Calm reflection

A balmy evening.

A soft breeze blowing in from the ocean bringing with it that salt tang in the air.

A night of utter stillness. Such quiet broken only by the gentle murmurs of the crew as they prepared dinner and the soft footfall of those of us who, by the light of a diminishing sun as it welcomed a silvering moon, trod the well worn path beside our tie up.

I stood awhile watching the colours of evening. From inky blackness emerged a warm purple, then, in a line Amber was stretched brilliantly across the sky, carrying with it the warm yellow upon its broad back.

Purple diffused, violet into mauve.

The thinnest band of red, like a line of cotton, pulled itself into view; a divider, separating dark from light.

Trees on the far bank were swathed in rainbow hues before being swallowed whole in the dark, yet standing firm, so it seemed, against the myriad of colours that crept up on them from behind, highlighting their beauty in deepest blacks.

The night descended like a warm blanket upon a child; it’s softness touching us all with a gentle caress, enveloping is in a bath of warmth, security and love.

The final colours dissipated before the blanket of darkness as it swept through this ancient, wonderful landscape.

What a night.

What a place.

For calm reflection.

A single picture and a story..

It’s an iconic image isn’t it ?.

India in a nutshell. An image used to promote a vast country and one that’s instantly recognisable world wide.

My first visit, before this picture was taken, had been 24 years earlier.

I recall it quite well, those moments of anticipation, the nervous tension, the butterflies if excitement fluttering away in my stomach.

I recall how still it was at dusk. I remember how few people there were at that time and how you could walk unhindered around the Taj. It was a warm evening, Indian evenings usually are, but it wasn’t hot. There was a softness in the light as the harshness of sunlight was fading into the night. It was beautifully serene.

24 years later and, in late afternoon, crowded, hot, bothered and trying to breathe. Suffocated by the jostling crowds, the endless security, the shouting of guides trying to make themselves heard above the teeming throng.

The scramble to be photographed on the Diana seat. That seat were she was photographed in splendid isolation.

No chance now. A confusing mass of humanity surrounds it, pushing, shoving, each attempting to sit before the next, the perfect pose presented to an eager husband or lover.

How many have been here before ?. It seems half of India is here. How many care ?. Is this just another tick on the bucket list ?. Do they really appreciate what they are seeing ?.

Is this the way of all such iconic sights ?. Do we really care about them ?.

The Taj has a story. A story of love; monumental love, all consuming love. But is it represented here or is this just an elegant piece of marble from centuries past ?.

I adore the Taj. This teardrop on the face of time that brings love and tragedy together. A love story with an unhappy ending. It is represented here in the delicacy of the work, the carefully selected inlay, the curvature of the dome and its setting amidst the gardens of paradise.

I feel moved.

But I want to be alone to be moved. It’s an emotion best expressed in solitude.

I want to walk unhindered and unhurried. I want to rest my cheek against the cool marble and become one with timeless beauty. I want to enter and pay homage, in my own way, to an emperor and his queen, who lie in state beneath a pure white dome.

I want to sit awhile, at dawn or dusk, and watch the colours play across the marble. I want to contemplate the beauty before me and around me and let myself drift through time to an India of the Moguls and watch the construction unfold. I want to be there at the birth of this wonder.

But I cannot.

This is my story. This has been my experience. It is just mine. Others will see it differently, for good or bad.

One picture.

One Taj.

One story.

Walk like an Egyptian..

I should have been an Egyptologist.

Ah, if I could start over I think I’d take that path. Or I’d be a tour guide splitting my time between the places I love, Egypt, India, Cambodia. That would be my kind of heaven.

Sometimes, when it’s quiet, I close my eyes and allow myself to drift back to Egypt.

I feel the heat on my skin; that burning. Yet it’s a dry heat so there’s no sweaty shirt to contend with, just the impression that your skins getting a bit crispy.

And here I am.

Standing, looking back at the Ramesseum and, beyond that, the verdant strip of land that lies alongside the Nile.

Tombs dot the hill upon which I stand and I take in the glory that is Egypt.

Walk with me.

This is the Nile, lifeblood of Egypt. Mighty river along which lie the colossal temples of ancient times. See the West Bank, home to the Valley of the Kings, watch the sun setting over this ancient land.

Walk with me again.

Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri. Set back into the cliffs this almost modern looking structure that was built for a female Pharaoh, in an age dominated by men. See it’s mighty construction and the beauty of its stone.

Let us walk a little more.

Medinet Habu. A glorious yet, thankfully, less visited temple. See the colours, read the stories on the walls, admire the craftsmanship and the artistry. See the Gods in all their glory and imagine the time that this was constructed. Vivid still despite times erosion.

One final stop, if you will.

Here, on a wall in the Temple of Luxor, we find Tutankhamen. Egypt’s poster boy. The youthful Pharaoh who’s life, whilst short and, in historical terms, insignificant, gave rise to the surge in interest that we have today. A simple tomb, yet filled with priceless treasures that have captured the imaginations of millions and encouraged thousands to become Egyptologists.

I should have become one.

Ah, time has passed. Time always passes.

But there are times when I drift away, and once again, in ancient times and upon ancient lands,

I walk like an Egyptian.

Suicide and why it needs to be talked about.

Suicide runs in my family.

A few weeks before I was born my Uncle, or the man who would have held that role, Mums brother, committed suicide.

I don’t know why and although I’m sure I was told when the time was deemed appropriate, I cannot recall details.

Unfortunately I can vividly recall the 27th August 2015 and the presence, on my doorstep at 3.00am, of two policemen who, solemnly and carefully, informed me that they had forced entry into a house in Exeter and there discovered that my Mother has killed herself.

So, that’s how it goes.

I know it’s a difficult topic but it has to be addressed.

I am suicidal. I have suicidal ideation. I have a plan. I have the pills. My doctor knows, my mental health team knows, my partner knows.

Yet nobody actually wants to talk about it. When I tell them I just get a nod of the head and a “Well, don’t do anything silly” and we move on. Nobody asks why, persuades me it’s a bad idea, wants to get to the heart of the matter.

The Crisis team believe the fact you’ve eaten recently means you won’t go through with it but even the condemned have a last meal. It’s as though simply by talking about it you aren’t serious, it won’t happen, so why should anyone show any interest or pursue an active role in prevention ?.

I’m suicidal because I can’t abide living. I find my job stressful to the point of physical pain, I don’t like where I live, I have no interests or hobbies, I am cursed by Anhedonia, my body is wracked with pain, stiffness and weakness through Fibromyalgia and the after effects of two strokes, I have mental fogging, zero self esteem, hate my body and consider myself an utter failure in life.

But none of that matters.

It doesn’t matter because I can’t get people to see how desperate I get, how far I fall.

It’s as though they’re saying “We dare you to do it!”, because that’s the only way I’ll be taken seriously.

It’s like I’m being forced to try. Or forced to die.

I’m Autistic. I panic, I get anxious easily, I stress easily, I’m terrified of dying…yet I’m terrified of living. It’s not that I want to die but rather I wish I’d never been born.

So what do I do ?

Suicide. More and more that becomes the appealing option.

And it shouldn’t be.

But trying to talk about it ?.

That’s a dead end!

And round and round we go..

Life goes on.

How long for is, I think, in the lap of the gods. Or god. If there is one.

My last blog was met with its usual mixture of apathy and neutrality. Too many sheep syndrome. Too many people just standing by, happy to follow, happy to do nothing.

Sure I’ve raised those points before but this time I felt I was more eloquent.

I was certainly more direct.

In my working life I’ve often been portrayed as the cynic; the rebel with a cause, the one who management were wary of because they asked questions and managers didn’t like answering them..

But that’s Autism for you,

That’s Autism that queries stuff, that seeks knowledge, that doesn’t sign up when it’s not logical.

Ah, the Vulcan in me coming to the fore lol.

I do wish we would stop and think. I do wish we would actually sit down and ask ourselves if what we were doing was really helpful. I wish there was more unity and an actual thought process instead of so much dictatorial action that just harms us.

Listen, I’m not telling you how to run your life. It is your life after all. But please give a thought to others and, if they don’t have an identical life to yours then yes, that is okay.

But please, before you join the flock, think.

Think about what you want. Think about how what you do and say will impact others.

Think about the community and appreciate its diversity.

Think about the huge spectrum of which you are but a single part.

And make your own mind up.

Be more questioning.

Be more…rebellious.

I hope you will.

But I don’t expect it.

The wheel turns. Round and round we go again.

Always moving. Never stopping to take a step back.

But do try.

Round and round.

Round and round.

Until we’re just worn out.