There Are No Words
Four chunks of letters strung together
Four beads of meaning that tell us there is nothing to say
There are no words for some things
The place beneath language
Why bother to describe the hollow of despair
The home of things too unbearable to bear
So, in their absence we turn
to a wrenching sob
to a clenching hug
to the truth they were loved
A shuddered surrender to the unfathomable
There are no words.
Charlie x ©
‘I loved… against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.’ Charles Dickens-Great Expectations
Near where I live is a spectacular coastal cliff path. A half neglected track of rubbly rocks fringed with those tough looking shrubs which can survive howling winds and salty air. It is the perfect place to clear your head. And along the path is a lookout thrust out over the sea. For years, lovers, family and friends have attached lovelocks to the railings much like the bridges in Paris. But one day they were all gone. The lookout had been remodeled and all the lovelocks removed.
But last week I went walking along that path, some new locks had been added and it made me smile. I’d just read this quote from Great Expectations with Pip describing his feelings for Estella. Now we all know our great romantic loves and passions may not last, they may be misguided or ambushed by life, but for an instant, for a while, it is one of life’s great gifts to love another person. Lovelocks like love in real life can be removed or be transient but for a moment they are a symbol of our conviction, optimism and capacity to give of ourselves.
In a world so full of distrust and disharmony it is important to remind ourselves that love exists and is thriving. However you choose, loudly or quietly, or even with a lovelock, it is important to declare our love and promise to the people we cherish. They may be a partner, a relative, or a friend but by doing so we set an example that to live with love and hope is better than to live with fear.
Recently I was lucky enough to travel to Cambodia. A long-held dream to visit Angkor Wat and the mighty temple complexes was realised. I came away with my head full of images and stories and truths of a civilisation so sophisticated it staggered me. Along the way I was also swept up in local tours and attractions but the one which truly struck a chord was a lotus flower farm.
The lotus flower is a sacred symbol for Buddhists and Hindus and flourishes across South East Asia. On the edges of Tonle Sap, a huge fresh water lake, our guide took us to a lotus farm. Like a paddy field, raised muddy walkways surrounded huge ponds, thick with rubbery lotus leaves, buds and pink flowers. Right on cue the afternoon monsoon rain arrived. Huge warm drops, splashing onto the plants and churning the pond water.
I had never really looked at lotus leaves but in the down pour I watched them. Water gathers on the leaves and it moves like balls of mercury. Sometimes they collide with each other and sometimes they roll and cascade over the edge. The self-cleaning properties of a lotus leaf cause water droplets to scoop up dirt and stop it sticking to the leaf. Of course the science is fascinating. How amazing for something to be able to self-clean and like butterfly wings the lotus leaf is the subject of much investigation. But more than that was the way the droplets moved. Totally at the mercy of the pond or the crash of a rain drop.
Our guide came and stood beside me. ‘You know,’ he said. ‘I think of my life like the water on the leaves.’ We watched as a small drop joined with a bigger one. Others scattered and shifted across the leaf, all on different paths. The pond rippled and our big drop rolled closer to the edge. As a wave hit the leaf it tumbled overboard. He smiled, ‘See, like life. You never know when you are going to live or die.’
The image of that pond, in the rain, in Cambodia, stays with me. The lotus effect is not only a scientific breakthrough but a powerful lesson in acceptance.
Are you feeling turbulent? Out of sorts. Not at ease.
We all go through those hours, days, weeks or even longer when we just feel like we can’t get it together. No matter how hard we try our tummies churn and our minds leap between self-doubt and disaster. For many years I’ve tried to fight against the inner turmoil. Tried my best to think my way out of the negative feelings which can grip me. But the struggle leaves me exhausted and often the thoughts which overrun me are still lurking.
So I’m trying a different approach. Accepting that my worries are a part of me. Instead of catastrophizing the big picture I’m trying –and please note I say trying!- to look at my intrusive thoughts with more impartiality. Acknowledge and accept they are there but not buy into the emotional responses which accompany them. Sometimes I can only manage this distraction for a minute or so but sometimes hours pass before they re-occur. The more time between the thought and my emotional reaction to it the better.
There are many wonderful resources to support us with retraining our thinking. And one thing I do now, when my mind runs away, is to try to breathe deeper and smile. Even though the smile may be awkward and forced it does promote a mind-body kinship which helps my thoughts feel more peaceful. What are some of the things which work for you?