Today, is just as times before. When I feel the pain of another’s story, long after my ears have heard. When I remember back to my own journeys through the pain of chronic ill-health. And the mental anguish of being unable to function for days, weeks, months. The self-imposed stresses. The very real stress of maintaining a relationship whilst unable to maintain yourself. Being unable to work, unable to generate income, unable to meet deadlines.
Unable. Disable. Needing more enable, but those days were rare.
I have known defeat, suffering, struggle, and loss. Somehow I have found my way out of those depths and stand here today.
Pain reaches forwards
Up from the past
Clutching and dragging me
Fearing all that
Now, as then
And I tell myself right now
These are emotional ghosts
They have no power over me
Except that which I give them.
Though I feel unsteady, unsafe
My comfort lies in others
Asking for help
Accepting supportive hands
Belief in my own inner strength.
These are my tools
With these now I survive
And prepare to thrive once more
This is my hope, my truth.
[ trigger warning: reference to a deceased friend ]
Tricia said “those bastards” and “I hope you’re alright dear” then she started talking about her own experiences of life being unfair and unpleasant. It’s her care and warmth that shines through. And soon you feel much better, for a sympathetic ear from a beautiful soul.
She’s right here with us, loving that we became friends through her. And she’s focusing on the important matters in life, steering our thoughts away from unpleasant incidents, because – well because that doesn’t really matter.
In this great play of life, the small unpleasantness doesn’t really matter. We have each other. We have health food and shelter. We are able to travel and create our own adventures. We stay safe. And we look out for each other.
Our role is flexible. We choose the story as we go, but we choose to embrace others into it, to create a big beautiful mosaic of life.
[ postscript. ]
Traveling the US for the first time in my life. Seeing my favourite musical artist perform live for the first time in my life. On my own, quite the adventure. Visiting writer friends. Visiting new old friends and going to a vegan Sushi restaurant, during which brief time my Bag was stolen from a car boot barely 15m away. Everything important, everything non-replaceable, was with me. Being grateful. Being thankful for all that I have. And learning to let go of that which doesn’t really matter, learning to free the soul from material attachments. A valuable lesson, at an important time in my life.
Photo scrolls up
A familiar style
Already I know it’s you
Hesitating to read
Your words draw me in
Carrying away to a new place
Not ready for this adventure
Turning off and tuning out
Your precious gift awaits
We will meet soon
When my time is right
[ I’ve been spending more time on instagram lately, sharing my shorter poetry with integrated visuals. It feels closer to what I’m striving for artistically. Feel free to join me there. And if you also put writing there, do let me know. I live for all your words. ]
As the tug-of-war flares up inside me
I feel both, the forwards momentum, and
The screaming fear pulling me back
“That way hurts”; “That way is unknown, scary”
And many other words, whispered so secretly I can’t quite make them out
Being so exhausted, it’s too easy to let go and be pulled back
When did I last win this game anyway?
The joy and energy of victory are long forgotten.
Yet others join in on my side, grab the rope and pull for a while
Close friends, online friends, strangers,
Who all have my best interests at heart
Others who believe in me
While I try so hard to feel their faith,
To feed off the encouragement they give
And for the strangest time, I feel so little.
Do you ever feel
Out of place
Surrounded by people
Who don’t understand?
There is a person
Or a group
Who welcome you
With all your ups and downs
All your talents and quirks
Your truest friends
With support they embrace you
With understanding they carry you
With love they see you
As one of them.
And here we are, thirty days of silver linings. Not quite consecutive as I missed one or two nights due to tiredness, but even those days I did make a mental note of positives for the day.
Tonight was a visit to close friends for dinner. We are like family to each other. And I am a favourite uncle to their two boys, who are five and three. In fact they were bribed by my visiting to have had dinner, bathed and in their pyjamas ready for bed when we arrived.
Of course first thing was they wanted to play Lego with me, so the sheet filled with all manner of bricks and blocks was placed on the floor and the three of us settled down for 15 minutes or so of play, until dinner was served.
After dinner and their play it was definitely time for the younger one to get to bed. He asked for me to carry him to bed. This is a first! So we said goodnight to everyone and I got to tuck him into his small bed (with a little assistance from mum).
Then there was some testing of colouring pens and watercolour paper (adult colouring books and brush tip pens). So the older boy wanted to join in and did a reasonable job of staying within the lines. I grabbed his drawing book and pens and asked him to select colours for me. So colour by colour I made a little drawing and put my name on it.
I love kids. Especially love these two. They are as close to having my own as I’ll ever get. I love the innocence and openness that they have. It reminds me as an adult, a lot about living and having fun. The older one has a learning developmental difficulty. Mild Cornelia de Lange Syndrome,
hope that is spelled correctly thanks google for the spell check. But the love they both show is a beautiful reminder of life in a simpler way.
Grateful for sunny pleasant weather to ride my bike in today, people who are so close as to be family, and movie fun with a friend.
What significance does Lego have in your life?
My first silver lining reached me this morning. I felt the night’s sleep had been terrible, taking a long time to settle, restlessness and with frequent waking up. It took a half hour of persistence through sleepiness to get my eyes to stay open this morning. So after I eventually got myself up out of bed I logged my activity band into my phone to check on my supposedly terrible sleep and saw this chart above which told me a few things.
The first point I noted was that my “sound sleep” was 2:15, which is actually just above average for me, and there were 2 decent blocks of it.
Next, despite waking 5 times during the night, total sleep was 8:12 which is above my original target of 8 per night. Currently I’m aiming for 9 hours sleep per night to try and get over this exhaustion.
So overall, not too bad compared to how I thought sleep had been. A good positive reflection of the situation.
“Winners are Grinners”
My second silver lining today was going out to the weekly pub quiz night that some friends have been attending for over a year. No matter how well or badly we do, its always good for a few laughs. There is a core 2 or 3 who are the regulars and then different people turn up each week depending on who is available. Some I know, some are new to me. Always happy to make new friends.
Well tonight we won first place! That’s a $100 bar tab for us next week. Probably equals a few bottles of wine and some jugs of cider.
So today I am grateful for helpful sleep monitoring, yummy leftovers for lunch, warm tea drinks, and quizzing with friends.
What’s your experience with quiz nights?
“Wine and Games”
Another foggy and unmotivated day. But I got up, dressed up, and showed up to the office, and achieved some progress.
Tonight was our monthly social gathering at the pub for dinner/drinks and games. It’s our city’s fan club for the fantasy author Terry Pratchett (who unfortunately died earlier this year). Good catching up with familiar people in relaxing and enjoyable company.
I forgot to take an actual photograph of the evening, but the image above is of the board game that four of us played at our end of the table, and the lovely local wine that I drank a glass of.
I also got to message chat with a friend and arrange to meet up with them Friday afternoon and message chat with another overseas friend tonight. The people that support me, that pick me up when I’m down, that call me out when I’m being stupid, that accept me for who I am.
Today I am grateful for fun tabletop games, quality wine, and friends near and far.
What game do you enjoy playing (or have memories of)?
After yesterday, managing 2/3 of a day in the office was an achievement. But the real silver lining was going out to the pub tonight to meet some friends at a regular quiz night. Good people to laugh with, collaborate with, brainstorm with, good friends.
When I went to the bar for a drink, I saw a bottle of Cooper’s Stout in the fridge. And my first thought was that it was always my Dad’s favourite drink, especially when mixed 50/50 with lemonade and called a Portagaff.
So I thought, in honour of my Dad tonight, being at a pub with friends, I will have one. Not sure if I have tried this drink for at least 15 years and don’t recall particularly enjoying it previously. But tonight it was good. The sugar in the lemonade is probably going to bite me tomorrow or on the weekend. But tonight I enjoyed it, I remembered him, and all was good in the world.
Grateful for friends to have fun and a laugh with. Grateful for energetic days. Grateful for local drinks and memories to hold onto.
What is a drink of significance or memories to you?
Woke up this morning to an email from my friend Abbie. Part of it was reminding me of our conversation the night before, and how I was going to care for myself today.
That consideration and guidance stuck with me all through the day, even though surviving was a great struggle.
This is what silver linings are all about. Those little sparkles of hope that get you through despite everything crazy going on inside your head.
Support. Assistance. Words of guidance. Words of encouragement. We all need these at times.
When you need it, ask for help. If you are unsure, ask for help. Real friends will be there. And sometimes it doesn’t even matter if they are half a day away in a different timezone on the other side of this rock we call earth.
I need my friends to survive. How about you?