Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Self Knowledge and Fantasy

If you were to put an ad in a newspaper, how would you describe yourself? 

You only have about 25 words in newspapers which concentrates the mind. This exercise requires self knowledge hopefully, but how well do we know ourselves?

Someone called Michael had no idea how to reply: 'I have no idea.....' I found that extraordinary. How was this possible, a man in his 60's? How could one properly BE without knowing oneself? Surely, he was intelligent, educated, had been married and had children, got divorced, and the latter usually taught you a lot more than you wished to know? Wasn't it like living blindfolded, at the mercy of others and events? I had felt moved on hearing David Blunkett speak with heart breaking honesty about his disastrous love affair 'I misread the signs': you don't need to be blind although it obviously helps. There are many ways of keeping our eyes closed, and this is where the fantasies we may have about ourselves play a part.

As an adolescent, having read Jack London, I dreamt of a tall man in a lumberjack shirt who would appear at my door, the sun shining behind him. This fantasy cost me a lot. You may have yours...........

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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Two to Tango

It was a lovely day and I was enjoying it, quite. The sun reaching us through the trees felt wonderfully warm as my friend Alice and I strolled towards the tea-rooms of Kenwood House at the end of that June afternoon: we had walked and talked ourselves dry, and tea and cakes felt well-deserved. The large converted barn building was now full of young families and a rather large number of older couples. These days, ‘older couples’ means people my age, broadly, and most appeared quite animated, talking and listening to each other with great interest. I was touched, envious: so it could happen, companionship, togetherness, how lucky some married people were!

I was then jolted by a most unexpected realisation: they weren’t married couples! These lively pairs were dating! Of course, silly me, married couples don’t talk, or at least no longer do: so many got tired, bored of each other, ran out of things to say. They even ran out of the desire to share things with each other, that wonderful desire that launched them towards this marriage, this family, these children in spite of life often getting in the way with its accidents, illnesses, the demands of work and others. What happened? We all had expectations...

I saw myself too at the age of sixty-seven (not that long ago) launching with renewed hope into a search for what could give new meaning to my life since I still had so much to give, and wrote a book about it to help myself make sense of that ‘enterprise’*, which can be easy for some, and not for others... There was so much to say. And it occurs to me that before we start playing with ideas of separation, those of us who weren’t born yesterday, why not make sure we have exhausted all avenues for renewal, in new conversations, new exchanges or projects together, for it can be cold out there on your own.

If there is a chance that we may find within us enough good will and IMAGINATION to reverse the flow that’s carrying our present couple apart, let’s switch off the television and invent new conversations, and if spoken words are hard, why not leave a note (not a diatribe!) on the table? Or visit a loved place, start a joint project, go on a date; do something new, fun,’ naughty; give a place to an old wish. Think of what would fulfil you and see if you could share it. Above all, keep communicating, since words are the first things to die, as well as the first things we share.

Well, what do you think? 

*‘TWO’S COMPANY: Love Again, a Woman’s Journey’. In all good bookshops.