Odd Thoughts and Bees (in my Bonnet)

I am an avid reader and I have collected quotes from many sources over the years. If a few words or a sentence or two strike a chord with me I jot it down in a notebook. Sometimes a writer can sum up a feeling or a reaction or an opinion so succinctly, that so perfectly matches my own feeling or experience or opinion that I cannot let it go, I have to record it. I have to fix it somewhere other than in my stunned brain as Iain Banks would have it.

On quotes..

Just once I have had a eureka moment, a real eye opening moment when the printed words have finally dropped the penny into place. That one moment had such an effect on me that I wrote to the author to tell her of my experience on reading her story. The author was Barbara Kingsolver and the book: The Poisonwood Bible. A disabled person is speaking:

The arrogance of the able-bodied is staggering...we would rather be just like us, and have that be all right.

By the time I read this in 2000 I had been a parent of one, and later two, disabled children for 27 years. And yet I hadn't got it; I hadn't realised that simple basic fact, that the disabled don't want to be able-bodied, they want what they are to be OK with the rest of us. I immediately felt ashamed, uplifted and relieved in quick succession and thereafter my relationship with my youngest daughter was even better. I'd needed to know this. That is why my book of quotes is important to me. It is a reminder of lessons learned, a solace in times of despair and an inspiration when I lose my way.

Space. I like space. I love Salisbury Plain. Mountains, cliffs, forests, rocky waterfalls and creeks do nothing for me; I feel hemmed in and oppressed in their shadow, but on the Plain where you can see across the gentle undulations for miles and miles there is a sense of wild freedom and unbounded space with no restrictions. David Thomson summed it up:

Its like being in a seething ocean of land, where the waves give no glimpse of the horizon. All of this lies beneath the clear, high sky, for which Montana is famous.

For Montana read Salisbury Plain same effect. Closer to home Candida Lycett Green had a similar feeling; this time it is about the Plain.

On a hot day in late summer when the grass is burnt and yellowing and the oceans of treeless downs stretch out forever, you could imagine yourself in the Serengeti Desert.

On being an only child...

..the only child is bound to be come introspective; having no one of it's own ilk in whom to confide, it is apt to confide in itself.

Radclyffe Hall had it right. This is so true. Only children have to depend on their own resources to a large extent and they are more likely to be in adult company than in the company of other children. I have always lived in my mind, found outside entertainments distracting from my own interior world; found it difficult to socialise and even converse with people I do not know well. As Alan Bleasdale said:

I find socialising for its own sake almost unbearable, having grown accustomed to the silence and shyness that often come with being an only child.
As a child I hated parties and get-togethers. I was the child in the corner who wouldn't join in any of the games. ..awkward in company; invisible at school as Joanne Harris had it. When I did speak I felt I'd made a fool of myself. Robert B. Parker summed it up beautifully:
I sat quietly and didn't speak. Over the years I have found that a pretty good way to avoid being a dope.
I felt all eyes were on me but I wanted to disappear. I guess this feeling is a result of being the sole object of the parents concern. It's unhealthy, in my opinion, and I determined never to have just one child when it was my turn. With my four fully grown I have observed how much more social they are as a result of being brought up in a group environment.

An old friend who is also an only child put her different point of view:

Chris: There are lots of positives about only children -
we develop a love of reading and see books as extra friends
we are self reliant
we can do things by ourselves - are independent
we are good observers
we are not always sole objects of parents concern - I certainly wasn't and mine were very good at helping me be very independent and self reliant
we are socially skilled with grown ups
we don't have to share
have more time from our parents
I like being an only child.

Sue: I think it depends on the parents Chris, my experience was nothing like yours.

The jury is still out on exactly why I feel out of kilter with most people. Obviously its not just "only child" syndrome because there is Chris an only child who has none of the same symptoms as me. I recently came across an article written by Jonathan Rauch called "Caring for your Introvert" in the magazine 'Atlantic Unbound' back in 2003. Reading this article was a bit of a revelation and made me feel a lot better about how I am. Rauch says:

Introverts are not necessarily shy...Introverts are also not misanthropic....Introverts are people who find other people tiring. Extroverts are energised by people ...and feel bored when alone....after an hour or two of being socially "on" introverts need to turn off and recharge

This is definitely me. I am an introvert. Read the article here: Caring for your Introvert

On atheism..

Since I gave up on religion after much thought at about age twenty-two I have collected many quotes to support my view. Michael Rowan-Robinson (no relation), professor of astro-physics at Imperial College, London sums it up:

I don't see the need to believe in God. It diminishes humanity to believe in it.
Sir Terence Conran:
I happen to believe that man created God rather than the other way around.
Julie Christie put this same argument but differently:
This obsession with celebrity is manufactured to prevent people thinking - just like religion. With religion you keep talking about God and the Virgin Mary and with celebrities you keep talking about their lovers and how many swimmming pools they've got.
Leslie Kenton made an important point:

Organised religion tends to be highly orientated towards the control of the people it claims to be freeing. Some religions have endless lists of dos and don'ts. Others traffic in fear, based on the notion that our god is the only god. This kind of religious indoctrination dwarfs your sense of self and tries to turn you into an automaton who follows rules slavishly.

The indoctrination starts very early, even before you can think and decide for yourself, and its very pervasive. If, like me, you have been through: Christening, Sunday School, Church School, Confirmation, by the time you are adolescent you are already on the bandwagon. It was/is so much a part of me that when I started denying my previous beliefs I felt naked, as if I frequently needed to look over my shoulder. Its powerful stuff, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it in "Tender is the Night":

Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilise and sterilise you.

The final straw for me came while I was teaching. My class of seven-year-olds were made to sit in high pews they couldn't see out of through a full communion service every term. This was the moment when I asked myself the question: "Why am I part of a religion that would treat children in its care this way?" The more thought I gave to the subject, the more hypocrisy I could see and the angrier I became. It's a brave person who voices that anger while the establishment is still tilted in favour of those who believe. Philip Pullman has spoken out, and suffered as a consequence.

As you look back over the history of the christian church, it's a record of terrible infamy and cruelty and persecution and tyranny. How they have the bloody nerve to go on "Thought for the Day" and tell us all to be good when, given the slightest chance, they'd be hanging the rest of us and flogging the homosexuals and persecuting the witches...

Douglas Adams said:

I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.
Sigmund Freud was the deepest of unbelievers he described religion as:
the universal neurosis of mankind

JR Ackerley on the subject of anger:

Anger is as valuable as alcohol for the communication of home truths

Some things that make me angry...that women are expected to paint their faces, while men are not. Angela Carter:

The revival of red lipstick indicates above all, I suppose, that women's sense of security was transient
and Jonathan Gash:
God knows what she was like under her cosmetics

I abhor the way cosmetic companies advertise and test their wares - so much money involved in something that is unnecessary and leads to false expectations. Carl Hiaasen writes of men being:

a victim of misleading packaging, thinking they are getting one sort of woman when they are getting another

Some who dare to bare their faces:

Yoko Ono

Maggie Gyllenhaal:

she wears no make-up - not the kind of make-up that takes half an hour to apply, but simply no make-up whatsoever...

Julie Walters:

I can't be doing with make-up. I'm 60, and I never wear anything on my skin unless I'm doing a photo-shoot. The make-up looks great in photographs, but when I see it in real life I look like someone in drag. My first inclination is to rub it off.

I'm angry at the way supermarkets are affecting High Street shops, and, allied to this, being forced to rush by the pace of modern life. For me it's important to have time for thinking, dreaming, pondering, call it what you like, because this is the way I make sense of life.

I've collected quotes on caring. Peter Hoeg:

If you want to support others you have to stay upright yourself

Whats strange about caring is the amount of stress you can bear without collapsing. Your body just seems to find the resources needed day after day, especially if you love the person you are caring for very much. Somehow your world tightens around you and yet your internal antennae are constantly alert for sources of extra strength to boost your own supplies. If you are lucky your partner will provide this. If its your child you are caring for both of you are short on strength, and booster packs are needed from elsewhere. This is where people who believe in a God find a ready source, but for the rest of us its true that in a time of crisis you find out who your real friends are and draw strength from them. A large circle of good friends is necessary to avoid overloading a few. In your tightened world everything is background except the crisis you are facing, but good friends may broaden your horizons just for a while. In extremis even friends may not provide what you need and needs must. As Deborah Moggach said:

like many people who spend their time caring for others, ---- was ruthless in her personal life.

There is a danger as Johnny Depp pointed out, that you'll

die inside, slowly kind of killing or martyring yourself...
as his character Gilbert Grape did. Caring may start out as
pure love, but it can work against you, with love and devotion turning into resentment and guilt and losing yourself, which is the worst thing anyone can do because then you begin to hate others because of what you have done to yourself.

Shakespeare on losing a child:

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies on his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form.

It's interesting how the quotes I've collected chart my way through life. Rumer Godden said:

When something is over, something else begins
and Susan Howatch:
...the present falls away into the past in a succession of timeless moments, but the future opens up ahead of us even as the present dies before our eyes...we are not here simply to exist. We are here in order to become. It is the essence of the creative process; it is in the deepest nature of things

Patrick Gale on writing:

There's something about the idyllic dullness of country seclusion...that makes it far easier for your writing to be come the most exciting thing in your day rather than a guilt-making chore

A thought on waste..

Why is all the energy created by the fitness craze wasted? Surely the treadmills, rowing machines and benches could be linked to a grid and the energy used to power lights or heating. Think of the benefits for gym members: they could be fit and lit!

Inventions that I think are wasteful and unnecessary...

patio heaters