Imagination

A blessing and a curse

this vivid imagination

conjuring up so many pleasant daydream worlds,

and paintings, stories, poems, music.

Allowing me to put myself in another’s shoes,

to empathise.

Enabling me to imagine the worse possible catastrophic outcome

for any situation I find myself in.

My body doesn’t know

that the stories in my head are not real,

and responds with pleasure, excitement, fear, dread, anxiety,

feeling it all, deeply.

And it takes a strong rational act of will to calm down,

to find a way back into the here and now.

Leaving the world of the imagination is not easy.

A blessing, and a curse.

Monkey Mind

‘I think’

said the monkey mind

‘that I think too much’.

And he scampers off busily

up thought trees tangled

with stories.

Narratives twisting towards the light

thrusting up strange blooms,

every shade of the emotional rainbow.

Curious to know more,

the monkey scampers on.

Always restless,

the voice chattering away

in the jungle of my mind.

Does that monkey ever sleep!

Lighten Up

Those small things that you deny yourself,

The movie, or book,

Night out with friends,

Or bunch of flowers

That you think you don’t deserve.

Leading on to more denial,

The kind words you would bestow on a stranger

But wouldn’t consider saying to yourself,

Preferring instead the harshness

Of an inner critic

The chances not taken

By the likes of you,

Missed opportunities,

Paths left unwalked,

A life half lived.

You can’t deny

You need to lighten up.

Be kind to yourself and

Open up

To the joy in this world.

Duddon Estuary

The clouds dispersed to reveal the estuary

domed with blue.

A cold north wind blowing

but in the shelter of a hedge

the sun felt warm, springlike

with birdsong

and the first frogspawn in a ditch.

The rising, full moon high tide paused

at the outer edge of the saltmarshes

where the birds gathered;

curlew, oystercatcher, redshank.

Then the sea quietly,

relentlessly, marched on over the marshes

scattering birds, forming islands of green

that gradually disappeared underwater.

A stream of sea pushed in past our feet

to the railway embankment

signalling the time to leave

this inbetween place

to the sea and sky

and the birds.

Counting birds

These graphs tell a story

A ski slope line runs from the year I was born,

Downhill to today.

A precipitous decline

In numbers

Or visualise it another way.

A gullimot fledgling’s daring plunge from the cliff,

The rapid whistling descent of a displaying snipe

The airborne dive of the gannet,

The mournful cry of a lone curlew.

The echoing silence of once busy seabird cliffs,

Fields full of crops, but empty of birds,

These graphs tell a story

But the story isn’t finished

How it ends is up to us.

Starbathing

A glimpse, from the window, of stars.

The great bear, or saucepan,

Tracing a line to the north.

After that, I had to go out.

Grabbed my coat,

Turned my face upwards,

Greeted familiar landmarks in the sky.

It’s so easy in winter 

To come home from work in the dark,

Spend the evening indoors,

Miss the simple wonder outside

Of a ceiling of stars.

The owls were quiet tonight

As I stood

Starbathing.

Tension and relaxation

Tension is who you think you should be,

Relaxation is who you are.

So they say, and I would agree

And I have practiced being relaxed, and gone deep in that practice.

And yet….

And yet….

Despite knowing, in my body, in my mind

How good relaxation feels,

In my daily life tension still wins.

At work, behind a computer,

Trying to get things done, getting irritated by the little things,

Or worrying, or wondering why it’s just not all done better, or quicker.

My muscles tighten as my mind tightens.

This is the real me in so many moments of my life,

The me with tension.

And to relax requires an effort of will, a decision, a choice.

It’s a choice I fail to make, over and over again.

I’ve just come back from tai chi class

And I feel great

The feeling will carry over into tomorrow

Then it will gradually dissolve back into tension and forgetfulness

Using too much effort, and trying too hard.

One of these days I’ll make a different choice. 

Until then, tension is who I am, relaxation is who I am not allowing myself to be.

Sometimes I wonder, as I practice tai chi, 

Just why I keep going,

What I’m achieving

It is me, coming back to the choice between tension and relaxation.

Learning to choose relaxation in each moment,

So that one day I will truly be able to say

That relaxation is who I am.