http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Femme_cueillant_des_Fleurs_by_Pierre-Auguste_Renoir%2C_c1874%2C_oil_on_canvas.jpgI rushed for the train, ignoring the man playing  jazz at the St Pancras piano, but seeing it was late went to hear him. He was listening to a young woman singing her own song. She harmonised very simply- an octave in the bass, a triad in the treble, not even using inversions, and only chords I, IV and V- once, a VI. When he looked at me I wondered if he wanted me to go.

She left for her train, and he sat down to hit blue notes in a way those of us who do not, envy. “Do you play?”
-a little.
-Would you like to?

I sat down to play Giorni Dispari, a not terribly difficult piece, not terribly well- though with feeling.

“Oh, more than a little,” he expostulated, warmly, and I bathed in that warmth. I am thinking of it now. I went for my train.

What is that “A little”- mock-modesty, perhaps, to elicit praise; or my best estimate of my talents; or not properly valuing my gifts? It is the kind of thing I hear from others: it might be for varying causes, to hide ability in order to get one over on someone, or even because it is the done thing or the fashion.

I procrastinate, and retreat, because I have little hope, or valuing of my gifts, or belief in what I might achieve. It seems that seeking to evaluate my achievements and abilities might help me: discounting them does me no good. My feeling of never being good enough- if that were true, I would not be here.

He who fears he shall suffer already suffers what he fears.
-Michel de Montaigne


I want to withdraw.

I read the Holstee Life-manifesto, and think, yeah, right. It ranges from what I see as good advice- “open your mind arms and heart to new things and people,” say- to the “You can do anything you want” stuff which I have heard is the kind of vicious lie we have to try to believe, but is very far from my experience. Though when I whined something similar on her site, Lynne made a gracious reply.

I want to withdraw. But that is completely nutty. I have twice seen an NHS CBT worker about “behavioural activation” which is getting me to do stuff, there is lots of stuff I need to do to advance my interests, and Withdrawal- sitting doing nothing- is not doing that. Then again: “Do what you love, and do it often”. “Live your dream and share your passion.” Mmm. Well, here am I doing nothing, and telling you about it.

I want to withdraw, and that is indeed strange and wrong- arguably- though looking at some other wants:

I want not to have to think
I want to be looked after
I want to be told what to do

-even though if ever someone tells me what to do and that is not what I want to do in that moment I have a resistance, and do not do it. Vide Behavioural Activation. Oops, that is not a proper sentence. Looking at my other wants, life is too much for me, all I have imagined I needed to do does not fit my desires, and I can’t think it through- “Stop over-analysing” says Holstee- so withdrawing makes sense.

I do not always resist. “Go and see what the next dance is” said S, and I went off to look at the list stuck to the wall, surprising F who thought me over biddable. Arguably. Gosh, that’s er, must be 25 years ago. Just wafts into my mind then.

I withdrew as far as I can- after breakfast I went back to bed- and the grinding tool or drill screamed into my consciousness and I am not in control, even here. Tears. After reading for a while I went to shower, and- getting into the bath, that routine movement, the planned thing I must do- more tears. Presence. Consciousness. The feel of the water, the heat.

I could do X and dress for that, or wear jeans to slob around the house, and I really want to wear that skirt. So I do. That “per una” skirt- it is years old, I have worn it twice this Autumn and been told how beautiful it is each time. And it is. And this blouse.

-Tranny crap. Fantasist, worrying about clothes for fuck sake, not real life-

Maxine did not like the word “blouse”, which seems less in use, preferring “shirt”. I love the softness of the fabric, the subtle floral design, the fussiness of the shape…

My living room is tidy, after S visited. I light a candle. Beautiful. I read a bit.

I kneel in my ritual space, and am overwhelmed by sensation: the wig I never wear, real hair, moves on my cheek if I move my head, the silk slip, the soft opaque tights- and I come to an end, just as the timer does. Then I play the piano, starting Giorni Dispari but moving quickly to free improvisation, the spontaneous interaction of rhythm and harmony.

I am being spontaneous, doing what I want to do, against the Rules inculcated, against the Common Sense which consciously runs through my mind. This is unaccustomed. I am so, so guarded, that spontaneity with another person seems too much, too difficult, this sitting doing almost nothing is all the spontaneity I can manage-

That beautiful, sensitive man- seen as Mentally Ill, looked after (managed) by his younger brother, last time I saw him he was SUPPRESSED by anti-psychotics

Just sitting here, with that candle, its flame so steady, so beautiful- just sitting here feels so dangerous-

If you have read this far, please leave a comment. A reaction would be good, but a comma in the comment box is a good enough “I was here” for me-

I do not trust myself, and I want to be heard. Then again, I grow, just a little, in trust of myself. Withdrawing is definitely good for me today.

Written 20 November.


Negative thinking is worthless.It sees that an entity is 
        not something else.
It sees lack.
So What?
Oh. Mmmm.
Positive thinking is a way of seeing.
It sees possibilities and options.
It sees all the good and value that there is.
It enables action.

File:Barrable, George Hamilton - A Song Without Words - 1888.JPGThis thought of being in myself seems good to me. I continue with the metta meditation in my ritual space, and, after years of knowing of it, and a year of returning to it, I felt moved to say that for someone else. A benefactor was the suggestion: Gabrielle Roth, whom I have not met, fits. Yes. I can say that and mean it. I am in myself, not being good; I am saying it for myself. Later that day, I hear she is “free”.

“Good” is a good servant, but a bad master. If a servant, I see something as good, myself, rather than holding myself to a Good standard which I cannot attain. Now I will make the word serve me. I did this, ages ago, with Morality. Morality is mine, to choose what I will obey, and I did that so I could express myself female. I chose to believe that that was not wrong, or believe it enough that I could do it. It is often the way with my learnings, that I learn something for a particular situation and then generalise it.

Saturday I queued for the cash machine at St Pancras, and a man asked me why there are pianos here. “To get people talking. Like us, now.” “Cheaper than the Olympics!” Monday I was one minute late for my train, and went to the piano. A man improvised, bluesily. I watched, and he brought his playing to a close, smiled, and gestured I might play. I played Giorni Dispari, as I do not improvise, and he listened. He clapped, and I curtseyed. Two acquaintances had appeared.

He improvised again, a single figure in the bass and short figures in the treble. I wanted to join in, so I did. Some of the topmost notes are not working, and so I went to the bass: he slid up the seat and I joined him.

I remember it as magical, and at the time there was difficulty and judgment- what shall I do now? Is this creative enough? And, I was listening, and responding, in the moment and without words. We move on to other ideas, and he gets up, offering me the keyboard- but I do not see how to develop them, and stop.

-I don’t communicate at the keyboard.
-Oh, you do, you do!
(glowing) -I mean, I do not get a chance to.
-Do you play locally?
-No, only at home.

The lid is screwed down, against vandalism, so I cannot fix the broken notes. It is in a station- does anyone know if it cannot be kept in tune because of the atmosphere? Would a digital piano fare better?

The obvious illustration is a photo, and I could have asked his friend, who had waved his smart phone at us to email me what he had taken- but that would not be the experience, and I have the experience, which my words share with you.