One of the things I’m most proud of (other than my new excitement about running, which is something I never thought I’d enjoy, much preferring always dance as exercise, but suddenly find exhilarating – I am obsessed already – and that my aching, transforming body is as sensual as the feeling of my hair growing so long now that it tickles the backs of my elbows as I walk) is my ability to operate on blind faith. I don’t even know if ‘blind’ is the right word; if it’s about seeing versus unseeing, or seeing versus non-seeing, then any blindness is contingent and deliberate. It’s more about knowing, anyway, perhaps. Knowing is stronger than belief. I spent a whole term writing essays in epistemological philosophy, once, but the previous sentence was the crux of it (I think). I know that working on knowing is one of the bravest and most essential thing one can do, when so much is in contrast with what appears around us, and patience goes hand in hand, and I think it takes a sort of training (but the sort of training that can become complete just as easily in the blink of a seeing eye as it can by mantra/affirmations/sitting/self-convincing/listing/ritualising).
One silly example: I booked a holiday to a Greek island the other day because I knew I needed to go, and I knew a recent foray into sadness needed some respite and a clash of something nonsensically right. I can’t (if you consider my bank balance as evidence) afford to go. I can (if you consider my absolute intention to make this work mixed with my denial of current facts) afford to go, however. I freak out about money constantly (I am self employed and live alone in an expensive part of England), but also give money freely (I think I support 7 charities per month) and stubbornly, because I think money should be an innocent, moving thing. I think money should always be in motion. I feel almost superstitious about this; that the more I will give away, the more easily it will come to me, and that the freer I am with it, the purer it is. You can’t grip it, you can only support what you want with it and hope you can afford not to have to move back in with your parents. I don’t know if I’m deeply wise or deeply stupid. It’s like a boomerang (like the one I looked at in the Ashmolean on a date the other day with a man who clearly thought I was quite stupid for absent-mindedly wondering how a boomerang could come back if it hits something; he pointed out that this was the point, that it only comes back if unsuccessful in hunting and that it would have served its purpose and been thought successful if it didn’t return. He had a way of bringing out my most stupid sentences, actually, defiantly not celebrating them, either; and didn’t bring much forth himself; I won’t see him again).
I made a promise to myself on a grass verge under the blood moon, late on Friday night. I’d ventured outside, staring at the sky searching for it, and walked around the grounds in the dark, stumbling over its hills, looking up for something… Everything was behind clouds. A red haze bloomed across one part, though, and so I saw some of its effect. I was completely alone out in the dark in this nature reserve of a place. I never feel unsafe here, though I wander about in the dark with all manner of creatures certainly watching me, making their watching noises and glinting. This time, after I’d found the red haze where a moon should be, I felt the abrupt presence of some creature only about a metre from me, scuffling on the grass, now stopped as though deciding about me. It felt eerie, that I might not be safe after all. I couldn’t make the animal out, but sensed it was the size of a large cat or small dog, but was something strange, and that it was staring at me. I shuffled my feet to make a small move and perhaps disrupt its stillness, to cause it to self-identify. It dashed slightly away, but again I heard it stop just a few metres away, in front of a bush, as though watching me, and as though it might turn back and run towards me after all. It felt oddly aggressive. I grappled for my phone and pressed a button for the screen to light up, flashing it towards the dark-hidden stranger for revelation (it took me a while to think of doing this; a bit like how it took me a while to figure out that the light that appears through the clear panel above my stairs is literally just the light in the bathroom, which is the room the panel looks onto. Honestly I amaze myself that I can function in society as a relatively undetected imbecile in so many ways; spatially, in particular, since I genuinely assumed for weeks that my room somehow backed onto another house though there was no house adjoining my bathroom, and that they kept annoyingly leaving their light on. Oh, I digress. Maybe date-guy was right to give me an incredulous look about the boomerang).
But I was trying to lead to a point; my promise to myself under the moon.
I promised myself I would no longer seek approval from someone for my choices. Like lights and their whereabouts/causes, the ability to let go of the need of approval may have dawned on me late. I need very little approval, except for with this anomalous person, the one who I feel little acceptance or love from. The person whose approval I most crave is also the person whose reactions I believe I know in advance, and whose understanding of me is so incomplete (possibly due to my own failure of presentation) that they can reduce me to private tears at the drop of a hat. Perhaps releasing my own judgment of their judgment of my judgments (all in all, this amounts to my own self-judgment, in practice) liberates both parties. I don’t know if ease can be fully found or restored; if comfort can ever be fully reached. I think I side-step, and might always; that I self-protect, but often badly.
The creature, by the way, was a badger. You’ve never seen perfect stripes til you’ve seen those adorning the curious face of a disrupted badger, looking directly at you, measuring you, judging you, listening to you, understanding you. I said a stupid thing: ‘oh, you’re a badger’ and little else, other than ‘how magical’ and some gentle, emotional cooings of gratitude and delight (because Friday nights are best spent roving alone in the dark on moon-lit hills talking to badgers). This was the first badger I’d ever seen in the wild; the first alive, not on the side of a road. It was beautiful. It really was magic. It felt like it meant something to see it, and so I looked it up, later. Apparently seeing a badger is rare – they are solitary, territorial and aggressive (which explains the strange sense I had of oscillating (non/)safety) and they represent defence of boundaries, stubbornness (blind faith?), and a call to have faith in one’s abilities and to ignore what others may say. The badger retreated into a deep bush, perhaps then deep into the ground under the places I walk everyday, and it felt like a gift, like kindness.
5 thoughts on “The stripy moon”
Great post, as ever.
The only badger I’ve seen up close in the wild was on a photography expedition to Pembrokeshire. He waited until we had all stowed our cameras at the end of the day, and then leisurely ambled across the path in front of us. I decided to enjoy the moment rather than race to unpack my camera, which turned out to be the right thing because 15 seconds later he was gone.
Haha! Sometimes you’ve got to take photographs with your eyes, I suppose! 🙂 This reminds me somehow of the time I was modelling in a lake where a nature-lover was waiting with binoculars to spot an otter. He’d been there for ages and just given up. As soon as he left and I got in the lake to start posing for the photographer, otters appeared all around us!
I sense a whole new wildlife photography business model out there relating to otter-on-demand-by-getting-in-their-lake : Otterology
Remember, you heard it here first.
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“I think money should be an innocent, moving thing. I think money should always be in motion.” Reminds me of Louis CK: “I never viewed money as being “my money” I always saw it as ‘The money’ It’s a resource. if it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system.” http://buy.louisck.com/news/another-statement-from-louis-c-k (Proof that the world isn’t so black and white.)
Also: YOU’RE COMING TO GREECE JUST WHEN I’M LEAVING??????!
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You’re obviously leaving at the wrong time!!