We chased the light yesterday, finding it first in Helena Emman’s incredible work from Skye in The Line Gallery at Linlithgow, then leaving it at the Forth.
We stood at Port Edgar, freezing, looking up and out at a world of massive Lego sets, listening to the ba-doom, ba-doom of traffic crossing the joints on the road through the sky above. We said occasional hellos to life-jacketed people from yachts and the distance between Scandinavia and Scotland felt tiny small, in those moments.
Then we drove home, chasing warmth this time.
In my early 20’s a friend asked if I’d help with a visitor from New York. After four years away, Party Pete had saved enough to return to Scotland and he was expecting a fortnight of tartan infused hedonism.
Pete was to be passed from friend to friend, like a vibrating party parcel, leaving hosts knackered in his wake. We had him for two nights.
The night we took Pete to Edinburgh’s a blur but I vividly recall the next morning at South Queensferry; we had sunglasses, ice creams and bridges.
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My husband’s rediscovering creativity. He used to carve stones, dance jitterbug, podcast and collect things – just for breath and beauty.
Along the way, we downgraded his creativity. He started pointing at it as a nice luxury item, for when there was more time. In terms of wisdom, it’s a bit like letting go of gravity and hoping for touchdown.
He asked me if I’d get him a stone to carve, for Christmas. I’ve said no. To wholeheartedly walk the walk again there are some gifts you have to give to yourself.
I’m learning that if I can change the subject for long enough, I can change my life.
Sometimes, I need a holiday from my troubles. If I don’t remember to rein back thought processes about the worst case scenario at their tiniest beginnings, I can easily get stuck in looping grooves of inner negativity. Being able to swap perspectives for another view is a great tool for stopping thoughts from becoming overwhelming.
Friends who let me laugh first and give me the choice about whether or not I want to speak about what’s bothering me are the best kind of friends for me. This awareness feels cringey now as I realise I’ve not done this very thing for friends in the past. I’ve made well intentioned blunders thinking that being a good friend meant almost forcing someone to put words to the worries in their life; that relentlessly talking about it would reduce their problems, allowing them to make two or three painful but productive moves on the snakes and ladders board without slipping down a reptile.
I was wrong.
Sometimes, the difficult things are best left in a cupboard with the door firmly shut for a few hours, days or weeks. Hell, some things need months, years or decades. Life doesn’t let difficult things just disappear; it brings them continually back to stand in front of us. So why I thought I needed to ring fence that process for friends now escapes me, but I guess I felt an urgency to workshopping emotional problem solving as if it were speed dating. These days I take a longer view.
As we get older big ideas get simpler but logistics are more complex; we have more people to consider, plans and feelings are intertwined in ways they weren’t twenty years ago, we have a greater sense of what we need but have to juggle making the time to get it or keep it. Spending time lying on a cognitive sun lounger or dipping our toes in a warm salty sea of positive, enriching distraction is an essential thing, if we’re to avoid being overwhelmed. Sometimes changing the subject offers vital perspective that shrinks the negativity of other situations and allows us to feel that perhaps the stuff in the cupboard can be dealt with, after all.
I’ve started telling the people closest to me when I need a little holiday from my troubles and asking them to come and sit on the sun lounger beside mine while I soak up the rays and gently buzz off just talking about life in general or whatever’s on their mind and needing release. While our minds are relaxed and busy elsewhere our subconscious gets busy with fixing the tricky stuff, without us even being aware of just how noisily the gears are grinding. To allow our minds the space they need to work on things with intuition rather than intensity we don’t need denial; we just need a change of subject and a more relaxed perspective.
It’s eighteen years since my husband (then fiancé) rented a top floor room on Polwarth Street while he worked a contract in Glasgow’s Atlantic Quay. I’d visit every few weekends, firstly from Aberdeen then, after the flitting, from Eigg.
We’d walk hand in hand into town taking in houses, flats, shops, pubs, trees, Kelvingrove Park and museum.
In my memories, there are days when it’s always crisp and sparkling with frost and December fairy lights in Glasgow. I walked the walk again last week, just to check I was still me.