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On the resolution of balance #5:
Reading a paper recently made me realise how integral to our understanding of reality, is balance. The paper refers to the “circular interrelation between narrative, emotion, and cultural meaning”. This circularity is what we are struggling to balance and it needs constant adjustment and attention to resolve. The metaphor that fits is that of walking a tightrope: the rope is linear time between birth and death and life, our stories; culture is what we pick up as we go; and emotions are what we juggle as we journey. Without continuity and balance, we fall.
Has the end come at last? Is this how the world will end, with just a ‘no connection found’ message to a handshake? As I drift away into space without the cord of habit and history connecting me to my previous life, I approach an abyss so cold and blunt, a brutal and unrelenting nothingness. There is no sound, not even silence; there is just no-one there when I call and I realise all this time that I have been making the advances, I have invented what never really existed. The warmth and life I felt flowed only from me.
Strange now the statements that use always have become untrustworthy: I always take the stairs; I always plan ahead; I know I will always be safe because …. They show up now in their true colours, as crutches, as wishes and dreams, as mere intentions without the strength to hold themselves up independently. Reliability is now unreliable, our assumptions are stories we tell ourselves, hoping they have magic properties that will make us immune from anything the future throws our way. Do we need these props and facades? How should we rise to the occasion and meet the new dawn?
I would like to draw your attention to the sense of disconnection that daily settles around us and ask, will we reconnect when this disruption is all over? This state of living, that gives us social distancing and respect for the space for others to avoid the transmission of germs, is both a choice and a gift and we willingly adopt this even as it subtracts from and diminishes us: distancing removes avenues of communication where we express warmth and friendship. So, this is a letter to myself, reminding me of the price paid and what is forsaken.
What spiny problem has hounded me out of my reverie today? There is always that prickle, that prod, that jab to start my mind, that sets the treadmill running, that starts the flickering and turns on the spotlights. Seems only sinister events could follow this abrupt departure from stasis and in the swaying lights scanning the horizons all I see looming from the shadows are problems that turn and rear up to full height. They grow with attention, swell and blossom into soft luxurious forms, even when I know they are hollow, shallow scarecrows only able to flaunt and taunt.
Windows can be any shape yet rectangles of a standard dimension seem to have settled everything, removed the necessity of choice. And our lived environments, the architected and constructed spaces we inhabit and also the things that fill and furnish our spaces, influence how we conduct our lives. They activate our attention, influence our moods, make a home; lit by daylight or draped in shadows they draw attention or free us to follow other interests. Having only the pragmatic and unremarkable rectangle of glass bordering these spaces for light to enter and leave seems unimaginative, almost bluntly reductive.
The vague and mysterious female tropes of the journey and extended holiday endorsed by the family where travel to exotic parts was deemed to be for the purpose of social or educational growth but was intended to put the young woman out of reach of their clique or cohort for an extended period. And what of the return when a subdued and more mature woman revisits the scene of the crime, the site of previous indiscretions that led to her fall from grace, where bathed in the aura of experience and she now exists apart, ostracized from friends and family.
Life as documentary #25:
With life slowing, leaving more time for reflection and analysis, I recognise parallels in how humanity progresses in time and the artefacts of geological forces. States of matter that different materials can express – gaseous, liquid, solids and all the transitional states in-between – impact on how these items and objects flow and interact and the same happens with people. At times humanity seems granular, as pebbles from dissembled rocks flow gently downhill cackling as they respond to the pull of gravity, while sand ripples and mounds upward into dunes humming in sub-tonal murmurings as they march onwards.
The evidence of experience #23:
There are floated many ideas about rewiring society post the crisis, as if there were logic and wiring in place prior to the collapse and just changing this wiring would fix everything. Why should we assume that the society we had was logical or designed, or even that it was the product of conscious and moral decisions made by humane and empathetic citizens? What we have had to date is an historical anachronism, an end game proceeding down a reductive path to a future none of us would choose. The question is where to now?
Syncopation is so sympathetic to my nervous system it engages the restless and disturbed intentions in my nature and sends me reeling. And out of control, I see new vistas, I see the future in new harmonious colours that blend any fissures and imperfections into seamless purity as though seen through glycerine smeared over a lens to diffuse light and increase opalescence. Shifting rhythms implicate me in a state of cold fusion that has me bubbling and roiling, shifting layers, expanding into dimensions not previously imagined as if a rift has opened in reality exposing bones under all that prettiness.
Her eyes shone like wet pebbles beneath fronds of dark eyelashes. I noted several tones of off-white across her matt complexion, the powering reminding me of the shading and texture of moth’s wings. Her style was unmistakeably goth, with heavy kohl rings around the eyes, black lipstick and nail polish, and her dark hair, pulled back tightly against her skull that emulated the texture of patent leather. Her artifice only contrasted her actions. I felt her damp, plump hands grasp my hand and the warm breath she blew on my nails showed clearly that beneath the façade was a child.
‘That colour suits you,’ she said as she blew on them again and the nails dried.
I dislike my hands. They are too large and bony, unable to be fixed and difficult to hide. They broadcast natures devious tricks and deceptions. The best I can do is to not draw attention to them but looking after the nails is necessary. The demure pink seemed obscene but unadorned my hands could belong to a labourer or manual worker. At least now they blended with the overall pastel camouflage. Hair and nails for women, shoes for men were the measure of quality.
This morning there was a mean frost, a frost so sharp and hard that at about three o’clock it felt like a weight had been lowered. The sheep gathered into the next field woke and became restless as it fell and I woke to feel the chill descend through the glass close to my bed as the heat was drawn out. Under the blankets, I settled back into a warm cocoon and drifted back to sleep. The birds woke late today; when the sun rose, they settled close to the house in sheltered corners, scratching and warbling to each other.
No-one is travelling these days, at least that is what I had thought. We should be adhering to constraints, conforming to movement restrictions, but there are people out and about everywhere. The further from home I travel, the more I see crowds and clusters of people milling around and I see that my self-imposed discipline hasn’t been followed by others. This doesn’t make me want to revert; it makes me nervous to move out among these people, concerned that they might not have been managing their health or contagion levels by self-isolation, and anxious they are putting me at risk.
Moral outrage inspires only unbridled anger. Injustice comes from slighted actions directed towards you, nefarious deeds that indiscriminately cause harm; these let lose the dogs of war and all thoughts of the damage your retaliations cause, or guilt for collateral damages you bring about, they are ignored as you just wail into the fray. This state of imbalance, when you feel your very soul being devoured, when the injustices validate your need to respond, only then is freedom is revealed. But, this free world only exists after the destruction, when your anger has been purged and your blood lust sated.
‘Only the chosen pass through this portal.’ The guard drew his lance across the entrance blocking her path.
‘You don’t understand,’ she said. ‘My friend is waiting for me. She showed me the way on the map, here.’ Putting down her backpack she unfolded a large map so it lay on the ground and crouched down, looked up at him appealingly.
On late nights, being constantly alert on watch was a challenge. It was foolish of the guard to look down even on a well-endowed cleavage and to give him credit, he did first check there was no one abroad.
Drafted, the sea roiling and forecast heavy, we were travelling at speed away from land even as the dawn was cracking the horizon open in front of us. Filled, the sails cracked like a whip and then billowed out and drew us forward strongly against the tide pulling to shore. It was as if we were ahead of everything as if we were riding the storm, taking on all demons, flying across the sea. And even as we looked ahead, we were thinking of the cliffs behind and the lighthouse falling behind that tied us to humanity and civilian life.
Time unites all stories, yet these stories fall into two parts: the story of those who travel away, and stories of the people who stay behind. The walled city is self-contained while open to the sky and encompassing secure sea harbours. Every day the sun rises and falls in the same orientation, as the climate cycles through the four seasons. For those at sea, their lives are governed by celestial and philosophical bands of logic, there are stars at night to plot their progress and daily they are surrounded by deep seas that run out to horizons in all directions.
This is the issue: that we are sending out our best and bravest to challenge the world and this leaves those left behind diminished. Inside the walls, protected and secure, we feel only how fragile we are. The travellers set off without fear, anxious to test their merit, to learn new skills and they grow in strength and confidence. As we look at them from the height of the walls and see them at great distances through telescopes, as our perspective shrinks them to small dots in the distance, our fears for them grow until we turn away in tears.
Wealth is a difficult measure to juggle, so often the value of assets is manipulated by context and true worth can disperse, like the mercurial condensation of the weather. I can see that linking wealth to physical objects giving them a glow of money and breeds confidence in owners and those wishing to purchase. But this confidence is like a trampoline that sets a baseline, fictional at best, for those who play. Doesn’t anyone remember the lesson of the Kings New Clothes, where he walked abroad wearing only his vanity? Confidence is hot air rising, only to descend again, cold.
Frost, humidity, sun damage, predation by vermin and feral animals or other active foraging creatures, are forces that wreak damage on equipment so that it can become unserviceable. When storing your equipment for later use, such as your safe return to the pod, you are responsible for choosing a location that protects and ensures minimal loss of utility.
The instructions were there to read on the wall as the decompression started. Gradually my suit billowed out like a puffy cloud and even with the magnetic pull, as the atmosphere left, there was a sense of lightness, of a weight lifting.
I am having trouble separating out the motivations that drove me into this career. Sometimes I think I was railroaded instead of wilfully choosing and there resides in me a helpless inevitability I constantly strive to rebel against; that if I don’t resist, blossoms into knowledge of my certain defeat. I am a creature of will; I make my own destiny and I must believe this. The irony is that my persistent questioning and reassessing of situations, to prove I follow a self-directed path, is why I have survived so long: my doubt is keeping me sharp, keeping me alive.
How can we live in an environment where it is perfectly acceptable to have opinions and the freedom to spread these thoughtless thoughts around to all and sundry without having evidence to support them or a moral conscience to take ownership of the consequences? This world is an unreal place, a realm of rumours where the loudest or softest voices can propagate their messages unjudged until they become memes and the weight of presence, the viral propagation algorithms they generate, makes them unassailable. And we assign the title of influencer to the creators of these myths, rewarding them with status.
What you want are hermetically sealed spaces that don’t bleed into each other so you can move from one to another without the contagion passing along with you. And what is the contagion that most concerns you but the emotional wash and wreckage that follows any interaction; all decisions. You need sanctuary to think clearly, space not cluttered with unfulfilled promises or unrealised potential, where you can breathe and regroup before the next venture into the future. Sanctuary is not a retreat: it is a place to reconnect with your own values and build resilience, to restore peace and purpose.
Today I had an alone in a field moment when I felt the universe expanding out from where I stood and realised instantly who I was in that time and place. A rare experience of serenity I want to remember forever. Even as the moment passed, I knew that this peace was transient. I turned, thinking about making my way home because the light had changed, the cold was settling, and picked up the problems and challenges that had fallen from me and knew I go on to be irritated and anxious and stressed by the trials of my life.
To better examine? An elliptical expression; words turned around so you find you are looking back at them quizzically. And this made me wonder about language and whether there are compositional styles resembling design and focal elements in photographic images that enhance form and proportions, that cause the eye to see aspects in an image that truly portray the essential qualities of the subject. What is the golden ratio in a sentence; what symmetry causes a listener to pick up on specific intonations, inflections, or humour and tone? What makes a perfect sentence stand out from its merely informational peers?
Idiomatic measures of time have been tagging my interest; the most recent: ‘until my ink dries’, really tickled my fancy. The writer, falling to metaphor, was saying - until I can no longer write - which for a professional writer is a euphemism for - until I die. Unpacking these layers, exposing an intensity of passion, somehow added humour to the article and made me smile, the more so as it was deeply embedded in a diatribe criticising modern literary competitions on how prizes and fame damage the reputation of the whole book industry: publishers, booksellers and writers, both winners and losers.
‘I was just thinking the same thing,’ she said.
Just when you think you have a handle on the universe and know how thing hangs together, this happens. I had no idea what she was talking about; I had no idea what I had just said. She had jumped up, disturbing the pillows, nearly knocking over the board, and I had the game: In two moves she would be checkmated, but there seemed little chance of getting to that victory. She was moving fast, putting her coat on.
‘Come on,’ she said, looking back. ‘We’ll just get there in time.’
There are some words that sit in sentences invisibly until noticed when they fly out, destabilise the rhythm, and shine like headlights from an oncoming vehicle approaching at speed. These words seem to belong to a class of transitional words, the primary purpose being to fill in a beat, leave room for a breath, a heartbeat, a pause when a comma is not grammatically correct. When you look closely at language, most of the content exists to fill time during communication, not to send a message; the message is often conveyed outside the words, even without a word being said.
‘I’m hearing what sounds like an earworm,’ he said. ‘Along with the sense of deja vu since I stepped aboard, there is a pattern of repeating sounds that seems very familiar but I can’t recall what from. I can’t even work out where it’s coming from; it’s multi-directional.’
‘Everything is context. Put your senses in a different location and what you know seems unfamiliar.’
‘Right, except that this is eerily familiar and also totally alien. It is like waking up and knowing where you are but everything is altered.’
‘Break it down: first think size, dimensions, scale of the place?’
Acts of kindness are my guess on a credible reason for the evolution of humanity. That we grew from kindness to kindness is an unproven theory, but I will defend this possibility to the end of reason and then beyond that coasting on the kindness of those I convince. There can be no moral or serious reason for wars. When we talk of war it is with the sense that humanity is descending into a hell; towards war, we feel driven and pursued. With kindness, we are lifted up, made to feel more whole, greater than we were before, happier.
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