Tuesday, 31 July 2007

if an owl

if an owl weren't an owl
what would an owl be
a wasp or a hornet
a gull by the sea

if a sheep lost it's sheepness
what would a sheep be
a toad or a fish
or a nice piece of brie

if an eagle forgot
what an eagle should be
would it grow fat and green
like the pod of a pea

if i were not me
then whom might i be
a cabbage, a king
or a high jumping flea

we are who we are
for a reason i guess
if we were someone else
would we be something less

all things are created
they grow as they should
all equally bad
and yes, equally good

the grass and the trees
the stones and the sand
the waters which flow
to the sea from the land

the flowers on a plant
the fruit on a vine
a snake which just slithers
the dregs of the wine

we all live our lives
a collection of cells
we grow and we die
skin,fur, feathers or shells

is there a source
to which we return
a place much like heaven
for which we all yearn

my heaven of course
might just be your hell
with rump steak and whiskey
and that cigarette smell

the point of this poem
there must be a point...
the last word which rhymes
why...it has to be joint

well, that makes no sense
in life few things do
think of the creatures
trapped in a zoo

what makes a flower
and what makes a weed
the one we destroy
the other we feed

we love to decide
what is good, what is bad
who gave us this power
are we stark raving mad

have we no humility
no sense of wonder
what makes us believe
earth is ours to plunder

home ... definition ... difficult ...

home ... definition ... difficult...

for me, home was always where my heart dwelled. in childhood and youth, home was where my parents and siblings were. we moved a lot! family and friends called my mom... moving minnie!my family were the magic circle, my support system and my safe place. where we lived made little difference, the family were "home".

at age seventeen i met my beloved manfred and my definition of home changed. "home" was wherever manfred and i were together, we moved as often as my parents had, following his career and our dreams. sure, i missed my family and friends when we moved away, but... manfred and our growing family were now "home". i would have followed him to hell and back and still have enjoyed the trip. husband, father, lover, best friend and playmate... together forever.

unfortunately forever does not always last as long as one might wish. at fifty four, i found myself alone, widowed and homeless. of course i still had a house, a house filled with the silence of loss. nights filled with the missing of his breathing, the absence of his sleeping, the intolerable sound of ... one less than two. the children were grown, loving and supportive but with their own families, their own lives to live.for the very first time in my life i had no "home",no home shared with loved ones, no place for my heart to dwell.

i survived... this year in october, it will be five years. five long years of learning to live alone. i have moved often, running from the emptiness of each new place. at first i merely existed, head down, the silence ringing in my ears, every familiar melody a reminder of my loss. but we are an adaptable species and life continues ... like it or not. we remember how to smile and then to laugh, a whole day may pass without experiencing the ache of lost joy. each day we travel a little further from our grief and a little nearer to our healing.

may 2007, i moved into a two bedroomed end of terrace in saltcoats. i rent my small house , i do not own it. i still live alone and yet ... i am home. as i turn the key and open my front door, i feel the warmth of welcome, the sweet ache in my chest which tells me i am home.i am one, i am alone and yet... this is enough for me. tomorrow will bring whatever tomorrow should bring... i no longer wish to plan my future, i am content to live in acceptance.
i am finally home.

Friday, 27 July 2007

the art of idle

do we really need to be so busy, so productive? how come schools don't teach "the art of stillness" .... maybe they do ... these days.
i have been practicing "the art of stillness" all my live long days. i was fortunate to have been born ... gifted with an innate talent in this area. the circumstances of my life allowed me the time to indulge in my passion. be still, watch, listen and wait, let your mind float, wherever it will. soon enough mother nature will draw near, the world less obvious grows into the still window of our consciousness. our mind relaxes, withdraws from the irritations of the everyday and will often offer new solutions to old problems. inspirations, expectations and revelations burst like guy fawkes fireworks in a receptive mind.
guess some folks might call this meditation ... personally... i am unable to meditate, i fall asleep! i prefer to call this state of stillness "doing nothing with intent".
the nuns who educated me would probably describe it as idleness! as we grow we are taught ... the secrets of success ...
hard work and effort brings rewards, indeed, i have no problem with this theory , but ... do we not sometimes lose our true selves in our strivings? perhaps in our constant efforts to achieve, to grow, to be the very best that we can be, perhaps we miss the point ....
what point? ...,you may well ask....
the point of our existence, our reason for being.
our infant body enters this mortal world... covered in the slime of birth and screaming with reluctance...
being born into this world is obviously hard work, uncomfortable, perhaps even painful. as infants we scream with the red faced rage of loss. we seem to resent being thrust into earth reality from the comfort of our mothers womb. we will live our allotted time and move on to that which waits for us on the other side of death ... depending on ones belief system, either a new place or an eternity of non existence. we will all witness birth and death, the beginning or the end of a beloved being. i think perhaps ...as dramatic as these events might be, the importance we place on them, the rituals we follow to honour them....
i do not believe these events are the point. the point of our lives plays out between these two events, between birth and death.
why are we here, what is our purpose in life?
we have needs which must be fulfilled, we need to eat, sleep, quench our thirst, make love and create the next generation. to fulfil these needs ...yes, we need to work, to strive, to honour family and those we love by our efforts. we work to fulfil these needs, we work in order to live. the important question being ... why do we live?
in my rather less than humble opinion, we live to experience, we live to appreciate, we live to learn, we live to love.
in our busyness, our working, our striving and achieving ...we are successful in providing for our needs. we sometimes overlook our reason for being...
we should always honour our existence by finding the time to search for the quiet, the stillness. ... the all important "reason for being"

Thursday, 26 July 2007

when is old

when is old

the merlot slid easy down my throat this evening. much as it galls me, i am forced to admit that 2003 was a good year for australian reds. as a patriotic south african, a connoisseur of braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and chevrolet , it pains me to admit that anything good might come out of aus, home of shane warne, g'day mate and dingoes..... however ... a really smooth red, uncorked and flaunting the smell of grapes and sunshine, will always turn this girls head!

so there i sat, with the light seeping out of the day, the all embracing, sapping heat of a july day on long island, scattering before the cool of evening, incoming. i sipped another mouthful, removed my glasses and tilted my head back..with the warmth of the red softening the days end..as night encroached. the perfume of my own slightly sweaty body body surrounded me and new york mosquitos made free with my innocent scottish blood.

ah yes, perhaps my reader would be interested to know, it is possible you may have already grasped.... the fact that i am presently, far from scotland's seldom sunny shores. my body, brain and i ... sojourn for the next two weeks...across the pond., in the presence of our beloved muse. once more...i digress. hmm...is wandering off one's appointed subject a sign of impending or perhaps even ..already present brain degeneration? nah...methinks not...my mind has always wondered, a symptom of the mind nomadic.

so there i am, relaxed and soothed, glasses off,my eyes closed. i commune with my surrounds. i open my eyes and blink, peering into the half light of evening's fall.l am surrounded by the world of monet...blurred.yet defiantly... beautiful. normally, i fear the blur...the proof of passing years and aging eyeballs....

two weeks later!!
and that was as far as my blog writing went! the challenge of typing on a keyboard with the letters worn out due to years of use... too much for this idle hunt and peck poet. afraid i have also lost my original thought "when is old" ... ah well....

i fly home to scotland on saturday, home to the " less hot" of ayrshire, the smell of the ocean, the cry of the gulls and the absense of mosquitos ...home to a keyboard with all letters present and accounted for. when i am home i will write again, of new york, of love and companionship, of racoons in the night, woodpeckers and squirrels and inspiration. not to mention ... pigs ears, abortion and the importance of being eryll!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

euphoria and why i will never be a guru

i have always been a person of highs and lows. my memories as a child consist mainly of the highs, undoubtedly we discard unhappy memories and retain good memories to sustain us in life.
sadness and joy, discontent and content ... emotional states or states of mind?
at the very centre of me ... lies a place of quiet contentment, gratitude and awe at the wonder of living. i had not realized how divorced i had become from this happy place, until i rediscovered it. well ... truth to tell, the place reclaimed me!
my muse and i were having one of our, often inspiring, always intriguing conversations. i was trying to explain to her the warm centre, which spreads out, suffusing my mind and body with a delightful sense of contentment and peace."hmmmm, sounds like euphoria and that worries me", my muse is a psychotherapist ...
eryll and euphoria in the same sentence would concern her at the present time as i have recently had my dose of "happy pills" increased! i hastened to assure her that this state of quiet contentment was a familiar place to me. i only realized that i had been away when i returned....
of course, the moment we were off the phone, i rushed to my personal favourite www.answers.com and inquired as to the meaning of "euphoria" in psycho speak. interesting! and i quote...
"Euphoria is now regarded as a state which overwhelms the personality. In medical terms euphoria is defined as a form of mood elevation inappropriate to circumstances, brought on by diseases of the nervous system such as syphilis or multiple sclerosis." ... Rhodri Hayward.
omg ... nope, definitely ain't euphoria!

i digress, back to our conversation, which meandered along, constantly changing direction ... as any good conversation tends to do. until... we were expounding on the subject of gurus and i happened to mention that i might quite enjoy being a guru. (the wonderful thing about my muse is ... i can tell her anything, i share everything with her.) of course, she was never about to allow me to get away with such an outrageous statement!
"how can you be a guru, you don't even believe in evil!"
my total disbelief in the concept of evil is one of our larger bones of contention ...
i used to believe in evil and judgment and hell and brimstone. somewhere along my life path, i came to the wild conclusion that "it was all a load of ...nonsense"
i believe in good actions and bad actions. i believe our decisions to behave in one way or another are based on ...the family we were born into, the culture we grew up in, the circumstances we find ourselves in. i believe that as humans we often make mistakes and burden ourselves with incorrect decisions. i believe that some of us are damaged, incorrect wiring of our brains... which causes us to do unspeakable things.
i mean, really ... i have never had the slightest desire to set off on a serial killing rampage, neither, i would guess has your average human in the street.so... what makes our killer different, is it evil? nah, i don't think so. much more likely he is damaged, either emotionally or mentally. some people are violent...because they are evil? or perhaps because due to the circumstances of their lives, they are deeply unhappy, they lack self discipline. it would be great to believe that i am who i am and how i am because i am "good" as opposed to "evil". it is however... highly unlikely. i choose to live the way i live because of various factors. ...
it would be the easy way out to blame my "nastinesses" on evil, when i make a right decision, am i good. no, don't think so. i am who i am, a bad head injury and i might be someone else entirely ... cold hearted, lacking empathy, even violent. i am extremely grateful that my brain wiring conforms with humanities norms. i am extremely grateful that my mind does not crave murder and mayhem, that i was born with the ability to love children without the need to assault them either physically or emotionally.
in biblical terms ... evil is a state of being...a turning away from the light.... a deliberate choice to allow our dark side to rule.
i believe wrong actions and decisions are taken by damaged people. we never really know another, we never understand their nightmares. where did they come from, how did they arrive here?
in my opinion, in our modern world, evil is an antiquated religious concept.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

death and the snail

i killed a snail last night ... i was pacing, smoking and pacing, thinking and smoking and pacing ... i do that.
a moment in time, my eleven stone weight, concentrated in my right foot, descended on a fatal collision course with one small snail.did i intend to kill that snail, hell no, was i sorry, was i upset, definitely!my lack of malice, my oh, i'm sorry, so sorry .....did they make even one iota of difference? the snail was dead, as dead as if i had deliberately stamped my foot and crushed the life from it. you know when you have stood on a snail, it crunches, stand on a slug and it sludges underfoot. smaller insects, do we even notice, how many insect lives do i take every time i take a step? they die because i am relatively big and they are relatively tiny, they die because in a moment of time our paths cross, we are unaware of each other and yet our momentary interaction ends in their destruction. fact is we can see insects, if we look... what about the bacteria, the virus, invisible to our naked eye, we find it perfectly acceptable to swallow antibiotics, clean with cleaners which claim to kill 99 percent of all bacteria. if we had half a chance to rid ourselves of these invisible little trouble makers ...why, we would do it without a second thought. i dislike spiders, yet i will always remove them gently from my proximity and place them outside in the garden, to live out their spidery life. mosquitoes, now that is another kettle of fish entirely ... they bite me, they make me itch, their whine keeps me awake in the night. i will slap down a mosquito with the most deadly intent, don't even give the matter a thought ...splat, one less mosquito to bother me.
so i have to ask myself, why am i so disrespectful of a mosquito's right, to live out in full, it's blood sucking days.
i abhor fox hunting ...unnecessarily cruel and barbaric in my book. yet, i expect, to the farmer whose new born lambs he takes, to the owner of the ducks and geese, killed by mr fox with such gay abandon. i expect they feels a deep need to splat that fox,in the same manner as i casually kill a mosquito.
there are folks, a minority i hope, who love to hunt, who enjoy the kill. they feel no remorse and are able to gaze on their newly dead trophy with pride. not for them the horror i feel, at the sudden seeping of life from a living creature.

"do not judge", a very difficult instruction to follow. i guess being judgmental is a natural born talent. after all in our judgment of others, we confirm our own superiority.we feel entitled, infallible and ....oh my god we are a totally insufferable species! mosquitoes probably have more humility than we do. until such time as i am able to sit in peace while a swarm of mosquitoes feed off my blood, remove them gently, cease and desist from using toxic sprays which annihilate them in their hundreds. until this miracle occurs, i do not have the right to judge the hunter, the killer of the larger species in the animal kingdom. i have no right to claim ... "i do no harm", until... i gently sweep a path before me and never lower my weight on to my foot without first giving thought to the myriad of small creatures i threaten with each foot fall.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

because words come

and should be shared...

the dream

the dream of rest
sidles through my mind
simple elegance in promise
a sojourn in the land of nod
where all the world is mine
and mansions grow and stretch
in never ending glad array
and youth is ever resurrected
to ply the mind with unfinished visions
when distance has no power
and death no sovereignty
long forgotten dreams cast out
like line and hook and bait
upon the waters of forever
there wings are not required
to fly above, beyond
the barriers of time

time ... and how we spend it

although time is only a notion of man, it is part of our reality. we are born, we grow, we breed, we grow old and we die, the circle of life, inescapable, unchanging, inevitable. time is our way of marking the seasons of our lives. the creatures with whom we cohabit on mother earth have no need of time, they live their lives, concerned with their bodily needs for food, warmth and safety. as far as we are aware, they do not ponder, on birth and life and death and who created the creator.

while i do not consider mankind in any way a superior species ... we are aware and, if we are in any way wise,we will practice the art of wonder. we wonder at the stars, their distance from us, the fact that by the time we view that bright star on a dark night ... the actual star, in it's own time, might well be gone, burned out, no longer part of the living, pulsing universe. we ask questions and seek answers, we wonder...how and why and where.... when a cabbage grows in the ground... how does the soil feel? as the plants roots thrust their way down and through, does the soil feel violated, as the roots suck the minerals the plant requires from the soil, does the soil feel pain or a sense of loss?

our ability to wonder does not make us better, it does make us different.our awareness of birth and death and the space between, adds a sense of urgency to our lives ... and so we have time. we know we are not immortal and yet we find it exceedingly difficult to believe that we might cease to exist, that the world might carry on turning, when we are not in attendance to observe.a minute can be forever, an hour can be no time at all. our minds measure time according to the circumstances we find ourselves in.

as children, time is generous, slow and languid, stretching out almost endlessly, allowing us to search and find, to experiment and learn. time to run and play, to be held and comforted, time to soak up the meaning of life. childhood, for a beloved and well cared for child, is a place of magic, a wondrous, exciting voyage of discovery. very few children waste their time, every minute is a learning experience.as an adult in our child's world, we have a duty to supply a safe haven in which our child may absorb the world with the sense of wonder which only a child is capable of.

as we reach out of childhood and into adulthood, we become more self absorbed and less observant of the wonder around us. we become busy, we have tasks, goals, ambitions. we desire to be the best, to grow rich, to become famous. we have parties to attend,lovers to seduce, things to do and places to be. time shrinks, it slides past faster. the more we want, the less time we have. our greed for more of every thing robs us of time. until ...

we reach the age of maturity, when we begin to realize the true value of time. we lose people we love and we begin to understand. time is not an unlimited budget. we cannot buy more, there is no cheating the gods of time. we all have a limited allowance. gradually we realize the true importance of those we love, we come to appreciate the love of the heart and the spirit, our desire for material possessions and worldly success diminishes. we learn to reach out with nothing to offer but love.we have lived and we have learned the secret.invest in wonder, invest in gratitude and most of all invest in love.
the value of our time depends on how we spend it.

Monday, 2 July 2007

surviving breast cancer

my breasts
i was not fond of them
when they first appeared
i was a tom boy
born to run wild
they required a bra
which felt like a tight band
they joggled
their presence impeded me
i grew older, they grew familiar
they had their uses
they attracted the attention
of the opposite sex
i fell in love and married
they brought me much pleasure
i gave birth
they sustained my progeny
i edged towards middle age
i was woman, they were part of me
self examination found a lump
quickly excavated
no problem, benign
right breast now slightly misshapen
lump in left breast
benign, left breast now scarred
lump in right breast
too busy, must be benign
ignore while life carries on
my sister has breast cancer
i have a beloved husband
three wonderful children
god forgive me for delaying
not to worry
probably still benign
sign the form
permission to remove my breast
if they find cancer
no problem, after all
this lump is bound to be benign
the poor girl in the bed
next to mine
blood oozes from her nipple
sounds nasty, must be cancer
i am relaxed, mostly unafraid
i offer my arm for the anaesthetic
i awake, so cold, so very cold
they wrap me in a space blanket
heaters blow hot air beneath it
without knowing why
i am afraid
i grip the nurses hand
so tight
i hold onto her as if i was
holding on to life
back on the ward
i open my eyes to the garish
neon lights
i know, without being told
my hand seeks out my chest
i find a bandaged nothingness
i fail to understand
i open my eyes to see
my beloved hovering
such pain in his eyes
such fear
i smile because i must
i will live because i must
we do not abandon those we love
there are pumps and drains
drips and blood tests
doctors and nurses
with faces which attempt
to hide concern
i must walk and wash
i must face the mirror
of my future
unable to imagine
i confronted the image of my mutilation
with horror
the nurse, obviously a believer
watched the tears spout in my eyes
god still loves you
words of comfort not acceptable
to me
stage two, lymph two out of ten
exercises to teach my arm to move again
to prevent the permanent swelling
physiotherapists and a breast cancer survivor
to show me how
how to be beautiful with only one breast
to prove that it is possible to survive
i have never been interested in make up
in divine outfits
i am still a tomboy
they have sent me a fashion plate
kind and thoughtful
hardly helpful
i will learn on my own to become whole
when i no longer am
time to return home
the relief of my own bed
surrounded by those who love me
and things familiar
my beloved kneels beside the bed
leans over and kisses the awful wound
he will love the scar
which saved my life
i have learned, the cutting was not the end
the cancer still runs in my blood
i must face the poison drip
that which harms my body
to save my life
the unavoidable, chemotherapy
now i feel real fear
the cancer a reality i may not ignore
people die
i am afraid
i never went alone
to that place of healing
where they use poison
to banish the cancer
where many sit, suffering
the effects of the cure
grateful even in extreme nausea
for the chance to survive

i never finished this piece of writing ... i guess i am still learning to survive. in october i will have survived for thirteen years.

breast cancer changed me, physically, it changed the way i looked, more important, it changed the way i was, it changed my understanding of who i was and how i should live my life. breast cancer taught me many lessons, i learned the importance of seizing the moment, i learned, that for the physical eryll, time was not infinite.

when i knew i might be leaving planet earth, i realized how important the small things in life are. the warmth of sun on my skin, the sound of wind in the trees. in finding the courage to die,i came to know the true value of life.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

a question of (or should it be for) ... humanity

in my not so humble opinion, religion is a very dangerous vehicle to hitch a ride on.

we humans have a deep inborn need to believe in "something", in order to make our journey through life a little easier. life is a state of chaos, we are often unable to accept. our ego insists, i am in control ... we are not. result, we require an explanation for when "the wheels come off".and so, we invented "god's will". we use "god's will" to explain the inexplicable, as a bulwark against the unacceptable.
we use "god's will" as a shortcut to acceptance. raging against chaos is a painful waste of time, in acceptance we find healing and eventual peace.

we are born into a family, a tribe, a race, we love to belong! in our groups we find the security of similarity. we also love to believe we are smarter than others, that we know a truth which others don't. we enjoy feeling smug in our lifestyle, our beliefs ... we have a deep need to believe that we are right in our understanding of the chaos. if others believe differently ... well, they are obviously wrong!
many of our "beliefs" concern matters outside of the physical realm, they are impossible to prove. Humanity is nothing if not resilient, we invented faith.
what do we have so far? ... we have "god's will" to explain the chaos, we have "faith" to prove the unprovable. in our need to feel part of the tribe, we invented "religion". religion is a club where we meet to discuss "god's will", drink tea in church halls and decide, as a group ... how to persuade the "other" tribes that they are wrong in their belief system. wrong in their understanding of "god's will". they are simply wrong and we are right and best they had convert to our way of thinking ...if not, for sure they will be doomed forever.

faith requires us to suspend logic, strange in a way, in all other endeavours we are expected to think, to question, to use our logic. i can't remember exactly when i started having a problem with the "blind faith" required to be ... in my particular case .... a good christian.i think it might have started with the thought that many good and loving people were condemned to an eternity of hellfire, simply because they were born into a different faith. then there was "god's will" insinuating that the force which created the universe was not pure and sublime, rather nasty and vindictive. i personally believe we live in a physical world and in this world physical events happen, sometimes good and sometimes awful.

i refuse to believe that the great energy, the source from which we all come and to which we will all return is hanging out somewhere, deciding on which child should die, which peoples should be taken out this week by flood or famine. also this idea that god desires humanity to sit around worshiping him and singing his praises, how ridiculous is that? by the by ... interesting that we chose our god to be a "he". when the book of wisdom was written, the book which sets out the rules on how we should spend our living days ...men were obviously firmly in control.strikes me, we made god in our own image, rather than the other way around.had we made our god female, more motherly, perhaps we would live in a whole new world. would a female god have been so eager to look down upon her creation, her children and decide that the tribes of israel were her personal favourite and to hell with the rest of them. would she have created people who by nature, love their own sex and then condemned them for doing exactly that? would she have expected humanity to believe without question, in an invisible and omnipotent god. we were born with five senses, seems like a cruel, childish game to condemn us for eternity for not having total faith in an invisible god.

in the end we must all come to our own understanding, our own sense of knowing. we should remember that we have not reached this place because we are smarter than others. we each arrive at our own personal spiritual destination, no one is more right and no one is more wrong. we each live our own life, we walk our own path. me, myself, i am a rather arrogant person, with an unrelenting desire to be right. my path insists on teaching me that while i may well be right, this does not necessarily make someone who holds a different view wrong.