Sunday, 30 January 2011


There is something I am wanting and I am yearning for it.  I am yearning for it so much I feel sick and anxious with longing.  Sickness and anxiety born of fear that perhaps I won't get it.  It is not a good feeling.  Then there came a little suggestion: what if I were to imagine I had that thing now? If I had that thing right now, how would I feel? How would I act?  This is an interesting exercise when in the agony of wanting something one does not have.

There are two possible outcomes.  One is that in imagining one already has this thing one wants so much, imagining it so vividly that one feels, moves, breathes, and looks as if one already has it, it feels fundamentally better than the way one acted or felt before.  Or, it doesn't feel any better.  And then one has a choice.

If imagining one has the thing makes one feel fundamentally better, then why not allow oneself to carry on feeling that way? Never mind that one hasn't 'actually' got it yet.  Why prevent the good feeling of possibly having it, with the bad feeling of wanting it painfully.  What does the yearning serve? In our normal conception of time, the 'having' is a future thing, it hasn't happened yet, but nor has it not a way, allowing oneself to feel the pain of not having it, is like crossing a bridge before we've got to it. 

Go with the good feeling.  And if the imagining of the having of the thing did not make one feel fundamentally better, then let go of the wanting, because having the thing won't make one feel any better than one does right now.  Either way, doesn't one feel freer? Happier?  One is no longer locked into self-imposed unhappiness and constraint...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Your Hand in Mine

When I was walking into school with my daughter the other  morning, I had one of those moments when the world quietens itself for a moment, and one becomes suddenly aware of one tiny detail.  The detail was my daughter's hand in mine - soft, small, and warm.  She chattered away and probably didn't even notice I was holding her hand, so normal an event as it is.  But one day she won't want to hold my hand any more, and that day may not be far away.

I felt sad for a moment, poignantly but discreetly feeling her little fingers curling round mine.  And then I felt elated.  My heart drifted suddenly from down to up - I could almost feel its movement in my chest.  I realised that if that moment was about to come, the moment when her hand was no longer in mine, then it was perfect.  It was just as it should be.  I would have done my job.  My job is to make it so that she no longer wants or needs to hold my hand.  To say, 'alright darling', the day she chooses to no longer place her hand in mine, and 'I love you' as I use my hand instead to wave her off.

As we walked and she looked up at me and smiled, scenes from her future appeared before my mind's eye: I saw her lovingly taking a friend's hand to comfort them; I saw her wiping tears from her own face; I saw her hand looking adult, grown-up and strong, and yet also one day once more slipping inside the larger hand of another, but so different this time to the parent's...the hand perhaps of a man she will love, being squeezed, and squeezing back.

Her hand will only be able to do all these things, because, at just the right moment, it let go of mine. 

And mine of hers.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Speech is Silver, Silence is Golden

A little hiatus this week because I have been thinking about talking.  I have been thinking about talking, rather than talking itself, until I worked out what I thought....or more simply I was, in time-honoured fashion, thinking before speaking.  I have been thinking about myself, my friends, people I don't know but whose words I read or listen to, about the whole richly articulate bunch of us.  And I was wondering: is there a time to talk, but also a time to shut the f*** up?

I adore words.  They are exciting, thrilling, beautiful.  One can toss them out there, sometimes they catch a breeze, sometimes they do not, but they fall somewhere.  When someone else catches them, even just one single person, and hears them as one intended and meant them, I can weep with gratitude.  How utterly exquisite is it to be heard, and to be understood?  How uncommon it is in normal interaction to be truly listened to on that level.  And that's the awful, damaging, ugly, frightening side of words.  They can also be taken from you, dragged from you kicking and screaming as they are twisted, contorted and betray you in front of your very eyes (ears).  It has been done to me, and I recall my  anguish.  My futile half-sentences: "But it's not what I...." "But I didn't mean..." "No, please listen, I really..." It is a horrible feeling, knowing someone is not hearing you, but believes they are.  The consequences can be far-reaching, a great deal further than a personal feeling of injustice or upset.  Understanding the fickleness of these labels that we attach to our thoughts, in order to share said thoughts with others, much of my undergraduate philosophy degree was spent honing the rigour of our use of language.  Nit-picking possibly to the outside ear, but actually so necessary when one considers the endless possibility of misapprehension and ambiguous reading...and yet simply not feasible or practical in most people's everyday communications.

So, words: friends or foes? Well, I'm writing this, aren't I? Albeit wincing at all the holes I have laid bare into which to stumble...just look out for them would you? I know they're there, and I apologise, but I hope you'll feel we are all in this together.  And to paraphrase something I heard the other day: "When there is nothing left to say, I promise I won't say it." 

Friday, 7 January 2011


New Year's resolutions.  Hmm.  There is a problem with resolutions.  If you are resolving to act or behave in a particular way, then it indicates there will be a conflict.  If there is a need to resolve, then there must be something to resolve against.  If you are feeling the need for a fresh start, feeling the need to make a resolution to either do or not do something from this moment forth, then there must be something inside you which has caused you to act or behave in the opposite way up until this point.  So, you have a battle on your hands.  You have a conflict.

The scientist Emil CouĂ© referred to the Law of Reverse Effect.  In other words, we do things in such a way that they bring the opposite result of the one intended.  We collide with the very thing from which we are trying to save ourselves, because our consciousness becomes focused only on this.  Driving a car, there will be one small obstacle in the road, we have plenty of space to pass, no problem whatsoever, but we become focused on this obstacle, determined to avoid it, so what happens? We hit it.  We diet.  We resolve to eat no more cake.  What do we begin to crave in a way we never did before? I ask you absolutely not to think about (the classic) a pink elephant...please, absolutely, on no count whatsoever think about a pink elephant...

Beware of anyone who has to swear or utter an oath against anything.  There must be something more profound inside them against which they are having to swear.  An oath or resolution is a surface, conscious mind, thing.  The thing against which it is being made is inside, in the labyrinthine powerful sub-conscious.  What happens when we restrain or suppress a thing? The moment the (exhausting) control is relaxed, the thing surges up.  Remove a dam, the river gushes forth, as it always was.  The dam does nothing to the river.