Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Let Me Rest In Peace

 When I die, as we all will,

please don't hold a funeral.

Just let me rest in peace.


Don't gather and hug and kiss and cry.

Don't sing somber or joyous songs.

Don't get up and spray your words

over all those attending.

Just let me rest in peace.


Don’t visit my sons

With plates of food

that they won’t eat

but will have to wash and return.

Just leave them to grieve

(or not) in their own ways.


Don’t breathe and sneeze

your thoughts of how loved,

or not, I was, and how much

I will be missed, or not.

Just let me rest in peace.


If you have thoughts

About me, loving or not,

tell me now, or tell my sons

in a disinfected letter.

Just let me rest in peace:

don’t send me company.



Monday, August 31, 2020

The Other Overwhelming Sad

On top of and underlying the sadness I wrote about on Friday, was the other huge sadness that most New Zealanders were feeling. That I could not bring myself to write about last week. All week I was feeling love, horror, fear, grief, compassion, for the victims of the Christchurch mosque murderous slaughters as nearly 90 survivors and family members gave victim impact statements in court.

At the same time I felt stomach-churning horror at the thought of being the mother of that white son, who is the same age as my white son. The knowledge that none of my sons would do such a thing, does not ameliorate the nausea, when the knowledge that he-who-I-will-not-name is a son of our shared white culture of privilege and arrogance.

Even the sentence of actual life-until-you-die imprisonment (first time *ever* in NZ) has left me in a state of horror - yes, what other option could be considered? But he's 29 - he faces so many decades of non-life in jail. What a waste, what a dreadful way to be. And his mother and grandmother - how dreadful are their lives. And yet, what he did is just so awful, so so so awful. I can't stop thinking of how I could live with the knowledge that my son had done that. I think I would kill myself.

It was comforting to have the son who is the same age visit this weekend, and to hear his thoughts around this horrible slaughter, and have it confirmed that he a good, kind, moral man that would never commit such an atrocity. Plus, he makes me laugh.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Sad Like Never Before

 I’m feeling sad. Sad like never before.

I spent decades in and out of depression. A few times I’ve been suicidal. More often I would fantasize about dying in a way that no one would feel guilty – that a sudden rock fall would land on my car without warning, or that I’d be struck by lightning. I cried when a biopsy came back clear of cancer. I was sure everyone would be better off without me, but also knew that some wouldn’t see that truth and would be devastated if I killed myself. I didn’t think I was worth the money to waste someone’s time and effort to help me with counseling. Eventually, in my fifties and sixties I got intermittent help, and the last few years I finally felt life was worth living, and that it was okay to do things just because I enjoy them.

But now I’m feeling sad, like never before.

The world feels unsafe. Not just because of covid19, but because of people. The denial of science that is inconvenient, around climate change, covid19, around vaccination, around 1080, around a whole raft of things that have proven not to be 100% perfect. Around science itself, which many see as failed if scientists update or refine their information and recommendations after doing more research aka science.

It seems to me that there are a lot of fears around, which contribute to the denial of the majority of scientific opinion, and to the promulgation of conspiracy theories ranging from the possible but unlikely (Jacinda Ardern is conspiring with other world leaders to destroy capitalism) to the absurd (alien reptiles have taken over the world’s leaders.) (Oh, and by the way, ladies, your endometriosis was caused by demon sperm from when you screwed an incubus in your dreams – facts from the same doctor who tells us that hydroxychloroquine cures covid19.)  Fear of an uncertain future: it was always uncertain, we just didn’t recognize it. Fear of lack of control: we have never had control over many things, we just pretend in order to make us comfortable. Why do we hate, and often fear, cockroaches and bedbugs and green veggie bugs? Because we can’t control them. Why are earthquakes and tornados and tsunami so scary? Because we can’t control them. So when we can’t control things, we either pretend they don’t exist – think of Aucklanders living in a city of volcanoes, Christchurch people still living where their existence was so threatened. So people deny science because it is less scary to believe that ‘someone’ is in control, even if that ‘someone’ is out of our control, that there is the possibility that some other someone will outwit the ‘someone’. Whether that ‘someone’ is Bill Gates, or Jacinda and friends, or Big Pharma, or God in punishing mode, or the devil and his demon sperm, or the Waikato District Council, or Miss Trunchbull, or the alien lizards  - it’s still more comfortable to believe than, ‘well, random shit happens’, and also more comfortable to believe than, ‘we just have to suck it up and get on with living with it as best we can’. I know conspiracy theories sometimes true (eg the suppression of harm or tobacco, sugar v fat harm to hearts), but seriously?

I am old (69 in a couple of weeks) and have underlying conditions which means if I get covid19 I am likely to die (of which I am not afraid) a very painful, lonely death (which I do admit to being afraid of). My focus in the meantime is on how I can learn to live sensibly in this beautiful world, in ways that work right here and now.

But now I’m feeling sad, like never before.

Because the real problem of this covid19 disease is the huge ongoing health problems - some 'recovered' people have health problems months on. Post-'recovery' people still have cellular organ damage to lungs, brains, liver, kidneys, chronic fatigue, recurring symptoms....and no one knows how long it will take for them to recover, or even if people will ever recover What is this going to do to our economy? What is this going to do to my beloved sons, grandchildren, and friends?

I’m feeling sad, like never before.

We need to adjust our (humans everywhere but particularly in our 'civilized' first world) lifestyles in the light of climate change and environmental degradation, if our existence as a species is to continue. But many prefer to stay comfortable pretending it’s another conspiracy. Personally, I think we need to take covid19 as a quarter final in the lead up to the main event. I tend towards the idea (non-scientific opinion at this point in time) that this and other weird stuff, is happening because we humans have upset the balance of nature with our greedy exploitation and expansion. My fear doesn’t drive me to denial: it drives me to sadness. Like never before.

People are showing more and more that they are not kind. Blatant racism. The bitter opposition to so many things, and to so many other people, seems to be increasing exponentially. And I find myself becoming more intolerant of others. When, during this current re-emergence of covid19 in New Zealand, I am in the supermarket, signs about social distancing everywhere, and as an announcement over the speakers reminding people of the requirements is literally just ending, a man pushes right up against me, arms and bodies touching, as I reach for a jar of gherkins because he can’t wait an extra second for me to move on…. I suddenly become filled with over-whelming bitter rage. And this woman in a Facebook discussion:

I can't take my kids swimming because some old people with co-morbidities died. couldn't watch his cross-country because old people with co-morbidities died. Who's being selfish now? I If you're scared stay at home. If you sick stay at home. Wash your hands like you would anyway. Let the rest of us get on with our lives!!

I’m feeling sad, like never before.

Once again I feel unwanted, worthless - worse than worthless, a burden.

Mental illness kept me from living a full life for decades. Then diabetes and a stroke have made my life even smaller. Now covid19 is reducing it, with restrictions necessary to control it. For younger people there is still hope for the future, but although my ‘isolation facility’ is a beautiful place to live, there are places I’d like to go, things I’d like to do, before I die.  

But even if a vaccine is produced, no vaccine ever gives 100% protection, and the older you get, the less likely they are to be effective – thus the need for widespread uptake, to protect the elderly and the immune-compromised. With more and more people like that woman, that rabid anti-vaxer who has previously harassed a nurse friend of  mine, this science denier, wide-spread uptake isn’t going to happen.

The weekend after next, there’s a women’s retreat that I’ve been looking forward to for a year. I’m not going. In December I’m booked to go to Book Camp again. I may not go. Maybe I would do these things if I was on my own, but it would not just be my life I’d be choosing to risk. Life is getting very small.

I’m sad. Like never before.

Tonight the neighbour's cows got out of their paddock and into our place, trampling the trees we planted just a couple of weeks ago. Mac had hurt his knee earlier in the day and was hobbling around in the dark trying to get the cows back down the driveway, while I drove to get the neighbour to come help. I met his worker at the end of the drive and stayed to block the cows from the other end of the road. I sat in the darkness of the car and cried. Just so sad and lonely, sad all the way through.

But then the neighbour arrived. He's much younger than me, and has always been really fit and healthy.  He had a stroke three years ago, six months before me. He peered into the car and saw my tears. He understands. He asked, "Do you need a hug? Because I sure need one." And I got out, and in the dark we hugged and cried until the cows came home.

And now I'm a little less lonely, and a little less sad. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

And the times, they are a changing

Events are sending me deeper and deeper into introspection; contemplating my life, my attitudes, my beliefs, and hopefully, my behaviour. It's something I've been doing more and more over the years, especially since my children grew up and I have more time and space in my head, then as health issues (diabetes, stroke) forced me to recognize my mortality, and now with covid 19, Black Lives Matter, Maori rights issues, minority rights issues, etc etc. History isn't what it used to be - there are so many things that have been repressed or over-exaggerated, denied - I am realizing that often what I thought was true was just an interpretation through the lenses of the 'winners'.

As we enter the world, we are helpless babies. We grow. We learn. When we try to walk, our parents don't yell at us for falling; they praise us for trying - so we keep trying. When we first say 'mumumumum' our parents don't yell at us for not saying it right; they are ecstatic that we just said our first word. But somewhere along the way many of us lose our desire to learn and grow. We learn to fear being wrong. We learn to deny that we did something, or thought something, or said something that  was proved wrong, or not useful. We cling to ideas and ways which may have been useful strategies once, but which are now impeding our progress: a toddler may learn to walk by holding on to something to steady themself, but that strategy is not a useful one once they are walking well enough to move away from the table and out into the world. However, as the toddler moves out, it isn't an instant change of travel mode: the toddler tries no hands for a few steps, then grabs the table or wall or hand for a few steps, then tries again and again.

Under stress, as we all are at the moment, I have seen some people grabbing the opportunities for change with eagerness, others fearfully grabbing the 'table' with both hands, and most of us doing the wobbly walk, grabbing for support sometimes, falling sometimes, running for a few steps - and repeat. One thing I have found, is that holding on tight to the table of old ideas may be comforting for a while, but then I feel like I'm being left behind by the world.  Not all the old ideas are bad, so take those with you on your life journey, and modify or abandon those that are shown to no longer be useful or reasonable. But don't drag the whole table with you - better to drive to the shops than cling to the old ways and walk or go in a cart behind a donkey, as our predecessors did. 

When I hear people saying things that go against what I believe, I try not to get defensive and close my ears. I try to listen, and although sometimes I reject the new ideas, often I change my own, either partially or fully. Usually I find the ideas aren't really new, just new to me, either because I haven't come across them before, or because I wasn't listening before.

I hope I can keep listening, learning, and adapting to this constantly changing world until I die.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Country Mouse

These beautiful autumn days have been perfect for clearing out the vegetable gardens, ready for resting and planting. The cats have been catching lots of mice, many of which are, I am sure, living in the compost heaps. However, I have disturbed several while weeding. While out in the garden this afternoon, I was thinking about this and that, and remembered Beatrix Potter's books, my favourites as a small child, and still loved as an old woman. I got to thinking about The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, which is oddly named, as it is really the story of Timmy Willie, a country mouse.
I spent the first fifteen and a half years of my life living on a farm, and continued to think of myself as a country bumpkin after we left, even while living in cities - New Plymouth, Hamilton and London - with just a year when we rented a house on a farm, while still working in Hamilton. When we moved to the country again, almost 21 years ago, I realised that in fact, I had become a 'city slicker', as we used to call my cousins from Wellington, who visited us in the school holidays when we were kids.

Today I realised that although we live on a 'lifestyle' block, and depend on income from outside of our property, I have once again come to identify as a country woman - or as I put on annoying forms, a yeoman farmer. And I am content with that. It's not a perfect life. When the farmer next door puts his cattle in the paddock next to us, the flies become diabolical. On the other hand, the manure makes for wonderful mushrooms at this time of the year, and he is kind enough to turn the electric fence off for us to climb over and fill buckets full. Across the road a dairy farmer sometimes holds us up as his cows cross the road, and their manure splashes onto our car when we drive on. But when we offer him apples, he responds by filling our mailbox with avocados.
When we moved here, Mac's job was 'area engineer' and he warned me that I must not argue with or complain about the neighbours: he had experience of being called upon to follow up complaints to council about neighbours - including 'reverse sensitivity' cases where 'townies' complained of the smells of manure and silage, and even, in one case, of animals mating in the paddock next door. Mac did not want us to be 'those' neighbours!

I 'farm' our land with scythe and mulch and other vaguely permaculture methods; their farms are more intensely managed. I would love to live surrounded by organic, regenerative farms, but I recognise that although there are more such places now than 21 years ago when we moved back to the country, such changes take time. It is not for me to criticise people whose only income comes from their absurdly mortgages farms. High stocking is how it's been done, and that requires high levels of feed, which in turn requires fertilizer because the land has been treated that way for years. Without fertilizer, more feed would have to be brought in from outside, and given the increasing drought years here, that means imported palm kernel. Things can and must change, but change needs to be gradual.

I'm happy here. Paradise may have a few nettles, blackberries, gorse, and shit aka manure, but even they have positives. Kind neighbours make for peaceful living, and I try to be that neighbour.

Like a Snail

Day 26. I don't go out much usually. But somehow 'can't' is so very different from 'don't'. 'Can't' squashes me like a boot on a snail - not annihilated on a concrete path, but pushed into newly tilled earth, damaged, confused, disorientated, bewildered, not sure if I'll get out alive.
Mornings when I wake with sun streaming in the window - and then the boot stomps down. Afternoons in the garden doing my own stomping are better - planting and growing are acts of hope and belief in the future. Evenings are when I feel the most squashed, when life and tears ooze out of me quietly and puddle on the floor next to the cat's half eaten mouse.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Books, Bees, and Birds

I decided that although I want to keep up this record of my very ordinary life, a day by day account is going to become a dreary task.  
Yesterday I made another of my not-retreat books. I don't know what I will do with them eventually, but it's fun making them. Except That I was having trouble finding things - trouble even finding space to work!
Today I decided it was time to clean up a bit. There are still mess piles on side tables, and on the floor, but....
...there is now room to spread out my fabric.
Bees! (The fabric is a much brighter yellow than in the photos.)
Afterwards I walked down to the mailbox. Past the lemon verbena: I had intended to dry lots of it for winter teas, but it has gone to flower, so past it's best, but looking pretty.
Magnolia leaves:
In the 600 metres each way, I heard and / saw a cock pheasant, several tui, a keruru, a couple of rosellas, pukeko, a mallard, sparrows, a kotere, a apir of PAradise ducks - and three piwakawaka, one of which actually sat still long enough for me to photograph!

And of course, every day there are cats....