Near and Far

Near to where we live in Inverness is the Caledonian Canal – it’s about a five minute walk heading west from our front door. Alternatively, a ten minute walk heading east brings me to the River Ness. A pleasant half-hour walk heading north along the canal takes me to the Beauly Firth, while a half-hour walk heading south along either the canal or the river to the edge of town brings me to a narrow strip of land where I can easily see both the canal on one side of me and the river on the other. So luckily for me, in whichever direction I choose to walk when leaving our house, at least one body of water is never far away 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Near/ Far

Where Has She Gone?

I look in the mirror and see a fat, frumpy menopausal grandmother with a part time job in a local retail store. Someone very ordinary with greying hair and sagging, wrinkling skin and a lifetime of memories whirling around in her head… And I can’t help but wonder…

Where has she gone, that skinny little lithe-limbed, tom-boy tear-away with T-shirt tan and skinned knees?

Where is that troubled self-conscious teen with problem skin and burgeoning curves she has no idea what to do with?

Where is that fertile young mum doing her very best (but not always succeeding) to nurture her beautiful offspring, with stretch marks and constant baby-sick marks down her back and such tired, loving eyes?

Where is that struggling single parent juggling work and home and depression and difficult family times, a bit lost and lonely through what seems in retrospect to be the wilderness years?

Where is that scared, non-confident mature student, trying to find her fledgling academic feet nearly twenty years too late?

Where is that creative, artistic soul who so much loves making things… food, art, home, family, memories?

I look in the mirror and through my shining tears I suddenly see all the bare bones of her are still there, hidden under a surprisingly effective fat-suit layer of boring old lady disguise… Where has she gone? Nowhere… Because underneath it all I am she and she is me, still, always, and forever… ❤

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Where

Into the Sun

My phone takes perfectly decent photographs for general use – I mean, I know my camera takes technically ‘better’ pictures, bigger sensor, bigger lens, better light intake, more pixels. So usually for ‘proper’ photographs I prefer to use my ‘proper’ camera.

But sometimes, to my surprise, I actually prefer the less than perfect images produced by my phone, especially when looking into the sun. The limited light coming in to the limited sensor can create a much darker, moody image than the more visually balanced ‘correct’ version made by my camera, and I really like the way the increased highlights and low-lights give an altogether more dramatic effect that captures far more accurately how I’m feeling at the time.

So sometimes, from a creative perspective, I find that art trumps science and photographically less really is more… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Starts with My

Your Wee Bit Hill and Glen

I’ve been watching the Olympics on TV, enjoying keeping track of Team GB’s impressive-so-far medal haul – woo-hoo!

I truly love it when the Gold medal winners get up on the podium and the National Anthem is played – ‘God Save the Queen’ is such a seriously big anthem, but is just right for Team GB, because it’s the National Anthem of the UK and Team GB is made up of a combination of English, Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish Olympic athletes all competing together as one nation. Together we are indeed the United Kingdom.

But something I don’t understand is that when the separate countries of the UK compete individually in any particular competition, the default national anthem played for England is still ‘God Save the Queen’ while all the other countries of the union are left to use an unofficial national anthem instead, differentiating the individual component nations one from the other.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it when ‘Flower of Scotland’ is played by Scots in any national situation, it still brings tears to my eyes and I’ll happily sing along with gusto. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Even hearing the unofficial Welsh national anthem ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ played at sporting events and sung with such heartfelt passion never fails to give me the chills and bring goosebumps to my arms.

Northern Ireland’s still a bit confusing for me, as nationally the entire island of Ireland can compete together in some sports so crossing borders can be a bit of a grey area here when it comes to consolidating both countries with a rousing anthem acceptable to both sides of the dividing line, one a small part of the UK, one part decidedly independent of British rule. But still, they do always manage to play something suitably non-confrontational.

So I still don’t understand why England doesn’t have an official, unofficial anthem to use in situations like these, like the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom have had to adopt? I mean, I think at some cricket matches the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ is sometimes used for England – that would maybe work? Although perhaps the Womens’ Institute would object to losing their favoured anthem!

So I can’t help but wonder… why not keep the UK National Anthem for truly national UK events (like the Olympics, for example) and let England develop a proper, separate national identity of its own to be proud of… Surely anything else is just not cricket… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Wee

Up and Down

I’ve been feeling really up and down again this past week.

After my second dose of the Covid vaccine a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to find that after a good five months my sense of taste had pretty much fully returned and my excessive breathlessness was much better – two of my main Long Covid symptoms – so that was a definite ‘up’ moment, a real high for a few days. But I soon discovered that even though I’m breathing better I’m still finding ongoing fatigue a problem, I still seem to get a lot of headaches and my leftover cough isn’t improving either so that’s been a bit of a ‘down’ realisation.

So overall I’ve been feeling a lot better than I have done all year, but still not really fully back to normal.

And now I seem to have caught a cold so my sense of smell and taste is once more drastically reduced and my chest is starting to feel really tight and wheezy again, so I’m feeling really miserable and anxious. Part of me feels it’s definitely just a cold and it will all pass soon enough, but part of me is worried it’s maybe another big dip on the seemingly never-ending Long Covid roller-coaster ride – I’ve not felt well enough for long enough to be sure my symptoms are really gone for good or just teasing me, waiting for me to relax before pouncing on me again.

I must admit it gets me down, the not knowing. The how-long-is-a-piece-of-string-ness of it all. Nearly six months ago I caught Covid, luckily I wasn’t ever that sick and so thankfully I didn’t die. But somehow it’s still there in the background, niggling away, bothering me. I try to stay as positive as I can and push myself to do a bit more every day but it’s really knocked my confidence to not be able to trust myself energy-wise. I still get far too tired far too quickly and that makes me feel old before my time.

So as I said I’ve been feeling a bit up and down this week… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Up/ Down

Keep Buggering On

As one of life’s depressives, I’ve long questioned the meaning of life and what drives us on, day after day, to continue our existence in this world. And over the years I’ve learned to become content with following fellow depressive Winston Churchill’s philosophy to just ‘Keep buggering on’ – a favourite phrase of his. To me, this approach is neither about maintaining eternal optimism nor applying a tenacious, stubborn, single-track myopia to get through our daily trials and tribulations, but instead speaks more to the kind of constant Sisyphean struggle of life espoused by Albert Camus.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus is cursed to spend his days pushing a boulder up a hill, only to find it back down at the bottom every morning, where he begins his thankless task again – the ultimate Groundhog Day frustration of perpetual motion. My understanding is that Camus posited the idea that the sheer absurdity of our everyday life experience as conscious beings is at the heart of everything we do. Humankind’s never-ending search for meaning, order and control in an effectively meaningless and chaotic world creates a dynamic tension that cannot ever be tamed; ultimately it can only ever be avoided or accepted.

According to Camus the avoidance of such absurdity comes in the form of physical suicide (annihilation, a complete rejection of life) or philosophical suicide (an evasion of reality through religious belief in the promise of something better ahead). Instead he suggested a philosophy of simply embracing our lot when it comes to the absurdity of life – accepting that however hard we try we can never apply enough order and control to square the circle of life and learning to be content with that fact. Understand the inevitable difficulties we must always face in our daily grind, and learn to live with them as they are. Keep on pushing that rock up the hill every day, knowing that we’ll be doing it all again tomorrow, and effectively embracing the challenge.

To me this is closer to what Churchill meant with his oft-repeated favourite phrase ‘Keep buggering on’ – it’s a kind of stoic acceptance of whatever potential chaos is likely to be put in front of us every day and dealing with it all just as it is, in the moment, whatever it takes. It’s about struggling with the futility and inevitability of our meaningless existence, yet rising to the daily challenge and not ever giving up on life, no matter what. And that’s a pretty long-winded way of me describing what I feel drives me in life these days – a sheer bloody-mindedness not to give up, no matter what, and meanwhile hanging on and enjoying the ride as best I can…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Drive