Between the Bricks

Meanderings of a grown up girl

Category: Writing

Before you go a-wandering

This morning I woke up in the place I call home feeling well and strong, blessed and grateful, following a small operation and several nights stay in hospital. I gently disentangled myself from my cat who was snuggled up against me under the duvet, went out onto the verandah of my little wooden house and absorbed the misty mountain view. It was a very chilly morning. I fed my cat, lit a candle in my meditation room and made myself a cup of fresh coffee, as is my usual habit each morning. By this time it was just past 7.00am.

Mornings and evenings are cold at this time of year in the mountains of northern Thailand. Socks and thermal vest under pink pyjamas and a woolly jumper kept me warm as I sat on the verandah sipping my mug of fresh Lazy Man Coffee. And as I sat there breathing in the myriad tones of greens that appeared before me with the changing light and listened to the waking sounds of the farm, my mind wandered to all those who do not, who cannot and who will never see what I see. I found my heart expanding, especially to Aleppo. To her people, to the bloodshed, the destruction, the pain, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the bewilderment, the devastation, the rubble, the cries, the grey – the mist of a different kind. My heart saw people across the globe – too many people – in a similar predicament. And my heart bled. Yet I did not feel sad. Not in that broken kind of way. The way you feel when you just can’t deal with the thought of any more suffering around you because it leaves you so numb and exhausted, feeling hopeless and impotent because you are not doing anything to help! Not because you don’t care but because you feel so helpless!  I don’t feel that any more. I used to, but not now. I’m not sure exactly why not. Yet I know instinctively it’s not a negative change. Is it foolish to believe that if I can feel something or even imagine something good hard enough, I can experience it on behalf of someone else? Can I see and experience joy and love and beauty for others? I believe I can.

I’ve seen so many posts on social media recently, read articles and watched soundbites about what a terrible year 2016 has been. The worst year! The pits! Annus horribilus! How glad people will be when it is over!

It has indeed been a horrible and shocking year on a global scale in so many ways. Undeniably individuals have suffered and continue to suffer horrors that we are all too slow to do something about! We have all had our personal challenges too and some still have their crosses to bear. But how can we decide upon resolutions to make things better, to turn towards the light instead of slipping into the abyss, if we do not, either individually, or globally, experience failure, loss and disappointment? We do not have to suffer (unless we choose to) but neither do we have to leave the world to suffer too, wallowing in helplessness and despair and the belief that we cannot make a difference. Each morning as I wake and feel my body, the blood pumping through my veins and the breath in my lungs, I know I have another day to experience and learn; I have another opportunity to change myself, and for that I am happy and grateful. I am grateful for every day. Has this year been any better or worse than any other? Or has it simply – been?

The words of Jana Stanfield often come to mind at times like this, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” I believe it is increasingly important that each and every one of us starts small. We don’t have to all climb mountains. It’s ok. There are lots of little hills to conquer first! Be the stone that creates ripples when you throw it in a pond. Be that spark of energy that affects another, that fuels the fire that spreads far and wide. Be the catalyst that ignites a chain reaction that can and will make a global difference. Frustration and despair, annoyance, grief and anger all have their place. It’s ok and positively healthy to express these emotions. They are not good they are not bad. Just don’t let them define you.

Be the change you want to see in others or the world around you. I know it sounds cliched but it is fundamentally the truth. You can affect change. Each and every one of us can affect change. Whether it’s that we want to improve a relationship with a family member, persuade our boss to another point of view, improve our own life in some way or convince our local community that every diverse and different human being has something positive to bring to the table. Just like the Hawaiian shamanistic practice of Ho’oponopono, if you want to heal the world – first heal yourself!

On that note, I’m currently rereading The Alchemist (Paulo Cohello). It feels like the right time to reread it. It’s a good reminder that the treasure we seek is within us. There it lies all the while we go a-wandering! Ironically however we must first embark on a journey to understand that. For it is the journey and the experience of it that teaches us all what we need to know.

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Snapshots from Bhutan

How delicate the myriad purple faces that highlight a vast green blanket stretching as far as the eye can see!  A timid yet reverent bow from time to time, a gentle sway as mountain breezes quickly pass. And there, a little patch of orange, bobbles of brightness amidst companions more deeply painted. Outnumbered but never daunted; a meadow of cheerfulness that paves the way, the route, the journey to higher realms.

So tiny, so tiny yet so resilient, matching in courage even the tallest shadows that cast their profile in serrated formation between one terrain and the next, guiding us to look beyond the patchwork landscape of olive green, sage green, browns, grey and deep deep blues. A pretty purple prologue to what follows if we dare to venture.

Let us rest a while. Let us take a moment to catch our breath and with our hearts to witness this panorama. And when ready…speak to me…

Speak to me of mountains, of peaks and troughs and valleys far and wide, of snow clad summits that rise, pristine white into clear blue skies and puffy white clouds heavy with the songs of gods. Speak to me of far-away vistas.

Speak to me of white-washed temples that squarely stand on high held planes, solid and sturdy, simple, homely exteriors, embellished wooden door and window frames their only superficial indulgence.  Enter and that’s another story, of dusky interiors and gilded figurines, and rituals – the happenings of incantations, chants and meditation, of hypnotic smells from burning incense and votive offerings, as butter melts and drips away and with it thoughts and fears and pain – and perhaps a futile dream or two.

Speak to me of men in robes, of saffron clad figures who stand and gaze beyond, who see what is to be seen on far horizons yet smile knowingly as inwardly, there is nothing to be seen. Years of solitude and vibrant prayer have taught them the tranquility of inner wisdom, the silent strength of man’s true nature.

Speak to me of light, the radiance that feeds row upon row of flickering flames that burn to heal the souls of the dead – and the living.

Speak to me of happy lands, of smiles and laughter and children’s cheery faces. Of babes, with dirt smeared cheeks, tear stained, until the sun gently dries them and a mother’s tender touch soothes their cries that quickly change to giggles of delight. Speak to me of weather beaten skin, rugged and deeply wrinkled with age and eyes that glisten brightly.  Elders, calmly waiting their time, contented, warmed by memories and the knowledge that life is love and laughter, pain and sorrow, joy and disappointment and every anxious or ecstatic moment in between. And with that certainty they know that only all complete us, when life’s long journey is complete itself.

Speak to me of this.

Whispers of a Tree

There is always a tree.

Outside my window, on a hill, in a copse, along a far east street. An aged mango, a lone Hawthorne, a mighty beech, a giant Rainforest, that speaks to me of blood and tears and pain when being pruned. An errant branch that stretches just a little bit too far, and so, to bring it in line, along they come, with crane and chainsaw to chop it off. They think it looks more tidy. They do not understand the hurt they cause. They do not hear the screams. They do not care. It is not their fault. They do not know.

And you my friend, so much prettier than just one month before.  Forgive me, I did not notice how you have blossomed! How far you’ve come since you were injured –  a wayward car that crashed into your trunk and cut you! You wobbled for a while, dazed by such an insult, unexpected and unjust. And for a few anxious days I feared it would mean your fall, if not by your own desire then theirs. They do not care. It is not their fault. They do not know.

Happily you stood your ground and here you are, embellished with a pretty pink of floating petals. You may be grand my friend but nothing can deny your tenderness and love. For as I peer beyond the grills of my life here within, I thank the gods who gifted me this heart to hear you whisper your sweet words of wisdom. You teach me well and I am grateful for your counsel:

“Every single gossamer of pink rests delicately upon my myriad finger tips, tethered lightly but with a strength beyond compare. Yet all it takes is one sweet breath of air for one or two, then three and four and more to fly!  And when they do, I watch them go with half a heart and nurturing glance in knowledge of my role. Now, they are unhindered, each free to seek a fresh abode.  Some near, some far, I cannot say, they are no longer my journey but their own. Soon, I stand naked again, disrobed, revealed, my branches light and bare. But I do not fear a lack of dignity as I am still whole. The essence of myself remains.  The change around me is not always of my making but I too must change as seasons pass. As sun and wind and tempest set their course around me I have learned to bend with the rhythm of time. The blossom of one age comes and goes but patiently I wait, as one day more will bloom again. It is the way. Rooted to the spot and standing still are not the same my friend.  Remember, for every beginning there must be an end.”

Let’s Play Ball!

I’m floating in the ether. I have no idea where I’m going. I can barely see. The air is a greyish violet with touches of purple dust from time to time, otherwise, mere whispers of looming shadows and something so much bigger than I am. Shapes shift towards me. I can’t make out what they are. Maybe trees or hills, the occasional building, a mountain – what are they all doing in space? Maybe I’m not in space at all! Maybe it’s all just a dream. In any case, isn’t that what ether is – nothing matter? The matter of nothing. Mmh, what does that make me? A matter of fact? I don’t think so. I’m as void as everything else around me. No walls either side. No ground beneath my feet. Not even an ending of something above my head…infinity spreads, forever! How do I stop myself falling over the edge? The edge of what? How can you fall over the edge of nothing? Then myself – how do I avoid tripping over myself? 

Girl, that’s a whole different ball game!

Don’t Ask!

Don’t ask me what I can’t tell you! I can’t tell you what I don’t feel. I can’t feel what I don’t know. Don’t ask me to explain! It makes my head spin. I don’t want to think. I want to be blank. You don’t have to understand. I hardly understand myself!  But what does that matter? I just have to feel. Only when I feel do I know. Only then can I tell you.

This heart beats….and I don’t know what comes next!

 

Send me some words / I’ll send them ‘write’ back

Hello again my friend, the moon of tides and many seasons, who watches over me with shimmering light that bathes a delicate reflection upon the surface of a water hot and soothing, gently bubbling, enveloping, enriching, enlightening as I allow myself to sink, deep and heavy, just far enough, into the pitch black abyss of a sleeping world. A restful night of peaceful slumber awaits, though only when I choose not to think that I am now alone, for truth and love and you remind me that I am not. You too have your companions; you are not the only light that brightens the silky canopy of darkness. I have my friend and you have yours: a lone star that seeks to sneak between your world and mine. It cannot of course, but I honour its endeavour with a smile, gladdened by the knowledge that it is the brightest of them all – and the most precious.

And as the night recedes and I with it into sleep, that is the moment to rest; to rest until the dawn opens her eyes and faint outlines become whole again. Until then, my soul will wander, detached and free, unburdened, unclothed – for only when I am naked, am I truly pure.