Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunshine and Shadow

You know how there are times when everything seems like either a cliche or a metaphor? well, here's a picture illustrating exactly that. Yesterday morning, first sight as I came downstairs, lovely sun painting images inside the living room. Definitely something to get up for. Metaphor for life at the moment. Or any moment. That's where the cliche comes in.

More planting of daffodils yesterday, this time with HS, a token group out front where everyone can enjoy them in the spring. And he accepted happily the collection of knives and the caliper, and a lunch of soup and homemade bread. Asked what kind of soup it was, it was good, and when I launched on the list of ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, onions, cabbage, yellow split peas, chickpeas, sage pesto, Italian sausage, etc., said, oh, it's just soup, not any particular kind. Which it is, since my soup is usually the whole meal, containing every known food group! plus croutons from homemade bread. I've decided that an identifiable soup, asparagus, or mushroom, or something, is the first course before another course. My kind of if it's there throw it in soup is a major meal in itself.

Food of another kind, for thought, is the latest discovery I made in writers, probably the last person in the hemisphere to have found Jenny Diski. I hugely recommend her as a very intelligent, incisive writer who simply gets it, very readable except where you have to keep putting the book down to think a minute. Strangers on a Train is a wonderful documentary of a circular train journey she made around the US, after a long sea journey on a freighter, great insights into traveling alone and the metaphors it forces on you.

I just started The Sixties,a short thoughtful book written about her experiences as a boomer in London, born in 1957, so the war years were only history to her, but the experience of the sixties her own life and times. She makes the terrific point that to the people of the age to have taken part in the times as the "right" age for them, it was very much like the twenties revolt against the hardships and tragedies of the previous war. The swingers of London were like the Bright Young Things of twenties London. I was a bit older than she, had already left England by the mid sixties, so this is documentary to me, rather than memory.

And almost at the same time as starting this book, I picked up the mail and found an invitation to a special service for families and friends of people who were cared for by Hospice recently, as if they form some kind of special group. I suppose it's a nice thought, but why on earth would we be grouped like this? I have no connection with any other patient or family, largely because of patient privacy rules, and just can't see what point there is to this. Aside from the fact that just as I'm starting to recover, this invitation tore it all wide open again, oh well.

It's one of those groupings that dismay me, exactly like the groupings of the Sixties, where an accident of time and place, or condition, or ability, is supposed to link people. Like, to name another false grouping, that well meaning organization Mensa. Not sour grapes here, I'm eligible to join it, but honestly how does success on IQ tests, measuring a few specific mental abilities, create a meaningful bond between human beings? I've always thought it oddly unintelligent to assume that it does!

I do see how kindred spirits can enjoy each others' company, knitters, spinners, readers, writers, that kind of thing, where there's a shared interest with forward movement. But I don't see at all how life experience does that. Well,maybe it's just me.

One of the funniest groupings is the massive universe of People Who Claim To Have Been at Woodstock! millions and millions of people who can safely say they were there because nobody can challenge it. Not unlike the 17,000 original Rembrandts in various collections around the world, except they can be challenged if the owner lets it happen.

It may just be that my inner hermit doesn't need to reach out frantically for groups. I bet there's a Hermits Anonymous group out there somewhere, though...


  1. Well, I wouldn't go to the hospice thing, either.

    But I do think the world is a very large place with tons of people in it and one way of gaining access to a potential field of possible friends is to join a group devoted to...something. Instead of billions in the room, figuratively speaking, you have dozens. Much easier to get a whack at the hors d'oeuvres table.

    Mensa was the most boring group of people I have ever encountered. So forget them. But Mediocre Knitters? People Who've Adopted a Dog From a Shelter? I'd go. At least you'd start off on the right foot with a group of people you have at least one thing in common with besides species.

    I'll have to put this Diski writer on the list, although not the one about The Sixties. I'm sick of hearing about The Sixties. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Beatles and How We Changed the World By Doing Lots of Drugs and Having Sex in Public. Maybe the world changed, but did it change for the better? Women still make 60 cents for every dollar a man makes.

    Ooh, ranting on someone else's site. Bad, bad, bad. No manners.

    My apologies.

  2. I think that the idea that people coming together because of a shared experience can be helpful is only helpful when it is helpful.

    And you never know if it will help because ever one is different. To meet together to be bonded by such a harrowing time does not seem remotely sensible to me.

    Whoever thought that up obviously never went through it. Which is quite sad.

    It is true however that there is no light with out shadow and that only through the bad can we come to value true goodness.

    As always you are in my thoughts.

  3. Interesting concepts these groups. Can't say that I'd be going to the hospice get together either. Probably in this so PC world we have today, someone thought it was a good idea like support groups for cancer sufferers and parents of children with major illnesses, disabilities, conditions and the like. To me, those groups are about finding ways to cope with the day to day stuff and respite help. As you say, why would you want to rip it all open again?

    Love the pic BTW.

  4. The Hermits Anonymous have climbed into their cave and pulled the cave in after them. They'll never join Herm.Anon.

  5. my mother-in-law died a year ago this week, and as her caregivers my husband and I were involved with the hospice here. About three months after she died we got a note inviting us to attend a "Grief Counseling' event, us and a bunch of other people. Nothing like diving into a grief we never felt, to be shredded by memory and truly grief stricken strangers. Truly, some people (to be blunt) roll in such emotion, and this gives them a chance to roll a bit more. Grief used to be a private emotion. I wish it still were.

  6. My mother died when I was in my 30's. She was a verbally, physically, emotionally abusive person, her hands were used to hit, not hug. When she died I felt only relief. People would come up to me for weeks afterwards offering condolences, their faces the picture of concern and sympathy for me. I felt like a fraud accepting their wishes. The grief I felt was for what I never had, the relief a burden lifted. Mine was an extreme example of how I would not have fit into a grief support group. I suspect there are many in my shoes. I agree with the comments posted, and feel these support groups attempt to dress grief with a one size fits all, when it seldom does. - Jean in Cowtown

  7. Just a random thought from a position of little knowledge: maybe the get-together organized by Hospice Care was also to thank and celebrate the wonderful people who dedicate their lives to helping make our final days peaceful. If it was in the hope of providing a support group for the bereaved, then I do agree with all of the other posts. A


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