No longer do I care to fret about current affairs. Reality has shifted into an alternative universe, one that I do not find particularly attractive these days. Instead I am going to give my attention to my memories, why they are surfacing and connecting in the way that they are, and how they connect to me now and in the place I find myself, back in the UK.
I am slowly uncovering the barriers and unguarded weaknesses that have kept me from making the inner progress I seek to bring increased meaning and substantiation to my presence in the here and now. I am sure that greater meaning to all things little and large lies just beyond a fine veil hiding in amongst the duties of daily living. All we need is the will and the right tools to help us find that illusive door that opens to an inward journey and to a temple that is better lit than the most beautiful cathedral man has ever built. But first we do need to equip ourselves to see into the darkness. There we may find the font of all knowledge that is housed in a vessel in our hearts, patiently waiting for us to prise open the lid. You will also find a trunk, perhaps in the crypt, full of little boxes, some beautifully wrapped while others contain pixies, goblins or even little monsters that we have packed away, often times because they are too scary or too painful to pry into – something of a Pandora’s Box, you could say.
For this purpose I am choosing to look back in an investigative manner on memories that seem to have a mind of their own as to when they leap into and out of my mind. Now feels like as good a time as any to deconstruct them and hopefully find out whether they can reveal more than just remembered crumbs of time that can lead me home. Ah yes, another Fairy Tale comes to mind, one that rocked my world as a child, Hansel and Gretel. Perhaps when we don’t pay attention to the past the birds appear and eat all the crumbs, making it so much harder to forge a good path between birth and death.
In one of the few moments when my mother bared her soul to me, and during a dark time in her relationship with Greg, my brother, a time when he was using heroin to self-medicate, she told me that from the moment he was put in her arms her heart was his. When these moments happen in life they cannot simply be cognitive decisions or wholly emotional ones emanating from our ego alone. I believe they come from somewhere much deeper, knowledge that is lodged or even logged in our souls. I suspect there was something of a golden light that emanated from him, and certainly the response from his aunts and others to the boy that was Greg supports this hypothesis. When Elle’s older sister Kate arrived, Peter and I both registered Kate’s intelligent and challenging brown eyes. She made not a sound but stared from Peter’s to my face and back again for the longest of times. Life continued the same way for her as she enthusiastically explored every person that was willing to spend some time with a toddler, and she rushed forward into language to make sure it could happen. I don’t remember anything other than clearly enunciated language flowing out of her and from a very young age. Elle seemed to come into the world with a different focus, very much testing her boundaries, physical, emotional and mental, and as she grew into herself it emerged that she instilled in friends, and anyone she interacted with, the ability to feel better about themselves. She also seemed to be very sensitive to all the energies that surround us, both physically and socially. When we are united with our children, and from that moment on, the next phase in the story of our soul’s life begins to unfold as our hearts are permanently linked to those of our children.
My mom, Peggy, was the elder of two sisters by eight years. I didn’t know her parents except that their names were Lyla (or Lylia) and Wesley Benn. Even in old age my mom never spoke of them without a few tears welling up. I am different to my mom in that way. Once I reached the age of thirty I rarely cried, and when a tear did make itself felt I was almost always alone with my thoughts or losses. Because we lived mostly in countries away from my parental home my mother would visit us over the last independent years of her life. As we moved towards the airport gates, heading home, she would be crying and I would be dry-eyed until that moment she turned to walk through the gate, and then my eyes would well up. It made me even sadder because she never knew this happened, and must have wondered if I cared. But I didn’t linger on this too much and gave a lot of thought as to why my mother cried so much and so easily.
Becoming a mother usually helps one to understand all mothers better and especially one’s own. My mother told me often how beautiful, kind and loving her parents were, and always through her tears. She told me how much everyone loved them, and yes, other family members have confirmed this. And after hearing this many times I started to look deeper at what she was telling me. She told me that she would not leave her parents’ bedroom and move into her own until a baby sister joined the family unit. She said that her mother regularly redecorated her bedroom to try to entice her into accepting it as her space, but within days she had moved back in with her folks. It’s no wonder it took her parents eight years to make another baby! They must have been especially kind and/or indulgent of little Peggy to have put up with this for so long, and I am sure my mother’s reticence to sleep alone was not because she felt physically unsafe when alone. As she grew older her stories all indicated that she had wanted for nothing, and was perhaps even a little spoilt, although the family was not rich. Her father was a teacher who had become a school inspector for quite a large district, and as she got older she loved to ride out to nearby towns in the sidecar of his Harley Davidson. My mother truly had an idyllic childhood and upbringing in the beautiful lagoon-side town, Knysna, in the Western Cape of South Africa. She had a cousin as her best friend from babyhood, and lots more cousins, first, second, and no doubt, third too. Knysna abounded with family all with the surname Benn.
My mother and father moved to Cape Town not long after they got married, for reasons I know more of now but not pertinent to this blog. When I was about six months old, and my grandmother being a widow struggling to get over the death of her beloved husband, my parents invited her to move in with them. At this time my grandmother would have been around fifty-five years old. She told her daughter that while she loved her very much she did not want to live without ‘Daddy’ (what she called her husband to her children). She died a year later and the doctor told my mother she died of a broken heart. Having been through the loss of a child, I can imagine very clearly how this felt to my mother – she wasn’t loved enough for her mother to want to continue to be present in her life. Having spent time thinking about my mother, her tears, her vulnerability and her wariness of loving too much (she found it hard to hug and cuddle us, except perhaps for my brother who remembered his early childhood differently), my love for her grew immensely. I understood that she never felt worthy in the presence of the great love between her parents, and felt always that she lived on the outside of their circle of two; in some ways she felt that her love for them was unrequited. I don’t presume that they didn’t love her and her sister with all their hearts, but perhaps they didn’t realise that sometimes they needed to turn away from one another, face their children straight on, and show them how loved they were.
Even before Elle died I had taken note and processed this knowledge into my life experience, and I truly believe it helped me through my grief as I understood so well just how much Kate, our elder daughter, needed Peter, my husband, and me to recover, even if she could not see how she would ever come to terms with her grief. But even more importantly, I understand today that life is always waiting for us to engage with the knowledge that is available in the ether or, better described, the collective consciousness (all that there is to know), to help us avoid taking wrong turnings, or weak branches of our Tree of Life. I believe today that nothing bad that happens to us is ever a punishment. Life is about consequences. We may be born with a blue print, which looks something like that tree, of all the possible ways in which our life will run eventually to its end, but how we get there is the Free Will part that leads to the consequences of any and all choices we make. Good deaths tend to go hand in hand with experiencing the happier consequences that come to us, and, well, the opposite is probably true too, and here I am talking about a full life lived. Shortened lives can have very different values and interpretations. Another blog, maybe.
An aside. Pandora’s Box has fascinated me since a child. In my innocence I thought it was just another good story, but as I got older I gradually became aware that there is a lot more to stories than just simple imaginative story telling. As I have grown older still, I find that there are endless nuggets of lessons, warnings, truth and revelations hidden throughout all the Fairy Tales, Fables and Myths from tribes and cultures all over the world. The Greek Myths and the Hebrew Old Testament more or less came into being around the same time, approximately eight centuries BC. But when you read the Bible’s version of Creation, the Garden of Eden, and the results of Eve eating from the forbidden tree, The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then read Pandora’s Box, they are pretty much identical stories. Creation myths around the world all have much in common. It leads one to think that they must have come into being through collective consciousness as they all developed around a similar time and in remote parts of the world, and if it was collective consciousness then most likely we live in a holographic universe. If a holographic universe then there must be infinite more. I don’t see how anyone cannot believe that there is so much more to life than meets the eye or, in other words, that all we are is co-incidental matter.
The name Pan is a boy’s name, of Greek and Hindi tradition, meaning ‘all’ or ‘to shepherd’. Dora is a girl’s name, being the shortened version of the Greek name, Dorothea or Theodora, meaning ‘Gift or in its full form, ‘God’s Gift’. You could say that we were gifted with a shepherd and a shepherdess who would guide us through our dual world to know all that concerns the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ – all that is dark and the light to show us the way home.