Thursday 3 February 2011

Uniforms, twibes, vague meanderings

James phoned me from the school bus this morning.
‘It’s a non-uniform day,’ he said.
Oh shit.
‘I forgot,’ he said.
‘I didn’t even know.’

Damn. I really must get a grip. Start using a diary again. Maybe even get a battery for my watch. Did I mention that the batteries in both my watches packed up on the same day? I think I may be out of time.

Thankfully he didn’t sound too perturbed.

‘I suppose you could wear your tracksuit?’ I suggested, hopefully, uncertainly.  Knowing that, even if I drove in with some clothes, he wouldn't get them until lunchtime.
‘Yeah, I guess I could.’
Bless him.

But it worried me and it will bother me slightly all day long. I know how important it is when you’re his age to fit in, to be the same as the rest of the gang. Children desperately want to bond with the pack. Then, in the teenage years, comes the urge to differentiate (just a little); to identify with a ‘set’ – wearing another uniform (usually of the music you like), finding your tribe. All the time fighting vehemently for your right to be ‘different’; all the time yearning for people who feel the same as you do.  One of these days, if I ever get a scanner, I'll give you all a laugh and load up pics of some of my more, er, interesting, fashion incarnations (as a taster, I offer you the 'Haystack' phase - bleach blonde, backcombed to death, leather jackets and spiky heels).  I made those earrings, btw - hearts and demon baby faces.  Some things never change. :-)

And it doesn’t stop, when you grow up. Maybe we all – consciously or unconsciously – seek others like us: who won’t judge; who won’t call us crazy (or, if they do, at least do it lovingly, with a fond shake of the head). People who understand. And if you can't find them in everyday life, you can look for them online.  On Twitter people are joining ‘twibes’ – online tribes.

Not me. I’m not a joiner, never have been. Adrian's the one who does committees; joins societies; belongs to things. I made an exception just once to get an integrated health care centre up and running here on Exmoor. I've always believed that if our doctors focused on preventative healthcare, they would create health and save money. If they taught people how to eat properly; how to meditate or do autogenic training; how to relax and exercise... If they employed osteopaths, bodyworkers, taught Alexander Technique...and good (firm emphasis on good) psychotherapists (just for starters)...we might have a health service, rather than a sick service. But anyhow, it drove me crazy. Sitting going round in circles; endless meandering; talking, talking, talking: everybody thinking he or she were right.

It didn’t happen. Of course.

A backwater of Epidauros - my dream healing spot
You know (or maybe you don’t), the more I hear of words, the less I trust them. The more I read, the less I know. One of the most blissful weeks of my life was on silent retreat – painting into the night, music in my ears, sometimes dancing, sometimes crying. Another was in Greece on dream pilgrimage, visiting the ancient healing temples, stretching out on the warm sunkissed stones, being bitten by the snakes of Asklepios. Or just sitting in the bus, as it wound through the mountains up to the plains of Sparta, to magical Mystras, staring out, wondering... No words, just feelings. Sometimes nothing. And nothing is alluring, so alluring. Then it tips into everything and...

Sorry, I’m meandering, wandering off again...  Not to the woods today but to the gym – in my uniform of course. Chatting to my neighbour, our lovely vicar; to my instructor, just back from Austria, high on mountain air and cross-country skiing. Chit-chat. Chit-chat. Nice really. I guess it’s what we humans do.

But, then again, why? Are we so scared of what lies beyond silence? Ach, I can’t explain it. Words, see? Useless. If I could only show you...


Alison Cross said...

I feel for you! I forgot to send Sonshine to school with some tartan on for Burns Night. I felt terrible because if he was being excluded it was All My Fault and Mummy Guilt can be a vast and heavy burden:-)

I suppose I am a joiner. I like to get people enthused and mobilised to take action...I would have been utterly despondent to see the Proactive Health Centre idea not taking off. It's a brilliant idea. And money gets wasted on such shit things these days.

I've just spent an hour on the phone with a girlfriend moaning about manners and the passing of social niceties. We both agreed that if we lived on the mainland, someone would have shot us for being Interfering Old Cows by now :-)

Ali (GRumpy Old Woman)

Tattieweasle said...

There's a lot to be said about silence....;)

Frances said...

Funny coincidence, Jane. I was just on the phone with a friend and we were contemplating the beauty of silence. By talking about it, of course!

I shoveled snow for over two hours yesterday without much talking with anyone. It was wonderful.


Anonymous said...

Strangely, I prefer my own silence to the silence of those around me. When I'm not doing the talking I can sort of, just listen to the lilt of voices, let the words just deconstruct into sounds and listen to the sort of music it makes.

Then people ask me something and I zone back in and lose it.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of joining in with things, but when it comes to it, I'd rather do my own thing- but I love talking- rarely shut up.

Wally B said...

Chit chat is the social glue that binds us all. A balance between talking and listening contributes to the well being of our little groups. Having said that, it is wonderful to chose not to interact. When we stop to hear our breath, we also start to hear all the other sounds around us, all competing for our attention.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I am not a joiner either. My mother despaired of me throughout my childhood as I refused to join brownies and guides and youth clubs. Yet it is not that I am not sociable, I love company, that I have chosen, when I feel like it.
And silence, yes. Ian loves the companionable noise of the radio or the television. I go round switching things off. I would love to go on a silent retreat but am a bit worried that if I did I might never speak again (this would amuse my children who think I never shut up, but I do).

Miss Sadie said...

I do trust that James survived is "slight misadventure."

And the sound of silence is wonderful. Right now, the only thing to hear is the quiet taping of fingers on computer keyboard. Delightful! Like a silent retreat without leaving home. (Think I might get some paints out in a bit; thanks for reminding me of that.)