Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ginger Cat

Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side with movements like a snake,
And when you think he's half asleep he's always wide awake.

From Macavity
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
T S Eliot

I don't think this fellow, who was sitting on a garden wall in a rather upmarket part of Hampstead last week, overseeing his little corner of the world, quite matches T S Eliot's description of Macavity. A little too sleek and well-groomed perhaps. Unperturbed by a complete stranger walking up and poking a camera in his face, he graciously consented to pose for me.

I was smitten. Apart from anything else he had the most endearingly freckled nose.

Macavity was endowed by his creator with fiendish and devious criminal proclivities, but the cats I’ve known with this colouring have manifested a consistently sunny and benevolent temperament. Even the most streetwise, scarred and raggedy-eared ginger tom seemed to radiate boundless goodwill, towards humans anyway. It was a childhood wish fulfilled when my own ginger companion, very similar in looks to his Hampstead cousin, moved in with me nine years ago.

I've used the masculine pronoun because most cats with this colouring are male - in this discussion thread the figure of 75% is quoted. But I know one cat owner whose much loved feline friend was a indeed a most beautiful ginger female ....

Looking for the poem excerpt at the top of the post encouraged me to read the whole thing again. It's fun.

Click to enlarge photo.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Pond

Last Friday morning on the walk across a neighbouring common – not my usual patch of green and one that is not so familiar - to my current temporary job I had such an urge to blog. For the first time for a long while I really wanted to post something.

I had just made a discovery – a pond that I didn’t know existed, whose waters reflected the surrounding trees and the blue summer sky overhead. Partly hidden and bordered by reeds, tranquil in spite of its proximity to the main railway line between London and the south and the periodic rattle and clatter of passing commuter trains, the serene, early-morning beauty of the scene penetrated the cocoon of gloom which had enveloped me for weeks.

No-one else was around. I stopped and soaked up the perfection. A handful of waterfowl on the far side of the pond started to swim slowly towards me anticipating food. Without thinking I reached for my digital camera to take some photographs. And then I remembered that I had stopped taking my camera wherever I went. Why bother, I had said to myself. What was the point?

The last month has been fine as far as practicalities are concerned. The timetable for the move is on course – give or take a week or two. The flat has been tarted up. A work colleague has suggested an (allegedly) very good and cheap removal firm. I have discovered a couple of areas in my new home town where I can see myself living. With friends I’ve also taken in an art exhibition or two, eaten pizza and been to the cinema (Lady in the Water – I liked it).

But emotionally it has been hard. I have been obsessing about money and whether there will be enough in the future. The tasks that lie ahead over the coming months have felt overwhelming. And I have been on the receiving end of a rejection that has felt like a punch to the heart.

The muddle, dirt and mess generated by the builder during the week he was working in my home found a parallel in the chaos of my emotions. Unsurprisingly perhaps, depression came to visit.

Thank God for my friends. I have good ones, both online and in the real world. Some of them have picked me up like Humpty Dumpty and – unlike the King’s Men - have had a pretty good go at putting me back together again. They have listened and understood. They let me cry and made me laugh. They shared their own experience and gave me a much-needed different perspective. If any of them are reading – and you know who you are – thank you. Thank you.

So what am I learning here? To let go of control. To trust the process. To be present. To reach out. To do the next right thing. That shit happens. That good things happen. That even the worst feelings won’t kill me. That everything passes. That compassion and understanding are paramount, but that boundaries matter too. That I have a right to my voice. That I can trust my intuition when I stop and take the time to listen to it. That I need to be honest with myself. That I am enough.

It is a slow and painstaking journey, this learning and unlearning (and I have a hunch that the latter is the more important of the two) with a good deal of faltering en route. And today the darkness is still present. But a glimmer of joy and purpose returned earlier this week – and I am so thankful for it - as in the morning sunshine I headed again towards the pond, this time with my camera.

I was looking forward to posting some photographs.

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who left such kind comments on my previous post or who has emailed me. It has meant a very great deal.

I owe replies to several people, including those who asked to be informed when I started blogging again. I will get to these but maybe not immediately, so please bear with me ......