Where do I go from here?

I have just had a particularly lovely holiday away in Norfolk. One of the best things that I saw was a sign for ‘Thetford Ranges’ I don’t know what these are, but someone had helpfully graffitied an ‘O’ before the word ‘ranges’ that made me smile a good deal. Near to where I live is a road called ‘Poor Hole Lane’. The ‘r’ is coloured over on a regular basis, and whenever I see it, I feel sort of proud that someone, somewhere, has felt motivated to continue the funny. I have never done this. neither have I stolen a cabbage from the local fields (the other apparent rite of local passage), but it made me think about how I perceive different places and the effect that it has.

Whenever I go back to the place where I grew up, I feel as if I am treading on my memories. Although some things look the same, nothing feels that way. I feel a sense of guilt, that maybe I shouldn’t be there, but at the same time, a sense of wonder, that this magical place of growing up still exists. My brother, barring a few years out, has lived in the same area all of his life. I struggle to imagine what that must be like.

The sense of connection to somewhere that you lived feels enormous. Part of me will forever reside in these different places, and visiting them will always feel a bit like going back to that stage of my life. Maybe that is what feels unnerving, that by seeing myself in these older locations, I become so massively aware of the changes that I have gone through, and it doesn’t sit right with the person that I am now. Then I go on to think about people who have lived in hundreds of places, do they have that same sense of connection? Or does their journey never have a chance to bond with a physical location?

It felt strange coming home after being away. My house felt different. As did my road, my car and the sunshine seemed to shine differently than when I was away. It struck me how fragile the connection to a place can be.

Map Point. Where in the world do I feel most connected to?

 

Misshapen days

Some days feel undeniably awkward. Nothing feels quite as it should. Things that I make taste good but there is something missing, and today feels like one of those days. I am not quite as connected as I usually am.

This morning was the last day of a short term job that I had. It felt quite exciting on some level, all of us clearing up the space at the end, but on another, the camaraderie, the funnies will now stop. And although it is a small loss, it is still an absence that I will now notice.

I was talking to Spidey earlier (not the one who can shoot web from his hands, somewhat disappointingly) and he was saying the exact same thing. Some days everything you touch just works out, almost without any effort whatsoever. And other days, whatever work you do, nothing feels to quite live up to your expectations, everything feels like additional effort.

I would like to offer something profound here. Perhaps something that would suggest that the misshapen days all build towards the days of brilliance and maybe they do. But it feels like more than that. It almost feels like a kind of expectation, a waiting area before the next breakthrough is made, before the next shiny moment arrives. And from this I can feel less awkward, less (please insert a word here that is an equally measured mixture of frustration, disappointment and possibility). I can feel hope.

Map Point. How does my today feel?

 

 

Connection part one

This is a thank you. I spend a lot of my time flitting from one place to another, seeing many different people, and sometimes, it feels important to acknowledge how amazing the people and places around me actually are. Here are three.

My friend Laurel. Everyone should have Laurel as a friend. I can’t imagine a situation where she wouldn’t fit in seamlessly. She has the most glorious way of making me feel at ease and she is fountain of possibility. She searches for the new, have often referred to her as ‘David Bowie’ insofar as she is always ahead of the trend, with a slightly mysticism surrounding her. She is currently going through some hard things, yet she remains pragmatic and still looks for opportunity. Thank you for the way you explore the world, it allows me to do likewise.

The beach. I live a short walk to a beautiful beach, my own little bit of the horizon. It feels endless when I look out to sea, as if there is an infinity to be discovered. I love seeing the world as this creative and magical place. And walking with my toes pressing through the water’s edge sand gives me such an incredible sense of connection, such a conduit to everything else.

My friend Will. Will has been in my sphere for a couple of years, directly and indirectly, and I have never come across a more gifted story teller. He spins and weaves his words how I imagine a bird takes flight, utterly precise, with the spontaneity of instinct.

People want a way to share experiences, a way to connect, to others and to the world. For me, by writing these words and having people read them, I realise I am not alone.

Map Point. How do I connect?

 

 

The bearded man

Today I was thinking about the first blogger that I ever met. His name is Joel and I met him on my return journey back to London. I had just spent a marvellous weekend in Manchester with my young one, it snowed! We had a marvellous time, the train back was pretty busy, but we managed to get seats at a table. So with young one armed with her tablet and happily engaged, I began, as I often do in these situations, people watching.

It was the man who was seated across the aisle who massively drew my attention. He had got on and sat in a two-person seat, on the aisle side, despite the rapidly filling train. He was wearing a trench coat and had rather a lot of facial hair. A young woman entered the carriage and asked if he could move so that she could sit down. She was courteous and polite. He was not. He huffed and puffed about, clearly, this was the most major inconvenience that life had ever offered him. He chose not to move over, instead, twisted his body into the aisle, so she had to squash past him to get to the window seat, all the while with him muttering to himself. It was so excessive that other people noticed his over reaction, including the chap in his twenties sitting opposite me.

Sometimes when something slightly odd happens it can be a little bit shocking, and this then accompanies a sort of incredulity, which can, on occasion, lead to laughter. But on a crowded train, with the somewhat strange person sitting less than a meter from me, I didn’t want to antagonise. So I grinned silently to myself. Then I happened to look up and connect eyes with the person opposite me. He was silently grinning too. This was not helpful.

We both knew precisely what we were grinning about and then we had to look away from each other, as what had at first been faintly amusing, was now becoming consuming. Funny is infectious. Now, maybe self-control could have been re-established if not for the crisps that the bearded chap began to eat. He flourished the crisp bag and ate with precision and flamboyance. When he had none left, he carefully tore open the crisp packet and licked the inside of the bag. He licked it. On a train. In public. Perhaps getting value for money was important to him. And possibly salt. But upon him licking the bag, eyes reconnected with chap opposite, laughter was clearly just below the surface, my insides were starting to hurt.

Then Mr Beard did something that I have never before seen another human being do. He carefully folded his crisp packet into one long piece, so it resembled a small ruler, then he positioned his face over the aisle and started flicking his beard with it. To dislodge the pieces of crisp that had taken up residence within (value for money obviously wasn’t as much of a priority as I thought that it was).  Deep breaths, deep breaths!

I was digging nails into my hands, looking out of the window, my whole body was shaking, and every time I looked up, chap opposite appeared to be in the same state. Not being able to laugh when I really want to is a world of pain. On the occasions when this does happen, it’s as if every cell in my body is utterly alive, entirely electrified, and keeping that all inside is pretty much near impossible.

The beard and his crisp packet left the train. And we both looked at each other and laughed hard. It was really amazing to make that sort of connection with a complete stranger. We then chatted for the rest of the journey home, exchanging stories and he told me about his blog.

Map Point. When was the last time I connected with someone?

A little reflection

I have been using meditation in my life since I was around eleven years old. The first meditation I learned was a simple countdown focussing on breathing. I still use it now. After a time I found others, some stayed, some didn’t. In the last few years, I have started using meditations of my own devising and these seem to be serving me better. Having time to focus, purely on myself without distraction feels like an incredible gift. It isn’t doing

Having time to focus, purely on myself without distraction feels like an incredible gift. It isn’t doing nothing or being bored, it is a time when my relaxation is my utter priority, and from that, my mind can wander. Some meditations advocate clearing your mind, others focus on allowing all thoughts to pass without judgement. I generally use this time to explore what thoughts have most readily surfaced. There is no right or wrong, it is whatever has served me best at the time. Occasionally I use online meditations. I found these to be extremely useful when I have gone through phases of insomnia.

Occasionally I use online meditations. I found these to be extremely useful when I have gone through phases of insomnia. Currently, I am not experiencing this, but I still enjoy the meditations. I love being read to, stories as a child, shared reading as an adult, and hearing the melody of a gentle voice at bedtime is an utter pleasure for me. I don’t think I ever get through more than around three minutes of the hour long meditations, I am asleep in minutes, their soothing presence is a balm.

I sometimes get this exact same sense of calm when I experience something beautiful.Sometimes walking in a park, or listening to the birds singing outside my window. Wherever I am in my life, I need this sort of space, I need to feel this connection. Everyone has different things that provide this calm for them. I think for me it isn’t that I can’t do these nice things, but it is remembering to do them that becomes contentious. I feel infinitely better when I do, I just don’t always prioritise and this is becoming an active change in my life. Do things that make me feel amazing. This is so obvious it’s easy to see why I overlook it.

Map Point. What uplifts me?