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Witchery

Daily Prompt: Wicked Witch

Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us EVIL.

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Sometimes her shadow falls on me, Witch Nyll, black beast of Eneri.
And then I fight to rid my mind of desperate thoughts of every kind,
the lonely, maimed, the lost, the sick, neglected, aged, dead or quick.
I mourn the past and fear the future, blind to goodness, fail to nurture
all my blessings, which abound, seeing only tragedy around.
She tries to keep me from my God, beating me with heaviest rod
that sadness ever could supply, and breaking down my will to try.
She takes all pleasure out of good, removes the taste from any food.
She drains the colour from the sky so that I see with jaundiced eye,
Knows how to keep me from my sleep, makes all I love look stale and cheap.
But worst of all she banishes hope, giving me a gallows rope
to end it all. “Why carry on? Once you are dead the pain is gone.”
That’s when I look her in the eye and say “Oh yes? Then tell me why
there’s purpose found in everything, the smallest flower, the tiniest wing.
Each little life means quite as much as galaxies seen through Hubble and such.
We’re not just washed up on life’s beach, but always, ever within reach
of being the best that we can be.” I push my boat back out to sea
upon a course that’s straight and true, for only God can pull me through.

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Cake and circuses

Daily Prompt: About Page of the Future

Write the About page for your blog in 10 years.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us FUTURE.

my birthday cake

My lavender is leggy and my birdbaths are half full.
I’m now blogger by exception and reader by the rule.
With no more ties to bind me, no deadlines to fulfil,
My mind is free to wander as I chill beside the pool.
I’m living in the present ’cause it gives me peace of mind;
no worrying ’bout pension payments or stuff that I can’t find.
I’m eating what I want to: steak, potatoes, soup and greens,
cut out all fruit (‘cept apples), chickpeas, lentils and mung beans.
The library books I’m reading are the ones I’ve read before
not because they are the good ones, just the closest to the door.
I don’t care what I’ve accomplished (leave that laptop there to rest!)
as long as I have friends to call and get things off my chest.
I’ll know that I am done for, that my time is finished when
I’ve got no-one left to live for, NOT at three-score-years and ten.

Life as we know it

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Is there no common denominator to our lives

just

a jumble of random events

(held up at gunpoint or stung by wasps)

actors soldiering onward

stringing words together to make

something meaningful

a brief escape from reality

until

the curtains open and the leading lady is

Gone

her premature exit leaving us

helplessly mouthing meaningless nothings until

someone skips to a song

(“Smile”)

and we dance bravely on?

 

Spreading our wings

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What kind of mother gives her son a surprise flying lesson for his birthday? Well I was young and foolish – a whole year ago.

What colour is your comfort zone? Lately I had to step outside mine and climb back into the saddle – to ride my daughter’s mare while she was away on holiday.
I was suddenly aware that my comfort zone had become a dangerous kind of Bermuda triangle, threatening to swallow me up completely. I had kept inside it for so long that its borders had shrunk. It had become a cramped burgundy-coloured cubicle; I was more spooky than the mare. Fortunately, the more I step outside my comfort zone, the bigger it gets (easier said than done) and finally, several weeks later, it has expanded into a medium-sized yellow-green meadow. If I kept at it long enough, who knows, maybe it would eventually become an airy blue-white skyscape. But I doubt it. I’m not a naturally brave person. That’s okay – as long as my comfort zone never shrinks into the dark and confined man-made prison it could so easily become with overuse.
Of course, there’s a danger in too much “stepping out” too. Some people have forgotten what a comfort zone is – they’ve been stretching themselves for so long. I guess the ultimate warning sign is sleep apnoea. When the body starts to shut down on its own, it should be obvious we need to curl up and recharge our batteries. Sadly, some people aren’t in a position to heed the warning signs. I’m thinking of young mothers in particular and carers in general. Balance is all, I guess, if we have the choice.
Animals, on the other hand, seem to have a fairly rigid comfort zone. There is no telling some dogs that storms can’t hurt you, no matter how many storms they experience. Horses are particularly susceptible to changes in their environment – for some, a rubbish bag or a “For Sale” sign seems to herald the Apocalypse.
Some people’s comfort zone seems to be linked to the weather. On a fine day they can see forever. When it’s cold and rainy things close in on them. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can tip us into depression. I wonder if stepping outside our comfort zone helps with that too. I have one friend who swears by eating tomatoes and another who “simply” follows the sun – taking a holiday in a sunnier country when SAD threatens to close her down. Perhaps they could try jumping out of an aeroplane or scuba diving instead. Alternatively, I do have a horse for sale – brave bay gelding, loves cross-country jumps… any takers?

Why we all need a lighthouse

Bird Island

The sunlight reaches through the clouds, like some even bigger, more powerful lighthouse.

Recently my son got a birthday card showing a car tumbling off a cliff. The caption reads: “But it can’t be wrong. It’s guided by satellites.” More than once my husband has yelled “Throw it out the window!” after following our GPS Shirley’s directions to oblivion, despite his better judgement. (Shirley is no longer with us.) I can only imagine how much worse it would be bobbing about in inky darkness in a small boat. Come to think of it, the bigger the ship, the worse the situation.  And we all know that accidents still happen, despite all the electronic navigation aids ships use today.

Don’t we all need a lighthouse of sorts? Some big, dependable, candy-coloured authority figure to beam hope through our gloom, if not carry us out of the burning building? Since Nelson Mandela’s been in hospital people have been wondering aloud what’s to become of our rainbow when he’s gone.  Well he’s not gone. And what he’s given us is more than a rainbow – it’s a beacon, a lighthouse that even when unmanned must continue its work 24/7, diligently maintained and upgraded by the rest of us. We’re not all bad, despite our squabbles and mistakes and greed. I’ve got to believe the backroom boys are still doing the best they can, even when management messes up.

In the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, people have been sharing upbeat pictures on Facebook to communicate positive messages about humankind. We need reminding of the unconditional love and goodness that’s out there, otherwise we’ll stop maintaining the lifeboats – and then what?

When the unthinkable happens it doesn’t help much to be reminded that good stuff happens too.  Sometimes it takes a mighty powerful lighthouse to guide us home and even then, not everyone makes landfall. All the rest of us can do is keep those lighthouses painted and their great prisms turning. Just in case.

Two of my favourite lighthouse photos, chosen at random from a selection that my brother took during his years at sea, just happen to be of the same lighthouse on Bird Island in Mandela Bay, and were taken on his last trip. I chose them without knowing this – in fact, without even realising that they were of the same lighthouse. The significance is this: his first-ever memory of going to sea was as a very small boy on the harbour tug John Dock out of Port Elizabeth to Bird Island. Our father was the chief engineer – the crew referred to my brother as “little chief” on that trip. Years later when he joined the harbour service in Durban he was eventually sent to the tug John Dock as chief engineer. He dug out the old log books from 1948/9 and found our father’s signature on the daily logs. Don’t you agree that truth is always stranger than fiction?

Gannets

Over 160 000 gannets live on Bird Island in Mandela Bay.

Courage

“Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.” Dorothy Thompson

 

“I think that taking life seriously means something such as this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false. Whatever is achieved must be achieved with the full exercise of passion, of vision, of pain, of fear, and of sorrow. How do we know … that our part of the meaning of the universe might not be a rhythm in sorrow?”
Ernest Becker

 

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how’.”
Viktor Frankl

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Meeting Angels

I have a special box under my desk. It is an unstained, untreated carved camphor box, crafted by a friend and neighbour who died a few years back, and inside is a confused collection of notebooks and manuscripts that I’ve written over the years.

When the opportunity came up to self-publish, I chose Hillary’s Angel because I believe it’s the best thing I’ve written.   I put a lot of energy into the research at the time (about 15 years ago), and last year, when a publisher offered me what seemed like a good deal, it was more-or-less ready to go (no minor consideration).

This can’t be a sales pitch, because I’m going to give away the ending before you even begin to begin. That’s because I don’t want you to buy my book for the wrong reasons. You probably won’t enjoy Hillary’s Angel unless, like  me, you “take life too seriously”.Image

Hillary is hoping to be rescued. She is looking for an angel. The irony is that the angel is there, waiting, ready to be discovered the whole time.

Hillary always misses the point. She doesn’t quite get it. Until, perhaps, the very end – although even that’s not conclusive.

Hillary’s angel is not a husband or lover, a child, a friend, a priest, a pet, or a project (like a career, a mission, a book or even a blog).  Her angel, like ours, is that something that still speaks to us even when we are cut off from family and friends; when we have been abandoned or rejected by church and creed, society and its institutions. Our angel is what keeps us humane in the very best sense. It gives meaning to our lives in the worst possible circumstances and keeps us keeping on. Happiness? Yes, let me stick my neck out, happiness. It’s there if we look for it, despite everything – pollution, bad politics, poverty, sickness, brutality – that beautiful, indestructible thing, the human spirit. But we need to acknowledge it in ourselves before we can recognise it in each other.

The best of us are not the winners of the rat race. The best of us are those people who don’t come out of concentration camps.

Instead of reading my book, which is a fluffy romance by comparison, you could try (if you haven’t already read it) Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

If you’re wondering – Why a picture of a mare and foal? Well … because life goes on, and what more beautiful proof than this.