Musing about muses

I have recently become aware that I had a muse missing in my life. I have had three for a long time but it felt unbalanced and while I sought to put it right it the solution moved away from me.

First let me clarify that what I mean by muse is someone who inspires me in any area of my life. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I need four guardian angels just to write these blogs or the few newspaper I pieces I written in the past.

The first is the finest German writer of his generation and has been since I was 23. Those of you know me will know instantly who he is and those of you who know your writers will  also know who he is.

He lived in tough times and his most famous work is always misunderstood. It is an analogy of the political situation in the country in which he lived and the attention his father feared he would attract to the family by pursuing his heritage. In the end the authorities took his family and wiped them out but after his death and after his uncompleted work was seized by the authorities. I hope against hope that one day they’ll be found and the world will be able to read more of his fine words.

It’s not just his writing that I found inspiring or the pains he took over it. His novels went unfinished because he tried to make them perfect yet doubted he could reach the levels of perfection he demanded.

His writing is thought to be dark and hopeless but it isn’t. If you read it, and his diaries, carefully you can see his sense of humour and fun in his life. He was also a bit of a lad and made the best of what was on offer in his part of the world when he was well (both mentally and physically) to enjoy it.

He inspires me because in spite, or may to despite, the depressions that drove him to the point of suicide he kept on going. He preferred the semicolon over the full stop no matter how much it hurt.

When a physical illness that was killing him became too much he choose to die by assisted suicide; an incredible act of bravery.

The second is a friend who can be loud and bawdy but who is also full of common sense. What he lacks in spontaneity (though I have corrupted him at times) he makes up for in reliability and stolidity. His is the hand at the small of my back that guides me to the right places and when it is absolutely necessary the arm that sits around my shoulders while I wail because the pain and storms inside my head wreck me and drive me to sit with the means to opt out of living.

He is brash but he is beautiful just don’t tell him I said that.

Number three is the calmest person I know. They’re a little old fashioned and I shock them a fair bit I think but we talk the most wonderful talks. There is no subject that either of us find difficult to broach and speak honestly. It is a life time friendship and we both believe that it’s unbreakable.

I can, as the saying goes, talk the hind legs off a donkey. I don’t chat to fill voids I’m just that irritatingly person who wakes up talking and doesn’t shut up until they are asleep.

He has taught me that silence is good and worth chasing. Through him I have realised that the time that I was happiest was when I was living in a school attached to a monastery. I always had fun with the monks that I knew but I would also wake ridiculously early to attend matins. The poetry of the short service would carry through my day just like porridge carries me physically from breakfast time to lunch.

Although I use mindfulness through the day I rarely sit and meditate anymore and I think that it’s time I set aside time to make a silent space on a regular basis.

The fourth person is somebody who has let me know what is lacking in my life. I met him a few years ago. He is calm, confident and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. No matter the provocation he doesn’t rise to it and defends anybody who is at the wrong end of abuse.

I need to be more like him. I need to rein myself in on political agitation, baiting people who don’t agree with me or causing arguments by alleging that I’m defending those who can’t defend themselves and concentrate on the goodness that change can make. I need to stop reacting and start acting – a difficult change for me to make.

I’m really good at shooting my mouth and it has got me into trouble so many times I’ve stopped counting. The thing that I always seem to miss is that by shouting and reacting I’m no better than the people I’m railing at.

Change is difficult and more so when you live alone and have nobody to rein in your eccentricities and sense of self importance. I love living on my own but I really have to remember that it doesn’t make me god-like.

The silence I hope to learn doesn’t not have to be a negative emptiness, it can be a positive lack of noise.

Decisions, decisions…

When I deactivated my Twitter account last week I had no idea of how it would impact on this website.

Over the past week I have been blogging more but, to be honest, it has been bad writing and those posts are going to be deleted. I was translating a series of tweets into blog posts and it just doesn’t work. Tweets have their merit, blog posts have theirs.

The number of people reading the blogs has, thankfully, fallen but that has made me think also. I started to link Twitter to my blog years ago and I have often had people saying to me that I just totally get what goes on inside their heads. To do that is amazing as I’ve rarely found someone who writes in a way that I get.

It’s not vanity (okay, just a little) that makes me want to increase the hits on my blog site again, it is genuinely wanting to reach out. I need to reach out as much as other people do. I’m not sure if this is making a lot of sense but some of you will get this.

Tweeting to the ether is one thing because you don’t really expect people to reply but writing a blog and really wanting to help and be helped doesn’t work if you’re just publishing to an empty sky.

So the dilemma is this – do I restart my Twitter account or not? I’ve actually already reactivated it but I think I have to start again with followers and followees. I’m already beginning to feel foolish for not thinking that through.

I left primarily because of the mob mentality but, to a certain extent at least, that wouldn’t happen quite so often if I didn’t fly off the handle or ignore the attempts of people to inflame situations.

So, what do I do?

Birthday musings

I celebrated my (coughs) birthday today and it’s been brilliant.

The day didn’t start off well as a cyclist refused to dismount while the cycled on a really narrow pavement and there was no way either he or I could get onto the road as it was fenced off. I pointed out the sign that read Cyclists Dismount and asked him to get off his bike and walk it because he was taking up 3/4 of the pavement and would get in the way of people who, for one reason or another, couldn’t get out of the way.

Ogden barked through the whole of the exchange of me telling him he was selfish and him telling me I was singling out cyclists so that I could abuse them. After a few minutes he got off the cycle and Ogden thought he was being attacked and lunged towards him. He didn’t reach him but there was a theatrical cry and he told me I was being discourteous. Really? I walked away as quickly as I could because by this time I was angry and when I’m angry I make the Incredible Hulk look like a maiden aunt at a tea party.

By the time we’d finished our walk I was calm, Ogden was happy and we ran for a while on the way back home.

I had my morning planned – bake bread, do something with rhubarb, apple and ginger and make a pizza topping. I would have tweeted all the way through it normally and lost time as I went and, as a result, I would have been over tired and wish I hadn’t started.

This time I could power through it all. I devised a new bread recipe, made a mess with the rhubarb, apple & ginger which I can eat with skyr over the next few days. I had time to press the ginger with my mortar and pestle so I could extract the juice and give the whole mix a real kick.

I made a pizza topping and deviated from the one I usually do. I would normally make a bolognese sauce but today I started off with mince, added garlic, fresh cherry tomatoes and spring onions and a tablespoon of homemade raspberry vinegar. The tomatoes and the vinegar added a sweetness to the dish and so I squeezed some fresh lime juice in it to balance it. It has made a very good, and I mean very good, pizza topping. I’ll put it on the food website tonight.

As I baked and chopped things my thoughts wandered and occasionally a tweet or the makings of a tweet would pop up. I suppose it will take a while to stop thinking like that and these were the most notable and exciting:

  • Who is that Winston Wolfe bloke on the telly adverts?
  • The cat litter needs changing again.
  • Would anybody like a cup of tea?
  • I’m taking Ogden for a walk in a minute.
  • I’m back from taking for a walk.

I would have tweeted some photos, pushed my latest blog into your face and generally not tweeted with anybody outside of a small circle and perhaps not even then. I guess I just used Twitter for my own ends which doesn’t feel good or does everybody else do the same?

As I cooked things I could smell the cheese bread cooling and I felt contented and glad that I could do it. I think cooking is my biggest talent and I was in my happy place today.

Just after lunch I got three Happy Birthday texts. One I expected but not the other two so it felt like I’d been hugged out of the blue. I also received a rude birthday card from one of my closest friends who usually sends me one about my great age as I’m a couple of years older than him so rude made a nice change.

I walked down the Malago Greenway with Ogden this afternoon. It’s a quiet walk and the only sound is birds; it’s my oasis, I’m always at home in woods and wooded areas. On the way back we walked on the long, wet grass. I got my shoes and socks wet and he smiled as stopped to chew grass every few minutes until he was wet up to his knees.

A good day, an ideal birthday.

So I’ve done it…

I had said I would delete my Twitter account as a birthday gift to myself but I did it this afternoon instead. It just felt like the right time. I’d said goodbye, I’d gathered up the people I want to keep in touch and so it was time, the right time and it felt good.

I changed the password to something I wouldn’t remembered and then I deactivated it. I expected to feel something when I pressed the button but there was nothing – no apprehension, no regrets, no doubt, no relief because it was the best thing to do for me.

Twitter has taken up a lot less of my day lately than it used to but a dip into it can easily take an hour. You post a photo or tweet something or reply to a tweet and it can easily lead into an hour. I’ve found myself wanting to engage less with people and it was something that I was growing apart from.

An hour a day can make a big difference. I can read 60 pages of a book in that time, or get a loaf of bread ready to bake, I could cook something for freezing for the days when I can’t cook, I can actually edit the photos I take and get back using Flickr again or I could use that hour to further explore my family tree.

It’s been a good day all round. Ogden had the afternoon with Rob, I had a really long  walk and bought some  new note books so that I can take notes as I go through my day and stitch together a blog post from them.

I bought some refills for my Cross pen (it’s not cross, it’s quite good humoured, that’s just the make) and showed myself up in the shop because I couldn’t remember how to open it to check which refill I had to buy. Eventually I had to go onto YouTube and find out how to do. I’ll never forget how to do it ever again.

I wandered down to the museum and listened to some music through ear pods and the sound of children causing chaos bounced off the walls, vocal bullets ricocheting through the exhibits. When I was younger you weren’t allowed to talk into museums and needed permission to breathe out. It was refreshing to listen to them having fun but I soon tired of the sound.

Half way home there was a woman wearing a black t-shirt with huge head phones on her head that looked like ear muffs that produced music. She was stood by the Matthew making giant bubbles for yet another group of over-excited children who were screeching so loud that I swear dolphins all over the world were holding their ears.

I’ve been on Facebook tonight and saw that a friend has also deleted her Twitter account. It’s not the place it used to be and besides, it’s time to live wholly in the real world.again.

Bye bye Twitter, thanks for almost everything

I’ve been using my current Twitter account for over eight years. I had an account before that for about a year which I had to close because I was cyber stalked (another story, another time).

I’ve met some amazing people on Twitter. One fan girl crush evolved into a real life friendship and that person is now one of my closest friends and one of my favourite people in the world.

I’ve had the thrill of being followed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the day they tweeted to me that they loved my blog was wonderful.

I’ve had the ultimate lefty skin tingling thrill of being followed by John McDonnell (go comrade, go!) and lots of fantastic fellow party members.

I’ve had spirited exchanges of tweets, had friendly disagreements with fellow tweeters and learned a lot from what they knew or did not know.

I’ve challenged a lot of people for their extreme views when it came to poverty, people of colour and any other minority cause and I’ve been verbally abused for that. I’m a seasoned campaigner and I’ve volunteered at a seriously senior level so that’s gallons of water off a ducks back.

Recently I’ve become to tire of it. No longer is a place of amusement even though the people I follow are lovely. I’ve tried taking short breaks but people comment on a photo or a blog post and then I’m back into it before I know it.

Just lately I’ve been using it less and less and it’s become a burden rather than an enjoyable thing. It’s been great for sharing my photos and blog posts but it’s becoming a darker place and it’s making my head a darker place.

Over the past few years some (quite a lot!) genuinely innocuous questions have spawned abuse.

For example I asked what turned out to be a broadsheet columnist if a remark about mental health was in a private or professional capacity. I was curious and had no intention of exchanging further tweets with them. There was a long pause then a tirade of abuse about how he refused to compare illnesses with me. Then his followers jumped on me and they went on and on and on. He blocked me and I was left stunned by the irrationality and viciousness of what was a genuinely innocent question.

Today a curated accounted tweeted a photo of a pretentious diet by somebody or other. I tweeted that the only thing that wasn’t pretentious was the liquorice and ginger tea because I drank it. Then whoever it was began a series of increasingly bizarre tweets. I kept telling them I didn’t understand what they were saying to me – I really didn’t but still they kept on. Then the mob jumped on me – I was a nutter, I was aggressive, I was being unfair. I muted them in turn but they just kept on tweeting their aggression at me. One person suggested I eat less liquorice because it was bad for “the nerves” and even added a link to a shonky website. I blocked as fast as I could and ended up in tears.

I would not expect that kind of behaviour from people I met in a pub or a coffee shop or on the bus. I would walk away from that kind of behaviour in real life but not before telling them to lay off me. Nobody, either in the cyber world or in real life has the right to gang up on somebody because they’re disagree with a person or don’t understand what is being said.

Leaving Twitter has been coming for a long time and the lovely people are being hidden by the horrible people. Facebook doesn’t move as fast and you drown under the deluge of memes but generally it’s a friendlier place.

So this is it. I’m deleting my account on Thursday because it’s my birthday that day and I want to give myself a lovely gift. It will be a lovely gift.