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shards - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
shards
... because thinking hurts, and trying not to think hurts, and there is no future any more, only a thick fog, and trying to see into the fog hurts, and just closing your eyes and waiting for it all to go away doesn't make it all go away, it just leaves you so alone in the dark...

... and you feel like you can't possibly go on like this, but there's no alternative except to stop going on at all, and to contemplate that alternative is to keep going on, imagination dead imagine.
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naranek From: naranek Date: November 24th, 2003 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
*hugs*
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 25th, 2003 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Not alone!

Go to a gallery, or a museum, or a church - the Round Church is quite good! - or to Kettle's Yard, TODAY. Kettle's Yard is an exceptional place; Ede's own guide to the place ends with this quotation from St. Augustine (who was in so many ways Wrong, but not in this):

Ah, Beauty
So ancient and so new

Contemplate beauty: find one object, any object, and consider how it was made, or found; look at the light and dark of it, the shaping of it; if it has brushstrokes or texture, look at them and think of what the hands that made them had to do to make those marks.

Concentrate on the exact particulars of one thing outside yourself, in a space meant for contemplation, but not too far away from the ebb and flow of your fellow human beings.

Be kinder to yourself. Go now. Treat the symptoms one day at a time. (You could even send up a totally disbelieving arrow-prayer and see what happens, along the lines of 'I don't believe in you but God help me', but it isn't Required Material: just seek out one thing which you think is or could be beautiful...)

You can do it. Shut this off and look for the beauty which will speak to you when you see it, and give yourself over to it for a time.

xx
j4 From: j4 Date: November 25th, 2003 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Not alone!

Go to a gallery, or a museum, or a church

I can't, I'm in work!

Besides, wandering around galleries and museums usually just makes me feel tired and spaced-out, totally dissociated from everything. I think it's the way everything's decontextualised, reduced to the status of Things, items in a list. I find them distressingly soulless. I'd much rather see a picture on somebody's wall, a picture that somebody chose personally and thought was beautiful, than a roomful of pictures which are Known to be Important and Worthwhile.

Churches are better, but again, if I'm on my own I just wander in and wander out without really seeing anything. I really don't enjoy being on my own at all unless I'm somewhere safe. (Yes, I know that means I'm useless, pathetic, needy, clinging, and all the rest of it. Yes, I know that means that I have nothing to contribute to a Blessed Union of Souls or whatever a relationship is supposed to be.)

Contemplate beauty

I do ... I only wish I could stop seeing things like this. I so often wish that I could just live in the world sometimes, just take it as read, rather than having to see it all in fragments.

And if I see beautiful things I want to show them to somebody, to share them with somebody; and at the moment I feel like I've nobody to share them with.

You could even send up a totally disbelieving arrow-prayer and see what happens,

Isn't that supposed to be a Very Bad thing to do? Asking God for help when you need it, having ignored him all the rest of the time? I was always told that of course God didn't help people who did that, that God wasn't a magic wand you could wave when you needed help, that you had to surrender your heart to God and only then would you begin to reap the rewards of blah blah blah.

along the lines of 'I don't believe in you but God help me'

I think I'm more in sympathy with Hamm in Beckett's Endgame on this one: "The bastard! He doesn't exist!"

Besides, I don't understand why God would help me, even if he did exist. As I understand it, he's already made his big sacrifice, and all I have to do is accept the Lord Jesus into my heart and then I will be saved ... and if I don't accept that then it's all my own fault if I'm miserable and burn in hell for ever, blah blah free will, and all God will do is weep for his little lost lamb as it gambols happily into the Eternal Barbecue.

Anyway, I didn't think believing in God was meant to make you happy!Justified with God, yes; perhaps blessed; but not happy. Chasing happiness is what the godless do! And they will be cast into the outer darkness, etc. And surely all these earthly trials are utterly irrelevant -- just something to be endured with God's help while we go out and convert the heathens.

You said in an earlier comment that I was opposed to theism -- I'm not sure that's quite true. I want nothing more to do with the organised church, and I'm not sure I believe in the Christian God. On the other hand, I really don't want to crochet my own waffly neo-pagan pick'n'mix religion. ("I believe in, like, the Mother Goddess, and ley lines, and in being nice to people unless they're nasty to your mum.")

I used to describe my spiritual state as being something like that described in Eliot's Ash Wednesday, but I'm not sure that's so accurate any more. I need to re-read and re-think and ... well, I don't want to say "try to work out what I believe", because that's back into the realm of knit-your-own-religion. I think it's more a question of trying to reconcile my beliefs with each other. But at the moment I think prayer would be nothing more than a meaningless bit of escapism or -- at best -- a kind of meditation, and I don't need to meditate towards someone/something.

(I suppose the quiet contemplation and murmuring of mantras might help, but reciting the train stations from Cambridge to King's Cross does just as well for that. Shepreth, Meldreth, Foxton.)
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 25th, 2003 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Not alone? come out swinging, yes!

Or the Shipping Forecast. Beware of Gaels in the Hebrides.

you wrote: Isn't that supposed to be a Very Bad thing to do? Asking God for help when you need it, having ignored him all the rest of the time? I was always told that of course God didn't help people who did that, that God wasn't a magic wand you could wave when you needed help, that you had to surrender your heart to God and only then would you begin to reap the rewards of blah blah blah.

Psha. Feh. Ptui. God is considerably more gracious and subtle than the people who told you that stuff: how narrow-minded they are, telling God what to do like that.

Besides, I don't understand why God would help me, even if he did exist. As I understand it, he's already made his big sacrifice, and all I have to do is accept the Lord Jesus into my heart and then I will be saved ... and if I don't accept that then it's all my own fault if I'm miserable and burn in hell for ever, blah blah free will, and all God will do is weep for his little lost lamb as it gambols happily into the Eternal Barbecue.

Feh, again. God is infintely more persistent and dynamic than such a static, limited view would suggest. You been hangin' round with them evangelical Bible-beaters, girl? Me, all I suggest is a quick request from you, and let God do the rest, whatever that may be, in due course. Did I say you should join an established church? Not at all.
(TBC)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 25th, 2003 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Not alone? come out swinging, yes!

You been hangin' round with them evangelical Bible-beaters, girl?

Not recently, at least not more than I can help... Long story.

God is ...

Okay, I'll bite: how do you know what God is?
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 27th, 2003 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Not alone? come out swinging, yes!

Sorry, I should have said "In my experience..."
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 25th, 2003 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)

part II

Anyway, I didn't think believing in God was meant to make you happy!Justified with God, yes; perhaps blessed; but not happy. Chasing happiness is what the godless do! And they will be cast into the outer darkness, etc. And surely all these earthly trials are utterly irrelevant -- just something to be endured with God's help while we go out and convert the heathens.

???? (snort of disbelief) No, chasing short-term pleasures purely as ends in themselves is what the godless do (i.e., a full tummy of nice food isn't enough, it has to be such-and-such a brand served in such-and-such a manner; partying to celebrate isn't enough, one has to get over the edge three nights out of five, you know the song). Chasing happiness is part of the life you have and a good thing; the chase for longer-term happiness helps you to be more alive, more fulfilled, more free.

The God I am thinking of doesn't ask us to dissociate from the body at all, doesn't ask us to merely endure irrelevant earthly trials, although some people have validly taken on that approach, which has worked for them. Every person's salvation is unique to them. But the model for prayer very specifically tells us to ask for our daily bread, in the expectation that it will be provided (what father, when his child asks him for bread, gives his child a stone?). God knows we are in our bodies; God knows we have earthly trials; it's what we do with them that matters. But they aren't irrelevant.


Churches are better, but again, if I'm on my own I just wander in and wander out without really seeing anything. I really don't enjoy being on my own at all unless I'm somewhere safe. (Yes, I know that means I'm useless, pathetic, needy, clinging, and all the rest of it. Yes, I know that means that I have nothing to contribute to a Blessed Union of Souls or whatever a relationship is supposed to be.)

Who accuses thee, woman?
Not me.
I'm not sure what 'really safe' means in this context: what does it mean? Are you not physically safe in a church, or is it that you fear being proselytised, or is it less concrete than that? What's the string of adjectives for? Even if they were true it doesn't mean you have nothing to bring to whatever a Blessed Union of Souls is (again, I am mystified by this, as I stare around at the detritus of the household, by which my soul is, erm, blessed, I guess, if I try hard enough to see it that way).

The way I see things is this: God meets us where we are: we don't of our own strength fight our way to him. The one I happen to believe in hung out with prostitutes and adulterers and gluttons and winebibbers and tax-collectors, and the bereaved, the unclean, the mad, the self-haters, the unconfident, the poor in spirit. Me, in other words.
There isn't a single thing I say to you that I haven't done myself, including the "I don't believe but..." prayers. Looking back I am amazed at how often I have said "OK, *YOU* do it!" and bogged off in a complete snit, sometimes lasting for months, and how often I have woken up from said snit thinking "oh, I am SO embarrassed, what a jerk I've been being." (For "jerk" substitute "wicked" and/or "fool", depending on circumstances.)

Beliefs are tough things; but when I'm at sea, in addition to taking B vitamins, I try to get back in touch with something I know to be true, and work outward from there. I suggested Kettle's Yard because it *was* a house in which the Edes lived, before it became a museum; a church purely because to me they speak, sing, reverberate with hope and fear and charity and love, all the emotions which we are subject to and which people come to leave before God. "Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." People act upon that even in the midst of their unbelief.

Where you are, feeling so alone and so sad, I don't think any act of meditation, towards or not towards anything, could genuinely be unproductive. You are being unkind to yourself and even the Train Stations Mantra would be better than nothing.:-) Or the Shipping Forecast (Dogger, Fisher, German Bight...)

xx
j4 From: j4 Date: November 25th, 2003 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: part II

I'm not sure what 'really safe' means in this context: what does it mean?

A place that's (as far as possible) mine, where I set my rules and nobody accuses me. I'm not talking about physical safety, but emotional safety. Somewhere I can, if necessary, fall apart without strangers pointing and laughing, or worriedly dragging children as far away as possible from the crazywoman.

Churches have a powerful beauty; but they don't feel safe. When I'm on my own I'm mostly very much on my guard, or else hiding deep inside myself and not even letting me see that I'm there. It's not a comfortable place to be. It's not a place where I want to be confronted with powerful beauty.

whatever a Blessed Union of Souls is

I think they were an early 90s pop band... All I meant was that you seem to view relationships as some kind of deep, mystical, spiritual union; and I'm quite sure that somebody who's quite this parasitic would have nothing to contribute to that kind of marriage of souls.

"I don't believe but..." prayers.

So how do you know your prayers were answered? How do you know the thing that you wanted to happen wouldn't have just happened anyway in due course?

I try to get back in touch with something I know to be true

You know, I'm not sure there's a single thing that I know to be true, or rather can state to be objectively and absolutely true. ("What is truth?", asked jesting Pilate...) Obviously on a day-to-day basis I have to take some things as truth, or at least as some kind of consensus reality... but to be honest I'm uncomfortable with the word "truth" in the abstract, as I'm not sure what -- if anything -- it means. It's a word that everybody uses to suit their own agenda.

Where you are, feeling so alone and so sad, I don't think any act of meditation, towards or not towards anything, could genuinely be unproductive.

Well, it does rather depend on the form of meditation...

I think sitting quietly and trying to empty my mind would probably do me good. Train journeys usually do me good, and not just because of the mantra-like recitations of placeless places; they're a wonderful sort of limbo where you don't have to be anything, you can't be expected to do anything or go anywhere, time and place stops mattering so much.

On the other hand I think that trying to force myself to believe in some kind of benevolent Power, who'll magic away all my problems if I ask nicely, would do me an awful lot of harm. I don't want to be "saved", I want to learn to swim.

It's funny, you're probably coming away with an impression of me as a hard-hearted utilitarian and a relentless realist, and I don't think that's really a very true picture; I think it's just that you're triggering a lot of defensive responses. (There's reasons -- or at least explanations -- for some of them, and less reason for others.)

I do believe in a spiritual dimension (for want of a better way of expressing it) to this world, but I think it's much more elemental and -- well, structural, if that makes any sense -- than personal (personal in the sense of being-like-a-person, rather than pertaining-to-a-person).

It's certainly not something that you'd worship (at least no more than you might worship anything), much less something that you'd ask to do things for you; it's just something that is. (Though ... it's something more personal than a "force of nature", I think, because I think it's -- in tune with? involved with? not quite the words I want, but they'll have to do -- human experience.) I couldn't point to it, but I know it when I feel it. Yes, it's there in Christianity, but it's not the focus of Christianity.

To come back to what you said about the "model for prayer" -- I think that particular model for prayer speaks from (and to) something far beyond the limited context in which it's generally encountered, something inherent to the structure of things. That's the kind of thing I was talking about. You are here to kneel where prayer has been valid.

Sorry, this has come out rather waffly, and not a terribly accurate picture of the way I see things. I don't often try to explain the way I think about this kind of thing to anybody...
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 27th, 2003 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: part II

you wrote and I wrote...whatever a Blessed Union of Souls is

I think they were an early 90s pop band... All I meant was that you seem to view relationships as some kind of deep, mystical, spiritual union; and I'm quite sure that somebody who's quite this parasitic would have nothing to contribute to that kind of marriage of souls.

Hmmmm, I'm not expressing myself clearly, boo. I think marriage and marriage-like relationships involving sex and the production of children are made up of all the grind of daily living, with a conscious intention informing those perfectly ordinary tasks, arguments, and all that jazz. I think the spiritual side of the whole shemozzle tends to show itself unexpectedly, and usually in retrospect, but sometimes in prospect and if one is exceptionally lucky, in the present moment.

I also think all human beings are perfectly capable of living with intentionality and of having both temporal and spiritual aims, goals, and experiences simultaneously.

But it isn't a thing of suddenly waking up in a pink cloud of unearthly joys. Hair in the bathtub drain and picking up wet towels from behind the bathroom door and restarting the hard disk instead of rebooting it properly and losing paperwork and disagreeing about how Kid is to be educated are all part of the mix.

"I don't believe but..." prayers.

So how do you know your prayers were answered? How do you know the thing that you wanted to happen wouldn't have just happened anyway in due course? Because I knew/know my own limitations. The things I prayed for were not things I could do out of my own strength nor by relying solely on what other people did, either. The ways in which things happened or which do happen when I pray are quite beyond what I might cook up out of my own intelligence, imagination, or prowesses. The solutions I might think I want are almost inevitably not optimal: as Wilde is purported to have said: "beware of getting what you asked for".

I try to get back in touch with something I know to be true

You know, I'm not sure there's a single thing that I know to be true, or rather can state to be objectively and absolutely true. ("What is truth?", asked jesting Pilate...)

Being one who does not dispute with the idea that the physical world exists, I can point to all sorts of things and say they are true, and take them as a starting point: a sunset is true. It does what it does. It is what it is. A sea cobble of metamorphic rock is true: it is what it is and we can see exactly what it is. The light falling upon it is true; its curves are true. They are and for that rock they cannot be otherwise until a new changing force comes to operate on it.

I like and understand what you said about the model for prayer, and its context, and I quite agree with you. It is structural; it is clear; it places responsibility on us for the one thing we know we can control, and places everything else where it belongs.


On the other hand I think that trying to force myself to believe in some kind of benevolent Power, who'll magic away all my problems if I ask nicely, would do me an awful lot of harm. I don't want to be "saved", I want to learn to swim.

Me too. Good metaphor. I reckon that Christ is the primary swimming instructor; there are others I certainly have learned and constantly try to learn from; but in any event I think it's a huge help to keep one's spiritual life in view when one's temporal life is swamped. Part of swimming is not trying to fight the water but to work with it. It's like trying to fall in with the will of God for me, based on the premise that I am loved and therefore that will is for me to be more than my own limited dreams desire. God wants more for me than I know how to want.

A Benevolent Power who will magic away your problems would be (u>awful</u>. That's awful with no 'e'. Bleeeeccch.


Not a very complete set of responses to your really lovely thoughtfulness; I am snatching some time away whilst Child is sacked out.
Other duties press.

hugs for hard times, have a good night working the bar tonight.
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