Rice paper

I’m not doing great. The world’s a scary place and right now I keep thinking of the kids, keep getting scared for them, for the future, their future.

Being scared don’t do anything, does it? Silly Phil.

Nor does ignoring it all. But at least ignoring it all you get to live a happy life. Get to live a life.

And I think too much about these things, get to thinking what’s the point, get to thinking those same old dark dark thoughts. Who wants to watch the world burn, after all?

I shouldn’t think those dark dark thoughts, I’m told.

How is it life can be so brutally real yet so rice paper thin?

In the terrible dawn of grief you see the world stripped bare of stories, stripped bare of distractions and you want to laugh, or scream, or beat your fists against the chests of other humans and howl that it’s all dust and whispers and all these lives we build up and tear down and worry and fear and hope over are just stories we tell ourselves to distract from the gaping truth that we’re all just words spoken briefly by the world then lost with breath on the wind.

The world at once so brutally real yet rice paper thin.

I worry over things I can’t change, I’ll never be able to change, watching a humanity careening closer and closer to environmental ruin and social destruction and I worry, I worry over the future my future, their future. Silly Phil.

Sometimes I can blot it out, it takes effort and a few magic tricks but sometimes I can, but not right now. Not as the world looks set to burn.

I’m not doing great. The world’s a scary place right now and I’m not doing great.

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Why I meditate

zenAs I say, I’ve recently taken to meditating; every morning, sometimes in the afternoon, evening.

It’s been a month, more or less. Who knows if I’ll keep it up? I don’t even know why, initially, I started. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it to do anything other than give me half an hour relaxation a day, half an hour ‘me time’. Half an hour sat like those slim white women (always slim, always white, always women) on the covers of books and magazines and in all the stock photography, with closed eyes and that irritatingly beautific expression beaming from the shelves and the screens and the pages of Yoga Today.

OK. I don’t sit like them. I am in some ways preternaturally flexible (hello boys), but I can’t quite comfortably manage a full lotus position – feet on thighs, pelvis square on the floor, stable, strong. I can drag my legs most of the way, and hold the pose out of sheer bloody mindedness while my  feet slide down and my ankles end up twisted at an angle that can’t be healthy (and certainly doesn’t feel it), and maybe even stay like that for a full 10 minutes while my legs go numb and my upper back starts to howl, but eventually I have to admit that I will never be a slim white woman.

Besides, I meditate zen-style. Eyes open.

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Other plans

It’s easy to get upset about things.

I know this is hardly a striking insight from someone prone to profound, paralysing depression. Still.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. And it’s easy to get upset about that.


It was meant to be redundancy, complete MSc, new and exciting job.

No, no, it was meant to be BSc, quit job, MSc, more interesting job.

No, no no no. It was meant to be move to London, get a job, have fun.

I mean, after the original plan had failed, that is. BA, job.

It was meant to be different, it wasn’t meant to be this. It wasn’t meant to be unemployed and skint and living with my family in my mid 30s. It wasn’t meant to be directionless and purposeless.

I didn’t mean to waste all that time and effort. And it’s easy to get upset about that.


Understandable too, I guess. But many understandable things are nevertheless unwise.

I think of suicide – when I think of suicide, which these days is rare but it’s a peculiarly hard habit to break – I think of suicide when I consider how much of my life I’ve wasted, which is a morbidly absurd line of reasoning. Life streams by, gentle, terrible, a single impossibly slim moment which somehow extends on forever.


I’ve taken to meditating.

I’ve dipped my toes into mindfulness based cognitive therapy before; that’s mindfulness rather than Mindfulness(TM), the latter being today’s fashionable false hope. But before mindfulness therapy was even a glimmer in Kabat-Zinn‘s eye, I was drawn to Zen Buddhism.

You try on personalities as a teenager. Try on beliefs and hobbies and ways of being, see if they’re comfortable. Drop and forget most of them, and I mostly dropped and mostly forgot all that hippy shit.


I meditate in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings. Sometimes my mind settles on my breathing with relative ease, other times it’s a butterfly in the wind. Sometimes I get frustrated at how I don’t settle, other times I don’t mind. Sometimes I breathe in and out, and in, and out, and it’s like I dissolve, the world blossoming and falling at once, every moment, endless. Other times I think of shopping lists. It doesn’t matter. The point of meditation, I’m beginning to realise, isn’t anything to do with meditation.


If only I’d been diagnosed earlier, if only they’d initially given me lamotrigine instead of citalopram, if only I’d taken my mental health more seriously, if only if only if only. I could have got the qualifications and the job and the money and the life you’re meant to have and enjoy rather than had years of tears and failure and now this, this, drifting, skint, jobless.

I walk in the park, most days. Pausing sometimes to look up at the ever changing sky, gulls wheeling on the wind, playing. Directionless. An impossibly slim moment stretched somehow into forever.

There are so very few ways, I think, that you can waste that moment. But suicide is definitely one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world goes from tissue to silk

I still can’t quite believe I’m never going to see him again.

I wonder if I ever will believe.

There’s a difference, I guess, between acceptance and belief. And it’s strange, because in the first few shattering days I did believe it, believed it horribly and viscerally. The truth of it was immense and blocked out the world, everything else becoming tissue paper, scrunched and disposable, disposed. But now…

The truth of it doesn’t settle in. It recedes. And the world goes from tissue to silk and we remember who we are, forget the absurdity of it all. There’s a difference, I think, between acceptance and belief. Or maybe they’re just two different shades of denial.


I’ve found a local Soto Zen group.