Sunday, August 31, 2014

Good Earth quotes

I have always liked writing down particularly relevant quotes about the different elements in the books I read.  The first quote is from an excellent book I have just finished reading by Jacqueline Winspear, who usually writes detective stories based around the time of the first world war, but this time has written a very moving story of a family and friends who volunteer to go to the battlefields in Belgium.  This is a very appropriate subject for a book at the time of the centenary of this completely tragic and pointless war.

“Thea was aware of Kezia, nodding her understanding.  She remembered a certain look, from the very early days of their friendship.  Kezia would often take her time with a question, ruminating over it in her mind, chewing on it like a cow with a clump of grass, grinding it down from side to side to get the goodness – only with Kezia, it was as if she were looking for something in the middle of the problem.  The truth, perhaps.”
        Jacqueline Winspear: The Care and Management of Lies
I also list below some of the quotes I used to give my students at SOFEA as a way of helping them understand the Earth element better:

“What Anna most longed for in the days that followed was a mother.  “If I had a mother,” she thought, not once, but again and again, and her eyes had a wistful, starved look when she thought of it, “if I only had a mother, a sweet mother all to myself, of my very own, I’d put my head on her dear shoulder and cry myself happy again.  First I’d tell her everything, and she wouldn’t mind however silly it was, and she wouldn’t be tired however long it was, and she’d say, “Little darling child you are only a baby after all,” and would scold me a little, and kiss me a great deal, and then I’d listen so comfortably, all the time with my face against her nice soft dress, and I would feel so safe and sure and wrapped round whilst she told me what to do next.  It is lonely and cold and difficult without a mother.”
                                                                       Elizabeth von Arnim:  The Benefactress

 “He was one of those monstrous fat men you sometimes pass in a crowd: no matter how hard you struggle to avert your eyes, you can’t help gawping at him.  He was titanic in his obesity, a person of such bulging, protrusive roundness that you could not look at him without feeling yourself shrink.  It was though his three-dimensionality was more pronounced than that of other men.  Not only did he occupy more space than they did, but he seemed to overflow it, to ooze out from the edges of himself and inhabit areas where he was not.!
                                                                        Paul Auster: Moon Palace

"I thought of life as work.  You have a certain amount of time given to you and you have to find dedication, passion, concentration.  You have to cultivate yourself and be fruitful very much like a patch of land.”
                                                                        Jeanne Moreau, actress: interview

What Earth patients have told me:

“I felt as though the rug had been pulled from under me.”
“I feel the ground a bit firmer beneath me.”
“I always like having a sense of being right at the hub of everything.”
“I don’t think I should always ask other people to feed me.”
“I feel very ungrounded.”
“I feel supported.”
“Everything’s been wiped away from under my feet.”




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How much reality can we stand?

I have always loved the quote from T.S Eliot’s The Four Quartets:  “Humankind cannot bear very much reality”.  And am particularly aware of the truth of this as I prepare to plunge into today’s newspaper, dreading yet another dose of all-too painful reality as I read what is going on in one country on the earth after another, and my heart bleeds for the people fleeing destruction with nowhere to go.

There seems to be nothing but misery in the world wherever I look, except when, with relief, I happen upon a TV programme showing some sport.  Recently it has been the Commonwealth Games and a cricket Test match which, to my and everybody’s surprise, England won.

I think watching sport on TV keeps me sane, a form of extreme escapism which lightens the weight of the world upon my shoulders.  And soon, an eagerly awaited event, golf’s Ryder Cup.  It happens to coincide with my talk at the British Acupuncture Council conference at the end of September, but having now learnt how to watch TV on my i-Pad, I will be able to catch glimpses of it at intervals between some more serious acupuncture input. 

Perhaps already I am slightly less of a technophobe than I was when I wrote my blog on August 14.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We are becoming obsessed with ourselves

I am trying to understand why people seem to feel such an increasing need to take photos of themselves, “selfies”, wherever they are, particularly with famous people.  And I am also aware of how often people walking along the street turn towards shop windows to look at themselves.  And not only look at themselves briefly to see whether they are looking alright, but repeatedly looking into window after window as they walk along the street.  Sitting in the bus recently I amused myself by watching how often those passing by on the street or standing at the bus-stop looked at themselves in the bus window behind which I was sitting. 

It seems as though the world has become a mirror in which everybody searches for their own reflection.  Is this self-obsession with their own images a way of convincing themselves that they exist?  And constantly taking photos of ourselves and looking at ourselves whenever we glimpse a reflection of ourselves is certainly a form of obsession.  It can’t be healthy to spend so long in observing oneself, rather than interacting with the world around us in a more fruitful, less selfish, way.  We are beginning to lose our awareness of others in looking so much at ourselves, as though we are living in isolation from one another.

I think back some years and realise that streets were usually lined with buildings which had smaller windows placed higher up the walls.  You would be lucky if you could see yourself at all, and certainly not the whole of yourself.  This craze for observing ourselves is therefore made much easier by the huge plate-glass windows all modern buildings now have, which show us from the crown of our head to the tips of our toes.   

So mobile phones which overwhelm us with their noise and their insistent demands to be answered immediately wherever we are, as though the messages they send out are more important than any communication with those we are actually talking to, have blighted us in yet another way, by providing the cameras through which we can observe ourselves uninterruptedly all day long for as long as we want to.  It seems we are beginning to prefer images of ourselves to our real selves.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

I am a technophobe

I am frightened of modern technology and the speed with which it changes.  In the old days hardly had I got used to the old VHS tapes when I had to learn how to use CDs,and now there are DVDs and smartphones and tablets and all manner of ways of listening to the radio and TV, or downloading programmes I have missed.  To me, it’s a bewildering array of complex bits of equipment, all of which need to be plugged in somewhere to be charged or to be connected in strange ways I don’t understand.   And all of which, I am told by younger people as they manoeuvre their way seamlessly through it, are apparently there to make my life easier.  This is not to mention social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter, which adds yet a further dimension to what I could do. 

In the past I have always called upon family and good friends to help me navigate my way through what I see as very choppy waters, but surely it is high time for me to confront my fears and at long last learn how to use my iPad, which I’ve had now for more than a year, rather than looking at it apprehensively each morning as I dutifully charge it up before putting it aside unused for another day.  

So today I have finally decided to contact somebody who call himself a computer geek and provides a one-man support system for people like me.  Dare I lift the phone to ask for help, or will I leave it for another day, as I have left it for so many days?

As they say: “Watch this space”!



Monday, August 11, 2014

Writing and reading as acts of creation

I am delighted once again to have chanced upon another good book, “We are all completely beside ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler, which has made me see life from a different perspective, as should all good books.  The only tiresome thing about it is its long-winded title, one of the many similar titles with which new books are often for some reason now burdened, perhaps to make them stand out from the crowd, but which, because of their long-windedness, slip from my memory immediately.   

Apart from being beautifully written, it is also beautifully constructed with a startling shift of perspective midway through it which sent me straight back to the beginning again to see whether I had missed some pointers which should have alerted me to this surprising development.

I learn about life as I read, and I also learn about life as I write.  My writings, as for example of this blog, do not merely repeat thoughts I already have, but form stages in the process of developing these thoughts, which would not therefore see the light of day without the act of writing them down.  It feels as though I am drawing these thoughts from within me as I write.  Each then becomes a tiny act of creation, so that often as I read afterwards what I have written I surprise myself, as though I am reading something new written by somebody else.