Posts from the “Life” Category

Domesticated Yeti

When I was in my twenties and newly married, I moved to the mountains, to a little village called Albiez La Villette in the French Alps. My wife was the teacher there. It was a magical five years. It was the time in my life that defined who I am. I feel lost whenever I wander away from the person I became in that place – which is most of the time.

I realise that people don’t have fixed identities. We change throughout our lives. I do believe though, that some places and/or events can anchor us better to an idea of what we want to be. I suppose the idea of an English poet living in the mountains is grand. I used to walk the mountain paths pushing my baby daughter in an orange pram. I had long hair and a bushy beard. I must have looked like a domesticated yeti.

That seems like a long time ago. Life has been great since then so I don’t see those five years as some kind of golden age. I suffered a nervous breakdown while I was there. I’m not clinging to the past. I just like what I became in Albiez. I was a person who saw beauty and meaning in everything and every moment. All the poems I submitted to magazines during that period were rejected – I have a pile of rejection slips as a souvenir. But I wasn’t bothered. Writing what I felt and saw was more important than publication. Of course, I have always wanted to be read, all authors want to be read, that’s why they write.

I wrote my first novel in Albiez too. I still have it, in a drawer. It’s a pile of typed paper with faded notes scribbled everywhere and corrections stapled to the main storyline. It’s a mess. It’ll never be published because it’ll never work as a novel. The two main characters in the novel, Agnes and Tom also define who I am. They are a part of who I was. I believe that my current feelings of being out-of-place is due to a sense of being overwhelmed by human social narratives. The power of the mountains reduces the significance of human narratives. Agnes knew this which is why she wanted to run away from the ‘voice of the city.’

Maybe what I’m saying in this short meditation on my life as a domesticated yeti, is that I’m not actually inspired by the ever-changing, ephemeral narratives of human society – I never have been. On the other hand, I am inspired by the awesomeness of nature. Living in the mountains felt natural to me, as if I belonged there. My poetry and novel recognised the humbled position of humankind against the immensity of the wonder of existence. We are very small creatures. Planes, ships, rockets, nuclear bombs and walking on the moon doesn’t make us any bigger, not if forget that for millions of years, nature managed quite easily without us.

I discovered Chopin and Beethoven during my time in Albiez. Maybe human narrative ought to be in the form of music – without words. Not that words are bad (I’m a writer after all.) The dysfunction of any narrative is with the storyteller. I know this much.

What Now

Now doesn’t last long. It becomes a memory, a story, too soon. The actual is short lived. Our reality is that of an ever-shifting potentiality not a stability.

Ideas move forward and jump from one moment to the other. Christianity has been doing this. Christianity has a backpack full of ideas: love, forgiveness, perfection, altruism, sacrifice…

One gets the feeling that at present, today’s potentiality has a completely different structure and that the ideas Christianity brings with it are no longer ideas people can relate to – except maybe love but that no longer belongs to religion, it is now a social idea. In fact we can keep all the ideas that originally came with Christianity, without religion. This means that Christianity is left with just its own unique story: Humanity’s innate sinfulness redeemed by Jesus who offers himself as a sacrifice and dies on the cross to save us.

So, what now?

If we are to live in a religion-less future, as some predict, how will we guarantee social cohesion? How will individuals be guided and kept from falling into chaos? In a meaningless world, nothing is good or bad, everything is indifference. In a religion-less world, we are alone. If we survive as a species or die-out makes no difference to anything but ourselves. Of course, if that is our reality then inventing a God or religion and maintaining the illusion won’t change anything.

Christianity may have lost its power but I don’t think the idea of the existence of a God is dead. In fact, understanding the nature of reality as being innately meaningful is not a stupid or naive idea. In my mind, believing in God is not grasping at straws. It is bridging the gap between our experience of the world and the ultimate nihilistic idea that we are not really alive, that we are not really here – like a flower that blooms in an empty garden where no gardener has ever existed and no spectator will ever exist to see the bloom.

Seeing reality as meaningful, in a non-religious way, is not unreasonable. It is hopeful.

Return to Self-World

When you have lived in the presence of a powerful narcissist you will get dragged into their world. In other words you will be living in their narrative and not your own. To function properly as your own person, you must be allowed to create and maintain your own self-story – your life-story. The only place you can realise your true nature – your hopes and dreams – is in a world that you understand, feel comfortable in and enjoy. That is because it is your living place, a place you have created.

Your own world is much the same as everyone else’s. It’s made up of the same people, cities, situations, societies as the rest of the population. But inside your head there are subtle differences. You will experience the world in your own unique way. I’m convinced that each person experiences the world in a way that is as individual as a fingerprint.

I have been living with and continue to live with, a very powerful narcissist. My abilities to be the person I want to be have been subdued and pushed to the side-lines. My work on the PhD and my writing have suffered because of my relationship with this person. It is likely that my submissive nature empowered the person even more. Narcissism is a mental-health issue and not the sufferer’s fault. I blame nobody for the situation only myself maybe, for having fallen into the narcissist’s trap.

I write this to help others. If you are a creative who is in a similar relationship, you must make sure that your world remains your world, otherwise you will cease to be able to work effectively in it. Create boundaries in your mind and in your personal space which will enable you to leave the world of the other person, preventing them from overrunning your world. A narcissist will overrun your world because they don’t want you to have your own space. They must occupy every corner of your experience otherwise they will feel abandoned and mistreated and you will have to suffer for your unacceptable behaviour.

Stone Cottage

Who lives at our Stone Cottage?

Firstly, there’s a man who sometimes writes poetry and sometimes prose-fiction. He is greying. Likes walking and photography. Likes to cook, has a penfriend in Poland and is known, on this website, as Fender (that’s me – goodness knows why I am writing in third person!). I am keeping the blog and will write most of the posts. Here is a sample of my poetry:

Our Love

our love was built in the sixties
hit ice on its maiden voyage
and sank without a trace

sex is not easy to endure
when the fridge is left open

cold words lose their fire
in the empty moments
of everyday

a few more flowers in the vase
would have been nice
another joint
might have done the trick

remember how your legs
squeezed my love
into our soul

remember how we cried
when cupid sewed
our hearts together

remember the time
you threw our song
out of the window

that’s when I realised
love is vinyl
breaks too easy

sometimes I want your legs
around me again sometimes

I just want to know
why cupid continues to live
in the ice box
of our fridge

And then there is Sarah. She likes walking too (and photography), has a whippet and plays the cornet. She is a Counsellor training in psychology, a Buddhist-Pagan (or Pagan-Buddhist) and enjoys relaxing on the PlayStation. Sarah was once a Christian but lost her belief in a personal, all-powerful God. She bakes – bread and cakes (which is why I have joined the gym).

Finally, there is Margaret. She is Sarah’s mother and has been living with us for seven years. She is quite a personality. She has had a lot of health problems – a diagnoses of inoperable cancer most recently – but she does not let it get her down. She lost her Christian faith several years ago but continues to believe that the universe is meaningful. Her hobbies, at the moment, are: shopping and puzzles.