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Posts from the ‘responsibility’ Category

Huge mistakes, mistakes that were huge…

“Huge mistakes, mistakes that were huge…”
(Sean Penn as Sam in I Am Sam)

I’ve made some pretty big mistakes lately. (huge mistakes, mistakes that were huge.) Or maybe they weren’t mistakes. Or maybe they were. But that’s not really the point. The point is I made them. In good faith! Motivated, as always, by a desire to further develop the intimate connection with myself that this life offers, and of course, perhaps more dangerously, with others. Everything I do comes from here, from the desire to give and receive love fully, with abandon. Well, so sometimes it goes horribly bastard wrong. I walk into the fire and I get absolutely fucking scorched. But tonight as I arrived home to a freshly empty house and faced what may or may not be the truth of my situation, I had a new thought: what if it’s ok to make mistakes? And not just ok…What if they are even great, my mistakes? And the seemingly inconsequential small ones that slip drearily through the net…what if they’re ok too? What if instead of sitting at home beating myself to a pulp with a horsehair whip (I’m not actually doing that, if it were even possible) I could dance, dance naked in my room (or maybe with just a sports bra and appallingly tight lycra shorts on) like a madwoman (whatever that is) and celebrate my huge fucking mistakes, safe in the (lack of) knowledge that I will never actually know whether they were mistakes or not, because who I am now is partly because of them. And who I am now is definitely wiser as a result. Who I am now is learning to be itself the hard nasty brutal boring way with lots of potholes and although it is painful and infuriating to keep on falling in, surely that doesn’t preclude having a little jig at the bottom and a grand knees up when one finally climbs out?

“In the name of heaven and earth, you can afford to make love to yourself”
(Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior)

Amen to that.

 

Snakes and spiders

A spider crawled out of my bag this morning. I let out the kind of involuntary girlish yelp that I reserve for spiders and mice. It was the same spider that I had seen on the ceiling two days prior while vacuuming.

I remember observing at the time, that whilst it might have been highly convenient to hoover the spider up, thus removing any real or imagined threat, I wasn’t able to do it. This evoked a feeling of curiosity with a tinge of self-satisfaction. Had the Buddhist teachings started to penetrate at last? Had I finally begun to feel compassion for all living things?

Another thought accompanied these musings: hoovering it up wouldn’t actually get rid of it. It would still be there, inside the hoover bag. Dead or alive, it would sit there, in the bottom of that bag, as a consequence of my action.

Perhaps this was about responsibility. When I throw something away, I want to imagine that the responsibility for that rubbish leaves me the moment the rubbish leaves my hand. But somehow these days that story doesn’t sit quite so comfortably with me.

Every thing we throw away goes somewhere. Nothing is completely eradicated out of existence – it just changes into something else. This is the case with things, but also thoughts, emotions, they’re all energies – they have to go somewhere. I wonder if in some way this is what karma is all about.

The next day I saw the spider again in a different corner. A shorthand version of the previous days musings played over in my mind, along with the thought: ‘ah, there’s that spider again. still there. hmmm.’

This spider gave me two warnings that an intimate invasion might be forthcoming, and yet I did nothing.

I wonder how this translates to my behaviour in other areas of my life. Do I push away unwanted thoughts like unwanted rubbish, only to find them manifesting later more vividly in physical or emotional ways that I can’t control?

Quite possibly.

I think about Robert the Bruce, who also famously learnt something from a spider. The moral of that story was, we were taught, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ You can’t really argue with that. How many people succeed by giving up first time?

It inspired me to construct my own proverb:

‘Ignore a spider on your ceiling and the next day you’ll find it climbing behind your eyeball.’

OK I dressed it up a bit for the sake of the drama, but you get the idea. I wonder if it’ll catch on.

On a related topic, I released an EP this week. Not about spiders, but snakes. Water Snakes, to be precise. It’s about not ignoring what’s there – rather embracing it. It’s about a journey – the kind of journey that starts by letting go of your baggage. If you’ve ever travelled with Ryanair you’ll probably have experienced this kind of thing already.

Looking at what’s actually there is really, really uncomfortable a lot of the time. But in my humble experience, ignoring what’s there and trying to work with something that’s not there, only to find the taut facade of your own fantasy come crashing down at the most inopportune moment, usually in public, is marginally worse.

If that doesn’t tempt you to have a listen to the EP, I don’t know what will.

I could also add that it’s got some nice songs on it, possibly some of my best work so far. And there’s more to come.

Incidentally there are a few particular doses of inspiration to which I am indebted, and which I shall note here, for those who may be interested: The teachings of Chögyam Trungpa, Coleridge’s The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, and TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, in particular, Little Gidding. I’ll end with a quote from that as it says it all as eloquently and succinctly as I could ever wish to do.

‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.’

And now the music.

Breasts

You’ve either got them or you haven’t. No big deal. But they do change the shape of things somewhat.

As breasts are quite topical at the moment I thought I’d share my own breast-related story. Not about sunbathing topless, although I have plenty of not particularly interesting stories about that. Incidentally, why do they keep locking up the naked rambler guy? For what, just BEING? I don’t understand what the problem is with nudity. Why is it even an ity at all? It’s just what happens to be under your clothes.

Anyway my story is about breasts in clothes, or not in clothes, as the case may be. I was recently frustrated during an online shopping trip by the lack of breasts on the models in the pictures because they do change the shape of things somewhat.

I wrote the following email to Karen Millen, one of the many offenders:

Hi,
I just wanted to give you some feedback about my experience of on your website. I am an average sized woman, with breasts. I have nothing against skinny women with flat chests, and I understand the usefulness of that body shape when it comes to demonstrating the art of fashion, as well as the historical development of that trend. However, when it comes to online
shopping, it is really unhelpful to see what your dresses look like on people who are extremely thin, because it’s essentially the same as looking at the dress with no one in it. What I want to see is how it would look when filled out with flesh, and in particular, some kind of feminine curves – because then I can see whether it might be flattering to me or not. If the reality is that your dresses only look good on people who are stick thin and have no breasts, then you aren’t really servicing the majority of the female population, of this country at least. My suggestion therefore, is that instead of photographing the dress with the same woman a number of times in different positions, that you photograph three different women of different sizes, both with and without ample breasts, hips etc. In this way you would actually be helping the customer to make an informed choice, rather than lulling them into a fantasy about how the dress would look, if
only they happened to be Kate Moss.
Kind regards,
Annalie Wilson

No response so far…

Sorry for the mass text

If you are ‘sorry for the mass text,’ why are you sending it? You could also not send it. Alternatively you could send it and stop apologising for it. Is anybody forcing you to send it? You could send an email. You could call people individually or send them a message in the post. It’s really up to you. Presumably you think it contains something I might want to know. This is not such a bad intention. I might be genuinely interested. But your apology makes a mockery of my enthusiasm! And yet you feel the need to express your guilt. This is quite unhelpful. Preceding everything with ‘sorry’ doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of what you’re about to do. ‘Sorry I’m about to hit you in the face.’ ‘Sorry I’m going to sleep with your wife.’ ‘Sorry I’m going to drink 17 beers and make a dick of myself. It’s just who I am.’ In the grand scheme of things sending a mass text is not really that bad. Of course if you send it at 3 o’clock in the morning it’s really bloody annoying. But being really bloody annoyed, momentarily, over a mass text, is not that bad. I might think you were a dick, but probably only if I already thought that. It’s definitely not a deal breaker. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to send mass texts I say go for it. Just don’t apologise for it.

Moths

Ever since I wrote a song about moths I have noticed that more and more of them seem to be taking up residence in my closet. I don’t want to have this kind of relationship with my music. Life imitating art is decidedly spooky. And besides, the moth dies in the song. You hear that, moths? No. They hear nothing. Nothing but the high-pitched sounds made by predatory bats, of which there is a bewildering dearth in my bedroom.

I am sorry to sound vindictive; I have always let moths be, small and apparently harmless as they are. Even when I saw one or two of them sculling around in my knicker drawer. How naive. And then yesterday I made an alarming discovery. The moths are eating my clothes! And not just any clothes. My nicest, most expensive woollen jumpers. These moths, whom I have allowed to co-habit with me, no questions asked, are now repaying me by destroying the very shirts off my back!

But it’s more sinister than that. Researching into the habits of moths, I discover that they just want to get close to me. They particularly like to eat through clothes that have traces of sweat, skin and oil from human hair. Next thing I know I’m going to wake up in the night to find one of them staring at me with a manic, desperate look in its eyes. Perverts! Rooting through my wardrobe looking for bodily secretions. I feel unclean. They cannot be allowed to continue. For their own sake as well as mine. It would be cruel to let them think that this is normal, healthy behaviour. Something must be done. There may be no survivors.

Dogs

I think I’m ready to talk about the traumatic dog-woman experience.

Firstly, a word about dogs. I don’t hate dogs. I don’t hate them, to the extent that I wrote a song entitled “I Don’t Hate Dogs.”

I didn’t think it could get much clearer than that, although it seems some people remained suspicious, possibly owing to the double negative. Whilst it’s true that I have some personal issues with canine intimacy – namely an intolerance of slobber on the face, certain timbres of bark and the smell of wet fur reminiscent of mouldy washing – I love animals. Dogs included.

However. Dog-owners are another matter. Owning a dog is a responsibility. It is not kind to let your dog run riot and maul people’s picnics, just like it’s not kind to let your toddler masturbate in public – they don’t know any better.

On a nice hot afternoon, I was sun-bathing on the common, obsessively photographing trees (see below) when my tranquility was interrupted by a mad dog chase which seemed to centre around my blanket.

A lady nearby with a pushchair was strolling alongside, proudly absorbed in telling her dog what a good girl it was as it chased and fought another dog leaving me caught in the crossfire. As I sat up, slightly bewildered at the prospect of being thunked by colliding dogs, she looked at me accusingly and asked “is that your dog?”

I responded that it was not my dog, but that if I were to have a dog I would learn how to control it. This did not go down well. And I admit I did sound rather pompous at this point. What I probably meant was “the reason I don’t have a dog is precisely because, like you, I probably wouldn’t be able to control it.”

“How rude!” squawked the lady, “This is a dog-walking area! If you don’t like it go to the dog-free zone!”

I remained polite but firm. This was a public park, and those with dogs have a responsibility to keep control of them or to have them on a lead. I believe this is actually the law, although I didn’t bring that up, for fear she might hyper-ventilate.

“Besides, it’s dog-walking time!!!”

I am sensitive to the need for dogs to be exercised, but must it be at the expense of other park users?

She appealed to my sympahetic side: “He’s only a puppy, give him a chance!” I relented somewhat. I was being a tad harsh perhaps. But will she still think it’s cute when the dog is ripping a child’s face off?

“You need to learn some manners!” she spat, incredulously, appalled at my audacity in telling the truth.

As she huffed off, I considered my response. I was shaken and felt concerned – had I been aggressive? No, self-righteous maybe. But when there is an important point to be made I always feel a responsibility to make it.

Besides there was something alarming in her outlook on the situation. The attitude that I’ll do what I like, and if other people have a problem they can fuck off. I am afraid that I do relate to this – it’s something I felt a lot as a teenager, and even now on my grumpiest days – but I try and keep myself separate from members of the public at these moments.

I’m not averse to a bit of a provocative behaviour. But the motivation is important. The motivation in fact is usually quite blatantly evident. If it’s about me and preserving my little kingdom, it tends to look ridiculous. I cringe inwardly when recollecting moments in which I have acted upon this very impulse. If, on the other hand, it’s about shaking people out of their comfort zones and making them think, it can be exhilarating, sometimes terrifying – possibly even helpful.