Here Before

Beloved was determined to visit a few of the older places today. The areas that people have long abandoned. The sites haunted, or so they claim.

Beloved doesn’t believe they are haunted, other than by the history of what they once were. Like myself, he finds the places to be beautiful in their abandoned states. Bits of the inhabitants’ personalities pop through here and there. Some times you see it in abodes decorations. Turn your head in the right direction, and you catch a glimpse in graffiti or art. Step back and study architecture for bolder personality glimpse.

Not able to go with him, I implored him to take a good camera, which he failed to do. Blame it on the early hour he left, before the sun even started to lighten the horizone or his hasty departure, or some other reason, the fact is he left with only his phone and a small camera.

The falling darkness of the evening announced his arrival. So did the barking of four-feet, but that’s another story. Hungry, disheveled, and tired, he happily showed the pictures he captured and a short video of his adventures.

Several of the pictures show colors on crumbling walls. You can almost see the brilliant colors the owners had painted them before they faded over time and exposure to the elements. One picture shows a vessel placed in a niche, clearly someone’s taste in decor.

He vowed we would visit together, spend more than just a few hours there when I was up to it. He said the four-footed one would love it too. For now, though, there are pictures to explore and the echoes of the humans who were here before.

Footsteps and Footfalls

She carefully made her way down the well worn path. I wondered if she had considered all the feet that had walked down this path before her or if it was just another path she walked on the tour she gave on a regular basis.

I couldn’t help but wonder about all those feet that had walked down here before me. All the people those feet belonged to had a life, a life that happened before they came down this path. And the path, of course, would lead them to a different future, one they couldn’t possible have dreamed of happening.

She stopped, waiting for us to catch up, underneath a large tree. The tree, she said, was a meeting place. Historically it would have been a place to gather and share.

When we had all gathered around her, she carried on with the story of those people. Of how once they were gathered this last time under the tree, they were placed on a boat to begin a different journey. One which would take them further away from home for good. A one-way journey is how she described it.

They wouldn’t all survive the journey, and they wouldn’t stay gathered up once they got to the new place. Instead they would be distributed as needed with no thought for their own feelings and attachments. And while there would be great trees where they were going, they wouldn’t be places to gather and share in the same way.

And their feet would be traveling down different paths. Possibly hard paths which were beyond imagination and yet were reality.

When I asked her, later on, did she ever consider the history and the people who had walked that path before her, she shook her head. She said it was impossible to imagine, impossible to understand, but she would tell their stories as best she could. But she did not feel any sense of it, she was, after all, just telling a story. A true story of thousands of people over the course of time, but to her, it was still a story because distance and time will always turn a moment into a story so it’s easy to manage.

Broken And Lost

Sometimes it is easier to just throw up your hands and give up. Your heart is tired and hurting. You thoughts are heavy or empty. You feel lost, broken, crushed up and wonder why you should pick yourself up again and go with it.

We all get to these places at times. Perhaps it is because we try so hard and seem to still fail at what we want to do. Perhaps we love so openly and easily that we are always hurt. Perhaps it seems that the world doesn’t understand it.

Maybe, just maybe, we feel like our spirit or soul has been broken and damaged beyond repair. The thing is, sometimes we’ve stopped caring as we just get caught up in the day to day of life that we ignore feeding our soul or spirit.

Our soul or spirit requires care and nourishment like the rest of us. Part of that care and nourishment is not letting it rest too much. That’s right, you need to show it love and care and let it do it’s thing.

Don’t worry, if you have let it rest or hide because you are empty or broken, your soul or spirit will remember what to do. You just need to show it that you care by getting up and keep trying as best you can. It will, in turn, get back into things like riding a bicycle and before you know it, you won’t feel completely broken or empty. Changed? Yes. Different? Perhaps, but not as you were before.

So no matter what you feel or where your struggle is, remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep, that first one. No one travels the world without support, help and interaction with others. You are not alone, nor are you so broke that your spirit or soul has left you for good.

Story Time Of Sorts

Some stories are hard to tell.  It is as if they want to stay hidden, but by allowing them to stay hidden not only is the story lost, but people do not get to hear the story.  Each story is important and needs to be told.  Perhaps the story isn’t for everyone, but it most certainly is for someone.

Sometimes stories are parcelled out in bits and pieces.  Maybe it is because the weight of the story simply cannot be unloaded all at once.  Maybe it is because the story teller only knows bits and pieces.  And sometimes it is because it is simply too hard to tell the whole story all at once. 

I know of stories that can only be told with pictures because that is all that is left.  I also know of stories told by pictures because it is the only way to tell them.  

I have bore witness to some dreadful stories from history.  I have seen the pictures, read the accounts and worry that so many of them are going to be lost.  Time smoothes the hard edges by distance and soon it is something people cannot relate to it.

Are we not responsible to ensure these stories are not lost?  No matter how awful or painful the stories are?  Or is it always supposed to be once upon a time and happily ever after.  Because if it is supposed to be once upon a time and happily ever after I want a refund on my own stories!

Traditions And Trades

I watched skilled hands gently pluck certain leaves off the plant. I had no idea how the owner of those hands knew which leaves to pluck and which to leave, but I reckon that’s partially why I did not have the title that the owner hand.

The plucked leaves were stowed away in a special, woven pouch with great care. A few steps over, a vine was studied with the same care. To my untrained eyes, everything looked the same. This vine looked identical to that vine just over there. However to the trained practitioner there was a vast difference between the two vines.

Hours later, he showed me the result of our harvest, bubbling away in a large cast iron pot. Of course he had added more items to the pot, ones we didn’t harvest. And he had assured me that the real magic wasn’t from the items in his pot.

The real magic would happen if the ancestors were pleased with the brew. He offered me a bundle of other leaves, these to chew while we waited for the ceremony to begin. He answered my questions, patiently although not always in a way I understood. I hoped the ceremony would provide context and make those answers make sense because I knew once the ceremony started, there was no way he could answer anything.

I was there to observe, record and make sense of what I could while he healed a few people from whatever haunted them. I wouldn’t sample any of the prepared potion as it would not be right. I had not taken the preparations required to drink the brew. And from what I had heard it would not be a smooth trip, making the research I had come to do next to impossible.

Just before the ceremony began, he assigned me a place to sit and a time to visit him the following day. He demanded silence throughout the ceremony, which he indicated would last until after the sun had come up.

I’m pretty certain when I first pursued this course of study, this was not exactly what I had in mind. However I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I might change a few things, like the biting insects, the smoke that got in my eyes and the relentless worry about what was about to try and kill me. But to be able to sit and watch a healer follow the same preparations and healings as his ancestors did was a treat. And getting harder to find.

Sure there were a lot of new age healers out there. But this was a man who’s family had remained relatively untouched by the modern world. Uninfluenced by the western ways. He was destined to heal and so he did. And as his people lost their old ways, I was sure the healing too would soon go the same way. So no I wouldn’t trade it.

The Oddest Thing or Lupus Working

One of the questions I am frequently asked, when people learn I have lupus, is why do I bother to continue to work.  Some of this may stem of a lack of understanding how lupus affects me.  Although I have had more than a few comments about how it would be nice to have the chance to not work for health reasons and still have the bills covered.

I’m fortune in that despite my lupus I can still work.  Sure there are days I have to drag myself to work, force myself to work the day and drag myself home.  But those these days aren’t the typical ones.  The typical ones are with aches and pains and some hurdles, but the joy of what I do overcomes anything else.

I Suspect people view this as they do retirement.  While we are working, slogging through the thick of things, we dream about those days when we don’t have to work.  The days when we can sit at home or do whatever we please.

On the days lupus gets in the way of work, it isn’t like I’m out having a grand time of things.  I’m miserable and unable to do anything.  And i suspect that if it came to me not working, I’d go crazy with time.  Sure you can fill it up, but on a very small limit I’m not sure exactly how much you can cram into that.

It truly is one of The oddest things that has happened to me since being diagnosed with lupus, I do not dream of the day I can retire.  I relish each day I go to work, even though I may complain about a few small things here and there.  Because I know how fortunate I am to be able to work and continue to do what I love.

Not Sure Where It Went

Where has the day gone? I woke up, got ready for a coffee out with a friend I’ve not seen in a few years.  I walks the four-footed one before the coffee, came home and did some light cleaning before doing some work to prepare for the next day.  And suddenly it’s evening and I’m not exactly sure where the day actually went.

About the only other thing I can say that I did today was find a USB stick I had spent the last three days looking for. I mean full on panic ensued when I first realized it was missing.  As I tried to sleep I would try to remember everything on the stick and panic that there was something highly confidential and I had lost it in a public place.

When I first realized it was missing, a few hours after having been out doing some shopping, I felt my heart start to flutter as it dropped into my stomach.  It was too late at night to do anything so I vowed first thing the next day I’d go and see if it had been turned in.  And I was fine with that.

Until I tried t sleep and suddenly thought I might have confidential information on it.  At that point my heart started to race again and I found myself feeling very warm.  Naturally I woke up with joint pain and swelling thanks to the stress I had put myself.

Beloved, in his practical way, said it was somewhere in the house and it would turn up when I needed it.  And that’s sort of what happened.  You see while getting my stuff moved into my smaller bag, I found it on the floor. It must have fallen off the table and gone behind where the bags were.  It wasn’t a place I thought to look.

So I guess even thought I may not know where the day exactly went, it was a good and productive day.

Out Of The Ordinary In A Wonderful Way

Every now and then something unusual, something completely out of the ordinary falls into my lap. Sometimes other people have brought the item to my lap and other times the item is something I just happen to discover during a course of poking around or researching something unrelated to what I find.

A month ago, Beloved sent home a box of books he came across and thought we might enjoy.  I hadn’t gotten around to doing much with the books after I unpacked them.  At least not until today, when I found myself with some time and a need to sort out the box of books. And by sorting out, I meant to put them all on the shelf for later reading.  Except as I pulled them back out to place on the shelf a thin book caught my attention.

Suddenly I had no time to do anything because I had spent the afternoon deep within the thin book full of a wonderful set of poems.  As I read the poems, I was transported to a better place. A place of flowers and green fields.  A place of waterfalls and bird song.  Not a mess of dog toys or shopping to put away.

Due to the lack of time, the books were quickly put on the shelf, the rest waiting to be examined.  The shopping hastily put where it belonged and a cup of coffee was brewed so I could finish the poetry and share it with Beloved.  Now it is truly out of the ordinary for me to spend an entire afternoon lost in poetry. Certainly during the school term, but there you have it.  I happily lost an entire afternoon and am not the least bit concerned about it.

Listing Through Life

Are you a list person?  Do you write lists to start your day?  Do you return to your lists throughout the day to cross of the items you have accomplished?  Perhaps you are a list person, but keep the list in your head, checking out items off your list as you go.

I am not a list person.  I have tried to use them.  I write lists for things I need to buy or things I need to do.  Inevitably when I need the list, I don’t have it with me or I go from memory.  Thankfully my memory is pretty decent so I end up doing what needs done, buying what needs bought without the assistance of the lists.  This drives Beloved crazy.  Partially because he is a list person.

Beloved lives for lists.  From what he needs to do for the day, the week, the month, to which books he’s going to read and in what order.  He never shops without a list. He doesn’t believe in going into a store and simply buying what catches his eye or his fancy.  Need a new phone?  He will do up a list for the phones you are thinking of buying with the pros and the cons all sorted out.  That way you have it right in front of you and can make the purchase with all the facts.

Recently Beloved wrote a list of things we needed to get done before the Christmas break.  Some of the items were minor, but some were rather large. Some of the items were things I didn’t even know he had on a list.  Anyway he wrote this list and stuck it where he would be able to see it, in this case the refrigerator.  And all was good as far as getting some items completed on the list.

He crossed off items as we finished them and he was rather pleased with himself for the progress that was made.  And then he decided to clean the kitchen.  And in cleaning the kitchen, he lost the list.  Yes the list was lost. The world came to a stand still for him and in his panic he asked me if I had grabbed the list.  (I hadn’t.)  When his panic settled down, I asked him if he had managed to take a picture of the list on either his phone or his tablet.  Thankfully he did.  And the world was right again because the list is back to save the day.

Immersed Blundering Of Sorts

The only true way to learn a language, I’ve been told, is to immerse yourself in it. Immersion forces you to learn the language in order to be understood, to communicate and so on. The problem with immersing yourself in a language when you are an adult is that it is, well, frankly overwhelming at times.

I know this because I’ve watched a few friends boldly take the plunge and move to places where English is not only not the native language, but is not commonly spoken. And they have all said it was hard to get across basic things, like ordering food or drinks.

When we are younger being immersed is a good thing, it is painless. We are blank pages waiting for words to be written across us. We are open and receptive to learning and being immersed. But a strange thing happens as we get older. We struggle with being open and receptive to this new thing.

Beloved struggled to learn a new language. Beloved is a highly educated and reasonably intelligent man (actually highly intelligent, but whatever) who struggled to use the new words rather than reverting back to his native English. He struggled to express himself properly in the other language.

He told me later on it was definitely a humbling experience because he went from being someone who has been a university lecturer to being reduced to a toddler with the words he was provided. He felt lost, unable to fully express him and he said his lack of these things made him feel less confident. As he put it, “no one is going to ask (me) what color my socks are”, it’s going to be a harder question that I won’t be able to fully answer”. He still feels that way, but perhaps had he immersed himself in the language he might have stood a better change with this. Except he didn’t feel he could do immersion, not with work and such. Plus he said immersion made him feel like he’d be in a blender of sorts, making his two languages confused.