Letter to Linda

Dear Linda

Meeting you again last week reminded me of something… It reminded me that no matter how crazy or remorseless life can seem, that there are still quiet moments of sanity and clarity to be discovered and treasured. And even if those moments last for the merest of seconds, then we must seize them, capture them and understand their worth.

I know you know this. You have your journal, where you write out and ponder your life. I love the act of positive journaling – it allows that instead of getting caught up in the mire of daily madness, we can instead muse upon the myriad of amazing things we encounter and let their gorgeous impact ripple through our being… So thank you my love – meeting you again reminded me of who I am.

 

You see Linda, I frequently forget who I am, so the time we spent together and what passed between us, was very precious to me.

 

I have a sudden throwback memory… I am sitting with my father. He is clearly mentally ill. He has been acting out. I’m just out of university, in my early twenties. I have done what I can. I visit doctors and social workers who ignore me. I cut up his food and spoon it into his mouth. I literally cleaned up the shit of his life. It never got better. But one afternoon I went to him and held his hand. “I love you” I said. He thanked me lovingly and told me that in that moment he felt sane. But was just a moment and soon he got back on with business of playing out his death throes, for that is what they were.

So he died, disgracefully, in just about every way imaginable… And I can remember all the shit or what I or the world should or could have done differently; or I can remember the truth of that moment when I held his hand. That sweet transaction which characterised our father daughter relationship and the love and empathy that we had, in its purest form.

Now I will jump back to the present day and seeing you again. We were in a crowd, in a huge conference room, but we found each other, easily. I crept in late, as always and quite serendipitously it would seem, out of the 200 people there, I had managed to sit myself down at a table surrounded with people I already knew, you included.

I was happy to see you. I revel in your ‘go get it’ view of the world, and that combination of surety and fun you have, which means that I will throw my ideas and experiences into the furnace of your intellect, to see what sparks are thrown back. And did you know that I do this because we don’t always agree? But that is something else I like about you too – your feedback will always be honest and to the point.

 

On that day, in that room, I was, truth be told, feeling sorry for myself. My health has been under par for a while and I’ve been feeling low and tired. So not only was I listening to the speeches from the stage, but to the thoughts grumping round my head – spoken in a whining voice muttering negative diatribes to me about the rotten state of my life. As a result I didn’t really feeling like engaging with anyone there. I wanted to be the naughty child – to cross my arms, pout and not play.

Ironically, the event we were at was all about the voice I could hear in my head. In that circle we call it ‘The Script’ – a lifetime of negative conditioning, which began before I was even born and has subsequently been nurtured into me, unwittingly, by family, education, culture and habit. Its’ angry, self-pitying tone is so engrained in my psyche that I can, if I am not aware of it, believe its’ negative maunderings to be fact, rather than a moaning, self-pitying form of fiction.

In that moment, in that place I made a decision. I wasn’t going to wear my cross, frazzled heart on my sleeve and make a show of my misery; instead I chose the truth of my situation. So when I was asked, by a myriad of people “How are you?” “I’m amazing” I replied, truthfully. And I am. It’s just that my Script was having a bloody field day!

 

Most people did not go past ‘amazing’ – they hugged me and walked away. I wasn’t miffed though, I had realised that I had now gone beyond my Script and made a choice about how I would think and feel. This was a good day, because it was a day on which I could consciously do that.

Many words passed over me and through me in the span of time that followed. There were speakers on stage, tears, laughter and applause. There were hugs, murmurings, truths and trivialities traded. There were conversations, hugs and exchanged looks of laughter and insight.

I remember giving you a kiss on the cheek, as a fond hello. You told me, unbidden, that it was a difficult day for you. You had lost your lover, your partner in crime, over a year ago and yet his birthday had still come around again, even though he was gone. And over time, more times were marked by his absence, more occasions carried on without his presence. It was your fresh hell, asserting itself into your psyche, while yet, you carried on with life, literally zip wiring your way through.

 

I felt your pain and touched your hand. Then the tears started and somehow it was simply the most natural thing that you were curled into me, crying, whilst the world carried on around us.

Later came more words and questions. Questions from someone who usually seems so sure… How could I possibly answer, what on earth qualified me to open my mouth and respond?

Actually the answers did not seem to come from an earthly place. They came from my core – a quiet, calm place of certainty. In the coaching texts it’s called ‘unconditional positive regard’, when you are focussed on a person and holding a space for them where they can unfurl and gain clarity.

We spoke of many things, with a short hand of straight talk and a deep level of mutual understanding. Our words were interlaced with tears, smiles and hugs.

Of the many things we debated, I told you about my current quest for acceptance. My theory is this – if I accept the facts of a situation, no matter how tragic or trivial rather than bemoan or belittle it, I can make my peace with it and decide how to respond, from a place of clarity and certainty. In doing this I am not stoically denying or ignoring my feelings. Neither am I smugly stepping away from the perceived rights or wrongs. Taking such a stance means I am not sanctimoniously forgiving and forgetting, but rather than I am giving myself space to see the situation for what it is.

I can so easily get caught in a dramatic dirge of all the ‘dire’ things I am going through. But then Linda, what I can do too, is remember how it was when I held a space for you. I remembered who I was and what my purpose on this planet is

That was a gorgeous knowing…

In the pragmatic, practical way of things Linda, I don’t know what the future holds for you or for me. But when I reach into the core of my being and realise how things really are and speak my pure, unfettered truth, then I fly beyond the Script and all its diabolical stories.

When it comes to you, I have a deep belief, that you have got this. Not that the grief will go away today, but that you will carry on with your amazing journey, come what may. I know there will be tears and laughter ahead. I know that you will learn and evolve and still be the Linda I love.

How can I end this piece of writing now, without specious or plausible platitudes? I shall recognise the struggle and on this day, graciously walk away, blowing a kiss as I go.

Yours, simply,

   Sandie xx

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Fiction: The Sparrow Scarer

When a moment of irritation, is turned into a piece for one of my books.  So instead of being angry, I decided to get creative…

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The Sparrow Scarer

She woke to claps of thunder and torrential rain, comfortable and safe in her bed, where she relished the sound and stretched herself awake, sitting up and luxuriantly stretching out her wings, which spanned most of the width of the tiny room.

She folded them in again, then washed, dressed and made her way down to the breakfast buffet, which was divided from the street by a row of plant pots separating the dining area from the outside world and traffic constantly rumbling by.

Having eaten half a banana and a nectarine, she nursed a black coffee, charmed, as she was every morning, by a handful of sparrows, who hopped about opportunistically, seeking cheeky left overs and crumbs on the floor. She would watch their quiet antics, whilst most people there, barely even registered their existence.

Today the restaurant was almost empty and the torrential rain had driven in a small flock of them, hopping around the table legs. Suddenly, a group of them flew up and landed on the 2 chairs opposite her. She looked them over – mainly female, but as 2 flew off, alarmed as someone walked by, so two males came and landed in their place. One cheeped and wiped his beak on the top of the chair. “Is that a sparrow being macho then?” she mused, with the slightest of smiles.

She chopped up the remains of her nectarine and softly dropped it onto the plate she had deliberately slid to the other side of the table. They stayed put, constantly moving their heads, warily gauging their surroundings, but never taking their eyes off her and the food.

She looked at their markings – one male had a small collar of black feathers across his neck, whilst the other had a string of them intermingled with grey, almost like a native necklace.

The sparrow with the collar hopped down, edging his way towards the food.

Suddenly someone was clapping loudly and they rose and flew off. Assuming it was one of the waiting staff, Ariel was surprised to hear a female English voice say, very pointedly “Nuisance!”

“Not to me” Ariel said to the sparrow scarer – a be-trousered, tall, falsely blonde woman, somewhere in her 60s, who turned on her heels. “Bitch” Ariel intoned, just loudly enough that her nemesis would hear as she returned to her own table and husband, who was quietly ingesting a plate full of scrambled eggs and bacon. Ariel’s bile rose, as their table was at the far end of the restaurant, where no birds ever intruded.

Had this woman been watching her covertly trying to feed the birds and decided to ruin the moment? To what end? Was she scared of them? No – “nuisance” did not indicate that.

So what were the sparrows to her? A danger? A harbinger of dirt and danger? “Honestly,” thought Ariel, “what harm did a sparrow ever do to anyone?” As far as she was aware, a sparrow had never swooped down, cheeping ferociously and stolen a rasher of bacon off a breakfast plate. A sparrow had never viciously attacked anyone, for heaven’s sake. She had never heard of any one dying a slow and painful death from a virulent, sparrow originated disease. They were quiet brown creatures, simply taking advantage of left over human detritus – tiny feathered street urchins – opportunely cleaning up and then flying away. There was therefore, absolutely no need to bully and chase them away.

Neither was there a need to interrupt her breakfast or censure her, also a quiet, brown little creature, minding her own business, on the edges of existence. “How dare she!”

A few sparrows drifted back inside, keeping their distance and once again hopping round table legs close by.

Having finished her coffee, Ariel strode pass the couple as she made her way towards the Exit. She clapped out a loud ‘rat ta tat tat’ as she walked past their table. “Nuisance!” she barked out, hoping that they too would dissipate into the ether at her staccato command.

Instead of flying away however, the ignorant clay foots remained rooted to their chairs, suddenly frozen in mid-chew.

Ariel strode away, anger now dissipating into laughter.

~ Sandra Peachey – Bird Watcher

PS: My book – Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life has been featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady, it was also honoured as a Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards.  

The book takes the best posts from this blog, adds new content and wraps it all together in a satisfying structure – that will make you feel the love, entertain and enlighten.  It’s an easy yet satisfying read, which sees love in everything we do in life – from the big themes to the tiny, trivial minutiae of it too.

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