Come fly with me

I was flying in my dreams again last night.

When I was little, we had a yard. Not a nice glamorous landscaped thing, just a skeleton of concrete and brick. A little square of nothingness at the back of the house. At the front of the house was something that may have been a lawn once. But both sides were surrounded by a brick wall with a gate. To one side in the yard was could have been a raised flowerbed, but now grew only mud and stones.

But it the back yard wall which took a prominent place in my recurring dreams. They were of the type that were almost indistinguishable from real life (as an aside, I do have a tendency to dream while awake. Not daydreaming, you understand, but actual dreams).

There was always a small collection of paint tins balanced on it – all filled to the brim with crayon wax. Pick the right colour (red), and you would be able to fly. And then I would wake up and run downstairs to grab the tin I knew would make me fly. But of course, they were never there and I would spend the day in abject disappointment.

So, without my red-crayon-paint-tin, I would never be able to do more than hover gracefully, and flow forward as though on some invisible Segway.

But then something horrible happened last year that completely deconstructed my personality – for the better. And when I moved on from that, I began to fly – really fly – in my dreams. I remember one where I shot off over my hometown, which seamlessly melted into the village I grew up in. I was off like a rocket, going faster and faster, feeling the wind in my face and a total exhilaration. That now has become the new version of my ‘flying’ experiences.   Like last night. I was whizzing around everywhere. It was great.

Feel free to get psychoanalytical on me. It doesn’t take Freud or Jung to work out what’s going on. Research would suggest that I have gone from being stuck in a situation where I had to do as I was told to being totally free and in control of my life.

But there is another explanation… one which ties in with the myths of old… We’re mammals, even if we’re not completely human. Name me any flying mammals…

There’s 3 that I can think of…

1)A flying fox

2) A bat

3) Someone in a plane.

And we have a winner. Number 1) is pretty much a bat and I was just being silly with number 3).

 


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I may well follow you too. Not in a creepy way…

Trigger Happy

I found out something new this week: the phrase “trigger warning”. Never heard of it before. Found out the hard way. I went onto an online baking forum to make a simple enquiry about an ingredient because of something my doctor has advised me to do (yes, even I have to seeks a physician’s aid occasionally).

Someone got extremely upset over my question because one of the words I used was a ‘trigger’ for them. The word? “Calorie”. As simple (and deadly) as that. It seems they were recovering from an un-diagnosed (what?) eating disorder (which I’d had myself, many moons ago), and certain words get them irritated. So I was asked to put a ‘trigger warning’ on it  Remember that this was a site dealing with baking some relatively unhealthy items!

So, someone weighed in telling this person to put down their internet device and go for a walk, preferably nowhere with food shops that might have foods labelled with nutritional values, then someone else weighed in, supporting the person, and how heartless everyone in the entire world was being. And so the battle between Camp Cottonwool and Camp Common Sense continued for a while.

I stepped in and posted an apology – of sorts.  You know, my sort of apology….

Far be it from me to make light of someone’s issues… You know me, I would never do that, as I stated quite clearly before. My heart goes out to anyone who has a struggle in their lives. After all, mental health issues are no stranger to me, so…

I apologised for upsetting them, and for not having prior knowledge of their issue at time of posting. I thanked  them for helping me learn something new and wished them well. The person felt vindicated and was as nice as pie after that.

Now, I do like to apologise to people, but I do also like acknowledge their behaviour to myself. Funnily enough, No-one ever bothers to read between the lines. For example: One day I was walking down the street and suddenly remembered that I needed to cross the road.  I stopped. The woman behind me walked straight into the back of me, which clearly upset her as I’d interrupted her texting. She scowled at me and ranted something about me watching where I was going. So I simply smiled and said: “I’m so sorry, madam, I didn’t see you behind me.” She softened, smiled back and replied, “That’s alright love.” She just heard what she wanted to hear. The man behind her, however, was about to pass out from laughing.

But seriously, the thing is, every time I go for a ride on my bike, I am reminded of the time I fell off one, fracturing my skull and shoulder, which left me with memory and co-ordination issues. But I choose to get on that bike. Every time I go out in the rain, I am reminded of the time I slipped in thick mud, breaking a finger and shattering an ankle. But I choose to go out in the rain. You get the idea. So, what am I supposed to do? Expect the world to protect me from these things? Or do I show just a lickle bit of common sense and get the heck out of Dodge if something is upsetting me that much?!

I mean, do I go onto Sky Movies and watch Arachnophobia and Eight Legged Freaks and get upset because they contain spiders (remembered I’m terrified of the things)? Do I throw a hissy fit because the description does not contain a ‘trigger warning’? No. I go watch something fluffy instead.  And by fluffy, I mean anything from Frozen to Silent Hill (that line about ‘in the eyes of a child’ makes me blub every time I hear it).

Do we have to protect individuals from their own choices? Is that what they expect? And if so, what on earth happened to Free Will? “You have to protect me from anything nasty or scary or upsetting out there when I accidentally or willingly come across it or seek it out. Only I won’t tell you what scares or upsets me until it’s too late.”

Hmm. I’m wondering if I should start using trigger warnings on this post, to protect those individuals who have Sanguivoriphobia. Basically, just in case this blog gets visited by someone with an irrational fear of vampires. After all, we have to keep everyone safe, don’t we?

 


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Nothing to fear but…

Fear itself?

What scares the scary?

What’s the longest time you’ve ever gone between starting watching a film and finishing watching a film? My record, as of today is 34 years. In 1981, back in the days of videos, there was about 3 video recorders in the entire village. There was this thing called the Video Club. Once a month, we would all gather expectantly around a little TV screen in a cold, damp musty hut to watch the latest video release. Sometimes they were brand-new films; sometimes they were ‘classics’. Once a month, someone would bring this hallowed piece of technology to share with us cave dwellers. Teasing us with a glimpse of the future.

On the night in question, it was a classic of sorts being shown. Certainly now it is considered to be a classic of the genre. Back in those days it was just before the heyday of the Video Nasty. It had been made about eight years before, back in the early 70s.

At the time of its release, I remember one of my brothers being obsessed with an album he’d bought called “Tubular Bells” He played it constantly, every waking hour. It drove us all to distraction. It was only when I heard that music over the (slightly less) tinny television speakers that the penny dropped. If you haven’t already guessed which film I mean, you should probably twig if I say “pea soup” and “Your mother cooks socks in Hell” (okay, I was paraphrasing wildly with that last one). Got it now?

I didn’t actually get through it all in one sitting. It got to said projectile pea soup scene and my nerve broke. I ran back home. And I mean ran. Bearing in mind that home was nearly 2 miles away up a 30 degree hill, and walking it usually took a good 25-30 minutes. I did it in 10.

I did not sleep that night.

At all.

All night.

In fact, I bizarrely decided to sit up and read through my copy of the New Testament, with anything to due with demons and exorcisms being duly noted and mentally filed away for future reference…

As you do.

What made matters worse – and more ominous – was that that night there was a particularly vicious storm that whipped up out of nowhere the moment I got home. There were foul gale force winds and rain that felt like lead shot against my bedroom windows. I wondered if old Nick was personally trying to tell me off. Let’s face it – I was scared. At one point the wind blasted a dustbin lid into my window and I think I may have had a teeny accident…

So, 34 years later, I decided to watch it, intending to make it through to the end this time. I sat there with my bag of popcorn, ready to be terrified all over again. My iPad to distract me from the more horrific moments. The Remote Control within easy reach just in case it got too much for me again. The ‘off’ button is always the last resort, isn’t it?

To my surprise, I had actually watched over half of it originally. My main memories of it were nothing like what I experienced this time around. If anything, it was quite tedious, and I had to resist the temptation to hit the Fast Forward button. I was willing to hurry up to get to the pea soup, and disappointed the spider walk scene never made the cut.

After two hours, I found myself thinking “Uh, is that it??” I had been prepared to be terrified all over again. I realise that, actually, it wasn’t scary at all. There could be a number of reasons why this was the case.

  • More than 30 years on, I’m older, more experienced, and life has taught me there are things worth being scared of. This wasn’t one of them.
  • Also, being older, I am more spiritually mature and can see this for the piece of fiction it is. Perhaps the Devil just doesn’t scare me any more.
  • Thanks to Special Effects and the increasingly warped imaginations of filmmakers, films are able to be a lot scarier now and they used to be. You can show a lot more now than you used to do back in the 70s.

I was so prepared to be frightened, and what frightened me back then probably does not frighten me now. Do we get frightened, or more frightened of being frightened? That’s why we don’t like walking in dark rooms, or putting our hands into feely bags. Think about this – how often have you seen a film in the cinema that was really scary at the time, and then you saw it again on DVD at home and wondered what the fuss had been? Or missed a film that everyone overhyped the horror of, and then you watched it at home, only to be bitterly disappointed? I know I’ve been to see films where camaraderie sprang up within the audience as we jumped and shrieked together and shared the jump moments together. Everyone feeds off each other’s fear.

Now who’s the vampire? Just saying…

 


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BOO! Made ya look…

Unscrambling eggs

I said before that language is a funny old thing. I stand by that. It can help us, or it can hang us. For instance, take the time I got lost in Brittany… Down the docks. Not a good place for a teenager to get lost at the best of times! The whole idea was that we were in Brittany for a whole week to practice our French (of which I am a native speaker. Oh yes. Thought I’d drop that one on you. I’m a mongrel). Of course, you know how it goes… Everyone else uses you for English target practice. But not on this occasion. I was lost. The rest of the class had disappeared. The docks were otherwise deserted. Well, apart from the odd random group of old gentlemen.

So, hiding my native accent as best I could, I asked the gentlemen, group by group for help. No-one understood me (surely my own accent wasn’t that impenetrable?). So I tried English. The blank stares became blanker. Then something prompted me to try something completely illogical – speak Welsh to them (yes, native speaker… you get the idea). The reaction was instant. Within moments we’d swapped life stories, and they put me on track to re-join my class. You see, they were of a generation that never learned to speak French. Breton was their mother tongue. And Breton just happens to be very similar to Welsh.

Despite my young years, I had realised that they weren’t initially being rude, nor were they wary of some strange youngster pestering them. Nor did they think for a moment that I was being rude. They just didn’t have a clue what I was on about. And that can happen even when you do speak the same language. Beware! How many verbal wranglings have you ended up in for a similar reason?

I know. Me too.

However, you see, another one of my little gifts is that I’m a linguist. I can understand most languages, even ones I didn’t realise I did. Apparently this can be quite startling for anyone watching a subtitled film with me…

But languages aren’t just the obvious ones, you know. Anything that can be used to describe a set of events of experiences is a language.

And this is where I get topical. Science and religion. Why do people who speak sciencese and religionese not realise that they’re talking about the same things, but simply using different languages?

For example:

Place an ovulation from Gallus gallus domesticus in a thermally resistant receptacle and apply heat while producing agitative motions. Continue heat and agitation until there is a denaturing of the protein masses resulting in sufficient coagulation.

Enjoy your scrambled egg.

Okay, so a scrambled egg isn’t exactly a religious experience (depends on the recipe, though, I suppose), but hopefully my point is clear. Both are languages used to explain the universe, our existence, and all other matters in between.

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions how I can possibly be a scientist and a person of faith. Simple. There’s a third leg on this old milking stool called Life. Linguistics. That’s what makes those lightbulb moments happen.

Plus, I’m just really, really old and I can see how all this head-butting isn’t getting anyone anywhere. Just stop it, guys! Just acknowledge there are more languages in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in your philosophy (sorry, Mister Shakespeare) or just agree to disagree, people. Play nicely.

You can’t untangle denatured protein chains….

 


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