Lessons Learned in Perth

I left Perth over three weeks ago and each day since has been a challenge leavened by jubilance and flavoured with  regrets.

Jubilance, because that’s what it is to sleep in one’s own bed, eat at one’s own table and catch up with friends and family. Regrets because as the Zen saying goes,

Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

Not that I experienced anything near enlightenment while in Perth. There were, however, many useful lessons being left to your own resources and wresting with inner demons can provide. I find it difficult, however, to meaningfully share the lessons I learned while in Perth because I am still working through what my time alone taught me. The following list may fail to convey the insights gleaned from spending five weeks alone because such experiences are personal and profound only for the individual involved, but perhaps this list and the questions attached will give you pause …

  • It is easy for me to be alone. Sometimes too easy. (How easy or difficult is it for you to be alone for a long period of time?)
  • I am braver than I think but not always, and that is okay. (When was the last time you felt brave?)
  • I can be stressed, unhappy and exhausted but I can still examine, analyse, reflect, plan and problem solve … though exhaustion slows the process. (How do you work through the hard times?)
  • My family and friends have a unique knack of saying and doing the right thing at the right time. (When was the last time a friend or loved one came through for you just at the right moment?)
  • Relative strangers are a felicitous blessing. (How has a stranger helped you?)

One of the highlights of my stay occurred at the end of the five weeks. I was invited to lunch by a family member (by marriage), a woman I admire but don’t know well. Two other couples made up our party of seven. The three men sat outside, on the patio, the tenor of their voices a contrast to the gentle, determined chortling and harrumphing that accompanied our women’s way of poking fun at life and our shared experiences. We laughed together, knowing that unmentioned tears were shed in the past and more would flow in the future. Those unmentioned, implicitly acknowledged, tears nuzzled against our mirth adding a salt to our tales of family, friends, cities and countries loved and left.

These women, these couples, have known each other for decades but they welcomed me into their world and I  was fed, respected and accepted for who I am. Every woman present that day is a grandmother; magic happens when grandmothers break bread together. Superficial barriers melt, lives are celebrated and we are blessed by mutual respect and compassion. On that day we did what grandmothers do best: we cast a strong thread around our circle, a thread coloured by our places of birth, our religions, our lives, our triumphs and our losses.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The lesson I had that day is one I will never forget.

 

Developing your Eye Day Four

Bliss

Our idea of bliss changes. What we once thought of as heavenly can become an embarrassment. The pop group from your teens, the dish you used to prepare (in my case cheese fondue) that you’d turn up your nose at now. Other things remain in your personal library of bliss; a beautiful sunset, holding your first-born in your arms, even though he’s too tall to cradle anymore and you must be content with a hug.

Then there’s the bliss you could never imagine but cannot now do without; the delight that comes from hearing the doorbell ring and knowing your granddaughter has arrived. There’s also the bittersweet bliss of greeting your children from interstate and luxuriating in their smiles despite knowing they’ll leave again in a few days. Photographs fail to capture such moments, which makes today’s #developingyoureye task difficult for me.

What, apart from being with my loved ones, represents bliss? What do I experience that brings me bliss?

Every afternoon at three my partner and I have afternoon tea. One of us will make  Chai, and we often have a piece of cake or a biscuit. Occasionally, though, I’ll indulge a blissfully rich hot chocolate with marshmallows. When I feel the need to raise the bliss a notch or two I’ll serve it in a robustly colourful Mason’s ‘Regency’ cup and saucer.

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Blissfully Wicked Double Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows.

It belonged to my mother and I believe it was her mother’s. There are, as you can see from the photograph below, two such cups and their saucers, but the pink one has a fine crack in it so I only drink from the blue one.

I don’t remember my grandparents using them, but when I take my first sip of chocolate I wonder if they took tea in the afternoon, sitting together in their kitchen, drinking from cups brought from the ‘Old Country.’

My grandfather was from Wales and my grandmother was a Glaswegian. A visit to their home when I was a child was an experience in accents, a concert of emphases, stresses and inflections that delighted the ear even as it sometimes confused the child.

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Mason’s ‘Regency’, England.

When I hear a soft female Scottish voice I remember my grandmother Bell’s beautiful smile that, more often than not, quickly evolved into rich laughter.

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Valentine, Gloria and Isabel.

Perhaps bliss is remembering a loved one’s smile.

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