What I learned in 2014

Another year draws to a close. If I were to make a judgement about 2014 I would probably say it was not a very good year. However is life ever that simple? Yes some pretty awful things happened but so did some wonderful things too.

I attended three funerals, all people who had died prematurely including a seventeen year old friend of my son who committed suicide. A few weeks previously his father, my ex-husband had dropped dead completely unexpectedly, aged 51. As a mother it is hard watching my son suffer. My instincts want his pain go away and to make everything alright for him. But I can’t. He can only work through his grief himself. Of course he has his teenage moments still and I have learned not to react. There is no point trying to talk to him when he is in a blind rage. All I can do is send him compassion and at the same time let him know that sometimes his behaviour is not acceptable. He even apologised about it once – that is huge progress!

You may have read my previous post about the abuse I suffered in my former marriage. What a host of mixed reactions when my abuser died! He had been in the fourth stage of my metta bhavana (loving kindness) meditation many a time and it was at this time the benefits paid off. Of course there has been the usual anger, a little sadness when remembering happier times when we were young but also relief. It feels very strange being the only parent left now.

In the depth of the sadness in our household we also received some good news. My sons and I all passed our courses that we needed for various things. That was when it really struck me how you can feel happy and sad at the same time and just because you are grieving does not mean you should not celebrate joyful events too.

I went on holiday completely on my own for the first time. I had my purse stolen, fortunately it was the last day, and that made me aware how vulnerable I was. It has not put me off though, next time I will keep my card and my cash separate and I will leave a little cash in the hotel too. Luckily I was not hurt and I got all my money back from the bank. If anything it has made me more determined, I need to go back and visit Ravenna!

In our darkest moments we can connect to our imagination and creativity. I finished the draft of my novel and certain events of the year have given me inspiration for the next one.

Here’s wishing an inspirational 2015 to everyone.

The Beauty is in Impermanence

IMG_1012[1]I was up at silly o’clock this morning to give my son a lift to work as all the train times are messed around in the holidays. It was about -6°C so everything was covered in a thick layer of frost. The sun had not yet risen but there was an orange glow on the eastern horizon. The world looked magical: the fields, the trees, the towers of Arundel Castle and Cathedral rising through the mist, the gentle reflection of the light in the river Arun. I observed to my son it was a shame that I had not brought my camera with me.

On the way home I thought ‘Does it really matter?’ I remember the days of film when we only had 24 or 36 shots and we had to pay for every one to be developed whether it came out or not. We thought carefully about of what we wanted to take pictures. These days with digital we can take as many as we want, memory card permitting, and then delete the ones that are not in focus or that we do not like. And what are we missing if we are always observing the world through the lens of a camera? Trying to preserve each moment for ever we are not being fully present at that time. How about we just appreciate the beauty in each minute instead, knowing that nothing will ever be exactly the same again?

Earlier this year I took part in a flash mob in celebration of the first gay marriage in Brighton. After we had finished singing as we were dispersing I heard a couple of people say, ‘What a shame we will never sing together again.’ No! You have missed the point. The beauty was the fact that that particular group of people would only sing a song together once. It was a precious moment. Of course it has been preserved on youtube though!

We spend most of our lives in the past or the future. Leave your camera at home today and appreciate each moment as it comes and goes. I promise it will be a much richer experience.

P.S. I took the photo above from my living room window after I returned home.