Spiders

vidar-nordli-mathisen-776709-unsplashThis is some prose I wrote about the battle that we have with the shadow sides of ourselves. Learning to live with the darker parts of myself reminds me of learning to live with our household spiders, which for some of us is often a step too far!

SPIDERS 

I have always been afraid of spiders. They are long, black spindly-legged specimens of dread. Their mortal threat lies there in their very being: not under the veil of a furry coat or a smooth skin but there, in your face with no punches pulled.

The spider. His crawly legs and sudden movements surprise as he sidles surreptitiously across the surface of the window sill. Silent but deadly. Then he stops: still but with a menacingly potent potential. He take no prisoners (unless you’re a fly). I mean – would you tackle a tarantula?

Spiders’, the vegan, animal-loving, lama-saving cohort chant, ‘Spiders are the kings of the household ecosystem, keeping all of those house flies away from defaecating all over your dinner’. I would rather have a fly poo on a pea, imperceptible to my naked eye than a spider in my bath, willing me to turn the tap on but then running out before I can unleash the fatal torrent in its direction: a display of twisted tactical mastery.

I clutch the piece of card and the Tupperware pot, waiting for an opportune moment to launch my attack on the malificent entity. It knows that I am about to mount a kidnap attempt, but unlike a mouse frozen before a pouncing cat, it stalls to outwit. No sooner do I bring the cardboard weapon down upon the wretched eight-legged currant, it runs six centimetres to the right. It stops, standing still. My frustration and anger build but the killer instinct takes hold and with a deft scoop, I catch my prey and open the window. It is humanely deposited on the window ledge. I shut the window and exhale in triumphant bliss. No more spindly-legged battles. No deaths. No tears. A mutually acceptable resolution I trust.

Sweet dreams; fluffy cloud sensations and spectrums of colour. I wake in the morning embodying a rested glow. I run the bath. Frothy bubbles frolic playfully under the gushing water. I lower myself slowly into the warm water. The warmth envelopes my being like an aqueous hug. I close my eyes and breathe. The tap drips hypnotically. Thoughts waft in and out of my mind. I look at the window above the bath. It is starting to steam up now. I start singing, a slow melancholy shanty. The melody rises up with the steam; sweet and angelic,  heaven-bound, lulling me into a drifty soporific state. Then silence. The tap stops. The sounds tapers off, hanging in mid air. I spy something small in the corner of the window: small but not unremarkable. A black fleck poised with intent on the wrong side of the closed window (not the outside side). It goads me to investigate it further and I do.

I emerge from the embrace of the water with a Neptune-like glory. Death is in my sights now. Water is my power and I am the fleck’s nemesis. Every ounce of humanity that I ever had has rushed out of my body like a retreating garrison. With timing and aplomb I throw a sodden sponge at the fleck. This is it. Bang. Gone. Triumphant and bold like a Valkyrie princess I snatch the sponge to see my winnings only to be met by a surprising vacuum of fleckiness. NO FLECK? What the heck?

I look down and see it in all of its arachnid smirkiness heading snidily towards the toilet. I leapfrog out of the bath to catch it, taking a fishtank-load of water with me. I trip and bash my head on the toilet seat. I lie on the floor in a naked heap. My pride is damaged and I am vulnerable. I have been defeated by a centimetre-long household insect. The threat is present, real and hiding in plain sight in my own home.

The ever-present resistance I feel is comfortable, patterned, safe: trusted in its familiar unpredictability.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2019 

The Thought Constrictor

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The Thought Constrictor proudly conquers the brain of the Prey, depositing layers of delusions into what becomes a tapestry of constricting thoughtforms. With a finely-specked endoscope, ready at any moment to shine light on the lies, fantasies and destructive projections I burrow into the depths of the central nervous system and sit there as a Patient Companion. Sometimes I can hear the snake spitting out venomous messages with no apparent trigger: ‘you’ll never do it’, ‘it will never happen’, ‘you will just stagnate’or ‘there is a problem’. The words reverberate round the walls of the skull like pneumatic reminders of the futility of the Prey’s existence. Sometimes the noise is so relentless that I surrender almost entirely to it as if I’ve succumbed to the narcotic hypnotism of a cultist ritual.

Cushioned by the grey squidgy tissue I nod off for a bit but then slowly open one eye. As I do so the noise dies down. I open the other and the noise now reaches a dull plateau. Like the syncopated repetition of a pumping house track in a crowded bar it is enough to keep my attention from waning. Urged on by the fact that I now have the attention of the Prey’s brain, the snake causes more thoughts to tumble out: ‘they don’t like you’, ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you can’t say that’. This time, my awareness deepens and the thought forms become like an annoying brother or sister.

In order to get away from the low-level irritation I choose to jump into the eyes of the Prey’s brain and focus on the world outside of me. I focus on the passing cars; the flowy arcs weaved by the teenage skateboarder on the pavement and the jobsworthy traffic warden who triumphantly slaps a ticket on an illegally-parked Vauxhall Astra. The thoughts stop. The outside world in the moment has my attention and the snake has given the Prey the liberty of being back in his life again.

I am walked down the street until the Prey gets on a bus. He pays the driver and sits down warily at the front at a sufficient distance away from the vodka-swilling dreadlocked girls. The bus pulls away and the Prey drifts back into the maleficent stronghold of the Thought Constrictor. This time the thoughtforms are sharp and pointed:  ‘you won’t score with the ladies’, ‘you’re a loser’,it says and the thoughts pinch the Prey sharply. I am tired so I let the thoughts roll. They roll around the Prey’s head as the bus sways around every corner. The backwards and forwards motion lulls me somewhat and the thoughts come out as words in a trance ‘yooou caaan’t get a giiiirllllfriend’or ‘you are too old’ and so on. I sit there. The Passive Patient Companion.

The bus stops and causes the Prey to jolt back and forth. I look through his eyes and see that the bus has reached the last stop. The Prey gets out of his seat and walks dolefully down the stairs. He steps off the bus and wanders into Poundland. ‘What a shame’ sighs the snake, ‘you’re such a failure you have to shop at a budget shop ha ha ha!’ I am more awake now and wink at the thoughtform and it sidles off. The Thought Constictor launches another thought. I watch it and it disappears.

Ah f**k it.It’s all b****cks anyway’ says the Prey under his breath. I feel something tense up in the front of his face. I reach out towards the inside of the jaws and can feel two pockets of creases on either side of the Prey’s face where the skin has bunched up. A smile, I think. He is smiling. I do a small cartwheel on the squidgy grey matting and then go back to sleep. The snake thinks he has won now that I am snoozing but the thoughts know not to return if they are going to be met with such robust challenge.

My job is done.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2019 

 

The Pace of Life

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The march to the Pace of Life is quick, I think. It takes no prisoners. Those who march to the Pace of Life  give the impression that all purpose has been knocked out of them: that they are reduced to a hollow rhythm. One-two, one-two to the beat; each foot a syncopated slave to the drum of their daily existence.

Mine is a rather different pace. I have no purpose to my walk at the moment but that’s ok. Sometimes I dither and sometimes I circle the same ground over and over again, as though I were looking for something I had lost. As I get older and my feet get heavier I wonder whether it is innocence that I left behind. Wearily I still look for the things that shine: old bits of copper, fun acquaintances, fallen pennies, new lovers, bits of treasure…..

……..but now I know that they will lose their sparkle in the half light.

This is the direction I chose to take and there is no turning back. I am on my own now, my path illuminated only by the light of the sun and moon. I am at the whim of my heels. The road forms itself; it becomes a path that opens up; a benevolent direction: an insurrection to the action, reaction and mindless distraction of everyday life.

‘Aren’t you a drifter?’the clockwork marchers say as they one-two, one-two to the beat of the Drum.

And you already have all the answers….’, I retort,  ‘or will you look them up?’

They only rustle their planners and thumb their diaries in response, organising their lives to factor in every linear possibility from birth until death (and even that one’s on the calendar – Tuesday if possible, not a Monday so as to avoid bridge night).

The Pace of Life planner doesn’t allow for error. It doesn’t allow for eventualities or vicissitudes. Or winds of change. Or changes of heart. Or changes of lover. Or changes of direction. It maps the course with routine predictability to ensure there is absolutely no availability.

For availability might mean being alone. Or time to think. Or time to change. Or time to grow. Or time to stop putting one foot in front of another in sync with the invisible metronome whose Stalinist presence monitors every second, every heartbeat and every heel strike of every footstep, counting one-two, one-two to the next chronological signpost. Easter. Christmas. Birthday. School holidays. Another Event with a capital E.

On the planner, there is no space to scrawl in a day for contemplation or silent contentment: no time to scrub out a week and spend it in timeless nihilism. Too busy, they say, too busy.

Too busy for connection, reflection, contemplation and wonder. Too busy for savouring or wondering; dreaming or envisioning. Too busy.

Too busy for touching, lingering, sensing and feeling.

Too busy for feeling the fullness of a moment: the sort of moment that has the power to cause the cogs in the clockwork to grind to a halt yet the sort that will last……

……forever.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2018 

New York

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I lie here, cosily tucked away within the faded Art deco glamour of my big-city hideaway. My mind floats off to eras gone by as I imagine the years, the lives, the energy that this city breathed in and breathed out, each breath marking the start of a new wave in the relentless ebb and flow of metropolitan vogue.

From war rations to new fashions; Times Square with its battle of the brands: each billboard whispering in consumers’ ears to loosen the clammy grip around their wallets as they let their hard-earned money fall into the hands of the lucky profiteers; the colossal emperors and gateholders of the American Dream.

‘Everybody can be somebody in this city’they say. But isn’t somebody just another body as the hundreds march the sidewalk or the lunchtime rush subsumes the masses in the hustle and bustle, whirl and burl; the faceless swirl, soulless intersection – perhaps the odd two second connection. Exchanges are but brief sparks in the footfall: ‘how’s it going’;  ‘what a fast city we need to slow down!’ or ‘why did that muppet win the election?’

This is a world bazaar: a melting pot of art, food, fashion and snacks-at-street-corners. In one day I can see Picasso at the Met, browse Stella McCartney on Madison Avenue and eat Quesadilla, eggs over-easy and a Reese’s peanut butter cup milkshake float. ‘Hey lady! You want pretzels?’. Marching fuel keeps me going from one street corner to the next. ‘Tacos till I get to the best restaurant this side of Fifth Avenue else I might be hungry on the way?’. You don’t say. I’m not losing weight this way.

Press a button and up up up 86 floors into the sky. It’s high but my head doesn’t spin. I take some facebook selfies with my cheesiest grin just to show the folks at home I’m a somebody in this town of somebodies who are nobodies. Riding high on the American Dream. Self-esteem. A necessary commodity (but one with a big dollar subsidy).

No dollar. Blue collar. Service sector. The invisible glue of this city. Chamber maids. Bell boys. Waiters. Newspaper sellers. Burger flippers. Immigration is what holds up this nation. Capitalism on steroids; an uncontrolled pyramid scheme promising a dream of freedom that they might have in the future some day. Who’s to say? A cruel promise or a fair contest? An unequal system which doesn’t evoke protest. For everyone a winner in this game of chance and romance.

The American dream. The reality or the fantasy on which this city survives? Any gripe is silenced by the illusion of one day we’ll make it big; make it big like the collosal greats of yesteryear and today; the billionaires and heroes who have gone before. Or there is always the lottery, we say. That hope is just a palliative to that fifteen-hour day.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2018 

A Mid Life Crisis?

As forty hits, the ego calls: the inspired wallet buys bigger balls: the eight grand full sus mountain bike; the fishing rod that nails all pike;the clubbing mum with inch-long nails, the sporty dad with hero’s tales.

As the big birthday nears I heave my beleaguered form onto the bandwagon and start my quest for THE life I was MEANT to be living Apparently I can BE THE REAL ME OF ME IN THE NOW. I am the STORYTELLER of my own destiny.

I cling onto that glimmer of hope that I haven’t sold out and I am not just wasting my life shopping at Tesco’s and looking for great deals on Amazon; that this was THE LIFE that I had somehow been promised I would live before I came down from the big blazing bubble of stardust glory in the sky.

I decide to change: to grab the proverbial bull by the horns. I AM GOING TO MAKE MY LIFE REALLY EXCITING AND OUT THERE.

I meditate. Every day. Hoping that the Divine will send that big ball of cosmic ear wax my way. I wait and wait and wait for a big spectacular sh*t-hitting-the-fan moment but nothing comes. I leave the checkout screen and let my life unfold. Allow, they say. Allow. Allow. Real life will come my way if I just flow……

Abundance.

I am skeptical. But I wait……..

The gods don’t fill up my shopping cart.

I’m on the phone. The potential for drama crackles in the suspense of the argument with my lover. But nothing worthy of a plaudit: just prickly sarcasm and some poe-faced profanities. I sob a bit and drink wine round my friend’s but then I move on.

The crisis might crystallise, I think, when I announce I am leaving my work.

‘I’m going to launch another career’ I declare to my boss who doesn’t look up from his desk.

I go on LinkedIn and get another job. I have a bit more cash. I move on.

I dream up an idea of writing an earth-shattering, critic-silencing script that will be in theatres for years to come; changing the world and shedding light on the reason for why the human race is so f**ked up. I write the play. It is appreciated by some: the some being two of my closest friends. I move on.

I go on Tinder. I meet someone. Ding dong and God damnit!  We meet in the new gastro pub which serves Cornish cockles and fresh ling in tarragon sauce presented in a locally sculpted skillet. We talk about how sh*t Love Island is, what exercise we do and how to fill in the cracks on a plastered wall without spending too much money on filler

Later we fumble around whilst gasping for breath…….

we are having an anaerobic reaction to the sights of the saggy old cloth cat bagpuss bodies which shatter the illusions of the siren sex kittens that we still faithfully cling on to. It all seems a bit exhausting these days I think and I’m bored so I move on.

I’ve tried Tinder, playwriting, tantric pilates and new-age kipper surfing in an attempt to rekindle that erstwhile life spark: to awaken the REAL ME and live THE life That I was meant to be living in the NOW. Nothing has worked.

I am now expecting some motherf**ing collosal meteoric act of nihilism to happen here in Victoria Park. This might be the excitement I need: the shift which changes me and sets me on a different course. I can then really say it’s written in the stars and that my exciting middle-age destiny was heaven sent………

The closest we get to anything geo-transformational is that this is the hottest summer since 1976. I haven’t watered the garden I think and I need to. I move on.

I return to my shopping cart. My prayers have been answered and it is filled this time: with a portable steam window cleaner. This mildly excites me: not much but just a little. I admit it to myself. This might be one small step towards the NEW ME OF ME.

Truth be told, I am the same old doing the same old: a new version of me in earnest equanimity, enjoying her moments with some new found humility,  appreciating that what will be will actually be and that life does not owe me a souped-up ME.

The unveiling of the big life mystery was that what I already seem and see is the answer to all I need to be……

…….and that I now need to pee very frequently.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2018