Internally focused

I said I was internally focused, and explained that. “How wonderful!” said Bella, which surprised me, as I had seen it as a handicap. Yet-

My attention is focused on my internal experience rather than external experience. I read of phenomenology, the idea that my experience is not of that chair in my kitchen, itself, but of my own perceptions mixed with my understanding of chairs and that chair, but this is one stage further: I am always more concerned with my own feelings and internal responses than with what I perceive to be external to me. So seeing an argument, I would be more concerned with my own fear, and how I was expressing it, than with what the participants were saying.

I experienced this as oppression, as self-slavery. I would notice my fear, and fear it. I would endeavour not to let it show, but really deny to myself that it was showing rather than successfully prevent it showing. My desire was about preserving a comfortable emotional state rather than creating external reality. This makes me timid and retiring even though my feelings would make me extrovert, boisterous and assertive. Yes, really!

Yet what could it mean to see this positively? Part of my awareness is on my internal reactions. As I come to accept my own feelings, and fight them less, being aware of them is a benefit. I practised this in the supermarket yesterday. What am I feeling, now? The ground note is happiness: that was a really good weekend. Feelings do not stop me noticing what is external to me, unless I desire to manage them rather than accept them.

(Line from Humans on Channel 4- “What is it like to be a teenage girl?” –Frightening, confusing- like my emotions are too big. Well, yeah. We learn better ways of being.)

By the trolleys, a woman asked if I had two pound coins, so she could release one. I had, and gave her two pound coins for one £2 coin. She was delighted: “Thank you so much! That is your good deed for the day.” Whereas, I thought it a small thing to do, and was pleased to help, and pleased to have the friendly contact with a stranger. You do too, don’t you? Doesn’t everyone get pleasure from such things?

Outside the tube station, on the tube, at St Pancras, the mood is relaxed in the sun on Sunday. Others wear dresses besides me. D says, it is strange to come back into London after that weekend. I think of returning from retreat before, like lowering myself into a bath of cold sewage, moving from that relaxed and authentic space back to the stress and tension of “the Real World” which is actually greater illusion. I did not feel like that. I felt, this is my world, where I can be who I am- just like on retreat. Though when I explained that, I worried that I had shut him down.

Berthe Morisot, Paule Gobillard en robe de bal

Life Loves Me

I continue with the Mirror Exercise. I look in the mirror and say “Life loves me”. And-

First I just feel pain and resentment. It is more as if Life, when particularly pissed off, relieves its feelings by giving me a kicking. Like God and Satan, down the pub with their mates, drunkenly boasting and betting about Job.

Then I feel judgment. Life loves me, and I do not respond in a loving way, hiding my light under a bushel, burying my talent and digging it up in an undeveloped state. Life loves me and I do not perceive that so fail.

I know I am loveable. Perhaps not particularly useful, I am at least beautiful.

Then I feel life loves me, in the gentleness of my life now, all the beauty, the minimal demands on me, and I see that less because of my fear from its fragility, for it may end at any time. That does not prompt me to Take Action but to cower. I feel incapable of what I perceive to be life’s challenges. Arguably I am incapable. And yet inexplicably I am all right. For now.

It is labour, it is my difficult task now to see all the blessings, name them one by one (this is old wisdom from 19th century Methodism not the New Age), so that I might-


Life Loves me?

Morisot, Portrait de Madame Edma Pontillon, née Edma Morisot, soeur de l'artisteOn Monday 2 March, a convoy left the nuclear bomb factory at Burghley and drove to Faslane, to put the bombs in the submarine. This happens regularly, and there is regularly non-violent direct action (NVDA) outside the gates. There was an email printed out on the Quaker meeting notice board, and I was interested. I loathe the idea of threatening to kill millions of people and render vast areas uninhabitable. Who would not be tempted by the idea that “most” of the direct action roles would be “non-arrestable”?

When I told the Quakers that I might not be there to clerk the business meeting on Sunday, they were fine with that, and able to cope without me. I said I might “bottle it”- decide against going, through cowardice- and they said that would be fine too.

Now (Thursday 26th) I decide I will not go. Yes, it would be interesting, to meet the people, see the place and have the experience; and it feels like I wanted to go as a test of myself, or that this sleeping on the floor then standing in the cold and facing police officers and failing to prevent the bombs moving would be a worthwhile achievement, so I am worthwhile.

I do not need an achievement to justify my existence. So I decide not to go.


What do I want? To nurture this organism. Nothing more than I did last year: staying at home, going out occasionally. I do not want to work, because I can only imagine work as miserific humiliation. I do not like my lifestyle particularly, but feel seeking any more is illusion bound for failure.

I want to nurture this creature, and wonder whether “fun” and “joy” are meaningful concepts.


lucie-leon-at-the-piano-1892 Berthe Morisot made a child cry. I am not proud of this.

When I visited last Christmas, Alice, now 15, was playing the piano and about to take grade 3. Since then, she gave up. Possibly she started a wee bit old: by 15, I was playing pieces which interested me, and my obsessive nature kept me on scales and fiddling with a bar until I got it: I spent a week getting the first four bars of the Maple Leaf Rag, aged about 15.

Her sister Olivia, now 7, has started, and is playing tunes with both hands, but not both hands together. I thought the way to interact over the piano was to let her explore it, and ask me for any help she wanted. Her mother told her to play it: she has not been playing over Christmas.

I asked her if she enjoyed playing the piano. “Yes”, she lied. I am almost certain of that. She sounded completely insincere. It was the wrong question. Does she want to play the piano? If so, she might be willing to work at it.

Jacob Maris, girl at the pianoOf course I would like a child mad keen to play the piano, with a clear idea of how to improve at it, natural talent, and a desire to explore my expertise to help her on- but I want to inspire the child, get her interested, and give her some ideas to bring her on a bit.

She needs to count on the notes and count on the stave to work out the first note of a piece she has played before.  I had a trick for H, which was done with me: my parents hold out thumb and fingers horizontally as if on a stave, and indicate a position for the child to name the note. The point is that rather than spending half an hour on the piano, or even ten minutes, which can be tiring and boring, you can do this for half a minute and give the child praise.

When she looks at the score and sees that there is a B♭, next time she sees a B she still plays B♮. I can sympathise with this: it is the kind of mistake I can imagine myself making. And- playing B♮ she hears it is wrong, checks the score and gets it right. This gives me hope. I want to make it easier for her to correct her mistakes.

How I brought a tear to her eye: I explained that a minim, a quaver and a crotchet- the one with the hole, the one with the tail, and the one with neither- last different times, and when she played the piece again with each note the same length, the third time I ejaculated “No!” I suppose I was pushing her to learn something when she found the rest of it difficult enough.

Unfortunately, that evening, they were still tired after their hogmanay party, and I could not enthuse her family to play that game with their hands.