A technicolour life in a dark November day

Darkest before dawn

It was quite a day today. A visit to the doctor, workplace stress, family strains, worries about the health of a loved one… This was combined with enough rain to make Noah take notice and enough cloud that it never got fully light. And I’m in the grip of one of my periods of insomnia.

The insomnia may explain the quirkiness of my thought processes – but for some reason it occured to me as I trudged on through this gloomy day that it could be summed up in a series of photos – black and white photos at that.

The photo thing is most likely to have been sparked as a result of the talk I attended on Saturday afternoon. The talk was by artist, *Nicky Bird and was arranged by  local arts organisation, Atlas Arts. Nicky is a photographic artist and she works with ‘found’ photographs. The black and white photos might have been taken  long ago and are no longer in the possession of their original owners – so the people in them are no longer identifiable. Or, the photos, although taken some time ago, are still in the ownership of the photographer, the subjects or their descendants. Either way these photos have their own very personal stories to tell – and, along with the landscape in which they’re set, are self-contained historical records. In their own way these photos are every bit as important as official portraits of ‘important’ people and events.

So what small personal history would the still, black and white shots of my day today tell?

Picture 1: Small figure – a woman –  swathed in waterproof trousers, jacket and under large umbrella walking in the rain under a dark sky.

Picture 2: Same woman in doctor’s surgery, sleeve rolled up, doctor taking blood sample. Both doctor and patient look serious.

Picture 3:  The woman – no longer in waterproofs – but in smart white blouse and navy trousers stands at a whiteboard in front of a class of primary school children.

Picture 4:  The woman now sits at a table in a classroom – no children are present. Several other adults also seated round the table. The expressions on the faces of the people tell a story of worry, pressure and stress.

Picture 5: The woman is with a man. They are sitting in a living-room. They are discussing a letter from a hospital. Their expressions are serious.

But this would not be the whole story. Because, later in the day, I was re-reading some inspirational quotes from Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian poet and I was reminded me of the importance of our attitude to events. We can’t control what happens in a day but we do at least have a measure of control over our reactions. The quote that jumped out at me was:

‘Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.’

So let’s revisit the day – but this time we’ll pick out different scenes and they’ll be in full colour.

Picture 1: The woman is seated at a table in a classroom. Five eleven-year-old children are also seated around the table. The children seem to be listening to the woman talking. She looks relaxed. She is pointing to something in a book and is smiling.

Picture 2: The woman is a corridor in a school. She is talking to another woman – a parent of a pupil. The parent is smiling at the woman and is shaking her hand.

Picture 3: Now the woman is in the living room of a house. She is sitting on the floor and playing with a baby girl who looks about a year old. A young woman sitting on the sofa looks on. The woman’s smile is that of a besotted grandparent.

Picture 4: The woman sits on a sofa beside a man. The couple are looking at an email confirmation for a hotel booking for a trip they are planning to the city at the weekend. They both look happy.

Picture 5: The woman is sitting at a desk. She is typing on a laptop. She is obviously enjoying the act of writing.

I have so much to be grateful for. Awaiting important blood test results, the worry of the other half’s imminent heart surgery, a job with a lot of stress and responsibility, a dreich November day – all formed part of the day. But, so did a bit of a breakthrough in the learning of a group of my pupils, a conversation with the grateful parent of one of my other pupils, playing with my lovely wee granddaughter and planning a shopping trip to Inverness at the weekend combined with going to see ‘Skyfall’ and a stay in our favourite hotel in the Highland capital. And then of course, there was an evening of writing.

Life is good and it sure beats the alternative…

Be happy.

* Nicky’s website  is http://www.nickybird.com

Big Pants Don’t Lessen the Lust for Life

 

Acer platanoides in autumn colors.
Image via Wikipedia
Personification of Autumn (Currier & Ives lith...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s official – according to the BBC, the UK summer is over. Apart from wondering if it had ever actually got started, I must admit that the passing of another summer makes me stop and think. Ever since I turned fifty( a small number of years ago), I seem to have developed a hyper-awareness of time passing.  It’s also  my birthday very soon so the ‘another year older’ factor is to the fore and that also causes me to pause and reflect.

 It can’t be denied that the body  slows down and changes. Things creak, whistle and gurgle. Bits that used to stay in place all by themselves need to be cantilevered into position. Big pants, comfy shoes and cosy cardis are now acceptable wardrobe items. HRT and antacid tablets are the drugs of choice. Skin and hair are drier than a box of shreddies. And on a windy day the jowly bits around the jawline flap alarmingly and could have your eye out.

But that’s just the outer shell. Inside  my head, I’m not a middle-aged, post-menopausal old bag – that’s just what the mirror tells me. Yes, I sometimes feel I’ve seen it all before. But I also feel there’s still so much to learn.  In the last few months I’ve taught myself to twitter, to facebook (is that a verb?) and to blog. And yes, I may get jaded at school with constant new initiatives, targets and forests of paperwork, but the children are still a joy, still fascinating and challenging and rewarding to teach  – and learn from. And there’s still lots of things on my ‘to do before I bu**er off’ list. (And no, the asterisked word in the previous sentence is neither ‘butter’ or ‘buffer’).

So, bring it on. Let the nights draw in. There’s the autumn days with their glorious light and colour to look forward to and the big, starry Hebridean night skies to gaze at and enjoy.

All in all I think autumn is my favourite season – so far…