourselves or being fulfilled; but I am utterly sick of that. I have these intense emotions which I find nearly unbearable- the sadness as well as the fear and anger; and I want to come to accept them. I am in a sulk, I have been for years, and growing acceptance and trust might make me more effectual, and happy; but even if it doesn’t, acceptance is what I am working on now.

What will you do now? he asked. I will cook. I have bacon, egg, spaghetti, onion, and will do a Carbonara. Then I will blog about this: two thousand people a month visit my blog. That at least is a useful question. And the session has been useful, it has moved me from overwhelm towards equanimity. I have these overwhelm moments; acceptance is a tool I can develop to make them less paralysing. My sadness is about much of my life, and one situation; symbols and reality, many things which do not really contradict each other, and all are important. It is about not accepting reality, even while acceptance is the way through it.

Some of the equanimity is about words: I move from AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH to “I feel sad”. The sadness wells up craving conscious attention, and naming it makes it bearable; and acknowledging it with him as my witness helps me accept it. And, I said that about lassitude and stubbornness through tears- I keep minimising my feelings.


In other news: I cycled to K– meeting this morning. The clear blue sky, with a kite, flocks of birds, trees changing colour, open fields and majestic wind-turbines, it was all too beautiful not to. We are amazed at the horror of Trump’s election. I said I must take pleasure in the beauty- people here are beautiful- and in what I can do; that was my exercise in meeting. H wants collective action- but she was with the Women’s Equality Party yesterday, and that must be enough for the moment. We will not have a mass movement in an “if there is hope, it lies in the Proles” kind of way; exhilarating certainty that you are part of a great people, all working together for Right, is only for the Dark side- “Build that Wall!”

Yesterday was my last AM as clerk. We disagreed, and we took the time to express the disagreement, and consider all sides; and we found a minute we could unite behind. It is beautiful. We do this without a leader to defer to. It is work. It is worthwhile.  Then we watched the one-woman show about the life of Ada Salter, working in Bermondsey between 1909 and 1921 with young women who were rag pickers or collectors of dog mess for leather tanning. She emphasised the horror- sheets from death beds, bandages from wounds, all kinds of human excretion and infection, and possibly broken glass inmixed, painstakingly collected for a few coppers from the paper factory. Yet that was hopeful, too: people do what people must.

Honest I do

It is as it is.
I am who I am.

I have such anger and contempt for myself! And it gets in the way, feeding on itself, blocking my actions then raging at my inaction. Where do I go from here, how can I pull myself up from this? How have I got here? I should not be like this!

Acceptance might be good.

It is as it is.
I am who I am.

Or, could I turn the anger outward? Step 9 of the twelve steps is, Made direct amends to [all people we had harmed] wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Could I turn that around, and confront people who had harmed me? I thought on a blog post open letter- Dear Z[—] G[—]…

Would that help acceptance?

Emma quoted Randy Newman’s song. I had not heard it before:

things don’t always, things don’t always go the way we plan
But there’s one thing, one thing we all have in common
And it’s something everyone can understand
All over the world sing along

I just want you to hurt like I do
I just want you to hurt like I do
I just want you to hurt like I do
Honest I do, honest I do, honest I do

I think of Numbers 14:18, God in his gaslighting, controlling bastard mood: The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. That’s what he thinks is longsuffering mercy? The standard apologetics is, this is descriptive not prescriptive, how the world works not what God chooses. Ha!

Or, it encompasses the confusion of the world by ascribing to God contradictory inexplicable actions- “forgiving iniquity” and “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children”. Not the same people, obviously. The good end happily, the bad unhappily, only reliably in fiction.

Miles Davis said, If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.

My immediate response to the song was, Yuck. I commented, I am not the most effectual person in the world, but I know I want people not to hurt. I am very badly hurt, and I want people to feel better, to feel valued, to feel worthwhile. It feels as if the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the tenth generation, and I am expiating them. Yes some do, want revenge on the world, and some of us know that would only make things worse, for ourselves as well as everyone else. Emma says, These words he wants us to sing along would never pass my mouth. Yet his point is that we (not all, so not everybody, but most) do this damage to others as it was done to us, and we do it unthinkingly and “honestly” — without reflection and with plenty of “reasons” justifying such behavior. And if we were to put words to those motives, they would indeed sound like this song.

What if? There was that passive-aggressive act which I remain proud of, and there may be others which my need to see myself as a good person stops me seeing clearly. I might still deserve my own love if I were really flawed and human rather than Good. I am still trying to see behind my blind spots. I deny bits of myself because I cannot face them. We are all too complex and strange for anyone to understand.

Or, I am projecting: I want you to suffer, I think, and that is what I want for myself, I want to acknowledge and feel my own suffering…

It is as it is.
I am who I am.


Trying to see me as a woman

A one-time friend, who is not obviously wicked, looks at a trans man. He writes,

I don’t have any issue with this person cross dressing, or going further if they want.
Nor that they want to call themselves a man, use a man’s name…. want to identify themselves as a man, (i.e. if they look in a mirror and say… “that’s a man”)… and want to play being a man. I don’t see any issue.

Unfortuntely this person also wants me to experience them and identify them as a man.

I would dearly love to, as it means much to them, and it (i can see) would make them happy.

Sadly… I just don’t.

It’s not that I can’t experience them as a man (it’s not about ability),

nor that I won’t experience them as a man (it’s not about will)

It’s just that I… don’t.

M shows minimal levels of tolerance. “I don’t have any issue”- you’d better not. Objecting to the trans man using a man’s name, etc, is like objecting to a woman wearing a mini skirt, or flats: imposing his own standard of morality on how the trans man expresses himself. Some trans people like neutral pronouns, but if the man wants to be called “he”, using “them” is below the standard of courtesy I would expect.

However M uses “they”. Why? Both to honour their preference to no longer identify as their birth gender, but also and at the same time honour and validate my own experience (when I don’t experience someone as a gender other than their birth gender). Oh, God. He claims the right to define the other.

I am not sure I understand M’s lines about ability or will. If I look at a black man and see him as different to ordinary people and then feel intensely uncomfortable around my own racism, and seek to treat him reasonably and suppress my seeing him as different- the conscious effort to accept, while better than intolerance, is still racism. I can control how I respond, to an extent. I can avoid voicing objections.

M would accept a black man, I assume. I don’t accuse him of racism, even the smallest internal vestige of it- but he is forced to say this is different. The trans man is not a man, so we should treat him differently from men. Or M suffers some loss: “This has changed the safety of the [men’s] space for” him. Aha. So now we have a conflict of rights, rather than a failure to accept another human being as he is. See the winsome way he expresses that: I’m not threatened by the person. I do feel that the person’s presence in that space has broken the nature of what I had previously gone to that space to find.

You don’t have to like everyone but disapproving of their way of dressing, or not recognising their change of name, is claiming a right to define them in a way they reject. If you want to define another person you had better have good arguments why that is appropriate. I include refusing to accept their choice of pronouns in that right they have to self-define.

Do you want other people to see them in the same way? On Friday night I discussed a man over the phone. I had not met him, but my friend warned he behaved in a disconcerting way around older women, and I take her suspicions seriously and feel she has a right to tell me. If I meet him I will make my own judgment. But again, if you warn others against a person or want them to feel the same way about that person, you should have a good reason for that.

There are times when I DO experience someone as other than their birth gender (usually through error but sometimes because they are more successfully presenting as their transgender’d self than some do and haven’t yet outed their own previous “status”). i.e. I’m convinced and have bought into their presentation. This is passing privilege. We can be accepted as we are as long as we give no clue of our history- so we can never talk of it, never use a male voice for emphasis or provocation, we are constrained into the cliché way of being a woman. Once outed, we trans women are known as men. Then you judge us on the way we look, and feel deceived if you find us out.

M says he wants to see the trans man as a man, but just does not.

This trans man wants to go to a men’s group. What does a men’s group have in common, exactly? If M is happy to have me there, it has to be something which I share: perhaps a Y chromosome, or some experience, or lack of it. Women’s experience of patriarchy might bring them together: what brings men that includes me? And- why do men attend a man’s group? For practice recognising man’s emotions, or expressing in a man’s way- for stretching that expression? Learning how to be a man now, or unlearning old lessons?

Maybe I should try a men’s group. I don’t see, though, how the trans man can alter the group’s nature in a way that I can’t- in the things people say or do, in the arguments or feelings- except that his going changes the definition of “man” from one not recognising the reality or value of trans, to one that does. It changes M’s definition of “man” to a broader one M has not consented to.

I said I would blog about this. We had been messaging back and forth. This surprises him. Well, like everyone else I am trying to navigate the impossibility of “being myself” and “fitting in”. I can’t be certain it is more difficult for me than for anyone else, but I know from experience my own desperation to fit a particular kind of Manliness- it certainly felt taboo to permit myself, as a man, the feelings I felt- then the feeling that my way of being was grudgingly accepted when I call myself by a woman’s name. I got a passport saying “F” when a doctor certified I would probably present female for the rest of my life: if I fitted the State-defined idea of “trans woman” I would be acceptable. But M does not accept that. I feel erased. It feels like we are discussing his right to erase me. It does not make it any better, from my perspective, that he wants to make the trans man happy. I am trying to be reasonable and respectful, but I feel intensely uncomfortable.

It’s all about him- his perceptions, his feelings, his loss. I find it hard to see that he has a loss beyond a slight discomfort at the man’s presence in his man’s group. He has made much of it, but really could just say, “Oh, OK then” and think of something else. Any man in the men’s group may change its dynamic in ways he dislikes. We are never in control, and that might make him more eager to exclude the trans man- just in this moment, when he can make some sort of rational-sounding argument, he can exclude the trans man, exercise some sort of control, and feel better, however bad he makes others feel.

To an extent, I don’t care for myself. I am a man- a woman- both- neither- whatever- Clare. I don’t need you to see me in a particular way to feel good about myself. But others of us do. It can really hurt. And he could behave courteously to trans people. That he does not feel the need enough to actually do it is unpleasant.

The whole world

Self-acceptance is world-acceptance. What I cannot bear in myself, I cannot bear in the World.

I am a human being who could not see how I really am- like so many; who wanted to be other than I am; who saw how I really am as weakness and wrong. My route to self-acceptance was through transition. It needed all the work I did: hundreds of hours of electrolysis, all that seeking out treatment, including the operation. I now read of Mark, who is “trans non-binary, feminine with a beard”. I can’t say their way has been easier, nor that it is over.

It was my way, where I was. It was the way I took, worked out from who I am and where I had been. It was as it was. It is as it is. I am as I am. I know how much I wanted transition, including the operation. I wanted it more than anything else in the world. So I took it.

It was the way I knew that I could be myself. I don’t know in a world without prescribed gender roles whether it would ever have occurred to me. I can’t say it couldn’t have, and I want it to be open to people if they choose it. And I want people able to transition without needing to risk sterilisation.

Someone who “walks their talk” is not learning or growing, because first we see how we should be, including talking that, which perhaps this is, and then we practise it, and it grows in us, and it is fixed and real and we walk it. Or we walk it but do not know it, and feel fightings and fears within, without. And still walk it. I have been loving and generous. I am glad of it.

As when I became conscious of Spiritual Growth, I still want- not to feel uncomfortable emotions, to have certainty, to have control. I cannot have these things, though I just might fight myself less.

Oh, can I say this?

It is as it is.

I so want to say that. It seems right and behovely. It is hard for you to kick against the goads! Human unhappiness comes from resisting what is; which is not to refuse to change it, but to work with what is, rather than rejecting it, for what is not. To keep trying. To see things as they are, not as they are not.

I think of two poems:

And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.


What is, is not. You must love
And let loose of the World.

Joy and pain

Joy and pain are constant intertwined…

I phoned up the Samaritans, and said I am depressed. “People say that’s not important, but it is important, it matters very much indeed” prosed the woman. We’ve got a right one ere, I thought. I told her I had been playing Beethoven. The Adagio from the sonata op.2 no.3 is gorgeous, like a Bach prelude filtered through a nightmare, or LSD. Played professionally, it sings in perfect darkness while the tension tightens from unbearable to excruciating.

Beethoven! she said. Oh, how lovely! That’ll make you feel better! Oh, he was wonderful! So much lovely music! How wonderful that you can play the piano and make yourself feel happier!

I agreed Beethoven was one of the great human beings. I told her she sounded a lovely person, and it had cheered me up to speak to her, and wonder whether she would be told to shut up, listen, and not tell people what to think.

I did not meet Richard this morning as he called to cancel as he is depressed. I am, too. It is sunny. I must go for a walk in the sunshine. That will make me feel better.

D stood at AM on Sunday to share his cunning plan, twice. The question was whether the Cornwall interest in decriminalisation of drug possession is a religiously based concern, and if so whether BYM or our AM should do anything about it. Instead, people want to discuss drugs policy. D had his brilliant idea from the University chaplaincy: with a small child who is upset he would lead it away and interest it in some other pastime, and similarly with addicts we should produce something to engage their interest. Alright as far as it goes, which is not far.

I felt depressed, and it seemed to me that my resistance made it worse. I am ashamed of it. I am wrong. I must end it. Instead, I thought, go with it. It just is. My thoughts of what I ought to do to make it better miss the mark: instead, what do I want to do? I wait for inspiration to rise from unconsciousness.

I kneel in my ritual space, and weep. I have not been silent there for months. Then I consulted again, and decided to play the piano. I want to analyse this, to come to an understanding and explain it to a Samaritan, but find she wants to do the talking, and I am clear enough anyway. Acceptance is the key.  It is nearly midday. I decided to shower. Then, though it is a little early, I decide to have lunch.

What I want to do then is that job application. The closing date is tomorrow. It is strange. I want to do it. If I told myself I should do it, it would feel quite different. I have the energy I need to do the thing I decide to do, if only I decide unconsciously rather than by ratiocination. I complete it, then I lose it.

I had saved the attachments to a zip file, and so when I save the completed form it goes in a temp file. It appears to have disappeared: I look through lists of files, I search for it, I check recent open files- nothing. Miserable, cursing and weeping I google for ways to find it and start writing it again, not as well.

I found it, eventually, after trying various things. And now, I feel good. I want to understand. I can’t understand. Anything. At all. Yet it’s OK, just for now.

Bosch, Ecce Homo

Where is God?

It is as it is.

She is one of those people who is entirely unafraid of judgment and just embraced life as it happened to her, the good and the bad. Oh, not me- I don’t know the woman- it seems like a good way to be.

I got my theodicy first from The Problem of Pain, where CS Lewis wondered why God does not save the child killed by a speeding car. God could slow the car, or pull the child out of the way, or make the child see the car and escape. We learn to avoid cars, we are not born knowing how. It is for the driver to avoid the child, and if I were unable to take a risk and take the consequences life would be less. If no harm could come to us we could never triumph- never even succeed; if we need not work together how could we come together?

In the book of Habakkuk, the rich oppress the poor, the powerful nearby empires threaten the people, and the prophet fears; yet he knows that God has a vast eternal plan for our good. It’s just taking longer than we might hope. Voltaire mocked the idea that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but perhaps it is.

I have not wronged the trans-excluder, but she has been hurt, even wronged, and simply by existing I become the symbol of it for her, the focus of her rage. Same with “Truscum”, who have adopted the slur as a badge of honour: they know that they are really transsexual, and everyone else is just a pervert who should get some self control. Even though I had the operation that is not enough for them: I transitioned in my thirties, and am gynaephile, so they reject me. They could be accepted by Everyone- but for the perverts who spoil it for the true transsexual people.

(Or, that’s one way of seeing it. Later: Ah, there’s one.)

I cannot hate anyone. Some hate the immigrants, taking our jobs- there is no room for them! They must be prevented from claiming our state benefits, though they contribute in tax more than they take. It would be a poor trick, to pretend to be better than an immigrant. I know there is no nourishment in hate.

I have been overwhelmed by what has happened to me. Why would I want to transition? Why should I have suffered for it? I am not a bad person! I don’t come out fighting, because that is not who or what I am, and I hide away, because that is my family’s habit and my upbringing, yet the enormity of my experience has crushed me, so I do not want to go out. Caring about appearances makes life almost impossible. I resent it. Others have their burdens, I have my blessings, yet my struggle seems uniquely hard to me and counting blessings is no consolation. Or-

Elie Wiesel saw a child hanged in a death camp. Too light to pull the knot taut, he took half an hour to die. “Where is God?” “In that child”. God suffering with us, Christ crucified.

“It is as it is” is where I need to be. Nothing else is bearable.

El Greco, the feast in the house of Simon

A man in a dress

You know, we are ridiculous.

I have been commenting on a blog for three years, and it was a shock when she came out as TERF. I don’t like that phrase: I don’t agree with all radical feminists say, but some of it is worthwhile. Some people are feminists, some find that just too hard, and instead become obsessive trans-excluders. It could be trans-excluding rubbish “feminists”, I suppose. Or trans-erasing ridiculous fantasists.

The title of her post included the word “pretendbian”, because if a trans woman is gynephile she can’t be a lesbian. Oh, no, the straights oppose that, supporting the lesbians. It went downhill from there:

I don’t support a transwoman (sic) standing as women’s officer
We’ve moved on from WATM to WATTW. It’s still male privilege assigned at birth pushing the agenda.
All result of the Me-me-me-I’m-a winner-and-always-right-and-I’ve-decided-this-is-right-so-you’re-wrong-and-terrible-person group?
Caitlyn Jenner broke my shriveled feminist heart. Not because she was on the cover, but because that image, a woman in lingerie, was what she put out there as what being a woman meant to her.
Claiming to be a lesbian is a joke when males try it on, whatever they happen to be wearing.
Were I a woman student I would not want a man in a dress representing me.

And then a real denizen of the rabbit-hole comes on:
You do realize that transactivists support males raping lesbians because they are right up there with the right wingers on science denying and conformity to gender roles?

Oh, God. You know a real TERF by the rape allegations. Anyone else is just playing at it.

A straight person who met a lot of people might meet a couple of dozen trans folk in a lifetime. They don’t meet any more than that unless they work in a gender clinic. What can we do about this abuse? Turn the other cheek, really. We can’t fight back, there are too few of us. If we argue, they get more and more aggressive and deluded. So ignore the “man in a dress” or “pretendbian” jibes, and if you hear a rape allegation get out of the way. This is what I have learned when someone I thought a friend starts spewing this bile.

I have had a relationship with a lesbian. Because of this, others wanted to exclude her from the Northern Older Lesbians’ Group. The word “lesbian” matters to me far less than the relationship. It was warm and beautiful. The term “cotton ceiling”, coined by a foolish cis ally, had little currency among trans folk but has become a symbol for the TERFs of how vile we are. It is a little wearing when someone is terribly keen to repeat that they would never ever in a million years have sex with a person like me, but, you know, there are other fish in the sea. I doubt I would argue them into it.

We trans women are ridiculous. Often, we don’t look particularly good in our floral dresses. Our body-shape is wrong for many of the clothes we wear. Unless you want your scalp peeled back then a motorised grinder sanding your skull away your face probably won’t be that pretty. Someone who has met a few trans folk gets able to read us. All we can do is embrace that. Ceasing to fear being ridiculous is freedom.

Hieronymus Bosch

Seeing me as a trans woman

I have cleansed the burdens of my heart.

That’s a good line, I thought. Then-
-I am very concerned about how I seem. Whiff of hypocrisy. Then-
-it’s a beautiful line, and, well, how you appear is important. People care about how we appear.

I washed my hands, and went to tell him I was going. He is lovely, though I have kept him waiting for his lunch. And the line was OK, though jumping because I saw a human being that was me, in the mirror I had not noticed was a bit off. One cannot control how one appears.

I am telling this backwards. Before, I thought I should not speak of you, because she knows you- yet I am in pain and did not resist. Could not resist, whatever. I am indeed very hard on myself- which may just mean that I act in my weak, stupid and self-indulgent way, but agonise about it. The first thing I wonder when I notice something about myself is “How is this wrong?” After, I thought of saying it is not because you are wrong, you are as you are because of your experiences and that is so beautiful and wonderful- but I thought I would be pleading for me, not you, wishing to seem caring. And she can see you clearly without my pleading.

So. The report of the parliamentary committee, the radical feminist backlash about the dangers to women, and your response. I pluck up courage to ask her,

-Do you see me as a woman?
-You might not like the answer.

She explains carefully that she sees me as a trans woman. I have those particular experiences. She sees my gentleness. It is beautiful.

-I have seen it as weakness!
-It can be strong, too.
-“In my weakness is my strength.”

There is no escape into being “seen as a woman” in that “being a woman” is OK in some way that being a trans woman is not. Being a trans woman is OK too. That is the relief my soul sought, the thought that I am wrong simply for being who I am is insupportable, for I can be no other.

In the world without patriarchy, would there be trans folk? We talk of mutilation under social pressure: Chinese foot-binding making walking painful, women in some cultures becoming immensely fat because it is a status symbol for the husband- he is so wealthy, he can support an indolent wife; FGM. I note that all these mutilations are of women. I hear of social pressure on young men to get ripped at the gym, but that fits strength and fitness- at least the appearance of it- which is a good thing. By this argument F-M trans folk are women. The exception is M-F.

If removal of genitals is not right for us, if it is indeed a mutilation under social pressure
we are sufficiently like women to accept that mutilation.
If it is the only way I can see to be who I am, it might be a price worth paying!

I feel accepted, as a trans woman. It is healing. I can touch on “wanting to blend into the background in the most eye-catching way possible”, or that Heaney poem, thoughts not beginning to coalesce, yet, in my mind. And she can share her delight in these beautiful Wentworth wooden jigsaw puzzles. The smell of them on opening that bag, the unique shapes of the pieces- no corner pieces!- the feel of the pieces, it is a delightful sensual experience.

Vermeer, The Art of Painting

Joy and Sorrow

I love M’s enthusiasm. He really enjoyed something, and thinks we should do it again. Well, we shall, next year (“we” is a larger group than just the two of us) and he wanted to find out about it immediately.

F brought us a cake. Possibly not GBBO winner, but perfectly acceptable iced sponge. She started apologising for it, including the fact that she had sliced it unevenly. I appreciated the generosity: F is sweet, and easy to be with. I wondered at the apologies. I would be sad to think she is in a permanent state of nerves, worried that her good deeds were not good enough, hurt that we had not eaten all her cake; though not all of us wanted cake. I want to reassure her, to appreciate her, to be clear in my own mind that she is thereby reassured and no longer worried. I want to fix her.

F met [impressive person]. “What did you think of her, then?” I asked.

“She’s quite intense” she said. Next day F was apologising again, unsure whether she should have said that woman is “intense”. “Well, she is intense,” I said. I wonder how much F had been worrying about that remark, how much worry is a part of her life…

[Impressive person] had poked M with a stick, and M was bothered. He wanted to know what the Rules were, so he could understand the rights and wrongs of the situation IP had described to him. As a lawyer, I want to use the rules for my benefit: I don’t want a lawyer who tells me what I can’t do. I hire a lawyer to tell me how I can do what I want, as JP Morgan said. And I have strong, conflicting feelings about that situation: I feel we should all get along; and at the same time that the wrong result was reached. Arguably I should be neutral. I wonder how possible it would be, though, to persuade M of a particular interpretation of rules, point him at my adversary, and retire, to giggle and gloat.

I was sitting in the Quaker meeting thinking on these things. I wish she would be less… I wish he would be more… I wish he would not do things like… I really would like to gather them as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; and they would not be gathered or fixed. Well of course not. Neither would I, in the same situation. And any of them, even F with her worry, would be lessened if I could mould her as I wish. Life may mould her.

Perhaps this is part of Khalil Gibran’s experience, it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. My recollection of that quote was poor, and googling it I found this.

The Earth is filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea, I thought. Note the change of tense from the hymn, which quotes Isaiah. I was hard at my exercise, accepting the paradox: horrible and beautiful; pain and delight; surrender and control; joy and sorrow.

Cezanne, Medea

Trust V

This is a strange mood.

I might think it despair, exhaustion, inanition.
It might be Acceptance:
seeing the real, and accepting it
though if I thought that would be a pleasant feeling I was mistaken.
Where ignorant armies clash by night,
I am like a weanèd child.


By the river I saw two women from the Outdoor centre, lifting kayaks, wearing T shirts marked “Who do you trust?”
-That’s a good question.
-Who do you trust? she asked.
-I trust in the general benevolence of the Universe, I said. Who do you trust?
-I trust in God, she said definitely: I thought she would, as the business is overtly Christian.

Did we disagree- or rather, since we were announcing what we trust in, do we trust in substantially different things?

If so, does it matter?


I was delighted to receive your email. My immediate response might be considered servile-

but it was the response my heart wished to make.


I communicated with a snake once. It had its coil round the back of my neck, so it had a firm grip but avoided things like my carotid artery which I do not want squeezed. I felt it could hold on to slightly more of my neck, and somehow it understood, shifted slightly, and held on to slightly more of my neck. I was still safe, with this tame snake.

With R, I have such a sweet negotiation. I am concerned to communicate what I want, but more concerned that he will be comfortable with the outcome. I feel that he has a complementary feeling.