This Time Around

This time around has it gone so grey that my faith can’t hold out?
Haven’t you heard there’s a somber wind gets my head away now
I don’t wanna try no longer your songbird singing the darkest hour of the night
I don’t wanna find that I’ve been marching under the crueler side of the fight
It makes me want to cry
The Time Around, Jessica Pratt
There’s something about a windy, spring day.  It’s unsettling.  The way it whips snatches of sound from far across the neighbourhood right to your ear, or makes it hard to hear conversation just a metre away.  A windy, spring day has the same scattered, frustrating feel as sweeping leaves in a gust.  Your thoughts and ideas will not form and instead side with the constantly resisting wind.
I notice who is at the edge of the scene when I walk to work.  The edge of the scene in Newtown, or down Courtney Place.  The centre is held by the cars.  The noisy, assertive cars are taking people to work and school in the morning; bringing them home in the evening.  On the footpaths people walk to school or to the bus stop to go to work.
But the centre cannot hold.  Peripheral to the road and the footpath is the man who sits in the doorway of the derelict shop in dirty clothes with thick, grimy hair.  I think he’s 30.  About 30.  He looks angry, and sometimes gets up and walks to the corner where a set of traffic lights rotate, halt and release the streams of traffic.  If I walked another way I would pass two people who sleep in the doorway of another derelict building, a few doors down from the office of the local MP.  They string up a rope and hang a blanket between them and the footpath and we –  the ones in the centre of the scene of life – can all pretend that they aren’t there behind the blanket.  On either side of the road in front of the Newtown Mall there are usually beggars.  They ask for money, and being ashamed I try not to walk past them.
Not that all the people I see begging are Māori, but most are.
I see them.  I see you.  I know what you mean.  I know how you make me feel.  I know what history looks like when it wears a human form: it sits in a car and drives to work;  it sleeps in a doorway and begs.
I’m sure a society based on injustices cannot be just.  I’m sure that an ideology that separates people from nature can never halt climate change.
I remember the man with no hands at an intersection in Delhi; a bucket over one stump beating on car windows while the passengers looked stiffly ahead.  I remember the girl, who must be a woman now, begging for food outside the bookshop in Hanoi.  I remember eating fish and drinking wine at a Michelin star restaurant in Paris.  I remember buying a Paul Smith tie in Osaka and enjoying the compliments I receive every time I wear it.  I’m reminded of the end of the world every time I roll the recycling bin to the curb.
A door slams somewhere and a dog barks.  There are leaves skittering across the concrete path.  A song goes around and around on the speaker,
I don’t wanna try no longer your songbird singing the darkest hour of the night
This time around.


How can I treat a callus?

I sometimes tell students that it’s good to remain vulnerable, sensitive and open because you can find a lot happiness there.  I do also say, though, that being like that will also cause you pain.  Like Joni says: “be prepared to bleed”.

The alternative, of course, is to form a callus on your heart.  It sure as hell makes it easier to live.  Less rewarding, but easier.  No great highs, no great lows.  A middling, comfy life: which is not to be sneered at.  Let’s be honest.

Still, it’s a lot easier to deliver the advice than live with it.  Delivering the advice can make you feel wise.  Feeling wise may be a comfort at times, but if you are a sensitive person yourself then you know that the next low is just around the corner.  Sometimes it slips round the corner and smooches up to you, and sometimes you step out and forget about the corner and it slams you down like a truck hitting a pram.

I listened to Gabor Maté recently in an interview with Russell Brand and Gabor talked about trauma a lot.  His idea being that we are born open and vulnerable and learn as we grow up to close off depending on how we experience love.  It made me think about myself (everything does: I’m a narcissist).  It made me wonder why I am so sensitive to change, loss and rejection.  You could say: “Isn’t everyone?”  Sure.  But I have a bad case of it.  If someone I trust cuts me I brood over it.  Sometimes for decades.  If someone leaves I feel personally insulted.  And devastated.  It pushes me into depression.  Even change can sometimes trigger a spiral down.  It depends on the change.  Changing socks is ok.  My daughters getting older?  Not so ok.

Without going into the specifics of my childhood, I can look back at my early years and see obvious reasons for all this.  I say obvious, but I really mean that they are obvious to me now.  They were not obvious to me as I grew up, or even in my twenties or thirties.  It wasn’t obvious to me when I was ten why I felt the departure of one of my friends for a new city like a numbing, constrictive pain in my throat and lungs that left me speechless, or why I couldn’t do something “normal” like cry about it.  Looking back it’s pretty fucking obvious.  My dad died when I was five, and the post death grieving was repressed.  40 years to realise that isn’t too bad I guess, but it’s not too flash either.

If I feel hurt I close down.  I isolate myself.  I know that about myself and have become slightly better at knowing that, and trying to push past it.  I’m not mature though.  I still want a hole to crawl into.  A dark place.  Forcing myself to shrug and stay in the sun is the best thing to do 90% of the time.  I know it.  But it’s fucking hard when you’ve trained yourself in the opposite direction for decades and only just realised why.

I tire myself out.

  1. Soak the callus in warm water
  2. File with a pumice stone