My Feet

Recently, I enjoyed a much needed rest on the beautiful Western Algarve in Portugal.

On the first couple of days, I noticed how my feet, exposed to the elements were causing me discomfort and irritation.

They felt clammy, itchy and the constant need I had to scratch and rub them made me feel irritable.

As the sun and sea, dried and washed my feet and turned the colour of them to a soothing brown, I became agitated by a dryness and an itching and a burning feeling which made them feel sore and tender.

I had this growing anxiety that my whole holiday was going to be overtaken by this constant need to manage my feet.

Later in the week, as they settled down and had the appearance of two bronzed sculptor casts, I recognized in their recovery and replenishment, a wider process of healing in my whole body system.

It seemed apt that the pressures of the mind, over exerted, overwrought, over anxious, was mirrored at the furthest extremity of my body by a physical manifestation of the mental fatigue which I had endured for too long.

My sock-less, supported feet, in stylist summer footwear, became the revitalised  and energised extremities which mirrored the composed and challenged and thought-filled mind which had found solace in an intellectual book.

My read had stimulated my mind in a new direction for those few days and taken over the intellectual space from fear, worry and anxiety, and it was my happy feet which tripped my form across the sand, splashed in the sea and lead me to positions along the coast of beauty and of peace.

William Defoe

 

 

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The Anguish of My Soul

I have the necessary skills to recognise the actions I must take to protect my soul and yet, I have struggled for months to guard and protect it.

I am in free-fall, which is a feeling of being anything but free, on the contrary it is destructive and damaging and ultimately I believe, it has the capacity to overwhelm me.

So what can I do to manage the constant anguish of my soul?

I am incapable of making a choice which would in theoretical terms, give it freedom, and yet I believe imprison it further still.

So, making a choice is not my preferred option for liberating the anguish of my soul.

I have taken steps today to write this blog. This is no doubt for me a step in the right direction.

I have tried to enforce a regime of lower working hours and establish some time to sit in the comfort of my home and garden in warm and daylight hours.

I have made time to have sex. I have neglected this aspect of crucial importance and in so doing I have neglected the needs of my wife.

I have been deeply unsettled, my mind incapable of being calm, my system on full alert for too long.

I have been unwell, not just mentally and emotionally but spiritually and physically too.

I have tried to recover my physical strength by running, only to suffer a racing heart which made me pull over earlier this week and then to cap it all, feeling stronger on Friday, I took a fall and hurt my ribs.

Are all the gods aligned against me?

Of course not, now my skills kick in – William you are beginning to speak and sound like a victim.

You are not a victim, you are an incredible being (as are we all) with an enormous capacity to think and be.

William Defoe

To Carry

On Friday last week, I spent the day walking alone in the countryside.

I had an overwhelming sense of the weight of things, and these precious hours alone, helped me to recognise all the different elements of my life which I am trying to juggle at the current time.

I was able to focus on how I might find news ways to carry the load.

When my children were young, and either needed or wanted me to carry them, I became adept at finding ways to distribute their weight, and this same logic of alleviating weight by distribution and continuous adjustment seemed to me to be a good metaphor for managing my current challenges.

I noticed that my work pressures have been out of balance with the wider aspects of my life, and that my capacity to cope by reading, writing, painting and running have been subjugated so that my reasoning has been undermined.

This means that the weight I carry is not distributed evenly and so all that I carry seems to be a burden, when in fact it is not so much a burden, but the reality of life.

My thoughts in the countryside strayed into how I could lighten the load by leaving my job or leaving my marriage or running away.

These thoughts were fanciful, it seemed to me, but they had some validity because they were present in that quiet, beautiful place in which I walked and sat.

My rational self came back to a more sensible train of thought, which spoke softly to my soul of being kind to self, of finding the compassionate and caring self which protects me from within by prioritising the needs of the soul.

I resolved in that place of beauty, to re-distribute the load I carry by shifting my focus to a broader spectrum and a wider canvas so that my burdens are somehow made small by the broadening of the landscape on which my thoughts and feelings take their shape.

In that place of beauty and of solitude, I became aware once again that I am not alone in struggling to manage the demands we place on ourselves to fulfill our ambitions and responsibilities to those whom we love.

However, being in the countryside in absolute solitude and silence gave me the space I craved to work out how to carry the deepening complexities of my life.

William Defoe

 

 

The Pain I Nurture

The pain I nurture lies within me on the surface of my heart.

I know this pain and it knows me.

This pain is me – this pain is my experience – this pain is my deepest expression of self.

I have worked out ways to rid myself of this pain, and all of these methods hold for me a  validity and a truth.

I have decided to carry my pain, and to endure its seething hold on me, because at this time in my life, all of the alternatives speak to me of the potential for an even heavier load to bear.

I am grateful for my pain, because it is borne and lives within me as result of my experience for things which I now deny myself.

I know that overtime my pain will ebb and flow, and I know too, that my choices around it have the capacity to change too.

My pain resides within my heart, but it does not own my soul – no – I own my pain,

it lives because I give it life;

it speaks because I give it a voice;

it is heard because I listen to it, and

I feel it, because I give it space in my thinking mind.

The pain I nurture is within, I care for it, because it cares for me.

I have made a friend of my pain, because I know that deep within the longings of my soul, this pain occupies the space which reminds me of

what it is to live;

what it is to love, and

what it is to hope.

William Defoe

 

Jigsaw

Throughout the long, dark winter evenings, my wife and I have been sat side by side placing pieces in numerous jigsaw puzzles.

It has felt at times, quite frustrating and tiresome when periods of time seem to lapse without any visible progress to the emerging picture.

The jigsaw evenings, side by side, have been an important step in reconnecting with each other after a very difficult few months.

It seems to me that the act of building something together, into something beautiful and fulfilling is not really in the jigsaw, but rather it is in our relationship, which has been wounded and in desperate need of healing.

The very act of sitting side by side, bumping into each other as we stretch to place a piece of the puzzle, and the occasional kiss or holding of hands has been the greater achievement in rebuilding the broken pieces of our hearts.

Unlike the jigsaw puzzles, which will ultimately broken down and placed back in shattered pieces into their boxes, I hope with all my heart, that what we have been able to re-build between us, will be a visible sign of beauty and sustained for our time together which is still to come.

William Defoe

 

Different Language – Same Laugh

On  a visit to Spain last month I noticed how, despite not understanding the language of its people, I understood its laughter.

I became increasingly fascinated with observing the laughter of others, and although I myself have a great capacity to create and enjoy laughter, I reflected inwardly, in my quiet moments, how laughter has been absent from my life in recent months, particularly at home.

On this winter holiday in the pleasant sunshine, I was able to re-connect myself to humour and I seemed to effortlessly make my wife laugh to the point on one evening, as we walked back to our apartment, she begged me to stop or she said she would have an accident.

Laughter is the tonic which dispels the need for drugs.

It is the vehicle in which truth is carried to the other openly and honestly, but it is only effective if the recipient is not defensive and is receptive to its message.

It seems to me that these months at home without laughter have been a time of defensiveness and of barriers, which the February Spanish sunshine was able to melt and once again open our hearts to honesty and truth.

William Defoe 

This Right Now

Earlier today a woman named Kane Tanaka, aged 116 years and 66 days was officially recognised as the oldest living person in the world.

She seemed to be very excited and genuinely surprised and honoured by the recognition given to her by the Guinness World Record.

Asked what part of her life she’d enjoyed most, she replied “This right now”

Her response surprised me and connected me to something I seem to have lost a sense of within me recently, which is to enjoy the moment.

The celebratory moments in life can be sparse and fleeting, and although Kane Tanaka-san was enjoying a celebratory moment, her response did not seem to me to be about the event marking her distinguished age, but rather a philosophy which had contributed to her longevity.

I have experienced deep periods of unhappiness and frustration during my life and although in recent years I have experienced a greater understanding and openness with self, I still seem to live significant periods of my life waiting for tomorrow.

I know that this attitude to my life is destructive and in a sense it is wasteful. It is an approach to life which is denying it’s craving need to just be, to just be who I am in the moment, no matter how good or how bad I feel.

My way of being, my way of not being present, is fueling within me a sense of guilt and hopelessness because I know deep down to my core that I am capable of being so much more.

Kane Tanaka-san spoke to me today in her brief response in Japan and I heard her, I heard her loud and clearly in my heart, here in England – domo arigatou gozaimasu.

William Defoe