Angst

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‘Angst’

” If you ask me what the most grotesque thing about alcoholism was I’d have said, indeed I did so over and over to anyone who asked – and plenty who didn’t – it wasn’t the physical stuff, it wasn’t the humiliating death stuff… it was the sadness. I called it my angst. A suitable august, Germanic word for a basement depression that was fathomless and occasionally erupted in gasping panic. And even when locked away it would seep out and sour every other emotion, like bitters in milk. Alcoholic despair is a thing apart, created by the drink that is a depressant, but also the architect of all the  pratfall calamities that fuel it. Alcohol is the only medication the drunk knows and trusts, a perfectly hopeless circle of angst, and it is powered by a self-loathing that is obsessively stoked and fed. And it’s that – the personally awarded, vainly accepted disgust – that  makes it so hard to sympathise with drunks. Nothing you can say or do comes close to the wreaths of guilt we lay at our own cenotaph.”

–  A.A .Gill, from “Pour Me: A Life.” (highlights mine, as were the lowlights…)

The Very Necessary Narrow View

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Window, Tower of London      October 2019

We all want to be seen to be broad minded and to be the one to take the wider perspective.

This shot of a window in the Tower of London (a prison to many unfortunates centuries ago) gives a little lie to that virtue.

For there is a time to take the narrow view.

When it is the only view.

When you are in darkness, or a jail of circumstances beyond your control.

Then the sliver of light and the merest glimpse of the exterior is enough to give hope.

Some small positivity, manageable to a damaged spirit.

The whole luminescent world of possibility is too much to contemplate in that grim time.

If you are there, as I have undoubtedly been, it’s okay to do only what you can and take the narrow view…

Calm Before The Calm

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      Orewa Beach, Auckland NZ

As calm as an ocean gets.

A beach as flat as a pancake.

Gorgeous, idyllic, serene et cetera.

Fantastic for a day, a week maybe.

What if your life was this scene, endlessly?

That’s not being calm, that’s becalmed ; the doldrums, in which your ship stalls.

Maybe it’s just me, but when matters are progressing really smoothly for any length of time, it’s easy to go on auto pilot, to think: “I’ve got this.”

And that’s precisely when I need to beware.

I don’t wish for turbulence, storms or (god forbid) shipwrecks but if they occur, they (if nothing else) take away my driftwood-like complacency…

 

 

Fractured

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Self-help/lifestyle books and sites are full of tips to assist you to “lead your best life”.

I  am not exactly in love with that phrase, nor some of the iffy suppositions behind it.

The general themes involve the person with the less than best life adopting new mental and physical practices,and sooner or later(preferably sooner) their life is transformed.

There are big assumptions in all of this – first, that you are able to help yourself (it wouldn’t be self-help otherwise!) and, secondly, that what has improved one person will do the same for another.

Sometimes true, often false.

Hard to assess, given the range of “solutions” on offer run the gamut from plain old common sense to ludicrous and even dangerous fads.

And mostly, the improvement schemes are aimed at ,and picked up by, those whose lives are just a bit “off “. Easy marks.

People who are broken, whose lives are fractured, fragmented, do not reach for lists with titles like “10 Ways To A Happier You – Now!” They don’t give a flying f**k about trite inspirational messages on cushions,bumper stickers or coffee mugs. If the Dalai Lama  himself showed up on the doorstep,with his sweet infinite wisdom, they would tell him to piss off. And nobody, I repeat, nobody, needs a coffee enema…

When you cannot do life ,you can’t do “need to do” bullet point lists.

The ones who are lost, trust me on this, don’t need to be told how to make themselves whole or found ,or whatever.

They need to be understood and accepted ,and there is no quick fix in that. Only time, and the love of others, will reach the soul and give the fractured the wherewithal to move themselves on.

 

 

 

 

 

Battered Protector

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Wooden groyne at a small beach on Auckland’s Tamaki River.

Groynes are structures that are supposed to prevent shoreline erosion by trapping sand and sediment moved by sea tides.

Pretty evidently,this specimen has seen better days.

Years of protecting the shore against wind and waves have taken a toll. Bits of the structure are gone but it still protects the coast.

Parallel with humans exist – worn down,carers and protectors amongst us can eventually suffer from “compassion fatigue” ,and worse.

If that sounds like you, please remember to shore up your own timbers before fighting the tide -take care of yourself as a priority!