Between the devil and the deep blue sea.jpg

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

IF I had the choice, which would I choose? I don’t know because I have never been afforded the luxury of being able to make such a conscious decision. As implied above, there is a middle ground, a no-man’s land inhabited by forces pulling each and every way. There is good and bad in every single one of us, weakness and strength, fortitude, temptation, desire, foolishness, composure and abandon.

The abyss lurks just on the other side of heaven – a spiritual high can, at any time, be followed by the depth of despair. To be human and our very humanity are uneasy bedfellows. Where am I heading? I’m really not sure – can anyone be? Say “I am” and you are a liar, or a self-righteous, deluded fool. To have belief, certainty about anything in the greater scheme of things, is a fallacy in itself. I am lost, we are lost, hiding behind facades, constantly required to rediscover ourselves over and over again.

Standing still is a sin. We are continually evolving, confronted with new ideas, experiences, concepts – only an open mind can remain healthy – which is not to say that holding personal beliefs, convictions and values is wrong. Refusing to face reality is. You can paint your house in different colours, move the furniture around, but you cannot alter its structure without demolishing it. Having said that, maybe such a radical step will become necessary under exceptional circumstances in order to achieve a rebirth, a new beginning. Am I contradicting myself? Perhaps …  Contradictions are inherent in our psychological make-up, especially when thinking out loud. The immaturity of thought, akin to wielding a mace upon a carefully arranged display of fine bone china, is equally as dangerous, indiscriminate and arbitrarily destructive as the rigidity and superficiality of entirely egocentric emotion. Me, me, me must be counterbalanced with you, you, you – anything else is doomed to abject failure. The secret lies in finding the right mixture. Hopes and dreams, rationality and practical understanding need to be welded into one and, above all, articulated.

Love overkill, even pure and untarnished, without restraint, physical or otherwise, is murder. OK, what do I mean by love overkill? I think I’m talking about a very particular problem: loving too much. We are never taught how to show this all-conquering emotion in the appropriate way – we are expected to ‘feel’ our way. Sometimes hearts, our hearts, simply unleash a torrent of empathy, the extreme focus of emotion either overwhelming or frightening the other person. In its aftermath, we are left standing, empty hands bleakly extended, rueing the fallout we were incapable of preventing.

At other times, we enter into a relationship in an altogether more calculated manner, the ‘ought to’ faction winning over the denials and mute protests of the soul, with the same, immensely disappointing result. The sun loses its lustre, the hitherto pleasant breeze acquires a knife’s edge, deeply wounding. Extreme loneliness becomes our constant companion.

For months after such a traumatic holocaust, an invisible stigma becomes attached to our aura. “Do not touch”, “unclean”, even “dangerous” is spelt out in bold letters on our foreheads. Eye contact, even with strangers, becomes torturous, mostly best avoided. The world seems to have been transformed into a hole, a dirty four-by-four cell in the ground, from which we peer out anxiously, hopeless, forlorn, afraid of the shadow that only briefly appears at midday in this confined reality.

Waiting … healing … patience, a spirit in hibernation. To do and not to feel or think until we are rediscovered, find ourselves anew and rise once more to impossible heights, hopefully a little wiser. That is the cycle, the paradox, the dichotomy – a life-long labour of joy and sadness dedicated to reaching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Never give up. Give in, compromise as much as you expect to find acceptance of your own among those you choose to love. The beauty of life is that it goes on, multi-coloured, ever changing. We just have to absorb the ups and downs and ensure our presence tomorrow. Not only merely to survive, but to live again.

Walhalla or Hades – conclusions I have none, not really. Nothing we experience constitutes the end of the world – there are only endings to various chapters, the book remains open, an unpublished work set to continue. Yet, the ink of that which is still to happen is never dry; this is “wet work” as certain professions refer to their activities.

Short of shutting ourselves away in some monastery, we need to taste, touch; in short, put that which we are in the line of fire.  Fire cleanses, destroys and provides the most treasured commodity known to primitive civilisations. And that has not essentially changed. You cannot study the menu outside a restaurant, decide what you may or may not like, and go home satisfied. Your stomach remains empty, and so does your home. This is it; it doesn’t get any better.

Enough of chasing my tail, these interminable reflections that threaten to kill the levity I so enjoy. Sometimes fiction is stranger than truth, and I aim to entertain, not to perturb or initiate a terminal outbreak of depression. To this end, I have a short story in mind, ready to spring forth from this very keyboard soon. I hope it will be to your liking: My ex-wife, Pat, the ex-pat. But, while that is in the oven, High Fidelity should give you reason to look at your partner more closely … see you in a fortnight!

Stepping Stones

Ideas and emotions,

Set in concrete,

Only tears cause erosion,

Enticing defeat.

Rocking in the winds,

Trees deeply rooted,

Caustic friends,

Forlorn cries mooted.

Hopeless hearts marauding,

Deafening pathos,

Sonic boom soaring,

Underscoring potential loss.

Mountains high crumble with a sigh,

Dreams die-


A man who can never cry.