Posts tagged connections

Memory…. is the diary we all carry about with us – Oscar Wilde

What a wonderful statement and so, so true. We tend to carry on living our lives and enjoying different experiences and often sharing them on our blog page or in personal journals to look back at in the future. I for one never stopped for one moment to think of my memory as the most wonderful diary of all. The best thing about that diary is that it is so totally limitless. There are no boundaries tied up in words and even the most creative writer can never conjure up the best images that are triggered by the other senses – touch, smell, taste or sound. There are no words to describe or produce images that you would get on experiencing a certain smell, for instance.

I remember years ago when my children were small, we lived on top of the West Hill in Hastings. Every day I trundled them all, including baby in the pram, down and up this hill that cars struggled to get to the top of, those living in Hastings will know Mt Pleasant Hill very well. Anyway, right at the top just before we rounded the corner to home, there was a bakery and a few doors up a wool shop. As a very ‘crafty’ sort of person, I was always in the wool shop buying wool, patterns and the like and after reading the above quote, which did trigger off loads of memories, I realised why it was my favourite shop.

As a child I lived a lot with my grandparents in their tiny cottage. two up and two down with a tiny kitchen out the back no hot running water , no bathroom and an outside loo with a solid wooden seat that always smelled of jeyes fluid. We bathed once a week in front of the living room fire in a tin bath filled with water heated in the copper and transported by my grandfather in a tin bucket…but that wasn’t only memory it triggered. It was the smell. The kitchen always smelled of homebaking and Lux soap. So what does this have to do with the quote and the reference to the wool shop? I hear you ask. Walking into that wool shop was like walking into my grandmother’s kitchen. The smell transported me back immediately to that time and place. I mentioned the smell to the lady in there once and she couldn’t smell it but smiled sweetly at me and nodded as if I were mad. I guess the smell from the bakery must have permeated the wool shop, the soapy smell was maybe co-incidence, but to me it was just heaven. A moment’s escape from a very busy world.

As I wrote about my Grandparent’s house a million memories came flooding back to me, more and more with each one I remembered. a mountain of tumbling thoughts and words, feelings, smells, sounds, words, experiences that I have never written down. Each one bringing its own feelings to add to an experience from a lifetime ago and it is just wonderful. I do write many of life experiences down, notes, thoughts, images and memories so that I don’t ever forget the wonderful times I have known. However, that statement brought back to me more memories than I would ever be able to transcribe to page and I have a whole new concept on life.

Life is a series of experiences, good and bad, happy and sad but there are none that we haven’t learned anything from. Our ego, our consciousness tells us we should be sad or angry about things that happened to us, sometimes it brings happy times up and then tells us to regret that we no longer have those times. For me, each person that has passed through my life, those who were there for a short while, or even longer – what is the reference ? a reason, a season or a lifetime? Some were with me for a moment, for the reason they needed to be to play their part in my experience, some saved my life, offered words of kindness yet others were cruel and left me with painful memories before they faded out of my world. Others stayed for a season or two and held my hand through difficult times, supported or encouraged me before moving on and yet others have remained with me, even if it is from a distance, from the moment we first met. I now know that each and every one was as important as the rest and as important to me and my life experience as each moment that passed. And that if I stand back and reflect, my own personal memory diary is always open to be remembered. The difference is, as I have got older, I am able to see the wider picture and now understand the whole reason for needing to record everything… I simply forgot about my wonderful memory..

I know that doesn’t make much sense but I know that one day my memories will be lost just as the memories I had with my grandparents mean nothing to my children. But in recording them in the only way I can – in words on paper – or on digital memory systems these days, I feel I try to keep the memories of past generations alive for those future generations that will never have known them. My experiences might help them to make sense of a strange and sometimes cruel world. I hope it will be useful to them and maybe a little more than just a snapshot of a time past for when my own personal diary has closed.

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Everything happens for a reason.

Do I believe that? Yes I do, very much so. I think it is only as you get much older that you can look back over your life and see the things that have happened and why. It is only now that I understand so much more about life and its amazing synchronicity. I mean how many times have I heard the expressions ‘If I hadn’t done …… I would never have met him.’ Or ‘ We were in the right place at the right time.’ This is a very deep topic and there are just too many co-incidences in this life to think any other way as far as I am concerned.

It works in other ways, apart from tying together circumstances. What about the things that don’t happen because we had a premonition or were forewarned. Many years ago I remember my late father in law telling me a strange tale. He was an insurance inspector and travelled around a lot, I think he was based in Edinburgh at the time. On one trip he had to fly wherever he was needed but before he could get on the plane he had an overwhelming feeling that he needed to catch a later plane so changed his flight. The plane he would have caught went down with no survivors. Spooky! So what made him feel that way? It must have been a strong feeling to make him actually heed it. This tells me that there are forces out there protecting us. Yes I do believe in angels, very much so.

My reasoning, therefore, is that if things like that can happen then surely there is something more than just chance controlling things? Years ago I was at a particularly low ebb in my life and, well to be honest, I was suicidal. My situation was dire and despite a strong faith I had made a decision to end it all. It was all planned, the sea was rough with waves many feet high that crashed onto the rocks, the winds were tremendous. I thought it would be quick and sadly was making my way to the place I wanted to be. Just as I was nearing the end of the promenade someone tapped me on the shoulder and as I turned, two ladies from the church I belonged to smiled at me. ‘You look like you need a cup of tea,’ one of them said. I had seen no one around as I was walking yet there they were. Today, I am so glad they were. They were my angels that day. I look at my gorgeous children and grandchildren and realise just how awful it would have been for them. I mean some of them wouldn’t even exist if ….

Then I think about the circumstances surrounding where I am now. The things that have happened to me, the people I am with. There was some engineering beyond human control I have no doubt. I mean, I lived miles away in the country, middle of nowhere and was so happy there. I ended up in a town, which I hate, with a wonderful man and surrounded by friends and family and yet I am content. He is from N Ireland, he didn’t live far from me but the chances of us meeting were remote. Good old internet. I knew the first time I spoke to him on the phone that we were going to share our lives. It is a longer story than that but when I think about it, it truly is an amazing journey.

I believe we are all an important part of the wider picture. Part of the universe, as important as any other energy that exists and when I look at the world from a distance, I find it amazing that it doesn’t all crash into itself. Birds fly through the sky. Have you ever seen the starlings and their amazing geometric shapes as they come home to roost?  The whole world turns in space, stars are born and die, people survive against the odds, people pass unexpectedly and yet in retrospect I always seem to understand that it was the right time. The right people were there, something was delayed and a serious accident was averted. I remember my father in law, who we nursed at home, saying to me. ‘If I die in my sleep. you will never know what happened to me.’  We always slipped in to see him before we went to bed. This one night were much later to bed because my son had come over and we were playing guitars, singing and talking. When I went in to check Dad, he was sleeping peacefully but something made me go closer and check his pulse. It was strong and even but something wasn’t right. I checked it again. Still steady and even but I sensed it wasn’t so strong. I called my husband and said I felt that it was time. We held his hands and spoke to him for a good ten minutes and he just slipped away. A final breath and his pulse just disappeared. It was the most beautiful thing I have experienced. I know that despite not being ‘with us’ at that point, he wanted us to know what had happened to him. OK I hear you say, just one of those things so why did my son come over on an impromptu visit, why did we stay up so late, what made me look closer, how did I know that it was time? I believe it was the beautiful synchronicity that the universe has that timed, like it does everything to perfection.

Another little story, before he died Dad asked me if I thought he would see his Mary again. Mum had died a few years ago suddenly at 78, Dad was 10 years older and was now 92. I told him yes I felt sure he would. So convince him further I told him to come back after he’d gone and let me know when he had seen her. On the day of the funeral, we were at the crematorium and I had ordered roses for the grandchildren to place on his coffin, as we had for Mum, just to say how much we loved him but they were missing, so a special part of the service was missed. I called the florist to be told the lady doing our order had collapsed and was rushed to hospital. She had completed the coffin flowers but the funny thing was, no one checked the docket to see if there was anything else and she never said anything to anyone. She was released a few hours later with just a stomach bug. The following day there was a knock at the door and a gentleman stood there with the explanation and the roses. He handed to me saying they belonged to us because we had paid for them and would we like them. I accepted and we put them with Dad’s cards on the dresser. The roses lasted over six weeks before they began to dry out. They never drooped, nor did they drop they just turned into dried roses. Now it could be another co-incidence but, every time I buy roses I am lucky if they last a week without drooping, failing to open or dropping. I believe Dad kept his promise to me and that he had found his beloved Mary.

So you see, I do believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that God, or whoever you conceive the Divine Power to be, holds the whole of life in that perfect synchrony. Too many things happen so perfectly for it to be otherwise. We just need to stand back, look and see.

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Strangers? Friends we’ve yet to meet.

After yesterdays post on communication and the way people are today it seems only right that I make an entry on the lovely people I have been able to contact on Facebook. Many people criticise FB but I have met so many people through it, contacted people that I would never normally have known how to find. About a week ago some new names came onto my page, family names and without thinking I clicked onto them and accepted as friends. Little did I know what I was doing. Let me take you back. As a child I lived with my grandparents quite a lot. They taught me many things, respect, honesty, love and what it was like to know regret. Now these things are a bit of a contrast but although I loved my grandparents so much, I never asked about them, their lives, their childhoods and that is where the regret comes in. I suppose the trauma I had in my life made me self centred and unable to look outwards but oh how I wish I had asked the simple questions, ‘what was it like when you were a child? what are the names of your brothers and sisters? Where are they now?’ So many simple questions and I would have known so much about who they were apart from just being the lovely people that took care of me and two of my brothers. But then on the other hand I would not have had the wonderful experience I have had this weekend.

Ted and Linda are second cousins that I thought I would never know, never knew existed. After chatting on FB we discovered that Ted was in fact my second cousin. Our grandfathers were brothers! It was a strange and wonderful feeling when I found this out and in my head it was to me, like actually making contact with my grandfather. We chatted and Ted called me and we made arrangements to meet. I invited them down for the weekend and my children came up with ‘ but Mum, they might be axe murderers! How do you know they aren’t just people pretending and invite themselves out to people’s places for a weekend away.’ The silly thing  was they actually made me start to think. Saturday arrived and along with the morning came Ted and Lin. Previously I had already had lovely feelings from their chat on FB, the telephone conversation confirmed that I was right, my instincts didn’t let me down. It was just like meeting a relative – silly we were! but it was lovely, the resemblance to my brother in both looks and mannerism were uncanny and  when he brought his photos out and showed me one of his father I nearly wept . There on the picture was a man that could have been his brother, my uncle, but maybe not because none of my father’s brothers looked like him at all as much as Ted’s father did. What I find is sad was that he and my father never met yet they were cousins. So I was at that point able to reassure my kids that Ted was actually a relative. They had left Stratford upon Avon at 3am and so were exhausted by the time we had dinner but never the less after little pauses for a rest we all had a great day of getting to know eachother, more than that we had forged a friendship that had closed a generation gap of around a hundred years. How wonderful was that!

What we need to do now is trace the other siblings of our grandfathers. Already we have found two more sets of relatives  of two other brothers so here was a start, I say a start because it is our understanding that there were around sixteen siblings in our grandfather’s families. So you can see that we have opened up a world of strangers we have yet to meet. I am sure that bloodline and family, no matter how far apart and obscure, is strong and the emotions and close connectedness to my grandfather when meeting Ted and his wife Linda was so very comforting to me. As a writer I can imagine the relationship the brothers had as children but what I can’t equate to is whatever caused them to lose contact with each other. Were they split up, adopted, did war fragment relationships? maybe we will never know. A little detective job on methinks! but at the end of the day, how wonderful would a family reunion of strangers be? Would the blood connections be able to join us across three generations… and don’t forget these generations go back to the eighteen hundreds. I am sure that between us, Ted and I, and any other Okines we have yet to meet, will be able to reunite our grandparent’s families after all those years. That is our aim – to make strangers into friends, but in this case it is relatives.

Going back to the previous blog, what if I wasn’t an outgoing person, a person that will chat to anyone? What if I had allowed the world to make me introverted and afraid to speak to strangers? I am so glad for the life I have lived so far, it has been rewarding and blessed with many things, not many people can say that as they count blessings in concrete possessions or money, or achievements. But I count my blessings in feelings, emotions, friendships, honesty and people that pass through my life and you know? so far I am the richest person in the world for all those friends that share my life path. Here’s to all those friends I have still yet to meet.

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Today I am still reeling from the book I wrote about yesterday. So many thoughts have been triggered,  images and sounds whirl round and round in my head and I ask myself, is it just because we are bound, as mortal beings, by beginnings and ends, definitions, colours, sounds, images? What if there were no boundaries? what if sound became colour, liquid became sound, solid became a feeling, words became a completeness that encapsulated all those experiences as a single communication and spoke far more in a universal language than we, at this moment in our present mortal situation , can never begin to understand? Then I think back to an experience I had a few years ago whilst walking in my garden and admiring the beauty and colours of the spring  flowers and plants. I stood in front of a forsythia bush laden with yellow flowers and just looked. I noticed their shape, their colour, the brightness of the yellow, I saw the buds of the leaves waiting in the background until the flowers had reached the peak of their beauty and could no longer give any more to this world before they too, then burst open to share their colour. I was half meditating and half just being thankful that I could experience such amazing beauty when something changed. The colours of each individual flower merged with the next and the yellow spread and glowed. It stood out from the bush and vibrated as a golden aura. At first I thought I must be about to faint and shook my head but I didn’t feel dizzy so I watched. As I watched, the aura surrounded me, touched me, warmed me, and I became a part of it and it of me. The colour was no longer solid but a liquid, no longer liquid but a sound, no longer a sound but a fairy tale, a story, a lifetime and I was a part of it all. There was no beginning, no end, nothing solid yet everything real, no sound yet the most beautiful of music, no colour yet irridescent colour so vivid it became its whole. It was many things that, separately, in our world we all know but here in this precious moment, I experienced the total amalgamation of every sense we are aware of. I heard the colour, saw the sound, felt the words… the words…. It is a little like the quote from ‘Landing on Clouds’ that I wrote about yesterday… totally undescribable, but in those moments I learned that there is a place, a time, a knowledge, an understanding of things that are not bound by our limitations. I learned that there is, somewhere in another place and time, no need for language, for image, solid matter, liquid, sound, music, colour or many more ‘things’ that I am unable to describe with our limited language, because they are all one and the same total experience and completely understandable and fulfilling to the spirit. Maybe it is the language of angels that I was honoured to have shared for those moments, but I now know of its existance. I have written about it and shared my experience but contained in our physically limited world I can only use words to describe it, those words are so completely inadequate to share what is undescribable. Then even though I know, I cannot ‘tell’ anyone about it because it is so unbelievable in our physical world. I know it existed. Something in me connected to another world, another time, another place but, I cannot prove it. I therefore shall treasure that feeling, that experience, and I feel happy that, even with the limitations of language, I have shared this experience  and hope that somewhere out there in this world of ours there is someone else who knows, really knows, what I have always known, that we do walk with angels. It’s just that we have to be in right the place in our lives, the right time and the right emotional state before they can slip in beside us and touch us.

I shall continue to read the works of other writers because I know that every time we write, we leave a little of ourselves on the paper, in the words, in the story. I also believe that as we do, it is as it should be. We inspire, comfort, touch others who are at the same place as we are and we give confirmation, encouragement and an understanding of who each of us is. We connect minds. Writing is more than a hobby or an art, it is a means of silent communication, communion, a reaching out and a giving to others who, at any given moment in time, are at the same place we are and need to hear what we are trying to communicate in order to move another step forward in their lives. Yes, writing is more than just words, it is a timeless act of communication and love between the  writer and the reader, and as such a communication between souls and a life beyond who we all are in this world.

So, I hear you say, she’s lost it! but what if? and who are we to question such things? Maybe others feel the same or have had similar experiences, then this is what being a writer is all about. Add the imagination, relate to what others understand but most of all believe what you write about and let the forces beyond our comprehension do the rest.

PS. Any publishers in the real world out there, we need your help too . M X

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