Killing me Softly

This morning, under the shower, I was particularly excited when this song popped up on my playlist.  Talk about music lifting the spirits.  To say it fitted my mood well would be an understatement!  It has been on my mind for a while to write about how I experience Killing Me Softly, and now seems as good a time as any.

On the basis that I have found music, lyrics more precisely, to be a moving source of inspiration and comfort, this is kind of how it goes.  It is as if the lyrics can bend to whatever it is that you need to hear in the moment you find yourself in.  And I can see that what I am hearing may very well be different to another person’s interpretation of them.  I think of it as something almost akin to magic.  A trick of the universe.  It is capable of guiding us through personal times of crisis and joy, and no matter what are ages are. Songs can have multi-layered interpretations.  I see the writers of strong lyrics now almost as mystics, or at least conduits, through which universal inspiration and knowledge is able to flow.  So many of the songs that I had chosen to put on my iPod, and then on my iPhone, suddenly became alive, and I seemed to hear them properly for the first time after Elle died.  Yes, I have added quite a few new ones, but mainly I had them all the time.

This particular song was requested by my good friend, Claudia, one evening when we sat outside listening to songs following that August 2016 fateful moment.  She was our rock, support and comfort during the worst time in our lives.  She is also Elle’s godmother, along with another dear friend, Ann.  The synchronicity of Claudia’s unexpected arrival to join us in Galicia has not been overlooked.  Claudia has had her own share of pain, and was able to step out of it, and give support to us in ours, even though her pain at the loss of Elle deeply felt too.

About a week after Elle died, Peter, Claudia and I were sitting out on a barmy September evening listening to our favourite songs together, while a few of Elle’s friends relaxed around us too. I was already collecting a list of favoured songs that later developed into our Elle playlist, which continues to build.  One of our evermore personal favourites is a song called Courage by Villagers.  This particular song was sent in an email by Elle in the August of 2015 to Peter, Kate, Heather, Greg, maybe a few others, and me.  The only people who listened to the song, that I know of, were Greg and Heather.  A few days, and while Heather was with us, something nudged her to ask us if we had listened to it.  No, was the answer, and I went straight to my laptop and searched for emails written by Elle, and there it was – a link to the video.  The first thing that jumped out at me was that it had been released on Elle’s birthday in 2015.  I heard the opening lines and had to stop it.  I waited a few months before I could open it again.  It now truly renews our courage at those opportune moments when it leaps to the top of our playlist.

But back to the story I started telling.  Claudia asked us to play one of her favourite songs, Killing me Softly, by Roberta Flack.  While it hasn’t been a favourite of mine, Peter couldn’t stand the song.  But nevertheless, because of how we were all feeling and what Claudia meant to us both, it was going onto our Elle playlist.  Some months later, when it once again popped up, I heard something new in the lyrics, and suddenly the song came alive.  Now it was me going through the darkest of times, and I heard there was a young boy everyone was talking about.  I sought him out, and found him sitting crossed legged on the bank of a river, and as I approached him he started to ‘speak my language’. He caused my life to play out before my eyes as he gently stroked my cheek.  And the more he stroked the more I saw, and the more I saw, the more knowledge I gained from my travels though life.  It wasn’t easy having to see all the mistakes I had made, and there were moments when I wanted him to stop, but he just kept on going.  When the moment was over, I knew what I needed to know about how to face forward, and head on into the light.

I couldn’t resist looking up the provenance of the song.  Quite a story!  The music is by Charles Fox and the lyrics by Norman Gimbel.  Being only interested in the lyrics I went straight to Gimbel, and it became apparent that there was a third involvement, Lori Lieberman. She had just started college in the US but was already gaining a reputation as a singer/songwriter.  Around the age of nineteen she got signed up, through Fox and Gimbel, to Capital Records.  According to Lieberman, she had been at a Don McLean concert at the Troubadour, and she had had a ‘moment’ listening to his song, Empty Chairs, where it was as though he was singing directly to her.  Gimbel, a man of forty-three, had become her boyfriend.  She contacted him and asked him to come over to the club as she had written some thoughts on a napkin, and she thought there was perhaps a song in it.  He joined her, and the song started taking form.  He contacted Fox, and together they continued to all meet up and work on the song.  She decided to record it on her first album, and being a much more innocent era, plus her youthful naivety, she never asked for a credit, and was never offered one.

Her version of the song was rising on the charts, but Roberta Flack got to hear it, and decided to do her own version, and this went huge, leaving Lieberman’s gentler and less produced version to drift into obscurity.  Lieberman, after minor success, and then becoming disenchanted with the music business, left it for a couple of decades.  Later, with encouragement, she returned to the studio with her songs, and has since increased her audience such that she has recorded a number of new albums, and gone on to tour with them, including to Europe.  Interest grew around a controversy about her involvement with Killing Me Softly, and Gimbel attempted to kill her version of events. But ultimately an article was located, written in 1973, in which he talks at length about Lieberman’s involvement in the writing of the song.  Don McLean also supported her version, and a TV appearance around the same era finally confirmed Lieberman’s story.  And mine is done too.

Killing Me Softly with His Song

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him, to listen for a while
And there he was, this young boy, a stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I felt all flushed with fever, embarrassed by the crowd
I felt he’d found my letters and read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish, but he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly, with his words


Songwriters: Norman GImbel / Charles Fox

Killing Me Softly with His Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc



R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Tits and Bums

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Albert Einstein

I realise that today’s writing may cause offence, but in spite of my fear I will continue to say my piece.  It starts with the question: what is the difference between tits and bums?  Being on the older side of young I hadn’t heard of ‘upskirting’, until it was almost outlawed.

I feel alone in being satisfied that the criminalising of ‘upskirting’ didn’t pass through the House.  It feels wrong to me that someone should be criminalised, or possibly even sent to jail, for behaving in nothing more than a disrespectful way, where no touching, no drugging etc has taken place, just disrespect.  I am not saying that it is acceptable to disrespect those who wear skirts, and I think most girls, or boys, are capable of defending themselves in this practice, and I cannot see what difference it makes whether one is wearing a normal pair of panties or shorts under their skirts, which more often than not are just below their bum cheeks anyway.  My concern is which Disrespect will be the next criminal offence.  We are moving in a dangerous direction here. If this is a crime I can just see freedom of speech coming up next on the agenda.  It is already badly eroded.  Without freedom to express ourselves, what is there left of us?

I should imagine most skirt wearers are wearing underpants, and really all that is happening is someone ends up with a photo of the top of their legs and then the panties.  Haven’t we been wearing bikinis and thongs on the beaches for years now? How about the indignation of having the wrong man stare at your cleavage?  And for goodness sake, here the tits are actually pretty exposed. Is a pair of panties that revealing? Most young people have been watching porn together for years.  This is far more demeaning than a picture of the tops of someone’s legs.

The world is going mad, and if we can’t have reliable rape charges stick, or easily separate who is the victim and who the perpetrator, can you imagine the legal mess that could come out of a law that makes ‘upskirting’ illegal.  We need to get real.  What we have is more and more young people growing up with no limits, no respect for others and for those who are different, for whom watching pornography is not much different to sitting down earlier with their children for a Disney movie, and who seem to have lost all contact with consequences always being attached to all actions.  No god, no inner journeying, no matter, don’t care, pass the cocaine.  Or, no god, no one cares about me, no inner journeying, no matter, don’t care, some anti-depressants please.

Amongst the young people I know, many have been raised by parents who teach their children to respect others and their property at least. I see that some are spiritual and some are not.  I also see that those with healthy passions, like carpentry, music, knitting, singing, writing etc, find purpose and a direction in life, which isn’t always via a spiritual path. Some grow, through hard times quite often, while others flounder.  Nobody can, or should, force a spiritual path on someone for whom it feels alien.  But for those who aren’t spiritual, I do see the additives to their struggle to find a meaning to life.  Since the demise of faith there is a growing disconnect in communities and between communities, and a rapid rise in unkindness and selfishness in society.  Is there salvation on the horizon, or are we heading down the tubes?  I am interested to see what happens next, but I may not be around long enough.  Perhaps I will get a bird’s eye view – ha ha.

Memories, Nectar to my Soul

The name of this blog can’t help but bring forth good memories of a lifetime ago spent coming and going from a beautiful estate outside of Stellenbosch, called Old Nectar.  Ah, the synchronicity of everything!  But not the subject of my story.

It was the summer of 2000, and Elle would have recently turned eleven years old.  The car was packed to the gunnels, and we set off from Winchester for our holiday home near to Malaga.  I had made this journey a number of times on my own, but this time Elle had offered to join me.  The rest of the family chose the flight option.  I spent the ferry ride studying a map.  For some stupid reason I thought it would be a good idea to avoid Paris. Not a good idea.  We had caught an early morning ferry, but seemed to spend most of the day avoiding Paris.  Finally, we were making good headway, and driving down one of the tree-lined roads that always read as France, I realised we were running short of petrol.  Not a good idea, it would seem, during the lunchtime part of the day. All the garages were closed, and out of desperation, I stopped outside yet another chained off forecourt, and Elle and I wandered around the side and found the family having lunch.  I don’t speak French and tried out a few hand gestures to find out what time they reopened.  We were waved away with barely a glance in our direction.

We couldn’t afford to hang around, and I hoped that I had enough petrol to get us to the next town.  Half way there I lost courage, stopped the car under the trees, and tried to wave passing cars down.  No one was going to stop.  Finally a couple travelling in the opposite direction stopped and luckily spoke a little English.  For all the bad thoughts I had been having about the French, they turned their car around and told me to follow them to a mall where we would find a 24-hour petrol station.  Now Elle and I could continue our journey, and finally we seemed to be putting the miles behind us.  I drove and drove, and at last we were well into Spain.  Elle had spent a lot of the time playing Tetris on her Gameboy, and while I was quite proud of having reach 42,000 points once, I was amazed when she showed me her Gameboy.  Elle had exceeded, in one go, 100,000 points, and rockets were taking off all across the screen.  She probably never told anyone else, but I have a few times.

We drove past Madrid, and I just kept on driving. By now there seemed no point in stopping.  In three hours or so we could sleep in our own beds, and all through the next day if necessary.  Not far on the other side of Madrid, and about an hour from Granada, there is a mountain pass.  Going through it I realised that I was driving into danger.  I had begun to shake, and my eyes were doing funny things. Elle was determined to stay awake with me, and I truly don’t think it was because she was scared.  She rarely showed fear for anything until after her teens.  I said to Elle that I was going to find a bar where I could get a coffee, and then see how I felt about driving on.  I thought that this would fix me, and that we would probably keep going.  But having now stopped, I realised that I was putting both our lives in danger, and there was no option but to find somewhere to sleep, and carry on in the morning.  Where we had stopped was a large building next to a garage, with a bar and restaurant. Out front were many lorry drivers who were enjoying a late supper, having pulled up their lorries, probably for the night.

It was already full summer, and the night was incredibly hot and sticky.  After my coffee I went up to the bar and asked if there was a hotel nearby.  The man pointed up to the ceiling.  We could stay there.  This seemed like the best possible outcome.  We collected our overnight bag from the car, and then proceeded to follow the man up stairs, round corners, down passages and up more stairs.  It resembled a rabbit warren, and I wasn’t sure we would ever find our way out.  But worse was to come.

There were two single beds in our little room and a window that opened onto what seemed to be the backyard of a grouping of buildings, and later I found out that it was part of an old farmyard.  We prepared for bed, and yes, at least we did have an en suite shower room, but sadly, no air-conditioning or fan.  As we climbed into our beds I heard the tell tale squeak of a rubber sheet under the nylon sheets; the substantial type to protect the mattress from something or other.  I read but soon switched off the light, as reading was not doing its job of putting me to sleep.  And then it started!

A rhythm quickly developed.  Because of the extreme and suffocating heat Elle kept tossing and turning.  Every ten minutes she would throw her body in the air, turn over before landing, and that way prevent the sheets from coming with her.  Every twelve minutes big dogs would bark for a minute and stop.  Then a generator seemed to get going every twenty minutes and run for about ten minutes.  Interspersed with these regularities, people would walk in one direction or another down the passage outside our room.  I can only assume that a brothel was co-existing with hotel guests.  Finally, at any time in the routine, I could hear massive lorries thundering down as they emerged from the pass onto a straight road.  Sure enough, as we left the next morning, there was a huge articulated lorry rolled over and on its side, just off the road and down the slope.  There was no way I was going to get to sleep.  Eventually I gave up trying, climbed out of the bed, pulled a chair up to the window, and I proceeded to smoke, read my book, and when too tired to do either, just sat and waited for morning or sleep to arrive.  It was around midnight when we got into our room, and by about 5am I was astonished to hear the unlikely quacking of many ducks.  I listened as they got closer, and watched as they came into view, in a great gaggle, under our window.  There didn’t seem to be anyone driving them.  Is this what they did every morning?  OK, I thought, now all that is missing is for the cock to crow, and, as if it read my mind, it bellowed out its news that the dawn was upon us.  That’s it, I remember thinking, I can’t take another minute of this hellhole.  I dressed, woke Elle and said I need to go.  I was finished, but I had recovered somewhat from my mammoth drive of the previous day.

Elle made no complaints and was as excited as me at the thought of getting on our way towards our destination.  I promised her that we would stop at the next town for a decent cup of coffee and a croissant.  She always had a soft spot for pan chocolat.  I remember so well that little patisserie we found, and how we enjoyed the sense of normality that was creeping back into our lives.  That truckers’ stop was like a place caught in the cross hairs of reality.  If Madness was a town then that was it.

Around 8.30am we drove down our vertiginous long track into the home we all loved so much – our little paradise in the hills of Andalucía.  Greg was not expecting us to arrive until much later in the day, and was so excited to show us the finishing touches he and Mark, his boyfriend, had been working on for the last couple of months.

When I linger over precious memories like this one, just for a moment it is as if Elle still lives somewhere in-between.

LM aeriel from other side

Weirder and weirder

Since I lifted the curtain on my depression, and gave it permission to pull faces at me, things have got weirder and weirder in the nicest possible way. Weirder and weirder definitely doesn’t mean mad though.  Wrongly or correctly, I have not allowed depression to show up in my life for decades now, believing that there are people who depend on me, and if I am crippled by depression, what does that tell them about life, and I may end up letting them down just when they need me the most.  That must not be the case any more as this time it feels safe to release it into the open.  I remember so well, as I began to experience an unexpected THC oil moment (one that I had walked myself into without realising what I was doing), that my very first thought, as it began to alter my mind, was how was I going to take care of those who may need me while in this state of losing myself.  My second thought was, I want to be at home where I shall feel safe during this loss of control over myself.  Not long after having these thoughts, and once I had made contact with Elle and heard that she was going to come and be with me, I understood that I needed to give myself over to the experience.  I surrendered, and opened my mind to see what the experience could give back to me.

I feel that there is a connection between that moment and now.  This depression is morphing into something tender and illuminating.  I find myself surrounded by important members of my family who are not afraid, and nor are they trying to steer me onto a different course.  I feel like I have gained their trust and patience.  I had a special telephone moment yesterday with one of my dear life compatriots, and later with Kate.  It feels like energy, a life force, is flowing back into my being. Last night I managed to go to sleep without any help, and whereas I did wake a few times in the night, it wasn’t too difficult to get back to sleep.  In one of my waking moments, there was a vision in my head.   There was a table and Elle was sat at it.  It was a comforting moment.  I should not feel adrift in a sea of nothingness.  I should not allow her death to create a widening rift between us. Time is trying very hard not to be my enemy.  This morning I awoke at six and felt like writing.  She is sitting at my table.

The Hutha Fukarwi Tribe; will they ever truly emerge from the swamp?

Close by there is a river of depression, swollen following a deluge of sad self-pity.  It threatens to flood the home that just happens to stand in its path.  Reminds me of my dream – the one where from drone heights I looked down on a beautiful valley nestled between the mountains.  Up the valley towards me stood a house.  I looked at it and thought, ‘but when the rains come, a river will flow through it’.

I remember the red velvet curtains that hung in front of the screen at the ‘bioscopes’ of my youth, and the excitement I felt when they started lifting away, and the music started up.  Well, a similar pair hangs somewhere in amongst my consciousness, and every now and then a corner lifts, and what I see looks like depression, and I feel a familiar turning of my stomach, but not in a good direction.

Odd sights and sayings will bring on these peep shows.  But by seeking out anything that qualifies as nature, and even an ant will do, I can quickly get that curtain to drop back down, and hide what I don’t want to see.

Depression, and bi-polar, is so ‘normal’ these days that doctors in the UK have been advised to give out anti-depressive tablets pretty much to anyone who says, “Yes, I think I am depressed.”  We are even being told that children as young as four years old are suffering from depression, and receiving medication for it.  I can’t help thinking the world has gone crackers, or at least turned inside out, as experts gather on news programmes to discuss this shocking statistic.  Their answer seems to be, for the most part, let’s medicate this problem away. Absolutely no in-depth understanding of what they are dealing with at all.  No longer are we able to sustain ourselves – it seems like this is now virtually ingrained into our children.  We have become what Jung and Nietzsche foretold – cardboard cut-outs – and puff, we all fall over.  Try to get one of us to stand up and say, I am Jack, I am strong and I believe in myself.  Or, I am Jill, I am powerful like the wind.    We are all too busy being bi-polar, or suffering with body dysmorphia (BDD), borderline personality disorder, OCD etc etc etc.  If there is nothing we can do about this, and it is more than psychological, then what the dickens have we done to ourselves!  In my view, and there are many who think the same, with the disconnect from ancient mythologies virtually complete, and a lack of respect for religious beliefs and the people who hold them, and therefore no contact with, or knowledge of, the all-important archetypes that show us who we are, and how to be better versions of ourselves, we have become two-dimensional beings.  As Jordan Peterson would say, the only hope for us Pinocchios, with our uncomfortably long noses and donkey ears, is to swim down into the deepest depths of the darkened and unexplored oceans, and be prepared to die.  Then perhaps we may have an opportunity to enter the mouth of the whale (the anima) in order to seek our father (the animus), and once we are connected, individually and communally, again to something a little more real than this virtually virtual world of today, only then and perhaps, there is hope for us, and hopefully for our planet too.  A rebirth, the Rebirth perhaps!

I am not qualified to discuss what depression is or how to treat it, and can only comment from a personal point of view.  I have experienced it myself during my teenage years, and through my twenties, and I have also witnessed a lot of depression first hand, either through family or close friends.  Without a doubt there is such a thing as serious mental illness, but then there is also whining. With the benefit of hindsight, my teenage depression had more to do with feeling alienation from my peer group, and a sense of not conforming to the model of a teenager that I would have preferred to be.  I wanted to be something other than who I was – as common today as it was then.  I wanted to be more like the girls who were spontaneous and having a lot more fun than me, or so it seemed to me.  And there was no social media to blame.  How convenient to have something simple to lay the blame at the feet of, instead of having to work a little harder, or look a little deeper inside ourselves, as to what is going on.  I was intense, self-conscious, took everything so seriously, and I was afraid to be found lacking.  Why would anyone find me interesting enough to want to have around, or to ask out on a date?  Would I find something interesting to respond when someone asked me a question?  All of it is really normal teenage angst, and along with bullying, nothing much has changed there.  What may have changed is that teenagers see they have platforms that can make them noticed, or even famous, and this encourages bad behaviour.  I think what has changed though is parenting.  We lost our way because we have no Way or Path to guide us.  We have not given our children direction, conversations about things that matter (they have all been too busy watching TV and playing with their phones etc so that we could do a bit more of what we want to do), or made them feel safe by giving them ground rules and barriers.  We also have not shown that while there are things to fear we cannot let fear take us over, and all the other principled things we could have taught them.  What seems particularly lacking is the one that says there will be consequences of any choice you make, so think before you act.

It makes sense to me that depression should serve as a road sign.  It tells us there is something we are not dealing with, something perhaps that we are repressing.  Get it out of its box, and take a good hard look at it.  See what it is ‘covering up’.  But would you take the time and trouble to venture into uncomfortable and often painful territory when you don’t believe there is a purpose to life?  Why bother trying to find that better version of yourself, with no guarantees on offer, if tomorrow you will be gone, and the next day forgotten?

We need to ask ourselves why Voltaire said something along the lines of, ‘If God didn’t exist Man would have to invent him.’ I have often heard it used as a mantra by atheists, but what is less commonly known is that Voltaire was a believer:  “What is faith?  Is it to believe that which is evident?  No.  It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.”  That is how it is for me.  Most importantly, he believed in the oneness and connectedness of everything, hence his belief in there being one ‘father’ for us all no matter which religion you belonged to.  He also firmly believed in the separation of church and state – absolutely vital as humankind has created most of what is religion, and all that is truly religious has little to do with laws, and more to do with truths.

And also what did Nietzsche actually mean by ‘Man has killed God’?

I think I am right in expressing the view that he is claimed as a leading light in the atheist parade.  But when I read The Parable of a Madman (contained in The Gay Science, written in the 1880’s, both before and after Thus Spoke Zarathustra), it struck me as profoundly spiritual, even prophetic.  It has been said of Nietzsche, behind the destroyer lies the creator.   I felt his deep concern for humankind’s future when he wrote:  “What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? … Is not the night continually closing in on us?”

The ‘mad man’ is carrying a lit lantern during the day, and he says we will all need to do so now.  In killing God we lost our sun, our source of light.  My God is a vision of light, and if white light is the sum of only seven distinct colour ranges that we can see, then God’s light is as if there were an infinite number of colours creating the greatest light ever.   At the end of the parable ‘the mad man’ bemoans the fact that he has come too soon, and before anyone can understand his concerns.  I am grateful to Nietzsche for helping me to identify an unusual, and not welcome, sensation I get when entering churches, which is as the madman predicts – they are as tombs and sepulchres of God.  I may even feel more comfortable in churches now that I understand this better.  I never really felt the presence of a living light in them.  In saying that, it does not mean that they are not Holy places.

It is at this point that I intend to put my money where my mouth is.  It is time I opened up the great anger inside myself, and once and for all confront it. It is time to find out if depression is, as I say, more to do with a) disappointment, whether in life, in someone or in one’s own being, b) sadness, either for one self or for the planet or such like events, c) grief over loss.

As I said at the top of this piece, I have been aware for a while, and it has been brought home to me more clearly since Elle died, that there is something that causes an occasional ripple through my chest.  Now and again a wind blows through, and lifts the corner of that curtain in my mind.  Behind it I can just make out a gremlin or two – the gremlins of depression that curdle everything they touch.  Sometimes I manage to look away after a short flash, and the feeling is dissolved as quickly as it appeared.  And yes, I do believe that we have choices.  To deal with it, or not!  It is as simple as that.  I haven’t wanted to until now, but it has built up into such an anger that I have no choice but to deal with it.  I do not, and never have wanted a sticking plaster, or a muti that anaesthetises.  I am both my daughters’ mother in that regard.  But now it is time that I wrestle those gremlins to the mat.

My anger is darker than twenty thousand leagues under the sea.  It has more spikes than a depth charge that is waiting to blow up the submarine that took me down there.  Who am I angry towards?  I have no one I can point a finger at really.  There are so many of us who could have made a difference to how things turned out for Elle in the last days of her life,  but not one of us did, each for our own reasons, most of which are quite innocent.  My reason for not rushing home was that I couldn’t bear to humiliate Elle.  I knew more than anyone else how important it was that she felt capable of taking care of herself, and in charge of her own adulthood.  She feared that her deep ties to us, her immediate family, was an indicator that she couldn’t ‘do’ her life without our help.  I am angry because now I know that that was such a misguided reason for not coming back.  I would be more than happy to take on her anger if it gave her another chance to have a go at adulthood and a future.  My anger is aimed at all of us who failed Elle.  I am angry at, but that doesn’t mean not also sad for, the driver.  Why wasn’t she watching the road ahead?  I hate that car!  I try to turn that hate to love.  I say to myself I love the pine trees on either side of the road.  They would have comforted and accompanied her as she was yanked away from life and us.  She was walking amongst them, hoping to find release and solace from the troubling feelings, sights and sounds that were overtaking her being. There were people who saw her walking in the dead of night, who didn’t stop to see if they could help.  They thought she was a ‘druggy’.  When I heard that I was so angry, but dare I think that I would have stopped to help a young girl in disarray, barefoot and walking along the road in the wee hours of the night.  I have never been asked to do so.  I believe there is a taxi driver who saw her, and deeply regretted that he didn’t stop to help either.

I am angry that she was torn away from us just thirty-six hours before we were due back home, and we, the whole family, as was her wish, were going to work together to make her feel whole again.  I am angry for the pain and anguish that blighted her last days.  I am angry that her sister now has to walk this earth without her.  I am angry that this is my and Peter’s destiny – to learn the length, breadth and depth of suffering.  I am angry that I understand the purpose my anger serves, and that I know that it can and will reveal itself to me if I let it. Why must I be so bloody correct always? And I also have some idea of how to go about a transformation of this anger.

Elle suggested I become spiritually more conscientious through the most gentle of inflections.  I wanted to, but never reached for it.  It is interesting that I finally admit something to myself – that the people I feel supressed anger towards are those who are spiritually active in their lives.  I don’t think this is a co-incidence.  Going back to my dream, perhaps the river that could come down the valley and through my home is my anger.  Anger is something that I have so rarely experienced.  I can count the times I experienced true anger on my hands and toes, and would probably have a few left over, and it is definitely not because I suppressed it.  I just do have a very long fuse.  On those few occasions, which I pretty much remember the details of, I would shake with anger, but what was also interesting was that I still never totally lost control of my actions, even though there were a couple of occasions where I wished I had let go more of it.  It has been cathartic for me to stare into the abyss of my anger.  Time will tell whether I have achieved anything by wrestling with it.  Or have I just been masturbating?

I believe that what most of us call depression is better described as fitting under the heading of trauma.  We no longer have the benefit of some magical entity ‘out there’ to share our loss or culpability with, no one to ask for help in the most private of ways, and no one who will point a finger at us and say “I saw that”, and remind us why it is important and beneficial to be good.  We are beginning to believe that there is no need to fear a link between behaviour and consequences.  No need to turn away from temptations that could lead you astray.  It is OK to stray.  It is OK to do what we like, how we like, and when we like.  Nobody is counting.  Fear ye not retribution.  Why bother with redemption.  Too hard, man.  This is a stone’s throw from losing any sense of the value of human life, never mind the rest of the animal kingdom or the planet.  What difference does it make to anything if a few more kids die in Syria, or there is another school shootout somewhere in the US?  And oh, chemical weapons are so much better – saves on the rebuilding of infrastructure.

I really never meant to get this dark. Reminds me somewhat of my favourite man, Leonard Cohen.  You Want it Darker is the name of his last album and of the title track.  There are so many ways of reading that.  I expect it to be a question while he presents it as a statement.  It works both ways.  I had a burning desire to write to him after Elle died, and I did.  I managed to get through, via the official website, to his lawyer, Robert Kory, and tried ‘speaking to Leonard’.  I wanted the man I admired most, both spiritually and artistically, on the planet to know the extraordinary girl whose light had now departed our world.  He seemed the right person to tell.  It filled me with joy at the time to just imagine I was talking to him.  I didn’t know he was in such physical pain from a fracturing spine condition, but his son, Adam, talks about the great joy he was still capable of feeling as they worked together on bringing the album to completion.  It was made in his living room and apparently sent by email to the production team.  I don’t know whether he ever saw my emails and photos, and I suspect, and rather hope, his son protected him from me, but there again, maybe he did glimpse them.

I thought I would end on a lighter, more joyous note, but sorry, that is not to be.  As to my reticent depression, highlighted by a palpable anger – I have lost confidence in the world of today.

Oh, and the name of this blog?  That’s easy – the collective name for almost all the tribes of modern humanity that have only recently emerged from the long grasses of the African plains.  We continue to do what we have always done, namely, throw the baby out with the bath water in the name of progress.  We chose to turn our backs on all that was good about our more primitive and simple selves, some examples of which still exist in the tribes who have resisted our form of progress.  All we know how to do is talk talk talk.  The vast majority of us don’t have a clue about who we are, why we are here, or how to deal with the great fat emperors and empresses with no clothes on.  How do we deal with their nakedness when we don’t know whether we are clothed or not?!  We need to ask the children.  I am hoping they can help us.  I am struggling to keep my half empty glass half full.

But, at the end of the day, if not today, then perhaps tomorrow, I know my anger will pass and my depression dissolve, and I will not miss those gremlins.  So until the next time that they have something to remind me about when I will look to the source of any irritations I feel, I will check myself if found judging others, and finally I will do things that calm and replenish the soul, like meditation and rituals.  And I will report back.  I am not looking for a miracle end to my grief.  I am only looking to alter the course of my depression, and to soothe my anger, so that I can return to being worthy of my own respect.

Finally, I want people to know that I am not pretending to have read Voltaire and Nietzsche.  I have learnt about them the easy way.

Article on anti-depressant long-term use and side effects of withdrawal:

A quote from the article:

“We’ve come to a place, at least in the West, where it seems every other person is depressed and on medication,” said Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. “You do have to wonder what that says about our culture.”

Haikus upon Haikus

Elle, while attending Goldsmiths in London, came home with an instruction to write a few haikus for her next English seminar.  We talked about what they were for a while, and she said she was off to the park to think on it.  A little later she showed me what she had written.  I am always surprised at what my children are capable of.  I told her I thought they were excellent. I have always loved haikus.  They seem to be like a verbal out breath and a gentle ‘aha’ moment.  Traditionally they are an observation based on nature, and there are three non-rhyming lines, and a 5-7-5-syllable sequence. They can vary these days. It is so like Elle to have changed the syllable order!

Below are her three haikus and her notes for the seminar:

These are 3 western Haikus. I tried to capture an examination of nature by visiting         Hyde Park, but was struck by the artificiality of London’s nature. Yet I observed a stunted, unattainable power that seemed to exceed the confinements of the park. I experimented a little with alliteration and sound, mainly in the second poem, trying to create a ‘k’-‘sss’ sound, imitating waves on a shore. I wanted the first line of the third poem to create staccato pronunciation to give a sense of discomfort and prolonged emphasis.

Obscure miniscule creature

Little ugly bug

How often have you been seen?


Wind coins consistent current

Does Richard Wilson*?

Or study simply too still?

Moss coat concrete water bed

Mask on mask on face

Mother’s hand grasping gasp

*Richard Wilson: Artist: Saatchi Gallery: Wilson’s 20:50. “The gallery is filled to waist height with recycled engine oil, from which the piece takes its name.”

That would have been in her twentieth year, so therefore 2009. A couple of years later, while Peter and I were in South Africa, and after Elle had moved to Ibiza, she sent us the following email.  I suspect she was filling in time while looking for work on the island.

“Everyone here is going to hate what I am about to say, but I think that my poems are the best, and that no one has had the eye to hover over them long enough to realise it.

I wrote these poems as I sat in a moment of shallow and superficial despair, and in knowing that this work had to be done, I was able to escape the world by observing it. I watched a ‘bug’ long enough to begin to really see it; what is this creature? And who has taken the time to look at it? And then it hit me, I was probably the first and last person to see it, or at least to watch it for longer than a few seconds at the most. This ‘minuscule creature’, a mere ‘ugly little bug’, then became a metaphor for a larger world we live in; an ‘obscure’ world, foreign to our own individual little worlds that seem of such importance.

In the second Haiku I continued with this trail of thought by creating an opposition between the natural world that has existed and been developed throughout time with the world that we ourselves have created and developed. Two detached worlds that capture the zeitgeist of our time. In referencing artist Richard Wilson, not only am I relating his own works to the subject of the poem, but I am referencing the currents, zeitgeists and interpretations of society that the arts have stimulated since their beginning. The reason for this being that we have created a literary world within a world within the world, “a mask on mask on a face”.  The literary world is a reflection of our world, a world in which our currency is symbolic of nothing. Over the generations, humanity has created a world on a foundation without substance. It is all smoke and mirrors like Richard Wilson’s work. Unfortunately, we are so absorbed with our own problems that we rarely have the time to relate our own microcosmic perceptions with the larger macrocosm. And then furthermore lack the time or the ability to question the reality of that macrocosm. As a a result, to our ignorance, the ‘ugly little bug’ goes unnoticed.

I could continue to discuss the relevance of our smoke and mirrors man-made world in a post-apocalyptic scenario, when civilisation ceases and all that remains is the endeavouring planet. A planet that has been so hospitable while we play and destroy. But I do not have the time or the inclination to preach to a room that did not have the time to observe a piece of writing that they deemed insignificant because they lacked the vision to see any value in the unfamiliar or unconventional. This exercise has proven the subject of these poems. If anyone thinks their work is better, I am open to persuasion.”

I thought that I would push myself to have a go at writing a couple of haikus, and I have gone for one 7-5-7 sequence and the other 5-7-5.  My little obscure link!

My heart torn into pieces

Tears away at it

Fly above and beyond now

Who has less cries less

Who has more wants ever more

Tears away my love

I am adding (21 June) a new haiku, which is in response to one Elle wrote, and came to me directly following an interaction with an observation between a bug and me late one night.  It settled on my iPad, as I lay reading in the dark.

Little bug I see you now

Oh the Bhodi tree

Fly away and on with me

I am currently filled with remorseless self-pity.  I suspect this streak will continue until after Elle’s 29th birthday.  My anger knows no bounds today.  Scatter and be gone.

Fly Me to the Moon

Every month as soon as the crescent first appears I watch the moon grow night by night. I cling to its light. I love it deeply for a number of reasons. It feels like my moon and I feel like I am hers. Once, many years ago in a dream, I travelled to the moon, and as I, and a couple of anonymous fellow space travellers, exited our spaceship all suited up, I saw across the lunar landscape a space station that had got there before us. I can still remember being incredibly surprised at the level of secrecy that had been maintained about this massive lunar mission.

This is the second full moon this month and is therefore called a Blue Moon, and it couldn’t be more aptly named. We have entered into Aries and Elle’s birthday is coming around again – she will be twenty-nine years old . I have been a little possessed by the full moons since she died, and magically I have even managed to imprint her face on it. Every month, on full moon night, I spend a while moon bathing and having a little chat with her. It is also a moment I share with someone who was special to her before she died. I knew nothing of him until the day before, when she brought him back to Greg’s home. He told me that the full moon of 18 August had been a special night for them. I know that they joked that their children’s names would be Luna, his choice, and Nova, hers. So even the New Moon gets a look in on the relationship. This is the twentieth lunar anniversary coming up soon so we shall exchange notes again.  And yes, that applies equally to him as it does to her. The moon, I mean.

Peter and I enjoy the fact that we now can get Netflix on our TV, and if terrestrial TV is boring, as it so often is these days, we can switch across easily and find something more stimulating to watch. And sometimes it comes up with suggestions. I had noted one particular suggestion that has been hanging around for a few weeks, and tonight, after PB went to bed, I decided to watch it. It is called The Center Will Not Hold, a documentary about Joan Didion, put together by members of her extended family. I think I may look like her when I get to eighty! So many things she said I could identify with but probably most of all it is the detachment she felt held her back from participating more fully in her life.

Something else she mentioned was that her daughter, Quintana, when asked what kind of mother she had been to her, answered that she had found her quite remote. I don’t know what my girls think or thought of me, but I fear that they may answer something a little similar. Wrongly or rightly, though, I think they both forgive me. Another familiar moment was seeing her book on a shelf, and on one side was a book by Kurt Vonnegut and on the other side was Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. Both would feature in a list of the most influential literary moments in my life.

After Elle died, and a few months later when I decided that the only way forward for me was to write, the next book I read was Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. And that is where the big difference between us begins. She is a magician with words, and when you listen to her and read her books she oozes essential oils through all the pores of her body. I knew that I could never compete in my writing, but what her book did do was give me a sense of freedom to express myself in words in my own way. There is no doubt she gave me the courage to write. In fact, I have been so honest that it may make it unpublishable.

I think I have made it clear that synchronicity has played a big role throughout my life, and even more so since Elle died. It is from where I get my strength and direction when all is going well. But as soon as I lose confidence, and that happens quite easily, and wham, self-disappointment hits me in the solar plexus and says, “Haven’t I told you enough times already?  Look deeper.”

It is by these beacons of synchronicity, and not forgetting the light of the moon, that I find the next step on my path, and my faith is strengthened once again. Their light brings into clarity what I still have – a good partner in life, an amazing daughter, and now two beautiful grandsons. I am blessed with a loving family and the most beautiful friends.  All will be good.

Time Waits for No-one

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
Lao Tzu

I am feeling playful today. My husband, Peter, is on the mend, and yesterday our second grandson was born.

I was watching something of a more serious nature the other day. A friend knows my interests and sent me a link to a lecture given by Anne Baring in May 2015. The lecture was headed, Unified Field Physics and a New Vision of Reality, and the link is as follows for anyone interested in listening to it.

The reason for bringing it up is that she mentioned a philosopher, Thales, of Miletus, apparently now a town called Milet in Turkey, and he is equally described as being Phoenician. People have always journeyed, and at some point he ended up travelling to Greece. He lived mostly likely between 624-546BC, and is described by my friendly encyclopedia, Wikipedia, as the first of the Greek philosopher types.

Not a great confidence builder I know but a welcome shortcut to give you an idea of who he is:

“Thales is recognized for breaking from the use of mythology to explain the world and the universe, and instead, explaining natural objects and phenomena by theories and hypotheses, i.e. science. Almost all the other Pre-Socratic philosophers followed him in explaining nature as deriving from a unity of everything based on the existence of a single ultimate substance, instead of using mythological explanations. Aristotle reported Thales’ hypothesis that the originating principle of nature and the nature of matter was a single material substance: water.”

It really is his explanation of ‘nature as deriving from a unity of everything based on the existence of a single ultimate substance’ that I want to talk about, but the reference to the ‘single material substance’ being water brought a smile to my face for a number of reasons. So, why water? Perhaps he may have intuitively chosen water for the following reasons (although I am sure not): it is true that it is cohesive in nature, and enough of it will take everything else in its flow, it is transparent therefore light passes through it with ease, and without a doubt, it is vital for life.

Also interesting is that Thales’ primary occupation was that of engineering, while also being a great mathematician. He is credited with being the first to be connected with the lodestone and its properties. This is a form of magnetite, not normally magnetised, but occasionally rocks of magnetite are found that act as magnets. It is believed that this happens when bolts of lightning strike the rocks. Makes sense.   Thales thought these rocks had souls because of their ability to attract iron to them. Not quite sure how he arrived at this but he did. Perhaps he was confusing souls with consciousness, which is what a number of scientists are beginning to believe today – that everything in the universe is conscious. They were used in early navigation as magnetic compasses, which is how they got their name. The earliest meaning of the word ‘lode’ is ‘way or journey’.  In the Bible, John 14:6, Jesus answers, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I prefer, or rather it is my way, to not take this literally.   Many, like me, would say that in order to find the key to the purpose of one’s life we need to navigate inwards, or take ourselves on an inner journey, and there we will find the Logos.

So my gaming has unearthed: a lecture on Unified Field Physics, Thales, water – vital for life, first ‘scientist’, unity of everything, lodestone, lightning bolt, first compass – helping us to ‘journey’ on our ‘way’ though life, and ultimately reach our goal – knowledge of who we are, Einstein’s question he longed to find an answer to, and why we are. That is a massive leap but where would we be without a little creativity to add charge to our batteries. It could make for a very confusing still life painting. I can imagine aliens in the distant future trying to work out the meaning of all the objects, and hopefully ending up flummoxed.

I was having so much fun playing around, or else rushing too much, that I nearly forgot the point of my Reach for the Stars game.  But what I have concluded is that we have, since the earliest of times, since Thales at least, not been moving forward on our timeline but actually moving backwards, not an original thought I know.  The Greek philosophers seemed to know more about life than anyone ever since, and without needing the constant scientific proof.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem as if we know much more today than they did – it is just our technology that has improved greatly.  Perhaps there has really been a paradigm shift.  Perhaps we only think time moves in a linear fashion.

Another Kind of Trip

I can’t help chuckling as I recall Greg’s advice – Jen, don’t make your blogs too long. People don’t have the time. I have created jennie’s red book because I need to put my writing somewhere. It assures that I apply some rigour to my thinking and writing. Also, I really had to stop writing on FaceBook. This satisfies my on-going need to write but with a little less likelihood of pissing off my friends. Please forgive me and don’t, if you have got this far, feel like I expect or need you to read on.

Life is full of interesting twists and turns at the moment, excluding the number of chores that never seem to get any the less even though we are supposed to be living on Ibiza time – that ran out a long time ago! Life for me has taken on a different shape, a series of interesting ‘plays’, and it seems to be the universe who is the director.

The particular ‘play’ started with an article that had been shared on FB.  This one was about an interesting new development in the on-going study of the Arc gene, and what has been driving the study is the thought that it is an important link to understanding Alzheimer’s. It is a gene crucial for learning, and who knows what else. It can ‘send its genetic material from one neuron to another by employing a strategy commonly used by viruses.’   The reason it caught my imagination is because the opening line said: this ancient virus could be responsible for consciousness. I thought it would be a good idea  to cross-check what had actually been written by scientists about it.  I looked at a couple of sites, and the following one I was able to follow with some degree of understanding:

What then caught my imagination was the following:

“The University of Utah researchers began their examination of the Arc gene by introducing it into bacterial cells. To their surprise, when the cells made the Arc protein, it clumped together into a form that resembled a viral capsid, the shell that contains a virus’ genetic information. The Arc “capsids” appeared to mirror viral capsids in their physical structure as well as their behaviour and other properties.”

I couldn’t help thinking about the ‘shells’ talked of in the description of the Creation in Kabbalah, and that Isaac Luria, the 16th century mystic, would often make reference to snails. Apparently this somewhat bemused Luria’s students and I can quite see why.

From page 4 of Kabbalah of Creation: The Mysticism of Isaac Luria, Founder of Modern Kabbalah:

“…Included within this state of spiralling energy is the “vessel with the soul”. It is curiously compared to a snail, “whose garment is part of its body”. …”

I looked up one more article on the Arc gene. It was a bit like gibberish – you would need a PhD in the subject to understand it. But this did catch my eye:

“Arc holds considerable promise as a “master regulator” of protein synthesis-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, but the mechanisms that modulate and switch Arc function are only beginning to be elucidated.”

I got the impression that the scientists had their own reason to call the gene Arc, but I couldn’t help wondering whether there was something more to its name! Nomen est omen.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if the gene manages comfortably to evade altogether any further ‘elucidation’.

The reason why I got so excited by this particular interrogation, or trip, is because I have never forgotten my confusion at, and frustration with, not being able to take my art concepts to a deeper level, as my lecturers encouraged me to do. I had gone back to university as a mature student around 1995 to study Visual Arts. At the time I perfectly understood what they were asking of me but seemed unable to reach deeper. I wondered whether it was because I lacked the talent, or was it insufficient imagination, or maybe I was just motivationally lazy. But I also wondered at the time if there was a ‘wall’ beyond which I was not meant to go. Maybe there was. Perhaps if I had achieved the success that may have resulted, I would have gone down a path that was not the one I had  ‘signed up to’ before arriving in this incarnation. Similarly, I had questioned myself as to why I had chosen to leave my homeland at twenty-four years old, when everything about my life was straightforward, recognisable, predictable and by now I had some really good friends. I was not by nature adventurous.  It was as if I was compelled to leave my comfortable little pond for the great ocean that was London and the UK where I knew virtually no one. Even before I arrived at a better understanding of soul contracts (since Elle died) I was aware that there appeared to be a path, a destiny that lay before me, and I was even aware of what was not included in that plan.  It seems to me that I am following a path that was always mapped out for me, albeit not the one I would have chosen for myself.  And that the journey that is revealing itself to me the further along I travel is going to be exciting and worthwhile.

So back to my trip and having found that the Arc gene yet again catapulted me from science to the Kabbalah, I thought I would ask Google the following question: Are there any physicists who have cross-referenced physics with the Kabbalah. I scrolled down a few of the links until there was one that felt right. It is a paper that was co-authored by Joel R Primack and Nancy Abrams around the year 2006. Primack is a professor of physics and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I think I mentioned before that in my simplistic understanding, as described in the book I have on Kabbalah, it felt a lot like a scientific and mathematical description of the creation of the cosmos. I found it much softer reading than I expected, and I have chosen a few quotes to illustrate my thinking.

The site for this paper is:

The name of the paper is “In A Beginning, Quantum Cosmology and Kabbalah, by Joel R Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams:

“Something invisible is exercising enormous gravitational effects on visible matter. If the theory of Inflation is right, then the blueprint for the large-scale structure of the universe existed before the Big Bang created matter. Except for the effects of earth’s motion, the radiation appeared to be a perfectly uniform 2.7 degrees above absolute zero in every direction, until 1992.”

Apparently in 1992 one of NASA’s satellites detected tiny differences in temperature in the background radiation, which is what the physicists had been looking for, going back decades as it may prove the Inflation theory to be right. Apparently these differences could provide a readable fossil record of the period before Big Bang, from which the Big Bang emerged. This would be spectacular evidence of the existence of ‘primordial wrinkles’ in space. Madeleine L’Engle wrote a book in 1961, and a film called Wrinkles in Time has recently been released. She must be looking down and loving this, and I am really looking forward to watching the film to see how she used and interpreted ‘wrinkles of time’, or wrinkles in the fabric of space-time. Another name, perhaps more recognisable, is gravitational waves.

More quotes I enjoyed:

“If the theory of Inflation is right, then the blueprint for the large-scale structure of the universe existed before the Big Bang created matter.”

“The theory of Eternal Inflation, largely worked out by Russian astrophysicist Andre Linde, now at Stanford University, says that Inflation stopped only in the minute part of the universe we can see – within our cosmic horizon – and some unknown distance beyond that. Everywhere else it continues forever.”

This is where my interest really started picking up with regard to what I was looking for. I wonder how much of this comes into a school education, and I can’t help thinking that it could have such mind-expanding consequences for our young people over the age of twelve. To contemplate the meaning of life through the study of the cosmos can only be a good thing.

“The ideas that follow are a sort of theoretical theology, a spiritual analogue of theoretical physics. This is a logical game, but amazingly, sometimes the universe actually embodies a theorist’s dreams. When this happens, it can have the force of a religious experience – at least for the theorist involved!”

“We may be further than ever from answering the question that Einstein said was the one that really interested him: Did God have a choice?”

“Kabbalah, medieval Jewish mysticism, is the only traditional cosmology we know of in which the universe was understood to have begun in a point and expanded. We are not kabbalists, nor are we trying to promote Kabbalah. We are not arguing that Kabbalah was prescient or somehow knew mystically what science is now discovering. We are interested in Kabbalah because it developed a set of ideas describing the origin of an expanding universe and integrated these ideas into its religious worldview. Can Kabbalah help us to integrate the scientific concepts we have been describing into our own culture?”

“Kabbalah means ‘secret tradition’, and its origins are uncertain.   Though its earliest preserved writings date from the twelfth century, from Provence and later Spain, its adherents believed it derived from the secret Torah given to Moses and handed down orally through the most religious Jews.”

I have been thinking a lot about my statement to Peter quite a few years back. Based on no study whatsoever, but having watched a few documentaries on the Jewish faith over the course of my adult years, the thought came to my mind that the Jews were the Keepers of the Keys. Another interesting little aside is that, having left my homeland, South Africa, I felt like I had come home, perhaps on an ancestral basis, when I moved to Spain. I was twenty-five years old. My father, who spent a lot of time here in Ibiza with Greg and I, and with whom I had a deep bond, said exactly the same thing in a notebook I found in his ‘office’ after he died.

This morning (4 March – it is taking me a long time to put this together), I pondered over a question that has often come up but I have never found a satisfactory answer to. Why do so many people dislike, and even hate, the Jews? Why does anti-Semitism keep on rising again and again, and if not rise, at least continue to linger, deeply imbedded in cultures, societies and individuals. A quick answer may be, ‘They killed Christ’, but that doesn’t work for Islamic people in the same way, or ‘They make all the money and keep it within their own society’, ‘they are a protected class’, or even today, ‘they have robbed the Palestinians of their homeland.’ These feel more like justifications than a good reason.   Perhaps they, as a race or tribe, function as an archetype, and perhaps the archetype is literally the ‘key’. It’s like ‘look over here at me and you will find what you are looking for, the answers to everything’. They believe they are the chosen tribe, but I have never read anywhere what they were chosen for – probably as a result of not reading the Bible thoroughly enough. I now see it as though there was a ‘wall placed between them and the rest of us’. (Interesting how the wall can now be quite literally seen in Israel today.) It is deeply imbedded in our nature to distrust, and even hate, what is different because it forces us to confront who we are and question our beliefs. It takes us out of our comfort zone – we can’t both be right? If we have been given keys to understanding all the great questions, there is no point leaving them lying around for anyone to just pick up and walk off with? We need to work hard to find them, and in the process profound changes can be made to our consciousness, that will not easily be lost or destroyed. A great and high wall, into which we need to create footholds in order to climb, one foot at a time, or a long flimsy ladder even, seems to be a good way to do this. The clues were always there – a scattering of bread crumbs leading to our redemption. It lies, not surprisingly, in the less popular direction of our irritation, hatred, distrust – those who prove to be our nemeses, just as it does if we look for personal answers and individual redemption.

I have looked on Google to see if I can find references to anti-Semitism rearing its head in the East. The furthest east seems to be Eastern Europe. Perhaps the answers lie elsewhere for the Motherland of the East, China. I know I am way out of my knowledge zone on all this, but it feels like a worthwhile exercise for me to give time to my questions. It seems to be an issue only within the monotheistic religions, or those who seem hell bent on proselytising and converting others to their way of thinking. Perhaps, at the end of the day, we are not as smart as we think we are, but rather the ones most in need of a helping hand.

This article is helpful in understanding the history of anti-Semitism, but nowhere have I found a good reason as to why it came about.

More quotes from the paper on the role of the Jews as set out in the Kabbalah.

“God sent holy light into the world, but the world was too weak to hold God’s glory. Its cornerstone were vessels that shattered in the light. The role of the Jews is to repair the shattered vessels by re-collecting the sparks of God in the world.”

“The role of the Jews is to repair the shattered vessels by re-collecting the sparks of God in the world. Tzimtzum is the name of God’s self-exile. Tikkun Olam is the repairing of the world.”

“For Jews in the century or so after the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the concept of a God in exile gave cosmic meaning to their people’s traumatic and seemingly endless history of expulsions and exiles.”

“But Kabbalah is a metaphorical description of a set of fundamental universal relationships which in light of modern astrophysics appears closer to reality than the infinite rectangular space of the Newtonian worldview.”

One of the closing statements of the paper:

“Just as light cannot be described accurately as either a particle or a wave but only as something beyond either metaphor, the universe cannot be adequately described as either something scientifically observed or something spiritually experienced. The reason kabbalistic terms are helpful to our account is that they bind together the search for truth with the search for the divine. The emerging scientific cosmology and Kabbalah are two metaphor systems whose juxtaposition points toward a truth larger than either can express alone.”

Some more good quotes from the article:

“The kabbalists used every resource they had – not only reason and logic but poetry, meditation, and mystical experiences – to try to understand the nature of God. They believed that they could learn about God through contemplation of God’s relationship to creation. For this reason, they strove to grasp the hidden reality behind the opening words of Genesis.”

“Beyond the picture was Ein Sof, ‘Without End’, the unknowable God, which emanated the light that created the aspects of God knowable to humans.”

“In the sixteenth century, the great kabbalist Isaac Luria developed the scheme further, teaching that at the initial point, Hokhmah, God began to withdraw into self-exile in order to make space for the universe.”

I have always believed that we are here free of interference from God. It makes total sense to me. I see it as something akin to finally withdrawing assistance and support from our children in order that they may develop themselves, otherwise there is no satisfaction to be gained from achievements. But that also, there may well be lesser representatives, like Angels, that are permitted to give a little helping hand or a push, or waft over to us something inspirational, so that we can keep moving forward.

I know that I am at the very beginning of a personal journey of discovery but it does seem to me that you couldn’t make up what comes to us through the mystics that have existed since time immemorial. These particular teachings go back at least to the 12th century, and it is considered that perhaps even to the time well before Christ. It not only makes total sense to me, but also intuitively rings deeply true such that it feels trivial to even write that. The description of the kabbalistic creation story is written up so well in the paper that it has made me go back to my book and read with greater understanding.

In the same paper there are some quotes from a speech by Vaclav Havel, given in Philadelphia on July 4, 1994, on the state of the world and its prospects

“Science, which has been the bedrock of industrial civilization for so long, fails to connect with the most intrinsic nature of reality, and with natural human experience. It is now more a source of disintegration and doubt than a source of integration and meaning..

… We may know immeasurably more about the universe than our ancestors did, and yet it increasingly seems they knew something more essential about it than we do, something that escapes us… Paradoxically, inspiration for the renewal of this lost integrity can once again be found in science… a science producing ideas that in a certain sense allow it to transcend its own limits… Transcendence is the only real alternative to extinction.”

Only this morning (that was yesterday now) Peter and I were discussing Hawking’s death and all the interesting articles that have been highlighted by it. We both came to the conclusion that humankind has actually been descending rather than ascending over the last few thousand years, which fits in with the Kabbalah diagram of our descent from the Godhead, and that we are still awaiting the paradigm shift from the linear world to the circular world. I particularly like the word ‘essential’ that Havel chose to use to differentiate between our arrogant current knowledge of everything and a ‘primordial knowing’ that goes deeper and way beyond most of us. So much of our lives is lived in individual little bubbles of busyness, and we tend to leave the blue sky thinking to very few. Our current crappy education system bears a lot of responsibility for this. I like to think though that children are waking up around the world.

I also can’t help thinking that humanity is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel, although I suppose it is not unfeasible to think that we still have hundreds of years to go before colliding with the rock at the bottom, especially if I look at the amount of movement we have accomplished in the last few thousand years, and I don’t count technological accomplishments as an indicator of progress.

A couple of final quotes so apt to our times:

“Not only is the human population inflating; simultaneously, so are the technological power and the resource use of each individual. Multiply these times each other: we are now processing a substantial fraction of the earth’s entire crust. In population growth, resource use, pollution, and garbage production, the human race is addicted to exponential growth. Inflation is the controlling metaphor of our time.”

“The question for our time is, how can we end inflation gently on earth? How can we slow human inflation enough that creative restoration can overtake it? When we have developed a sustainable relationship with our planet, humanity and earth will be in balance, and the transition from inflation to stable expansion will have been achieved through the restoration of the world – Tikkun Olam.

Restoration, or redemption, is possible as bleak as our future looks. I try to keep hope alive by concentrating on the incredible innovation going on by some of our inventors, educators and architects, and other true visionaries. We need more though. And for me answers come through a combination of science and the mystics of the past and present. That said, I am also cautious of the ‘mystics’ of today. They need to have earned their colours and this requires time.

The Sound of Music, Even

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”

Lau Tzu

I definitely won’t be writing every day as I did during the first year after my daughter, Elle, died but just at the moment there are a lot of positive forces at work in the arena that is my mind.  And having a blog site is the closest I will ever get to having a gig of my own.

Something I wrote 13 October 2017:

Music – melody – major or minor – treble and base line – back to base

This morning, as I closed our front door behind me, a conversation started up in my mind.  I observed a lightness in my step, and then was immediately doused in a shower of sadness. It came to me that I am living a schizophrenic life now – happiness, more easily understood as a lightness of spirit, and sadness, side by side in my soul.  I like to think of it metaphorically.  A couple of weeks ago Kate, Elle’s elder sister, sent me a video of one-year-old Isaac, sitting at a piano for the first time. He immediately lifted both hands to the keyboard, and he even chose to use the black keys as he thoughtfully set about exploring the sounds each of the notes made.  There was something about the way that he held his hands and used his fingers so gently on the keys, and also his little shudder of pleasure half way through, that made me think he was familiar with the instrument and what it could do.  It was as if he had a soul memory of what can be done with a piano.

With my experience of sadness and happiness manifesting side by side, if not overlapping, and not feeling uncomfortable with either, I see an opportunity for a soulful melody to be developed. The left hand (Peter and my dominant hands) plays the sombre earthly and grounding notes, while the right hand plays a lighter and more heavenly melody.  I know that the melody can change at any moment, but that doesn’t bother me either.  I can have access to my sadness any time I want, even when feeling light. This is important to me.  It is only a hand away.  There will be days when I hear the pathos more clearly coming through from my dominant left hand, and other days when my right hand will sound melodic and ethereal and both may bring a smile to my face.  I am reminded of the ‘four temperaments’, melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine and choleric – very much embedded in Steiner’s school curriculum.  I recognise myself as a ‘melancholic’.  I have heard it said that the music in the minor keys has a more melancholic sound, and it might explain why I hear such beauty in this key.

Back to today.

My regular car journeys, as I travel to Pilates or whatever chores I have lined up for the day, are a real joy to me, and it is not just the love I feel for my trusty Toyota Hilux truck.  It is a time of bliss, when I am facing the right way, and with my music.  This morning was a true bliss day.  One of the songs that I allowed to play, rather than push past it, was Rodriguez’ A Most Disgusting Song.  It truly is disgusting, and generally not one for keeping my mood up.  But this morning I left it to run its course.  It was written almost fifty years ago, and I was one of a few people familiar with it when originally released.  That is because I am South African, the only country in the world that took to this album released in 1970.  I was in my mid teens, and everyone was listening to and buying the album.  I got my first job working as a waitress at the Golden Spur in Newlands, Cape Town, and the album was on almost constant rotation along with a few other LP records.  This was not the song on the album that would have grabbed my attention though because in my youthfulness I wouldn’t have recognised the people that the song describes, but Sugarman is indelibly engrained on my mind.  It is very satisfying that the film, Searching for Sugarman, has finally placed Rodriguez in the pantheon of singer/songwriters where he firmly belongs.  Listening to A Most Disgusting Song this morning, the people no longer seemed strange and indistinguishable.  Living a lifetime has meant that I have come across them all at least once in my life..  There is not a line that doesn’t resonate, or a person I don’t recognise.  So I have printed the lyrics for you, and I think the last word ‘again’, is most apt, whichever way you look at it.

A Most Disgusting Song

I’ve played every kind of gig there is to play now
I’ve played faggot bars, hooker bars, motorcycle funerals
In opera houses, concert halls, halfway houses.
Well I found that in all these places that I’ve played
All the people that I’ve played for are the same people
So if you’ll listen, maybe you’ll see someone you know in this song.
A most disgusting song.
The local diddy bop pimp comes in
Acting limp he sits down with a grin
Next to a girl that has never been chased
The bartender wipes a smile off his face
The delegates cross the floor,
Curtsy and promenade through the doors,
And slowly the evening begins.
And there’s Jimmy “Bad Luck” Butts
Who’s just crazy about them East Lafayette weekend sluts
Talking is the lawyer in crumpled up shirt
And everyone’s drinking the detergents
That cannot remove their hurts
While the Mafia provides your drugs,
Your government will provide the shrugs,
And your national guard will supply the slugs,
So they sit all satisfied.
And there’s old playboy Ralph
Who’s always been shorter than himself,
And there’s a man with his chin in his hand,
Who knows more than he’ll ever understand.
Yeah, every night it’s the same old thing
Getting high, getting drunk, getting horny
At the Inn-Between, again.
And there’s the bearded schoolboy with the wooden eyes
Who at every scented skirt whispers up and sighs
And there’s a teacher that will kiss you in French
Who could never give love, could only fearfully clench
Yeah, people every night it’s the same old thing
Getting pacified, ossified, affectionate at Mr. Flood’s party, again
And there’s the militant with his store-bought soul
There’s someone here who’s almost a virgin I’ve been told
And there’s Linda glass-made who speaks of the past
Who genuflects, salutes, signs the cross and stands at half mast
Yeah, they’re all here, the Tiny Tims and the Uncle Toms,
Redheads, brunettes, brownettes and the dyed haired blondes,
Who talk to dogs, chase broads and have hopes of being mobbed,
Who mislay their dreams and later claim that they were robbed
And every night it’s going to be the same old thing
Getting high, getting drunk, getting horny
Lost, even, at Martha’s Vineyard, again
Songwriters: Sixto Diaz Rodriguez
A Most Disgusting Song lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group