Dark Days

The end of the year can be a difficult time for those of us who are alone, either through circumstance or choice.  In the northern hemisphere temperatures drop, the nights grow longer and Christian communities begin their Christmas celebrations.  More than any other time of year there is an emphasis on family values and sharing which can leave single people feeling alienated.  There is a stigma attached to being alone at Christmas.  Turkey for one?  So in this post I wish to share some inspiring quotes reminding us that solitude can be a positive and healthy choice.  Being alone does not necessarily mean feeling lonely and company is often overrated.  The beaming, perfect families of television commercials rarely exist in reality.  If you find yourself alone this Festive Period use the time wisely to recharge and regenerate your energy levels, treat yourself kindly and cherish your freedom.  I’m planning to lock myself indoors with a fridge full of party food, a bottle of the local whisky liquor and a pile of wonderful books.

Ten quotes to celebrate the gift of solitude:-

1. “… the highest and most decisive experience of all, … is to be alone with his own self, or whatever else one chooses to call the objectivity of the psyche. The patient must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation.”

Carl Jung (1943)

2.  “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

3.  “The only antidote to fear is to go through it. Only by embracing loneliness may its tyranny be broken.”

James Hollis (1996)

4.  “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

5.  “My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.”

Patricia Highsmith

6.  “Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

7.  “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”

George Gordon Byron

8.  “The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”

Aldous Huxley

9.  “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”

Audrey Hepburn: Many-Sided Charmer, LIFE Magazine, December 7, 1953

10.  “Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views, and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.”

Virginia Woolf, Orlando

 

If you need support try http://www.standalone.org.uk

 

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O.M.G.

God is the fizz/pop of a failing light bulb.
God is Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
God is a red warning sign on a sharp bend.
God is a shoe salesman in a designer shop.
God is one segment of a chocolate orange
or an ice cube in a shaken not stirred.
God is an invisible splinter in the sole of your foot.

God is a pyramid in your heart.
God is a pair of curtains that don’t meet in the middle.
God is a lost pair of scissors in the back of a drawer
or a set of cookie cutters in fancy shapes.
God is the teaspoon of honey in your hot toddy.
God is the knot in your umbilical cord,
the stinking pus of a wound that never heals.

God is a dandelion clock on a windy day
and the scent of wet earth in a forest.
God is butter melting on toasted crumpet
or an onion on the chopping board.
God is a sandwich cut into tiny squares.
God is the steady drip of a leaking tap.
God is a white feather on your path.

God is a daub of yellow paint on blank canvas.
God is a game of truth or dare.
God is a broken windscreen in the fast lane
or a hit and run on a dark street.
God is the dogs of Chernobyl looking for a home
and snow drifting in the Carpathian Mountains.
God is a gardener who prunes hard every winter.

 

 

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Photo by the author

Rehab

finally                       upright
and                            braced
swinging                  dead
legs                            between
parallel                     bars
I                                  struggle
towards                    reflections
of                               myself
one                            step
after                          another
says                           physio
walk                          tall
says                           physio
good                          girl
says                           physio
visiting                     hour
enter                         mother
face                           crumpled
and                            pale
my                             baby
is                               broken
she                            says

 

 

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You Were Someone Else

The last time I saw you, corroded
man of metal, manoeuvring your mortal
shell over tarmac, cyber sun sparked body
-work so blinding you didn’t see me
at the window sipping Irn Bru. Your brittle head
shadowed by your Panama, dipped dead-pan,
you looked like an Italian film
director shooting the scandalous
biopic of an unknown Nazi. My father,
forged by Stalin’s Holodomor,

man of steel with the ability
to change shape, become uniform,
less liable to crack
the annealing boy with a sword.
Such handsome cheek-bones.
They burned villages on the Western
Steppes belching black smoke
like answers
on the day paramilitary death squads
took photographs. I dreamed of you

behind the wheel of a red
Volkswagen Beetle your shame
-ful love of German engineering,
your welded lips breaking down,
reforming internal shapes under
pressure like Swarfiga green
jelly in a tub. You held out one
giant hand scarred by hundreds
of burns, carved deep,
never given a chance to heal

working fourteen hour shifts
at the foundry.  Get on board, you said.
Words stuck in your throat
when they took your rotten teeth
out. You coughed blood and lies
into a white handkerchief,
pretended to hang yourself with a jump.
Freedom is a gift not for Everyman.
You were someone else in 1947,
metal pushed through a die.

 

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Photo created by the author

 

Little Things

 

A Snail’s Pace

Like God, he/she moves in mysterious ways
hidden within a pearly spiral, an apex, a beauty
or a monster depending on your point of view.

Y=0.037x-1.38

Undulating, pedalling in a wave of his/her creation,
a little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul, leaving signs
in the morning light seen only by poets and posties.

Y=0.11x-0.77

She/he is everywhere but invisible; weaving magic
in the green silken night, clinging to the mossy slabs
of country churchyards or clustered by the rowans.

Y=0.48x-6.66

Like God, the Gastropod is a loner needing no mates.
His/her locomotion conquers all, crossing every path.
You must mind each crushing step and wait.

 
Footnote1:- Lyrics quoted from Locomotion by Little Eva.
Footnote2:- y=speed of land snail, x = length of snail’s foot

 

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Photographic image by the author

 

 

And here’s Little Eva performing her 60s classic pop song…

 

Reunion

They say blood is thicker than water
so I will build a bridge, a stunning

suspension of disbelief
spanning the oceans between us.

Blood will call to blood, an interweaving
of broken strands. 25 is the magic

number. You will come to me, nameless
and lost but loved since always. Brother,

sister, can you hear me, can you feel me
a twist in your heart, a burning

in your bones, a splinter in your gut,
a memory of what might have been?

Do you dream of dark streets
in a northern city? Do you cry out

in your sleep? Are your eyes flecked
with gold like mine? Do you sport a gap

between your front teeth? Is your skin
smooth as avocado? Are you keen on cryptic

puzzles? I hold a clue and so do you, together
we will find answers. So let us rendezvous

on the scarlet arc across the blue.
I have prepared a place and I am waiting.

 

Note:- on average the amount of DNA shared between half-siblings is 25%

 

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Image created by the author