Tuesday, 26 February 2013


As a rule I expect a mirror to reflect, accurately, that which is facing it. It's simple. However, my mirror, my inner mirror, that is,quite often reflects that which I would wish to see reflected in it. For instance, the other day I was on a bus. I had taken a seat near the front which displayed a sign giving priority to those "less able to stand".  The bus was very full and presently a lady boarded who was using two sticks. Dear Reader, my legs were about to lift me to my feet to accommodate her when the irony struck and I sat back hoping some real forty-year-old would have the grace to offer a seat. She did. During a recent snowy spell, I picked up the phone to see if an elderly friend was safe and to offer to clear her steps for her. This impulse and image dispersed only after she answered the phone and instantly asked me if I were mobile and if my steps were clear.  I have been more than forty for nearly as long ago as I was forty so it really is time I saw the world as it is not as my wish/instinct would want it to be.

A few days ago I went with one of my young to an exhibition. I don't do this often because my legs and back get tired before I have seen even a tenth of that for which I had come in the first place. Spying a wheelchair and being nothing if not practical he suggested we use it. The bullet was duly bitten and I clambered in." It's not that long", said I, with some rue, "since I was pushing you around". The pleasure of enjoying the exhibits without the habitual grinding pain of standing and walking too far did outweigh the intrinsic embarrassment of the situation, though. It only needed someone to speak of me in the third person, as in " Can she see from down there in that chair?" to highlight the dichotomy. "Why don't you ask her" quoth my pusher, at which the 'concerned' onlooker melted swiftly away in to the crowd. There is no rehearsal for old age. One can hope only that the sense of humour that saw one through the middle years will continue to serve one well in the final ones. I really don't see myself as someone who needs a wheelchair in a Museum, nor needing someone else to clear the snow. However, I do recognise my image in an actual mirror.  I have learned that that is also distorted and that what I see in front of me has not quite the same alignment as that which is seen by people  beside me in the same dimension .  Someone close to me caught sight of herself in a mirror the other day. Regarding her image she struggled to recognise the self it portrayed. Having spent her youth exquisitely beautiful she was not easily reconciled to the current reflection. No good to persuade her that, as it happened, that reflection was not an accurate representation of the  face the rest of us saw. The loss of the beauty she had enjoyed before would not be easily mollified by a sort of its-not-as-bad-as-you -think, however helpfully intended.
 I see there is some relationship between the mis-alignment in a looking glass and the perception of oneself as a person who gives her seat to others less able to stand whilst resting on her stick herself. "Between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow". : no doubt. Nos da

Saturday, 9 February 2013


My self and I are beginning to win the struggle with the Black Dog. As it happens, a friend introduced me to an idea. It was not really a new idea, but new as a formal philosophy in the context in which she put it. The idea is to make a friend of misfortune. In variouis shapes and forms, I have thought of and heard of this before. For many years I have been talking to parts of me that were in pain and getting them on side, so to speak. I have talked to dilemmas and analysed them in to reason. I can't ascribe the author of this particular exposition because I've forgotten it, but I was attracted to the notion of "hallowing misfortune" which is how it was put on this occasion. It doesn't feel so very different from making friends;  moves it in to a realm of sanctity, perhaps. Anyway, that's what I hope I've achieved with the Black Dog.
One outcome is that I have had to examine the phenomenon pretty minutely. Familiarity makes friendship more possible.With this exercise I found, to my puzzlement, that my inner world is like a jigsaw. One aspect of the Black Dog is that pieces of my inner jigsaw have become dislodged and realigned themselves in the wrong place. Patience for instance: patience has moved to where panic used to be. To expand: any annoying thing  I have been used to putting up with became impossible to manage. Down to six packets of cat food, and not yet able to carry much, I panicked. I had to give myself a good talking to, unravelling the strands until I was able to see that I could take a mini-cab, ask the driver to wait and bring me back for not much more than the delivery- to- door charge I normally pay for an order of too-heavy-to-carry groceries. (Cat litter, washing powder and the like if you must know). Forbearance is not unlike patience.  As it happens it has changed places with impatience. If someone speaks to me discourteously or sharply  a negative riposte springs too quickly to mind. Peace of mind and the belief in the general alrightness of things have swapped with anxiety. As a child I loved doing jigsaws. The trick was to put all the straight edged pieces together first so that one had a frame on to which to fit all the rest. I am at the stage, currently, where I have just about finished such a frame and am beginning to place random pieces where they should be. An added difficulty is that I don't have a picture on a box to guide me. There are at least two options. One is of an elderly lady, rather more than three score and ten, shorter than was,  peering uncertainly at a threatening landscape. The other is of a woman in early middle age, eager to get up and go,remembering her height gave her a great advantage putting a ball in a net, directing her world with confidence and aplomb. It feels scary to  see the mass of pieces in front of me, muddled and overlapping. Some days it's hard to see how they will ever make a cogent whole again. Perhaps, I have to forget any picture I have known before and locate them where they seem to want to go. How about an elderly lady, eager to get up and go who directs her world with confidence and aplomb. I like that picture. I shall make the jigsaw fit it. Nos da.