I hesitate over the Hollyhock seeds,
a gift from an unwelcome visitor,
plucked from her coastal garden.
She wished to cultivate friendship
but this is not a land for expectations.
Some days there is too much sky
and the earth shrinks in subservience.
The northerlies and easterlies razor
high hopes to humble proportions.
I prepare soil sheltered by fencing
and umbrella bamboo, fronds scorched
by storm. I shake the Hollyhock seeds
into my palm. Alien, irregular. I sprinkle
and mark the spot with a scallop shell.
Three years on, a hot September, I return
from hospital having almost missed
first bloom; tall, triumphant and sizzling
cerise in a land that favours the small.
1. The scent of lavender and pine on a summer breeze.
2. Sitting under the cherry tree in the noon day sun, light filtering through the leaves like gold satin.
3. Fast-moving, shape-shifting clouds carving up the sky.
4. The premonition of rain in the air and when it falls, the softness on my skin. The way raindrops gather and trickle on the window pane making patterns. The way rain strengthens the colours of leaves and flowers.
5. The miraculous existence of rabbits.
6. Birds that sing at night.
7. The rhythm of the sea, white surf boiling up on the beach after a storm.
8. The cool smoothness of sea pebbles.
9. The darkness of forests, the dry crackle of twigs under foot.
10. Biting into a ripe nectarine, the juice trickling down my chin.
There’s a new church in town…the holy church of positive thinking. The crux of its belief system is that we can control material reality merely by the way we think….a bit like magic. It’s a dogma which has evolved from the all pervasive Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which underpins our mental health services, the cheap skate version of real psychotherapy. It’s a belief system that blames the victim for all her problems. If we get sick, get raped or mugged or burgled or abandoned or our home is flooded, we are somehow to blame because we have ‘too much negative energy’. If we are poor or weak it is our own fault. We should try harder. Apparently, according to nit-wit pundits like Nigel Schofield we could all be rich and famous if we were only more positive.
While I wholeheartedly agree that taking a positive attitude when dealing with the many problems that challenge us through life is always to be encouraged and can make a huge difference in recovery from illness, this ideology has gone to a ridiculous extreme. It’s mind over matter gone mad. All the positive thinking in the world will make no difference when you watch your home burn to the ground or your child die of a terminal illness. Is the child to blame for getting cancer? Did his five year old mind generate too many negative thoughts? Did you invite faulty wiring into your house through the faulty wiring of your mind? Are the desperate victims of wars in the Middle East to blame for their own suffering? Perhaps if they improved their attitude the barrel bombs and drones would vanish in a puff of smoke.
The other nonsense people tend to spout is ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and ‘Everything happens for the best’. Really? Say that to someone watching their loved one disintegrate through Alzheimer’s Disease. They will not welcome your comment.
All this positive thinking crap just puts extra pressure and guilt on people who are already suffering misfortune. It is insinuated that their bad luck is their own fault and they need to try harder. It’s a good excuse to run down our health service even further. Why not just send people away from ER with a button badge telling them to always look on the bright side?
Here are the facts:- 1. We are mortal creatures who begin to die from the moment we are born. 2. There is a very concrete material reality underpinning our lives. It will not shape shift to suit our desires. We are living in a material world and we are made of flesh and blood. 3. We are not to blame for our own problems. Bad things happen to good people. 4. Shit happens for no reason at all. Life is chaos and the most important things are beyond our control.
So all you woolly minded purveyors of positive nonsense need to grow up and have the guts to confront the world the way it really is, warts and all. Life is not perfect. We all suffer and that suffering is unavoidable. What happens is not all down to us but that doesn’t mean life can’t be beautiful. Make the very best of what you’ve got and be grateful for every precious moment.
Spring is just around the corner here in the UK and we have Easter this weekend for those who celebrate it. However, it’s actually snowing in northern Scotland today and not at all typical weather for the end of March.
I want to wish everyone out there a very happy Spring Holiday. It’s a good time to look to the future with hope and optimism and to celebrate all the wonderful things that make life worth living. Spring is a time of renewal, growth and positive change. There’s a different energy abroad, a time to seize each day.
I took this photo at the local pet shop….Easter eggs for cats! Hope it makes you smile!
She waits alone on a purple stage, cut
-out flat, white and black, lacking
a dimension. She waits for shape,
for music, for lightening to spark a pulse.
Her icy skin trussed in silk and lace,
satin pumps on lifeless feet.
There’s a feather in her hair,
twisted into careful curls. She’s cold
on center stage. Acid whispers
in the wings like sour dough rising.
Her fan flairs and she begins to dance.
Together but alone they come in from the rain,
wait at the counter of The Wicker Man Café.
She admires his shark grey boots and denim thighs.
He looks back, meets her eyes. She smiles.
She orders chocolate cake and tea.
He orders a bacon roll and coffee.
They take separate tables, numbers two and five.
She sits facing the street, looks at the harbor.
She admires umbrellas, orange boats, blue water.
She thinks – is this the start of a long lasting love affair?
With sparkle and poise she spreads a hard knob of butter.
She thinks – find extra pleasure in the small.
She thinks – the possibilities are endless.
He sits with his back to the window, scans the jobs page.
He clocks the breasts on the young waitress.
He thinks – should never have quit the rig. He tries his phone, searching for a signal. He thinks – I’ve no more fight.
He thinks – it’s all too late. She tries not to stare when he stumbles out the door.
On her way home she buys roses scented with moon-dust.