Never Again

 Never Again

My younger son David met Mr. Nelson Mandela (South Africa’s ex- president) about 12 years ago just before his high school jazz band was about to go on a performing trip abroad. The school band performed for Mr. Nelson Mandela at his home in Houghton Johannesburg. David knows that he was enormously privileged to have met him.

In the intervening years, David read music and philosophy at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (eastern Cape), and has been a musician for some years. I’m not sure when David produced this song, but they use the words of Mr. Mandela himself. He must have excerpted them from Mr. Mandela’s many speeches and put this particular one to music. Drawing is courtesy of elder son, Mike. The music composition and trumpet is David’s.

Never, never and never again

shall it be

that this beautiful land

will again experience 

the oppression of one by another

July 18th is the late Mr. Mandela’s birthday and every year on this day is Mandela Day where citizens world wide are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of this day in helping the less fortunate in some way. Mr. Mandela gave 67 years of his life to public service and we are encouraged to give a mere 67 minutes of our time on this day.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King

Viva Mandela, Viva!
Amandla!

Unusual

Unusual

awareness quote

I’m happily back at home from my trek/road trip to Plettenberg Bay on my own in my little car, and feeling gratitude for my safe trip. I’m also pleased that my son Mike willingly spent several hours formatting the WIP after I had worked at even more editing while in Plett. I think it is almost ready for the next step. 

Some weeks ago, here at home in Morningside, Johannesburg, I walked to my friend’s home one Saturday afternoon to play bridge (a newly revived interest). It was unusual to make the walk – it wasn’t just around the corner – it was quite a fair way. While walking I thought of doing at least one unusual thing each week. Which helped in my making the decision to drive to Plett the following week – two weeks ago today. This fell into the category of unusual.

I left home  2 Thursdays ago around 6.00 a.m., overnighted in Graaff Reinet, left about 9.00 in the morning, had breakfast some hours later in Willowmore, omelettedrove through the mist of the Outeniqua Pass,

outeniqua

stopped in at my sister in the Wilderness for tea and got to Plett about 5.00 p.m.  Rain on Saturday. I rested though started fashioning something from egg cartons soaked in boiling water and flour. I went with my son and lady friend to Harkerville for a hike on Sunday. Below is a view point.

me mike harkerville

The week was unusual, come Monday. Always I would wake early and step onto the bedroom balcony to check the sunrise. I went to bed fairly early and woke early, made tea and from my bed in utter comfort I worked on the WIP. I would make coffee a little while later, and would continue working from my bed. 

sunriseplett

The week flew by. I saw a few people. I walked on the Robberg Beach with my sister who came through from the Wilderness about an hour away.plett

Mostly I worked on the manuscript. Made some walks into town to have my car cleaned, another time to have my hair cut – up hill and down dale, necessary exercise.

I left Plett on Friday afternoon to overnight at my sister an hour away. Such a lovely evening with her grandsons and Elizabeth my niece and her husband. liam

That’s my sister’s husband on the sofa – with TV control where it always is –

I left the Wilderness on Saturday morning, around 9.00. Earlier sunrise from the  Wilderness balcony. That’s the mist that accompanied me for the next several hours.

sunrise sisI overnighted in Springfontein, in a charming garden cottage on a farm. Golly those stars at night; I can’t remember when I last saw such a night sky. That Milky Way. Those bright glowing stars. I wish I’d attempted a photo –

I left really early on Sunday – my windscreen was thoroughly iced. Several jugs of water from the tap to de-ice in the complete dark. It was totally freezing. I arrived home at 1.00, tired but very happy to be home and sweetly looked after by my husband.

I thought some more on the road trip of aiming to do something unusual each week. I have already. I walked to the gym close-ish by me earlier this week to enquire about yoga classes. It makes more economic sense to sign up for the gym and attend yoga classes included in the ‘deal’. My husband and I are seeing Zanele tomorrow late afternoon to discuss it all. He also wants to join! Not for yoga, but you never know! So, if we join, believe me, this will be extremely unusual. And my unusual something for the week.

Thanks for reading! Hope this finds you all well & safe. May the Force be with you.

On the Road again …

On the Road again …

road trip Karoo

August 16, 2014, driving through the Karoo –

A restlessness, a yearning to be on the road. It would be less expensive to fly down to the coast, certainly far quicker, probably safer. A two hour flight as opposed to a 14 hour road trip. My husband has a car at our holiday home so it’s not as if I wouldn’t have wheels down there, I would.

I plan to overnight tomorrow night in Graaf Reinet, a very charming Karoo town and stay at a BnB we’ve stayed at before in October 2 years ago. Such comfort, so charming, such a genial host. Then it’s only about 450 kms still to get to my destination. 2 years back this August I did a road trip down to Plettenberg Bay, leaving Johannesburg very early in the morning and did the trip solo in one go. I want to recapture that sense of being on my own again, winding through the Karoo and those never ending roads and wide open blue winter skies and be part of the changing scenery, unfolding in all Nature’s grandeur. Just me and thee and Mother Nature –

The timing is right – government schools are on holiday so I am not tied to my volunteer work. The girls at the rooms are happy to stand in for me in my absence. My husband will manage. Already the freezer is half-full. There is food for the cats. I’ve changed a few arrangements for next week. But the following week I have to be back and not just for school. I have other commitments that can’t be changed.

I want to get off the treadmill for a bit. I know I’m lucky to have a treadmill when so many don’t. I want to walk on the beach, feel the sand and sea on my feet, watch the waves and who knows, there may be whales to watch and climb Robberg maybe.

20th Aug 2014
20th Aug 2014 Robberg.

I hope to paint, play with clay, do nothing, dream, read, finish what I’ve started reading on my Kindle, finish off the WIP, so close to finishing. June is almost over – we’re halfway through the year –

I want to be back by Sunday next week to prepare for the following week but also to watch the finals of Wimbledon on TV. I wondered which route I will take to return … perhaps I’ll meander back on a different route.

Well, those photos are old photos – here’s a recent one from last Sunday when we trekked out to Nirox, a beautiful place not far from where I live, to see the land art sculptures.Nirox June

Lethargy

Lethargy

shadow

I was thinking to myself the other day that the only good thing about lethargy is that it too passes. But this was too easy a thought and dismissive of what lethargy is. In hindsight, I look back at lethargy that was my companion for the last several weeks. I can quite easily describe the sense of it as it pertained to me. I can say I felt wooden, somewhat immobilised, powerless, helpless, heavy – yet I needed to reflect on the why’s and the wherefores and my role in all of this, if any, in relation to my brother who suffers – from depression.

He lives elsewhere, in isolation. He visited for just over a week. He and I were on our own. My husband was away. We walked a bit, played Scrabble. Once I took him for a walk around the Zoo Lake, photo below. He was not open to anything of a psychological nature, like playing with clay or doodling or any in-depth talking. My husband returned from being away for my brother’s last 2 nights here so that was good and timely. My younger son was up in Johannesburg for 2 nights during the time my brother was here, so that lightened the load in a good way. Two dear girlfriends came by at different times to say hello to him and play a game of Scrabble, so that was also nice.

Zoo Lake – late May

zoo lake

Depression: Dear God. An Affliction. We did talk occasionally. But there were barriers. He returned home in early June and we’ve spoken a few times since. One day at a time …

The during and aftermath of his visit has left me with much to digest and I’m doing so in my way. I can only continue to hope and pray that he finds his way in some way. I’m aware that he may not – and that a person has their own destiny to fulfil – 

The changing of the seasons have I think mirrored me in some way – lengthening shadows, cold, heavy, dark.

Last week, preparations were underway for a birthday lunch for me of which my husband took total control. He had no control over the weather though. Sunday was forecast to be bitterly cold. So we brought in tables from outside to inside the day before and re-configured things. The tables looked lovely. The room looked lovely and festive. The fire and heaters were blazing. It was a lovely birthday celebration, much fun and laughter, excellent food (sourced from Giovanni the owner and chef of the best Italian restaurant down the road, anti pasta, lasagne, vegetarian pasta, salads), limoncello, wine, champagne, phone calls and messages from my friends and family, lovely presents I opened later when a few stayed on – it was very very special. As well, a heightened appreciation of my husband who laboriously brought it all together –

I started lightening up from the lethargy last week sometime. I’m attending to things left unattended.

And writing a blog on lethargy.

I’ve also realised that while lethargy has its place, it also has its danger of becoming entrenched. Or at least that was the sense that I had. I could see the possibility inherent in me of becoming fully immobilised, not attending to anything, not attending to my psyche, wanting to just do nothing.

Brexit looms when the UK will know whether or not it will exit the EU. There are ramifications either way and there is tension in that.

The Orlando shootings have happened – I have no words. There will be ongoing ramifications of that, and there is tension in this.

Our country is facing municipal elections in early August and there is much ongoing infighting amongst other issues on many fronts. We are all tense.

Yesterday, I drove to school with my lights on as the day was heavily overcast and visibility low. When I returned to my car the battery was flat as I’d left the lights on – but I was helped by two men who got it going. I was very grateful.

Later on in the day I drove down to the shops for a few provisions as well as to buy a couple of doughnuts for my helpers yesterday, to deliver today when I was again at school (I’m a volunteer for an organisation that assists poor readers). I left the shops yesterday, waited at the traffic lights to change to green, made a right, and was almost side-swiped by a speeding BMW who shot the red lights. It was seriously close, a hair’s breadth .. up ahead I saw a speeding police car obviously giving chase. It’s only a few days to the anniversary of the serious car accident when a truck shot the stop street and upended my car, three years ago on 20th June.

20th June is the winter solstice for the southern hemisphere and it’s also full moon that night. Turning points –

The sun is shining today, though still very cold. The photo below is of my orchids heavily laden with dew on the patio taken just now –

orchidsJune

I reflect that there is beauty among the difficulties and challenges that life presents –

faith

and some words from Clarissa Pinkola Estes – 

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some poor portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip towards an enduring good ..

Thank you for listening –  

A-Z Reflections

Reflections: A-Z

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

Thanks firstly to Arlee Bird and his wonderful team – without you all I would have been a non-starter.

As always it was a wild ride … exhausting but worth it! I was away for a week from mid- April, with no internet or wi-fi, so I HAD to preschedule some posts before leaving. On my return from the bush, I did my best to catch up on comments and needless to say I had to do the remaining posts on the fly.

I always so appreciated receiving comments on my posts, whether long or short. It’s gratifying that people came by and read. It means and matters much to me, thank you. In the earlier part of the A-Z when I did some random jumping around, I noted that many did not have their April 2016 A-Z badge up and what they’d posted, if they had, bore no relevance. But other random jumping around yielded amazing posts. I could not get to all I wanted to or read as thoroughly as I may have liked but I did what I could. Towards the end of the A-Z my computer went on a total go slow, almost to a stop and no-go which had me tearing my hair out, but which my son rectified when he got back from being away (also out of contact attending AfricaBurn in the middle of nowhere) by adding extra data .. thanks Mike.

I know of a few who were not able to access my posts to leave a comment – they wrote to me personally to say so – they received ‘Error 404’. I do not know why this happened.

Thank you Rosie, Shilpa, Elaine, Pat, Gulara to mention but a few, for retweeting my posts! MUCH appreciated!

I’ve gained a few more WordPress and twitter ‘followers’ to my blog for which I’m grateful.

The warmth, comradeship and the quality of the posts of the A-Zers made it all so worthwhile, thank you all. A delight to read! All of quality, whether on people, dogs, music, movies, spirituality, places visited accompanied by photographs or not, stories, books – the list is long – 

There is no current or past A-Z category under which I can categorise my posts at the start. There is no category for ‘psychological’ … perhaps there could be such a label in the future? This could include eg myth, legend – ?

Again, my heartfelt thanks – to Arlee and his team and to all of you who participated, and to you who came by my posts.

We’re all facing challenges on many levels, individually and in the outer world, as this year continues on its shaky path … may the Force be with us, always. And thank you all, very much, again. 

A-Z Blog Challenge Z for Zebra

A-Z Blog Challenge Z: Zebra

Coat_of_arms_of_Botswana.svgBotswana Coat of Arms

So many black stripes against the white background – or is it the other way round – with evidence of tinges of brown. Botswana’s coat of arms* with the two zebra on either side look identical, mirror images, but in real life this is not so.

Nevertheless the zebra symbolises equality and unity between all races. A zebra is upholding an elephant tusk on the one side representing wildlife and tourism; the other zebra holding an ear of sorghum, corn, represents Botswana’s main local crop.

(This brings to mind the myth of Demeter and Persephone and Demeter’s search for her virgin daughter abducted by Hades to the underworld. In her grief she cursed the land which became sterile. Zeus asked Hermes to step in – and in brief, Persephone was allowed to visit her mother in springtime at which season Demeter permitted corn to be laid and grown. I wonder if the Botswana government is aware of this ancient Greek myth and its corn connection to the Eleusinian Mysteries).

We saw many zebra on our Botswana trip, often with giraffe in close proximity. The first photo is when we were on The Island, the 2nd in Moremi. Seeing animals at peace in their natural zone often gave me moments of zen –

zebra1

zebra

One of many fables as to how the zebra got its stripes is from the San Bushmen of the Namibian Kalahari Desert. In brief, long ago, when there were few animals and it was hot, dry and dusty, a zebra and his son came to a water hole. The baboon, who thought he was lord of it all, challenged the zebra to a fight if the zebra wanted to have his fill. They fought. The zebra gave the baboon a huge kick and sent the baboon flying into the rocks high above them. (Which ‘explains’ how the baboon came to have a bare patch on his bottom, for his hair was scratched right off on landing on the rocks). The zebra was so amazed at this, that he staggered backwards into the baboon’s fire, leaving burn marks on his white skin. This shock sent the zebra galloping away into the savannah plains where he has lived ever since.

And so, with this fairy tale, we come to the end of the A-Z! Thank you for coming along for the ride! I have so appreciated your comments, always broadening my own outlook on life.  Time to take a deep breath for the moment before attending to posts of yours I have so much enjoyed!

* Pula is the local currency and also means rain. The wavy blue represents rain. The head of the buffalo recognises the importance of cattle herding, and the cogs represent industry – diamonds and mining. It’s a rich country. Education is key in the life of Botswana, though many remain mired in poverty.

A-Z Blog Challenge Y: Yes to change

Y: Yes to Change

‘I imagine that yes is the only living thing’ – e.e. cummings

I returned home from Botswana this past Saturday; my US friends began their return home on Wednesday night. Only yesterday did I note that my orchids on my patio are beginning to bud and a few are showing blossoms (I’m sure it’s way too early). They weren’t showing any signs when I left on the 16th April. I went walking yesterday afternoon around my neighbourhood and delighted in the magnificent trees of rich and vibrant colour.

magnoliaThe seasons are changing from summer to autumn to winter, and nature keeps on showing us her beauty. Yes! I say, and thank you!

Yes! that I could take another photo of the fish eagle on a dead branch at sunset.

sunset fish eagle

 And in the first days of our bundu bashing I snapped a photo of a different baobab in all her glory in the pulsating sunlight.

baobabinsunlight

Another photo of an elephant taken while I was sitting outside my tent, on my side of the river .. I heard nothing, suddenly it was there …ellie2

I wish I knew how to upload some of the videos I took of elephant and hippo in the water gallumphing, wallowing, spouting, playing. 

Yes! to all the different views of nature, changing all the time. Yes! to my beautiful orchid buds, photo taken this morning, even if it is too soon. Yes! to the bee who’s buzzing around in my study –

Aprilorchid buds

And Yes! to all of you who’ve accompanied me in this A-Z blog challenge, I’ve so appreciated it. Thank you!

Z tomorrow – I have some lovely photos of zebra which I’ll put up. They all look the same but they really are different to each other. 

A-Z Blog Challenge X: Xray for Change

X: X-ray for Change

dead tree

On our landrover trips further into the bush on our Botswana adventure, we came across this very dead tree standing tall in the water. The tree struck me the first time I saw it; and again the next time at a different time of day and light. This was one of two photos I took the last time we passed it by. I loved the shape of it, especially how the branches were in symmetry at the top. And the tree and branches reminded me of an x-ray of the body, or some of it. I wondered how something entirely dead could look so lovely, and be in life-giving waters.

Over the last several days I’ve been thinking about that dead tree in life-giving waters and the symbolism it represents to me personally. For me, it symbolises the necessity of ‘doing’ or ‘practising’ a death meditation every now and then. Some I know do it daily, on arising. How to simply put it – it considers life and death together, the two most extremes that I can think of, the two most extreme opposites that have to do with us, with you, with me, and is an exercise of value. It makes me think about life, my life, others’ lives, loved ones past and present. I put a sort of an x-ray onto those thoughts and feelings –  interesting of course only to me – and thoughts and meditations on death of course enter the picture – ever changing and deepening (I hope) –

It is a task to attempt to hold those extremes in a healthy tension – but the task has value to me. The dead tree in water photograph is a graphic symbol of life and death residing together in symbiotic relationship. For me I must reflect on them, often. It is not morbid.

spiderweb

The first time I saw this spider web it was glistening in the bright morning sunlight, bejewelled and sparkling. This photo of it doesn’t do it justice, taken as it was at a different time. But, in whatever light, it was impressive. I thought briefly of Arachne (mere mortal) who challenged Athene (goddess) in the arts of weaving. Athene turned Arachne into a spider endlessly swing at the end of a thread. I thought of other myths and stories around the spider – and its web – it’s a very powerful symbol worthy of attempting to x-ray it and valuing the symbolism. I thought of the fine-ness of it, its elaborateness, its tension, its connections, its beauty, a tapestry, glistening like a jewel, so fragile, so strong, it’s threads sometimes used to make parachute chords.

I remember a dream from a long time ago in which I was bitten by a spider above my right ankle on my leg.

baobab2This last photo is of a baobab tree taken on our first walking day on The Island. Again, not a great pic … but this one was unusual as it has two trunks. The baobab tree is a mighty work of nature. Elephants love the pods from which tartaric acid is made and it’s used in food. They have a lovely lemony taste. I read in the Air Botswana in flight-magazine of a baobab that had recently toppled over. It was over 3000 years old. Before Christ, before Buddha –

So, x-ray and change – there’s always a new way of viewing an x-ray. 

Thank you for being with me on this trip – the A-Z trip and my Botswana trip. My US guests left for home last evening, and I am settling back into things, not least catching up on your blogs.

A-Z Blog Challenge W: Wilderness & Change

Wilderness & Change

I’d love to put up a short video or two but photos will have to do. I’ve barely had time to digest our week away; our US friends are still with us, leaving tonight, and it’s been busy since our return.

On our first day after overnighting in Maun in northern Botswana we travelled by mokoro  (canoe, these days made of fibreglass) on the water to The Island and camped in tents. No electricity, no wi-fi, just pretty basic. The photo below was taken at the beginning, but the waterways got narrower and shallower as we were poled along in the blazing heat. The 15 billions tons of water have yet to come down to Botswana from Angola later this month or in May.water lilies

After 2 nights in tents, we got back to Maun and from there overlanded to Moremi where, after crossing the quarantine border we got into game country.  By now we’d left tar roads behind and were on gravel roads. Elephant crossing the road, zebra and giraffe in abundance …

The staff had set up camp prior to our arrival this time on the banks of the river for the 2nd stretch. All was more spacious and also a shower and flush loo were in the encampment! I had my own tent. Two of our 6 had left us in Maun to fly to more comfortable lodgings – two nights of camping and roughing it had been enough for them. So we were four. Plus our cook and his assistant, and Joseph our guide who drove the landrover and sat with us at the supper table and told us stories. Of course, also no electricity – though the moon was full the nights we were there. This elephant was on the other side of the river. One morning at 4.00 I woke up to quite a bit of noise, a racket actually. The light outside was dim. But I saw 2 large shapes pretty close up and flapping ears – elephant, really close. In the still of the night they were drinking and eating and thrashing around. Unless they’re doing this they move so silently you can’t hear them, and blend so well into the bush, they’re visible one moment invisible the next.tent ellie

We would leave in the landrover around 6.00 a.m. after tea, coffee, rusks, returning around 11.00 for a slap up brunch. Two are both strict vegetarians and both were delighted and impressed with Chichu our cook. All meals were delicious. We would relax until 4.00 p.m. and leave again for evening drive returning around 7.00 p.m.hippos

These were hippos at sunset. 

fish eagle

I snapped a fish eagle in flight with its cry – 

I met up with my relatives which was a delight – I had tea with Anne, my brother’s widow and nephew David and his lovely wife and family in Anne’s beautiful home on the banks of the river. What was truly wonderful was hearing them speak of my mother and how much she was loved by all.

David tree

This photo is the tree under which my brother is buried and by which I spent a few minutes alone remembering him. The river is in the background.

I felt so full – of memories, love, warmth, small children, lush gardens, wildness, wilderness, and felt the wilderness in my own heart matching the outer …

We all felt the magic of the bush and our travels, getting down to basics. Each changed in some way …

 

A-Z Blog Challenge: V Vision for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge V: Vision for Change

vision quote Eleanor Roosevelt

I often think of Madame Thuli Madonsela our public protector who battled for many years to have our current president acknowledge his shady dealings in using tax payers money for his own private purposes and who was finally (recently) vindicated against all odds. Her vision was clear, to rid our country of corruption and to make it known explicitly that no-one stands above the law. Mr. Nelson Mandela, past president of our country – in fact tomorrow is the 22nd anniversary of our first democratic election in South Africa – whose vision was also clear in his ongoing striving for equality and peace in our land between its peoples. Martin Luther King who had a dream …

 I wonder about my vision and whether I have a clear sense of purpose and meaning in my life. Sometimes I do, sometimes not – my vision gets blurry with a sense of helplessness about this world in which we live. But, I pull myself away from this kind of questioning as I realise that the important question for me, is what is the meaning of my life. And then it becomes a struggle; why should I wonder about my own little life? And the questions become more urgent as I think and feel about this. I know that I must look more deeply, more probingly even if I don’t want to or don’t care to. I recognise my resistance; my wish to remain on the comfortable surface of my life has a strong attraction. Yet I do know that I have to do the personal work required of me, inter alia to recognise the negative and positive qualities of my shadow; to be able to recognise when I am projecting these qualities onto others and thereby have the wherewithal to withdraw them; to be more aware of when I act unconsciously; to know the whys and wherefores of why some of my complexes get tweaked every now and then; to take my dreams seriously for the messages they portray; to use the creative abilities I have elsewise they will wither … and on it goes … lighting a candle in the darkness for new visions to awaken to more of who I am and will yet become. I owe it to myself if I wish to lay a claim to my own authenticity in my version of my life.

 Carl Jung: Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

My post tomorrow will be on the Wilderness, where I was in Botswana. With photographs and hopefully a short video of elephants gallumphing about in the water, playing, trumpeting, splashing; with hippos in the background and a fish eagle on a tree …

 

A-Z Blog Challenge U: Uncertainty and Change

U: Uncertainty and Change

255167_10151187779944563_129703052_n

When we are not sure, we are alive. Graham Greene

We live in uncertain times, wondering inter alia about the candidates for the US presidential election; what’s happening in Brazil with the Olympics coming up and the president facing impeachment charges and the Zika virus; and here in South Africa all is very uncertain, our economy, the factions within the ‘ruling’ party (they’re supposed to be our servants, not rulers, but it’s the language we use); and on it goes.

We feel for those in danger, crossing seas in life boats to escape from certain death in their place of origin. We feel for those who cannot feel sure of their countries’ policies and who turn a blind eye to ongoing corruption and failure to protect women, children and innocents from autocratic and paternalistic rule. Those kinds of uncertainties can only be dreadful.

How hard it is to live with uncertainty! But is it really? Would life be any better, happier, more fulfilling if we could be certain about everything? I’m not so sure. It wouldn’t leave any room for the unknown and what is yet to be lived. There would be no room for the trickster, Hermes, always present, shaking up our assumptions and forcing us to view ourselves and others and situations differently. No room for doubt to open up our thinking and feeling and the possibility of putting away our conditioning even if it threatens the ego.

We would no longer wonder about our dreams that shake us up at night when we enter into unknown terrains. We are hostile to the unfamiliar, forgetting that the unknown and uncertainty drives so much – in the sciences, medical research, technologies, the arts in all shapes and forms. Change will happen always, by delving into the unknown.

Just a postscript – I was amazed to find on my return that I had put up 2 blogs on T … on the Friday night before our departure for Botswana, I thought I had done T but when I went to look for it late Friday night I couldn’t find it anywhere so wrote up another …

A-Z Blog Challenge T: Trauma as Initiating Agent

A-Z Blog Challenge T: Trauma as Initiating Agent.

roses-with-thorns

The Rose with its Thorns

Oscar Wilde: Where there is sorrow there is holy ground (De Profundis)

Many of us have had some kind of trauma in our lives, whether the death of a parent, sibling, grandparent who we’ve loved, or of a partner or loved one; the loss of a job, home, security; betrayal; illness or injury of ourselves or loved ones.  The list is endless. What was once beautiful, has shown its’ hurtful thorns.

A friend of mine here in Johannesburg is feeling totally whacked and weary to the bone. She says she’s seeing so many trauma cases in her clinical practice – this was correspondence via email apropos something else entirely but she mentioned it at the end of her email. I felt for her tender and gentle soul. This got me thinking – could trauma to the individual in a psychological sense be an initiating agent? I’m not speaking of the Holocaust, or the Vietnam war or of those having to flee because of atrocities in their home of origin. That is too big a something to write about here. Individuals such as Victor Frankl, Anne Frank and many many others have written movingly about their experiences. It must be said though that people such as they have looked into the heart of the matter and brought their wisdom to bear on human nature and the ability to rise above trauma, irrespective of how unimaginably damaging. 

I’m thinking of the wounding we may have received as a child in our normally dysfunctional families from eg a cold mother, or an emotionally absent father or a bullying sibling or relative or at school. Or any of the traumas mentioned above at the beginning of my post.

Do we have any helpful guides along the way who can help us hold the trauma, and see into the heart of it? A friend, a therapist, a counsellor, an outreach programme? Do these traumas propel us towards change whereby we can say when there is light at the end of the tunnel: we’ve changed – and for the better for I am now stronger, wiser, more compassionate, not so alone in my feelings of hopelessness. I’m human, like everyone else …

I think of Lilith, first wife of Adam (according to the Midrash) exiled to the depths of the Red Sea for her refusal to obey him and her subsequent blasphemy to God for refusing to hear her plea. Aeons sitting in the depths, wounded to the core. She returned and in disguise offered the apple to Eve which she took and she and Adam were exiled from Paradise. (according to the creation story). Trauma, that kind of wounding leading to a new world to be learned. Rosa Parks, refusing to give up her seat in the bus. Mr. Nelson Mandela spending 27 years in prison yet emerging with peace and forgiveness in his heart. Propelling us forward, all those acts initiated from trauma .. 

Is the rose any more beautiful without its thorns? I don’t think so – the thorns are a timely reminder of beauty and sadness residing together. 

A-Z Blog Challenge T: Tension as Agent for Change

T: Tension as Agent for Changedreamimages (9)No doubt there will have been tense moments while in the bush these last several days. Because of no wi-fi I’ve prescheduled my posts but I can’t help wondering as I write this before leaving so that this post goes up this 23rd day of the A-Z what sort of tension there may be. Have I packed everything that is required? I haven’t even checked the check list as I write this, late at night, leaving early tomorrow morning (every one else sleeping peacefully). Coming across a lion facing us in the bush? Hippos too close for comfort? An unseen snake dangling in the tree just overhead? It happened to me once. I was almost no more …

We’re a group of 6, 3 Susans, one Frederic, one Lisa, one Richard. My husband is not with us on this trip as he is too wary of malaria. 

Many years ago we were the same three Susans while hiking the Amalfi coast. There were plenty tense moments … getting lost and taking forever to wind our way down the mountain. Myself, Susan and Frederic. The other three went the right way though Richard hammered his knee ..

But for this post, I’m writing of the necessity of tension in our lives. While I may yearn for peace and perfect balance I know that this is not realistic and that there is value in tension. It gets us going. Like the arrow on the bow achieving the perfect still point and necessary tension before release, so too these opposites come into play. 

Of course there are different kinds of tension, those times when we hold our breath too long out of anxiety, or we tense up in certain situations and muscles go into spasm. And just the busyness of the day makes me tense… the rush rush rush. I know then that I must release it and not hold onto it. 

“But there is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites; hence it is necessary to discover the opposite to the attitude of the conscious mind.”
C.G. Jung, The Essential Jung: Selected Writings

As I write, I’m imagining perfect peace and harmony in the bush. Who knows – the bush has its own kind of tension, necessary for it to be what it is …

S: Soul and Surrender

A-Z Blog Challenge: S: Soul & Surrender

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‘Where there is sorrow there is holy ground.’

‘Imaginative sympathy is the sole secret of creation’.

Oscar Wilde – De Profundis

This is too large a task for me right now to put up a pre-scheduled post on soul. But I will relate a personal story that happened several years ago, which made me think about surrender and soul, an ongoing question and mystery for me.

It was a Monday. I was presenting at reading group that evening (on-going every other Monday night) and had pretty much done the work on that. I had a deadline of 2.00 pm to hand in part of a manuscript I was working on, in a suburb unfamiliar to me. I also had to take my younger son to the bus at the Zoo Lake for his return after half-term to his boarding school at 2.30. All was on track. Tuck box sandwiches and other delights were in the fridge for my son for his long ride back to school ..

I was preparing supper for my husband in my absence that evening. I was steaming some asparagus. I lifted the lid of the pot and was badly burned on my right wrist by the steam. It was unbelievably painful. I ran my hand and wrist under cold water, put plenty ice in a bowl with water and continued at the computer finishing the manuscript work while plunging my hand and wrist into the ice-water every few moments. I kept on adding ice to the bowl. I phoned my husband at his rooms and asked whether we had any burn cream. Look in the fridge he said. None.

Time to go – I wrapped my hand and wrist in one of those cold vacuum packs with strappings to hold it in place. We got into the car and somehow found the place where I had to deliver the manuscript. My son put it into the postbox and while he was gone for a few moments I was thinking about the unbelievably extreme pain I was in, and thinking about stopping in at the hospital to have it attended to after I’d delivered my son at the Zoo Lake. I was thinking about victims of war and methods of torture used to extract information and whether people could hold out and not give in. What helped them not to give in? Or surrender. I knew that I was hopelessly trying to keep the pain at bay – But, the word ‘surrender’ sounded a little more insistent.

And, in a heart beat it was gone. Just gone. Pain free. Gone. I told David when he got into the car … a man was approaching us walking on the pavement. He asked for money as he needed to catch a taxi to get to the hospital to see his ailing wife. I gave him all I had in my wallet – not a huge lot. It was a necessary exchange.

Davey and I set off. I delivered him to the bus stop at the Zoo Lake and returned home. I am still in awe of this particular event. It was soul-changing. 

I am still away in Botswana where there is no wi-fi in the wild so I am unable to respond to any comments you may make, or to make any comments on yours. I will attend to all when home! Thank you for coming by.

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