Tag Archives: enlightenment

Inappropriate language

Mouse ears  Myosotis  Forget-me-not to listen to our every word.

Mouse ears/ Myosotis/ Forget-me-not to listen carefully  to my every word.

I am thinking about ageing; specifically, the inappropriate language we use to describe the ageing process. We speak about decline, deterioration, dementia,  diminishment and loss of dignity. Our words depict a downward spiral, and a negation of being.   We talk of growing old, yet that is only what happens in numerical terms. In reality we grow younger. We become part of a re-creation, a transformation, of our body and mind. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really not so curious at all.  Most of us will become infant-like towards the end of our earthly life.

My mother spends most of her time in a day chair. She is bone-weary. She finds it hard to accept her ‘re-creation”. She misses her walking and reading, and a clear mind.

In a quiet moment during my recent visit, she said,” Someone said to me,  I think it was Pop, ‘Don’t get old, K….., old age is a bugger’.”  We chuckled wryly about her father-in-law’s statement. In today’s terms, he was not old when he gave his words of wisdom. However, he followed his own advice and died in his early seventies. His stubborn daughter-in-law  took no heed but, now, at 92 is beginning to understand the aches and pains and ennui  that prompted those words.

Yet, despite the undeniable physical discomfort associated with increasing years, my mother’s perspective on age and that of my grandfather are part of a culture that sees age as a disability,  an indignity, a vexation and a condition that requires separation from mainstream society in nursing homes or gated retirement complexes*.

Is it possible to change our perceptions of ageing by changing our language? As does John O’Donohue…

For Old Age

May the light of your soul mind you.
May all your worry and anxiousness about your age
Be transfigured.
……
from John O’Donohue’s ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

Without devaluing a long life and the wisdom gained, could we not accept and cherish the re-creation/ transformation we undergo as the years add up?. Can we teach ourselves to look forward to a time when we are as helpless and loved as a new-born baby?  Can we  learn to say to ourselves, ” I am not growing older. I am growing younger by the minute. And I am fine with that.” A tall order!  But not impossible.

Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus
and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Although my mother follows the Christian faith, her confidante and special companion for many years has been  the Laughing Buddha. Some years ago she gave me a Laughing Buddha, too. He sits on my table and keeps me company. The Laughing Buddha speaks a universal language. It has no age. It is timeless. Can you hear it in his laughing smile?

 

* As I have said in previous posts, some retirement communities work well for people. They provide security and good living conditions.  However, I still find it odd that we consider it acceptable to ‘corral’ the older members of  our society. We would not, perhaps, accept these types of living situations so easily for other age groups, so why do we readily allow special areas for the elderly? Is it because of the profit that can be made from their perceived need?

© silkannthreades

Seek and you may find………..

I went seeking the light today. Truly, literally! It was a grey, blank-canvas sky day; a neither here nor there day; not cold, not warm, not raining but not especially dry either. A nothing sort of day. So, I put on my cheerful face and went to look for the light; actually lights, in the city, which are to form part of a public art exhibition called ‘Solidarity Grid’ http://www.scapepublicart.org.nz/.  Now, search as I might, I couldn’t find them, for a very simple reason, which hit me like a blinding flash; the exhibition isn’t open until 27 September, 5 days hence! 🙂

Determined not to make my drive to the city a complete waste of time, I drove in to the Botanic Gardens car park for some visual refreshment. And there, right before my eyes, I  suddenly saw  the very thing I had been wanting to visit, to find out about,  for months.  Can you see it?

Can you see what I see?

Can you see what I see?

Take a closer look….

What is it? A bird cage? A Tardis?

What is it? A bird-cage? A Tardis?

Looks like a home for a  large bird, or, maybe, a sculptural rendition of a modern-day Tardis,  come to rest in the midst of the pines of Christchurch. Strange things happen here these days, but, perhaps not quite that strange. Let’s cross the river for a proper look.

River Crossing

River Crossing

On we go, past the kowhai and blossom, along the path,

until we have our destination in sight.

Destination in view

Destination in view

Nearly there; getting closer…

Closer.....

Closer…..

until here we are, the closest we can get to ……

THE WOLLEMI PINE.

Closest....

Closest….

The Wollemi Pine is New Zealand’s first dinosaur plant. It is a relic pine with a 200 million year old history and is one of the oldest and rarest trees in the world. It  was thought to be extinct until its discovery in the Blue Mountains of Australia in 1994. There are less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild. This little Wollemi pine was grown by tissue culture,

in Christchurch, and planted in our Botanic Gardens to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gardens’ establishment.  It is the  cornerstone of an area in the Gardens which will be known as the Gondwana Garden http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/christchurch-life/avenues/features/8474759/The-botanic-gardens-guardian

“Wollemi” is an Aboriginal word meaning “Watch out and look around you”.  I am very glad I did today. I may have missed the lights I was originally  looking for, but I feel that I found another type of light or, perhaps, enlightenment, of equal brilliance. And, in a funny, odd way, strange as I thought it might be when I mentioned it earlier, I did find a Tardis; a Tardis in a tree.

The Wollemi Pine http://www.wollemipine.com/index.php project which is dedicated to the preservation of the Wollemi Pine has Wollemi Pines centres all over the world. There may be a Wollemi Pine near you. Check it out on their website 🙂

So, with a final look around me, I went down the path, across the bridge and home to tea.

© silkannthreades

Glum crepusculum and other twilight zones

Twilight, or the crepuscular hours, can be beautiful.  The twilight of a warm summer’s evening,  the twilight of a desert dawn, or the brief twilight following a tropical sunset, are especial favourites with me.  But twilight that starts around eight in the morning, before a sunrise that barely happens, and  then  seems to go on for the entire day, as it did today, is altogether a case of glum crepusculum.  Today was the fourth day of winter; assuming that winter’s official start was 1st June. It was wet, dreary, cold, grey and sunless.  I am already over winter.  And it’s only just begun.

What to do?  Glumness is too dull to bear. Well,  I made a hearty, spicy lentil soup!  That was a bit cheering. But not quite cheering enough. So I made a golden, creamy custard which we ate for afternoon tea with homemade apple sauce and whipped cream.  Not my usual ‘cuppa’ for  afternoon sustenance but I figured that, if I was living in a twilight zone, a dessert, in place of tea, was neither here nor there. And it was delicious. One helping wasn’t enough. We had seconds.

Then what? Having fed my body, I decided to feed my mind, which is when I googled  ‘twilight’. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crepuscular  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight).  And I discovered that cats  exhibit crepuscular behaviour which explains that cat you always see sitting at the gate, watching the world go by, shortly after sunset. That crepuscular activity is vespertine  which I think is a lovely, languid, slinky word that perfectly describes  that cat that sits and waits as the evening draws in.

Back in the realm of the ‘twilight zone’, I was amused to learn that another meaning for twilight zone is an “area of a city or town, usually surrounding the central business district, where houses have become dilapidated’.  That meaning  aptly describes  the state of the centre of our city,  post earthquakes.

But glum and gloomy as the day was, I have to admit the obvious, which is  that twilight is never completely dark; it cannot be, because in every twilight there are always degrees of light. That is the essence of twilight. So to lighten the mood, and feed the soul, here are some photos.

The first series features my beloved Tibetan carpets. They are a riot of colour and joy and light up my life every time my eyes alight on them. And strange to think that such vibrancy came from the hands and hearts of Tibetan refugees, who had moved from one twilight zone to live in another in their temporary home in Nepal.

The big picture:In full lightThese second photos were taken last week  to celebrate the birthday and enlightenment of The Buddha.

Now, as I end this post,  the true dark of night is here, and we again await the next twilight hour.  It  will be a matutinal twilight and, perhaps, will hold the  promise  of sunlight.Brilliance© silkannthreades