musical milliner

May 26, 2014

“Fallen”

  images The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 What is this, the nineteen-fifties? The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it is he tells them. And it’s always  the kids who suffer from the disconnection.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Do you get that? Do you wonder why your many granchildren are not in touch? Do you understand that your own flesh and blood choose not to be around someone who tacitly disapproves of them because of lazy thinking?

Good tunes, thoughtful & personal lyrics, are one of the most effective therapies for hard times. That is, if you believe paying attention to the process will help you through the challenges. Here’s a good one.

Heaven bent to take my hand
And lead me from the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden time always reveals

The lonely light of morning
The wound that will not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything that I have held so dear

I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

Heaven bent to take my hand
Nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarassed
Pretend that they don’t see
But it’s one missed step
You’ll slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…
(c) Sarah Mclachlan (Tyde Music, Sony/ATV Songs LLC)2003



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Sarah McLachlan 2003

July 17, 2010

Felice sorpresa: Stephen Fry Pays a Visit!

Early one afternoon after having returned from errands, I walked into the spacious living room of the Eichler-inspired home into which I had just moved with my teenage sons and surly cat. I found Stephen sitting round the dining table, sorting through boxes of old photos. Lively conversation between my sons and Uncle Stevie bounced between the history of the English Reformation, the Elightenment, and geek-talk. I was grateful to smell a fresh pot of coffee wafting in from the kitchen. Perfectly perfect. Stephen, ever so thoughtful, knew how delighted I would be over such a simple kindness. Of course, the man has his own grand affair with well roasted cuppas, and it may have been a matter of two birds and all.

Stephen the doting uncle- the boys adore him. He has stepped into this role with graciousness and affection at a time when grief and loss, anger and disappointment, and the experience of abandonment has overwhelmed us beyond imagining. And here he is, with his wit and cheer and indefatigable charm filling our lives with light. The man has perfect timing in all ways. He greeted me with such a hug. I am a tall woman, and to receive a hug from a fellow of six-feet four-ish makes me feel girlish and almost petite. Not easy to explain, but those of you in my heels will understand this is a rare experience. In those long arms I felt a moment of utter safety- that no harm could ever touch me again. Why did I hide the truth from him for so long when he was always so ready to help, and ever generous with his time and resources? My family was laughing again after a long drought. Enjoying the pleasure of some fine company after the big failure.

Within me, there is shame in admitting failure. An individual of whom I am quite fond, an immigrant from Glasgow, likes to explain that one of the reasons he was attracted to America was because he observed the ethic that there was no shame in failure. That one of the primary cultural contracts is one can swing and miss, and it’s okay. You dust yourself off, pick up the bat, and have another go. In fact, failure is seen as necessary for success. In many ways, I would agree. How about failure versus not succeeding? I‘m able to discern a few exceptions, but in general he is on the right course. But there remains one area in which failure is often judged as a character flaw, and that is the failure of one’s marriage.

How is failure different from not succeeding? I posed this idea to a wise friend. Failure, he said, is the result of having exhausted all your options. But failure to succeed or lack of success implies that hope of reaching your goal is alive. Yes, I have failed. I am stuck. I am neither here nor there but wandering in the Mahasunn of this purgatory. I don’t know who I am other than I am becoming. I had forgotten how to be, and that I

Learning how to be…

As the gentlemen shuffled the photos, Stephen found one he particularly fancied and asked as to whether he might keep it or have a copy.  It was taken on a trip when the man-children were eight and twelve.  On a fallen tree spanning a gentle creek, two shining faces smile into the camera. “Why this one?”  I asked him. He replied that in it he saw an innocence in those faces before the deluge of changes came about.  And he wanted the boys to see the picture when they came to visit him, as a reminder that they knew once how to be happy and would be so again.

We drank our coffee and snacked on fruit. Stories were shared. Small advice was offered. Such a delightful afternoon. And then I was awake. (c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

January 15, 2010

La Sonnambula: Grief and the Liminal Place

I keep bumping into a word. It’s a familiar experience. One day, you hear a word with which you are mildly acquainted, but haven’t heard all that much. Then for no apparent reason, it appears, sprinkled into conversations or text with noticeable frequency. It’s both annoying and intriguing. Right? But collecting words enriches our experience. And as German language speakers well know it can be a hoot. Let’s stick to English.

For several years, a regular feature on the inside back page of the Atlantic Monthly was Word Fugitives. Readers would send in clever notes, such as the following from the July/August 2004 edition. Lots of fun to read the creative suggestions that made the column.

The second fugitive sought in March was “a term that describes the momentary confusion experienced by everyone in the vicinity when a cell phone rings and no one is sure if it is his/hers.” Paul Holman, of Austin, Texas, suggested conphonesion; Pam Blanco, of Warwick, Rhode Island, phonundrum; Alan Tobey, of Berkeley, California, ringchronicity; Jim Hutt, of Blue Mountain Lake, New York, ringmarole; William A. Browne Jr., of Indianapolis,ringxiety; and Gordon Wilkinson, of Mill Bay, British Columbia, fauxcellarm.

Taking top honors is Michael W. Pajak, of Portland, Maine, for being the first of many readers to suggest the apt coinage pandephonium.” (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200407/wallraff)

You get the idea. Every once in a while I’ll catch onto one of these and play with it. Of course we can play with language. How dull would it all be without this delicious pleasure? Sometimes it’s  a thoughtful word, a word that strikes a  tune in your thinking. And in your aural experience.

My new ear worm is the word  liminal. Unless you have spent time studying psychology or philosophy or some other “ology”, it’s a word you’re unlikely to toss about in everyday conversation. But here it is, and it won’t leave me alone. I know exactly why I am obsessed with this one.

In the past two weeks since my friend died, I have been plagued with a common grief reaction:  I awaken with a hard smack most mornings. I am dreaming about whatever, and in the passage from sleep to full consciousness my peace is abruptly disturbed when I remember what a crap time this is, and how  much I dread getting on with my day with this heaviness of heart. I wander off, underlining the hours until I can return to soothing linens of an indulgent thread count, a down duvet, and the half-dozen pillows I like to burrow under. It is indeed comforting under the comforter.

Sleep does not come easily because although my body is relieved by the cozy set-up, my thoughts are amplified as my brain betrays me, and I’m stuck with a familiar rat chasing these eternal rotations of my mental wheel. Insomnia is a bitch which has taken root in the past few years and is situationally exacerbated.  Usually I find sleep by means of an iPod with comfy headphones. Music is so often the cure in my life. Thank God for such a wonder.

The space in time between these two states is the liminal place. It is betwixt and between, and serves as a transitional period for our emotional states, our brain function, as well a means by which our bodies are nudged into activity, or from activity into peaceful slumber.  The early twentieth century anthropologist Victor Turner described the liminal state as the passage between childhood and manhood in certain African tribal cultures which practiced coming of age rituals. In fact, one can find examples of these practices in most non-Western cultures. (http://www.liminality.org/about)

The etymology of the word derives from the Latin “limen” (nominative case)  and liminis (noun,genitive case, third declension…I live in a house where both sons were required to study Latin, which means mom had to learn a bit as well.  I salute Ms. Firth in her persistence.)  But my sources concur that the English translation is “threshold.”

The very word used to describe this void in which change unfolds, is grudgingly recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary-2 (1989) only as an adjective, and not at all in it’s noun, liminality. (http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/liminal.htm) OED-3, began a major overhaul in 1993, and to date is not yet one-third complete. Words such as liminal and liminality, though not truly within common usage, are expected to be added  due to their increased inclusion in scholarly applications. (Ibid)   OED-2 gets picked on for it’s snootiness and perceived bias, but at 221,000 entries, it retains it’s place as the most authoritative English dictionary. (www.oed.com/newsupdate/revision0712)

Language is, or should be, elastic enough to accommodate  evolving usage.  I could get into a discussion here about email and social networking shorthand, which some see as the demise of English language, (and I don’t),  but that will have to wait for another day.

Back on track.  So we have this space between two places of consciousness. It’s a place where we process and integrate. It can’t be codified into a specific length of time. The liminal time seems to be fluid and mutable. It may be seconds or minutes.

My thinking is that when we experience significant disturbances in our daily lives, we do not spend the necessary  time in the liminal. We awaken with a spurt of catecholamines and don’t experience the liminal transition which is intended to ease us into or away from conscious function. There is something about the import of liminality which makes it essential for well-being.

I’ve managed to sleep a requisite number of hours. My dreams, as I can recall, are benign if not pleasant or interesting.  Yet when I slam into wakefulness, I am tired.  Not forever. Just right now. Another part of  my current situation. The full liminal meal will return, but apparently I need the shock of adrenaline to get me moving these days.  It just doesn’t feel right.

(c)GoshGusMusic/ascap

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