The first stone

 

“Oh heaven, oh heaven, I wake with good intentions. But the day is always just too long”  Emeli Sande

If it weren’t for the fact that I am guilty of almost everything, I would be the most judgemental person on this earth. In this way I can be thankful (almost) for my mischievous nature. Because it gives, at least, some understanding and acceptance of the misdemeanours of others. If I wasn’t such a bitch, this quality would most likely make me a better friend to have.

And just like the song says, with each new dawn I’m at it again, new fuckeries to add to the long list of charges. There’s no solace in the knowledge that at least my sins are not crimes. No. This noteworthy distinction isn’t enough for me to let myself off the hook, and it isn’t for you either. Because I know I’m not alone in this denigration of self. This perpetual dispute over actions and covert intentions resulting in all manner of conclusions but leading invariably to one thing: guilt. When I really think about it, it’s no wonder I am so afraid of nuns.

A new year carries with it more weight than a new day and as such, we find ourselves seeking ways to clean the slate. Sprucing up the self is always the best place to start. I thought about it for too little time whilst in the bath and resolved that I would seek out this self-assurance that at the time seemed such an attractive quality to me. In the time it took to dry my toes, I had changed my mind. Seeing it as an annoying form of arrogance: too restrictive a territory for this turbulent traveller. And the research that it involves would certainly dilute my well-intentioned enthusiasm before I knew it.

Sniffing around the scene idly, surely there was something important I was getting at. A grotty skirting board somewhere that needed a clean. Self-assuredness is great en’all but when we really want to do something, we’ll always find a justification to make it possible…or else spend our days what-iffing. Bringing us back nicely to guilt and regret: the two most popular postcodes for people to reside.

But all things have their place and guilt surely helps us stick to the right track doesn’t it? Or is guilt a smothering straight jacket supressing the life and lust deep within? Either way, you’ll feel it regardless, even when you try not to. And I really envy those self-serving pieces of shit that don’t feel it at all. The ones who will always do what suits them best. They’ve got the right idea. Because as my new favourite Nan told me, “life is such a quick thing. Before you know it there’s no time left at all.This isn’t a revelation of any sort but coming from the nicest and most elderly person I know, it’s a rightful incitement to a little selfishness now and then.

So we move forward, past the wishes and expectations of others and into a new undiscovered realm. Fresh and untarnished by anyone else’s wants, this place is uniquely ours. We are the only dreamers of this particular dream. And it’s everything it should be and more…the sun stings bright happy eyes, playful blinking, lips lifted flirtatiously like the hems of skirts revealing some leg or gums. Frolic and flounce with all the fucking frivolity of a dance thoroughly needed. Exhaling. Muscles slumped, one on top of the other like a bum sits nicely on the heels of your feet. Looking around, like a baby blinking into existence, you see that you’ve achieved more than just the aesthetics of your dreams: in this place of unabashed insistence you realise that you’ve found yourself.

This is where we experience the flipside of guilt. The un-sulky and much more deeply rooted kind. On the verge of liberation from the combined misfortunes and self-inflicted sadness of the past, we notice a fire-exit like a giant green flashing angel. But we realise that by walking through it, we are condoning and accepting the hideous happenings that we have spent our years hating. Because on the verge of acceptance, comes that one last pang. “If I take this final step now, it means I have gained from the severance and loss of a child. It means I have benefitted from the loss of a soul that deserved his life certainly more than I do”. Or at least that’s my deepest fear. And when you see someone, whose womb has seen both life and death, smiling sincerely from the snag of their stubby toes to the flick of their bottom lip, you have to know it doesn’t come without repeated mental punches to the gut.

So we stay on the precipice, looking through the window at a feast we will never enjoy. Hungry, hurting and self-loathing but not entirely unhappy in our darkest of places. Arms folded smugly across my breasts, hair unmanageably long: I watch from the window as children swarm my street on their way to school. Like happy woollen kebabs, padding around blindly with just their noses poking out. Warm necks to the sky as the first of the year’s snow falls. And I can’t help but be softened like butter slip sliding into the pores of my toast.

Letting yourself off the hook isn’t as easy a thing to do as it sounds. But you must because hating hard on the unprejudiced unpredictable strike of lightening that once struck you and invariably despising the crispiness it has left you with is a rash that will prickle over the whole surface of skin. Slowly driving you insane with its itchy creeping demands. Till you’ve scratched and scratched and there’s nothing left but the dabby stickiness of blood and sinew. Boiled blistering skin, parched thin, scarred and weeping, no longer any use to anyone at all.

And maybe that’s what it means to burn in hell.


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Detachment: Like the cracking of an egg.

It’s easier to push people away than you’d hope.

The realisation of this is a hard one because it’s stalked by a terrible feeling of rejection. Feeling un-loved and misunderstood: and shouldn’t a real friend always assume the better of you?

I plough on, head held high, unsure if I’m right or if I’m wrong but ploughing regardless till I’ve cleared the entire field. And if it saddens me so then why do I do it? Hand shoots up erect to the sky, me sir, I know, pick me, I know. Because there’s a long overdue spring coming and I need a fucking clear out. All this clutter, the eggshells so much trodden on that they have become the carpet, it needs to go. So the new broom sweeps clean and if it’s so easily got rid of then it couldn’t have really been yours to begin with.

Sometimes it feels, in this life of mine, that the only thing I don’t lose is weight.  But maybe, I speculate, these things are needed before the real work can begin, for the untying of all those pesky knots. You can’t renovate a house without first removing all the furniture and perhaps in the same vein, you have to deconstruct in order to reconstruct.

But what is it I’m supposed to learn from all these dreams of keys and ducks and walls closing in? Is everything we learn in life simply a lesson in how to die? Tragedy-prone as we all feel we are, can we take lesson from these things and graduate with honours to the big bright beautiful ever-after? To the palace in the sky? To the pacifistic equivalent of Valhalla I dreamed of as a child. The truth has to be that through the acceptance and understanding of death, life will take on new and fuller hues, and perhaps sometimes vice versa.

Losing friends is like the shedding of tears, or the bleeding of menstrual blood. You feel while it happens: anger, frustration, sadness, hurt. But once it’s done what you have left is the slightly exposed scrubbed clean you, warts and all. And you will learn to live with the new found space, fill it with new things, perhaps things that were destined to come to you. But only once you’ve stopped playing that record over and over, stopped finding new ways to beat yourself up for the failings of others, you’ll take yourself in your own arms and be the friend you always needed. Because what I realised is this: the most abusive and unreasonable critic is the one that resides deep inside the mind. If we can conquer him, then the rest is just child’s play.

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

I feel the sun brighten in the tiniest way from the smoggy-smudge of the office window. It’s so slight I could of missed it. But for some reason I didn’t. Music ears in, distracted from my work: because somewhere on my planet there is a war going on. Because my brain is nightmare-plagued with surreal images of men in white dressing gowns and combat trousers. Taking over the high streets, they are everywhere I look, covert but a threat none the less. And these men aren’t just black and they aren’t just white. What defines them isn’t their race or their religion, it’s the hatred in their hearts. They come from all over: not just the children of war but the children of industry and commerce, the children of poverty and riches, of unaffectionate parents and too much private schooling. They are dead behind the eyes. They scare the shit out of me, in all their varieties and forms.

I know today is a big war day for our political mandems. Will we, wont we? I don’t fucking know anymore. But in my heart I hope we don’t. Because I can’t find peace in a violent world. I am that fool that just wants everything to be ok. Everywhere. So I make my little efforts and wish on all the dandelion clocks and loose eyelashes. Hoping that if I fix the conflicts in my own soul, that it will transcend to the external world will catch on. Not because I’m that egocentric but because somewhere along the way I decided that the inner world dictates the outer and that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Surfing a hippy vibe that curves a smile across even the strictest of faces. And what I don’t get is how I still have this weird belief in magik, that things can be conjured and manipulated with a wish and good intention. It makes me feel thick and in it I lose my edge, but it’s true none the less.

I’m afraid of religion and the nutcases that subscribe to it. And war is the reason why.

I’m afraid of politics and the nutcases that subscribe to it. And war is the reason why.

I’m afraid of violence and the nutcases that subscribe to it. And war is the reason why.

I’m afraid of greed and commerce and fear itself because in this art of war, there are people losing their heads.