Thought For the Day

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve not given up overthinking.

Did you think I might? You should know me better by now.

I’m not a complete sucker for the inspirational quotes that have flooded the world since the advent of the internet. My interest in them is passing, and only occasionally am I sufficiently struck by the amateur philosophy that clutters my various news feeds, that I am moved to ‘share’ it.

There are those who seem to spend their whole online existence posting endless quotable quotes, meaningful memes and inspirational inserts, that you might wonder whether they are human, or one of those bots that websites try to catch out with random captchas to make sure they are actually a person. I have to admit, it can be a little tiresome. Not to mention surreal. Can you imagine having a coffee with a friend and instead of conversation, have them recite a series of unrelated passages from random sources? Mad.

Yet even as I say that, I am mentally chastising myself. After all, much, if not all, of what we enjoy in popular culture is trying to deliver a message. We don’t hesitate to recommend a book we have enjoyed. And lyrics to our favourite songs inspire us to tell all who will listen what they mean to us. Indeed, I remember countless conversations we had that literally revolved – and evolved – around songs and how they spoke to our innermost thoughts and feelings. So to dismiss these sound bites so readily smacks a little of snobbery. Bottom line, if it means something to someone, why shouldn’t they spread the love?

Recently, I am looking for meaning in everything. But trying to fill a huge void that refuses to be anything other than empty is no mean feat. And in the words of Mick Jagger, I can’t get no satisfaction. So maybe I can be forgiven for being more than usually drawn to the quotes that tug on my emotions as they scroll past my eyes.

The one above struck a chord with me today. If you find someone who will be there through the worst of times, as well as the good – that is something precious and should not be quickly discarded. And if they must be discarded, remember that those who truly care will still be there, where you left them, whenever they are needed. Of course, everyone has the choice to walk away. But choosing to care, despite the circumstances, is a rare thing indeed.

I choose to care.

Stay gold.

Would You Turn Back Time?

Since you’ve been gone, my baby turned 18.

18! How is that possible?

I have come to terms with my three older children becoming adults. But I have a problem with my youngest no longer being a ‘child’. Oh yes, I know it’s inevitable. And of course, on one level I can celebrate the milestone, and am definitely grateful to have had the pleasure of being her mother for another year. But I’m not ready. I’ll never be ready.

My father used to say that it didn’t matter how old I got to be, I would always be his baby. He’s not here anymore – so I am no one’s baby. Adulthood gobbled me up years ago. It has also spat me out on more than one inelegant occasion, and I’m sure it will again. But I don’t have a problem with getting older, per se. More that I lament the lost opportunity of youth.

TJ turning 18 has made me wonder whether I would want to go back and be young again. To turn back time and relive my youth. And if I did, what would I do differently?

Of course, there are things I would not change. I would not be without my four wonderful children, for example. And I have had many amazing experiences that I would feel much the less for not having embraced.

But I think my overwhelming answer is yes. Yes, I would go back. Yes I would change some things. Well. Lots of things. I would make sure to appreciate having it all ahead of me. To make a positive mark on the blank page. To not be afraid to go for what I want. To be in the right place at the right time. To not lose courage and definitely not to settle. And to win. I’d be a winner. I’ve spent too long, and had too much heartbreak because of being a loser.

What about you? Would you turn back time? Tell me – what would you do differently?

Stay gold.

Suck it Up and Keep Moving

Since you’ve been gone, there have been some hard lessons to learn.

And one thing I have realised, is that the old adage about time healing wounds is a complete crock of crap. The more time that passes, the more that it hurts. Maybe it’s just me? I’ve always been out of step with the rest of society. So perhaps I’m the exception who proves the rule? Perhaps I live in some kind of parallel universe where the mirror image is true? Whatever. All I know is that each day gets harder, not easier.

There are so many things I want to tell you. So many things left to say. So many adventures left to share. Except no. Not any more. I’ve been cut adrift and the waters are growing increasingly choppy. It’s hard, lonely and scary out here.

Ironically, if I could talk to you, I know you would understand exactly what I am saying. Because you get me. Like no one else ever did. And no one else ever will.

Are you hurting too? It’s not that I want you to hurt – far from it. But I can’t bear that it’s only me who is in such great pain. Are you unhappy too? It’s not that I want you to be miserable – not at all. But it tortures me that this misery is all one sided. And I will never know those answers, will I. Which is part of what keeps me paralysed in this despair.

To be honest, I’m struggling to suck it up. And I haven’t got to the keep moving forward part. I don’t actually know how to do it. But I know I have to try.

I guess, as Merle Haggard sang:
‘I’ve got to keep goin’
Traveling down this lonesome road
And I’ll be rollin’ with the flow
Goin’ where the lonely go.’

Stay gold.

It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night/ Day/ Week/ Fortnight/Month…

Since you’ve been gone, today has been one of the hardest so far.

Work delivered one of those days when everything went wrong. The database fell over, people were not where they should have been, no one seemed to have the wit to understand how to do their job, and I was left trying to stick all the renegade parts together and make some sense of it all. I didn’t enjoy it.

As you knew, there are lots of days like today. But today won the trophy for being the worst of the worst. It made me want to walk out and not go back. But did I do that? No. I stuck that ‘fake it til you make it’ smile on my face and just got on with it.

I remember how we always took comfort in not having to pretend with each other. No matter how we had to appear for the sake of others, we could tell it like it is and know that we would not be judged. There would always be support and that ‘I’ve got your back’ scenario that got us both through the crappiest times.

And now. I have no one to tell.

Today. In the middle of the busiest day, surrounded by people – I was lonely.

I can’t start pretending to you now. Even though you’re not here anymore. I can’t start pretending to you now. Even though you’re not there to listen. I can’t start pretending to you now. Even though the silence that returns to me is as painful as it is deafening. I can’t start pretending to you now.

Stay gold.

The Science of Tears

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve been doing a lot of crying.

And then I got to thinking about tears.

Apparently, there are three categories of tears. According to Wikipedia, these are:

1 – Basal tears. In healthy mammalian eyes, the cornea is continually kept wet and nourished by basal tears. They lubricate the eye, and help to keep it clear of dust.

2 – Reflex tears. The second type of tears results from irritation of the eye by foreign particles, or from the presence of irritant substances. It can also occur with bright light and hot or peppery stimuli to the tongue and mouth. It is also linked with vomiting, coughing and yawning. These reflex tears attempt to wash out irritants that may have come into contact with the eye.

3 – Psychic tears. The third category, in general, referred to as crying or weeping, is increased tearing due to strong emotional stress, pleasure, anger, suffering, mourning, or physical pain. Interestingly, these tears are also very closely linked to the limbic system, because this system is involved in the production of basic emotional drives, such as anger and fear. Or to put it plainly – survival. I’m no neuroscientist, but I think one reason we cry psychic tears when we are in emotional pain is that we feel like we are dying inside, and therefore, our limbic system kicks in and starts shouting that our survival is in doubt. It’s fascinating, isn’t it. Way beyond my ken, I’m afraid. But a very small corner of my understanding really does get basic principle of how the limbic system works. And mine has certainly had good reason to be in overdrive.

Tears are good for you. The first two categories of tears serve to help to maintain healthy eyes. Some people have trouble producing tears and end up having to buy them over the counter in small expensive bottles. I don’t seem to have that problem. In fact, I can produce so many, I could probably bottle them myself, stick a fancy label on them, and make a fortune. But maybe that project is for another day.

As for the third category, I wonder whether these tears are also designed to help to cleanse us from the pain we are experiencing, whether that be emotional or physical. Apparently, emotional tears contain hormones that act as a natural painkiller, which goes some way to explaining why people can feel better after a good cry.

I wish I could feel better. I’m not sure I’m getting enough of those feel better hormones. Oh yes, I think I have all sorts of other hormones in super abundance. Hormones I could really do with settling down and leaving me alone. But the ones that might help? I think they might be having some sort of holiday, because nothing’s helping. Nothing. There is only wretchedness. And while I can look to the future and see all sorts of things to keep me busy, make me smile and even offer short term happiness – everything is blanketed in a thick layer of grief. And tears.

Stay gold.

Broken

Since you’ve been gone, there have been a lot of empty hours.

It’s funny how a person can be busy – have lots to think about and be occupied by – but still have time to spend every minute of every day feeling lonely and lost. It’s like a massive contradiction, an oxymoron of epic proportions. And if you ask me, it’s kinda unfair. There should be some kind of respite, right? There should be something to do, or somewhere to go, that will mean the pain will stop for a while. But there’s just nowhere to hide.

I miss you with everything that makes me the person I am. The good person and the bad person. I miss you with every beat of my heart and every breath that I take. I miss you in my private moments, and in the midst of my public life. One day, perhaps in a hundred years or so, I’ll stop missing you. But in the meantime…

My feelings are broken
And it hurts
Just like I always knew it would
The shards are in splinters in a place just out of reach
So that I can’t pick them up
And nurse them back to health
They just lay there
Taunting me with their jagged edges
And jaded misery

My feelings are broken
And it hurts
Just like I always knew it would
And each breath that I take is like glass mixed with pins in my throat
So that living is painful
And each step a mountain
Hard to master
Making the oxygen harder to come by
A waking misery

My feelings are broken
And it hurts
Just like I always knew it would
There’s a huge leaden weight inside my chest that pulls me down
Laying burden upon burden
Keeping me pinned under
Stifling all hope
Reminding me that the fault is all mine
A constant misery

 

Lest We Forget

Since you’ve been gone, I, like so many others around the world, have been remembering 100 years of the armistice that ended the Great War.

I have been very fortunate to live a life of freedom and peace. It is impossible for me to comprehend the true horrors of war. The fact that I am able to make both of those statements is because of the sacrifice of so many brave men and women – not only in the First World War, but also in the Second. And not only in those two conflicts, either. Amazingly, despite the danger, implied and real, of the profession they choose, men and women still sign up for our armed forces. I don’t particularly care whether or not it’s politically correct to say so, but I for one am grateful that there are still people who are willing to put their lives on the line for my sake.

No one wants war. Well, not unless you count the despotic and tyrannical regimes who didn’t – and never will – get the peace memo. Because that’s the point. Much as I would love it if all disagreements could be resolved over a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit, we have to accept that not everyone is in the business of minding their own business. Some people still want to impose their will and extend their borders. And they don’t care how they do that. Or how many people they harm in the process.

We still need our armed forces and we still need the brave personnel required to keep them – and potentially us – alive. And we still need to spend at least one day a year reflecting on the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf.

Not everyone has to agree with me. We’re all allowed differing opinions and the beauty of living in our free society is that we are able to voice them. The growing number of people who do not advocate the promotion of wearing a poppy (hello Cambridge University) are quite at liberty to express that view and are certainly not compelled to wear one against their will. Guess what. We have the very people we are remembering today to thank for that freedom.

Wearing a poppy and/ or commemorating Armistice Day does not glorify war. Quite the reverse. It is a sobering reflection on the horrors of the reality of war, and should help us to continue to work hard to avoid it.

Today, I am honoured to remember a grandfather I never met and a father with whom I didn’t have nearly enough time. I am proud that both of them served their country – in wartime, and in peace.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.