It's rewarding work, turning up at the Mission, serving food to vulnerable adults who don't mind listening to a few minutes of religion in exchange for a sausage roll, a bowl of soup, and some nice people to talk to for an hour or so.
I am full of existential guilt about it, because doing good makes me feel good, but I am reconciled to this since learning (EdX course 'Science of Happiness') that we are genetically programmed this way, and it helps species survival rates. So that's OK then.
It was my turn to give the talk. It's a tough gig. Most of the audience are appreciative, but I am very ambivalent about doing it. Anyway, I said I would, so I did.
Unfortunately, I spoke without notes, and close to the beginning of my 'put your trust not in men' homily, I accidentally called the President-Elect of the United States of America a narcissistic sociopath.
Michael got up and quietly informed me that if I was going to talk about Trump he was leaving. I kinda got the hint, and also the strong feeling that calling ANYONE a narcissistic sociopath wasn't exactly Christlike, so I rowed back and galloped to the finish, sitting down absolutely determined never, ever, to do the talk again.
Michael hadn't left, but I could see he was upset so I went over to him and let him tell me what a hypocrite I am ( I am, I am, it's true.) and then to give me his reasons for supporting Trump. I listened and I listened good.
Trump offers hope to people like him. Michael feels his voice is finally being heard. After I sincerely apologised for upsetting him, we had a real conversation. At the end of it I was both enlightened and chastened.
Michael was given up for adoption at birth, but his mother changed her mind, and struggled on for two years before giving him up for good. A string of foster homes followed, then a boarding school. Then prison …
Michael, in his forties, is good-looking, and intelligent. As his story unfolded I offer up absolute respect for him: for having a completely shit life and not being totally crushed by it.
Yes, Michael gets that mysogyny and the racism don't look good, but he believes that's media hype, ” The media lies. He's a good man with a family who wants to change the way the world is run … ”
Michael is sitting in a room with some very unhappy people with a food voucher in his hand looking for a job that's being done by someone in China and he wants the world to change in a way that would give him a life more like mine.
I wouldn't vote for Donald Trump in a million years, but after my conversation with Michael, I understand why people did.
I don't think my little homilies ever achieve much, and I sweat blood over them, but today mine achieved something. I made a monumental error of judgement, but as a result, I made a real connection with a young man whose opinions I really needed to hear.
Bloody typical. Signed up to the PostA Day Challenge which started YESTERDAY, and I forgot tiddley ot ot ot ot. Stream of consciousness. Take a word, a thought, or idea and run it into the ground chasing as many rabbits as possible along the way. Rabbits! No, no, it’s OK, June doesn’t have an R in it! Did you do that when you were a kid? It was deadly not to get there first with ‘A pinch and a punch for the first of the month and no returns!’ Which I THINK came irrespective of the spelling.
Rabbits nibble practically everything I plant, little bastards. Cuddlier than slugs though, who try to get there first.
Builders are in! Replacing the windows, courtesy of a considerate landlord.
Lord! Our GOD HELP US UKIP MEP is a Lord. William Earl of Dartmouth. I wrote to him asking how many debates he’d attended, how he’d participated and whether he’d voted. No reply. May be a Lord, but no gentleman, and no representative of mine. Didn’t vote for him. I expect his ancestors came over with William the Conqueror and stole England. Now he’s scared shipless the Bulgarians want to follow his example!
What else is occupying my fervent little mind? Richard Dawkins. Started following him on Twitter. He’s a bit sneerish for my taste, but really, you’ve got to hand it to him, he’s a man with a mission, and he does/should make people THINK.
Think it’s time to STOP… !
… … Said what they really thought, there would be an outpouring of wisdom”
So a nice lady called Marianne, Tweeted today and I laughed! Lord! How I laughed! Marianne says sweet things, and I do too sometimes, because they do no harm. As to whether they do any good, why, that’s another matter entirely. We hope so, Marianne and I.
Ekhart Tolle says that if humanity was a person sent for a psychiatric analysis she would be certified insane, and I thought about this for a bit, and I think it’s true. Stupid, brutish, greedy, fearful, deluded, miserable, manipulative ( and manipulated) unconscious and … .
What am I thinking, that could make me so disgruntled? ( What a lovely word! Will I ever be “gruntled”? What are these “grunts” I am dissing?)
I am thinking of the people who use Twitter to threaten and abuse. I am thinking of the ‘Go Home’ advertisements targetting illegal immigrants being trialled in areas of London, and then I have to stop thinking, because so many other and worse thoughts lie just beyond reach where I want them to stay.
How does the wise-woman in me, now that I’ve reached the age of wisdom, deal with the insanity of my kind? (Presumably, as I have been over-sixty for nearly three years now, I already am… . Dealing with it, I mean. )
“Ninety seconds” is the answer. I will deal with it for ninety seconds. See, this is how it works. Your brain senses something that is going to upset you, and releases the bio-chemicals that are going to make you feel mad, and they will flood through you AND DISSIPATE in ninety seconds. How do I know this? Because I have just finished reading, ‘My Stroke Of Insight’ by Jill Bolte Taylor: she knows because she’s a neuroscientist who did the work, and I know because I’m a wise-woman-in-training who did the reading.
So for a minute and a half you just have to let the body do its thing, and then the cave-person can go and lie down again and you can choose. I have been mad for a minute and a half, because that’s how this body of mine works, and now do I want to go on being mad? That’s the choice, and that’s where being sixty- plus comes in handy. I have been mad many, many times before: I know it serves little purpose other than to give me migraines.
Being mad at a fool who tweets obscene things isn’t going to stop him. Expecting the current administration to think with its heart isn’t going to happen. I know this, you know this. So I’m just going to let the cortisol or whatever it is (I’m guessing) wend it’s way out of my bloodstream and I’m going to accept my futility, my culpability… . Then I’m going to do what I CAN do.
I can write to my MP, calmly, quietly, and say that when your government attempts to further increase fear and insecurity in a woman whose home may not be safe, like yours, you do not do it in my name. When you arrest a man on suspicion of illegal activity because of the colour of his skin, you do not do it in my name. ( I guess, cynically and accurately, the idea of ‘trialling’ this behaviour is to find out whether ordinary people like me, are willing to stomach fascism, or whether we’ll speak out against it.)
I can resolve to be sweet on Twitter, and always wait ninety-one seconds before I decide not to respond to a madman.
Wisdom indeed. Will it get better as I get older? Not so much, I hope, I want always to be open to the possibility of doing foolish things… .