2014 Grateful 1

And so, three years of being grateful draw to a close. It was back in 2012 when the inimitable Biddy McD put me on to this grateful kick with her daily photo posts capturing her gratefulness. I thought it  a lovely way to stay mindful of all the good that happens to me rather than get bogged down in what ifs, whys, and wherefores. While I enjoy the occasional wallow in self-pity, they’ve been few and far between in the last few years and this I attribute to bring consciously grateful for the smallest, most insignificant things in life.

gratitudeIt need only be something as simple as public transport cooperating with me. And it happens seldom enough to make it notable 🙂 There’s a lovely sense of synchronicity if I venture out in Budapest and each time I get to a tram stop, a metro station, or a bus or trolley stop, they arrive, unbidden. And when it happens a few times in succession in a given day, I feel like the gods are watching over me and paying special attention. And that day becomes special.

It might be something as banal as a change in schedule that, while irritating at the time, has a domino effect and frees up the day to let better things happen. It could be a phone call, an email, a text message from someone I haven’t heard from in a while or any of the same from someone I hear from every day. I’ve had my world turned upside down by two people telling me how proud they were of me and I’ve been ever so grateful for silence.

grat2There’s nothing to overthink. No matter how bad life is, there’s always something to be grateful for. It is or isn’t raining. The postman brought or didn’t bring a letter. The alarm did or didn’t go off on time. It’s a matter of choice to be thankful.

I have some fascinating friends: one I lost this year, another continues to be there for me in his own quiet way, others open new windows for me and offer me a different perspective on the world. I get to travel as often as I can make it happen and am fortunate enough to have friends around the world who always make me welcome. I might only see them every few years, but it always feels as if the time in between could have been measured in days rather than decades.

grat3Gratitude is somewhat divisive. Stalin reckoned it was a sickness suffered by dogs. The great Dorothy Parker thought it the meanest and most snivelling attribute in the world. But, for my money, it was Chesterton who captured its essence: When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. And yet Nietzsche also has a word of caution: There are slavish souls who carry their appreciate for favors done them so far that they strangle themselves with the rope of gratitude.

There’s a balance to be found, and three years in, I think I’ve finally got the hang of it. Thank you for letting me practice on you.

 

2014 Grateful 2

When I’ve not been glued to the telly, I’ve been out and about catching up with people, some of whom I’ve known for years, and others I’ve met more recently. It’s all been good. It’s all part of coming home for the holidays.

Dublin, a city I love more and more the longer I’m away from it, is buzzing. Having lunch in Powerscourt the other day, we were serenaded by a series of carolers raising money for various charities. They ran the gamut from Jingle Bells to more operatic airs and each one just added another bit of flavour to the goodwill that was abounding.

Christmas is a time when thoughts turn to charity – to those less fortunate than ourselves. The collectors are out in the droves, shaking buckets and making pleas. And yet, given the various exposés earlier this year of how the funds raised by various Irish big-name charities were spent, as a nation, there’s a wariness about where to give money.

choirOne of the nicest stories I’ve heard/seen so far this week is that of the High Hopes Choir who made their debut on the Late Late Show (Ireland’s longest-running TV chat show) back in October.

The choir is the brainchild of David Brophy who worked with some of Ireland’s better known charities dealing with homelessness -Dublin Simon Community, Saint Vincent De Paul, and Focus Ireland – to put together two regional choirs – one in Dublin and the other in Waterford. Choir members have one thing in common, apart from being willing to sing: they are either directly affected by homelessness or volunteer with those who are.

Brophy summed it up beautifully:

In just 8 weeks, through 20 rehearsals and over 1200 cups of tea and coffee, more than 60 people, all dealing with Ireland’s homeless crisis, reach beyond the stars.

They recorded Kodaline’s High Hopes, which was then released as a single and is now a chart topper at iTunes. Then they put on a gala concert for 400 people at Christchurch, where they were accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and with guest performances from Lisa Hannigan and Brian Kennedy.

In  a TV special that I bawled my way through, the overriding message was that this choir, and belonging to it, gave people back their voice. As homeless people, no one listens to them. But now, performing in front of many of Ireland’s musical greats, on national TV, and in Dublin’s iconic cathedral, they’ve rediscovered who they are and more importantly, what they can be. The stories were heart-wrenching and a lesson in humility.

David Brophy, a former conductor with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, fronted the TV series that provided a forum for the initiative. After the gig at Christchurch, when the participants were interviewed about how much being part of the project meant to them, their gratitude to him was overwhelming. They gave themselves credit, too. And it was a lovely balance, one that struck me as missing from my more settled world. All too often we forget to give thanks and we forget to give ourselves credit, too. Or else we overdo it to the point of  what we’d call at home ‘mé féin-ing’. We can be our own worst critics, our own worst enemies. And yet, with a little rightful humility and a dash of gratefulness, maybe we could restore some meaning to what we do. That was the lesson I learned from the High Hopes Choir – one that, this week, I’m truly grateful for.

 

The High Hopes Choir on iTunes 90 cent from each download will be split equally between Dublin Simon Community, Saint Vincent De Paul and Focus Ireland.

 

2014 Grateful 3

Standing on a mate’s balcony the other night, having an illicit cigarette, I was struck by the silence in the city. It was freezing cold, biting. A few lights on in neighbouring flats showed signs of life but not a peep escaped to the outside world. Such silence in a city the size of Budapest is rare, and in its rarity all the more wonderful.

One friend told a story about meeting a chap in Hong Kong who loved Simon and Garfunkel but couldn’t quite get to grips with their song, the Sound of Silence. So much got lost in that particular translation: the poor chap didn’t get how silence, by definition noiseless, could have a sound.

I recalled the loudest silence I’d ever heard. It was in Alaska. Out on Prince William Sound. In a boat. Not another human around for miles. Just me and my skipper, the inimitable JS. It was one of those beautiful, long Alaska evenings where if you looked closely enough at the skies you could see heaven. The sound of that particular silence is forever etched in my brain and it’s the place I go in my head when I want to get away from it all.

silence 3

Another place I go is to the forest in Gödöllő. A natural fence of trees envelopes the house in a silence that is almost surreal. Double doors leading out to the balcony provide a perfect vantage point from which to watch what few leaves remaining on the trees fall quietly to the ground. There’s something godlike in this simplicity. The air is cold and still. The sky grey. The evergreens provide a lushness that is unusual this time of year. And all around there is silence. The only noise I hear is the ticking of a clock and the sound of keys clacking on the keyboard.

My programme (can’t you tell I’ve been in Hungary for a while 🙂 ) for the next couple of weeks is filling up. Lunches, dinners, drinks, parties, catching up with old friends all part of the agenda. It’ll be a busy one and short of snow descending on Ireland and bringing the nation to a standstill, all should go ahead as planned.

But before it all kicks off, I’m grateful that I get to experience some quiet, to hear the silence, to revel in its restorative powers. For that I am truly thankful.

 

2014 Grateful 4

Last week started off well and finished well – but the bits in between I could live without repeating. If I’d charted my emotional well-being, my mood, my perspective, I’d have gotten a somewhat erratic line drawing with highs and lows and bits in between. And as the highs and lows were extreme – it was exhausting – and I’m knackered.

Some time ago, when the best of medical minds were wavering about how to treat my MS-like symptoms, given that I don’t have MS, they came up with the bright idea of anti-depressants. Those little white pills would, apparently, make me feel right again. No more pins and needles, no more fatigue, no more legs giving way, no more mind/brain disconnect where my reactions are a second behind my brain’s instruction to the point when I drop stuff and burn myself. Just one pill a day and all this would disappear. Or so they said.

Strangely, I wasn’t at all tempted. I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a medical degree. And I’m not that into a Google-ised self-diagnosis. Many lifetimes ago, however, I did suffer from depression and for two years took those pills and lived in a world that was flat – no highs, no lows. They gave me time to heal, took away the anxiety, the paranoia, the despair. They helped me function. For that period in my life, they worked. And I was grateful for them because I was depressed. Today, I’m not.

The symptoms still come and go and always the recommended treatment stays the same. But I’ve gotten attached to my highs and lows and can’t imagine going back to flatlining where everything was the same. Instead of popping little white pills, I prefer the company of good friends who understand the madness and don’t feel the need to fix me.

WheelSaturday was a case in point. What was to be a quick spin around the Christmas market at Vörösmarty tér turned into dinner at a restaurant I’d not been to before, followed by a turn on the Eye (another thing off my bucket list), followed by some good music and great conversation. Lost in another world on the way home, I missed my stop and ended up in a part of the VIIIth I’d never seen. Walking through the streets of Budapest at daybreak on a cold December morning was all the tonic I needed. To see the world slowly waking and to have the time to pause and reflect on my part in it was therapeutic. To have people in my life who can turn my mood and make me laugh and bring me out of myself when the doubts set in is a blessing. To know myself well enough to be able to avoid the pills and ride the waves – that’s something for which I’m truly grateful.

 

2014 Grateful 5

I’m a sucker for romance. Always have been. I had thought that I might grow out of it as maturity set in and idealism gradually morphed into cynicism. But no. I wrote earlier this week about Aron who, in the movie For some inexplicable reason, tracked down a ticket controller to invite her out for a cream cake. And while I didn’t get any such invitation, what happened was just as good.

I’ve been promising myself for two weeks that I wouldn’t get out of bed yesterday. I was going to stay offline completely – no laptop – and just have a day to do nothing. But even though I didn’t set my alarm, I woke up, as usual, at 7.30 am. Not impressed I got up, wandered around, and then went back to bed. At 9 am I woke once again to the sound of the doorbell.

I was tempted to ignore it but I knew that if I did, I’d spend the day wondering who had been there. So I got up, sans glasses, and answered it. A young girl – a stranger – stood outside. Mary Murphy? she asked. Igen (yes), I replied. Ezeket neked (these are for you), she said, handing me a bunch of flowers. And with a final Szép napot (have a nice day), she turned and left.

I called out a belated thank you, and took my flowers inside. Still half-asleep and sans glasses, I put them in water and went back to bed. I lasted until 2pm before giving up the ghost and getting up – properly this time.

flower1I went in to check my flowers to see where they’d come from. The usual plastic sprong with the little envelope and card was missing. Now, I’ve just finished the eighth of twelve books in the Inspector Morse series (I’ve been reading them back to back) so my detective skills are at an all time high. I made a coffee and sat down to figure it all out.

The flowers hadn’t come naked, as they usually do if delivered from a florist. They’d been wrapped in paper as they are when you buy directly. The girl didn’t ask me to sign anything either, so it wasn’t a florist who delivered them.  mmmmm….

I looked again for a note – and this time found it amidst the stems. Typed. One line. I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections. I recognised that … a line from my favourite Walt Whitman poem Among the multitudeIntriguing.

But unless it’s someone who knows me (as the poem might suggest – or was that coincidence?), how did they know where I live? My address isn’t on my business card, deliberately. But then I Googled me and found that with a registered company name anyone can get the address. So that opened the pool a little as I’ve been handing out more cards than usual lately. The plot thickened. I wracked my brain for a while but couldn’t come up with any possibles. Romance has been a little thin on the ground in my world. Until now 🙂

There’s a lot to be said for it. Romance, that is. I read a post on FB this morning that served as a sharp reminder that sometimes it can be left too late. Too often, while we might start out with grand romantic gestures, these fade over time as the more mundane reality sets in. Equally, we might confuse the ‘grand’ with expensive, expansive, and excessive, when in most cases the simpler the better.

I’ve a lot to be grateful for this week – including Thanksgiving and turkey leftovers – but I’m especially grateful for the thought behind the flowers. If you’re reading this, thank you. You made my day. And you never know:- you might inspire others to revisit the romance in their lives, too.

 

 

 

2014 Grateful 6

A hectic week in Geneva at the Geneva Internet Conference (GIC) was followed by an equally hectic weekend in Budapest for Jack Doyle’s 5th Birthday.  I am knackered. Looking at the week ahead, it seems that there’s be little in the way of rest there either. I’m tempted to see it all as a practice run for Christmas and the New Year, but secretly I’m hoping that December will be a quiet one. The older I get, the more I realise that I have a limited amount of energy and what I have in reserve needs to be restored on a regular basis. I can’t keep taking from the pot without putting back. Burning the candles at both ends is not for the fainthearted.

In Jelen last night for a quick bite after the final showing of Pretext from Budapest English Theatre, there was an odd combination on stage: a DJ and a double-bass player.  The DJ played techno tunes and the bass player played along – beautiful.

LaurieWhile I’m not a great fan of techno music, I was recently introduced to Laurie Anderson (she who was once married to Lou Reed and who, in her lovely tribute to him in Rolling Stone, summed up their relationship beautifully: For 21 years we tangled our minds and hearts together).  I’m not even sure if it is techno music – or what the definition of that it – but in my world, that describes it perfectly. In our Sleep – a duet with Reed – is one of my favourites.  Born, never asked is haunting. Perhaps what she does is more performance art? I don’t know. Am not musically literate enough to say.

jelen (400x428)Anyway, back to last night and the two boys. I don’t know who they are or what they go by. Exhaustion had kicked in and I wasn’t compos mentis enough to ask or note. But it was lovely. And, given the fact that the GIC had addressed the issue of silos in Internet governance, i.e., where many international organisations, both from the UN and civil society, address the same issues (e.g. cybersecurity) from different perspectives (e.g. health, development, human rights) and rarely talk to each other, this melding of two very different musical forms into a coherent whole gave me pause for thought.

Instead of focusing on our differences, perhaps we might be better served by concentrating on what we have in common. Instead of sticking to our guns and fighting our individual corners and angles, perhaps we might get further if we attempted to seek a compromise. Instead of creating an us-and-them world, we might start thinking and talking in terms of we and our.

I’m not for a minute saying that we should blend into an amorphous whole and lose our sense of individuality – that would be boring. I just think that the sum of the parts is often greater than the sum of the whole.

There are people with whom we work well – people who bring out the best in us, who have a complementary set of skills, who know how to deal with our quirks and follies. And there are people with whom working is, well, work. The same goes for relationships.  I know the drama queen in me gravitates towards calm and when on holiday, I’d so much prefer that other person (or people) to be organised and in charge. You don’t get to be one vowel from venerable, age wise, without recognising your limitations, and giving the nod to your strengths and weaknesses. But perhaps admitting them to the world is a little more daunting.

Today, mid-way between two hectic weeks, I’m grateful for the reminder that difference should be both celebrated and exploited for its potential. I’m grateful, too, that my self-delusions are few and that my energy reserves run deep. And I’m grateful that I have a sleep-in scheduled for next Saturday 🙂

 

 

 

 

A very virtual reality

It’s easy to confuse me. It doesn’t take much. I even manage to confuse myself on occasion. There have been times when I’ve told a story with such conviction that I actually believed it had happened, that I’d been there. I have had dreams, too, that I’ve recounted as fact and have been surprised to be contradicted in retelling them as such. But this week, I surpassed myself in my ability to delude.

One folder in my portfolio career involves working with a Swiss-Maltese cooperation with offices in Malta, Serbia, and Switzerland. My colleagues are spread around the world and it’s not unusual to have four or five countries at a Skype meeting. We rarely use video and mainly rely on voice or chat.

virt5Some of us are together this week for the Geneva Internet Conference and on Monday, the team began arriving from their respective four corners of the world. I was in the office when K walked in.

‘Hey – how are you? Long time no see… it’s been ages’, said I, full of enthusiasm as I’ve a lot of time for her.

‘You know we’ve never actually met, Mary’, she replied.

virtIt takes a lot to render me speechless but I was gobsmacked. Never met? Of course we have. I recognised you immediately. I know you.

The last time K was in Malta was 2009. I didn’t get there until 2010. I went back through every conference and meeting and event in the intervening four years and she was right. We’d never actually met in person.

If ever there was an argument in favour of social networking and social media and virtual get togethers, this was it. We’d been in contact so often over the Internet that she had become real – very real.

virt2The flip side though was that it scared me a little. There are days when my grip on reality is tenuous at best, a fine thread that could snap at any minute. I’m fully aware of my ability to romanticise, to fictionalise, to visualise; I don’t need any encouragement.

Later, as the conference participants began to arrive, I saw some familiar faces – Internet governance is a fairly specialised subject and there are probably 80 or so key players worldwide so lots of the faces are the same. I got chatting to one delegate who told me how great it was to see me again. I tried my damnedest to keep my pathetic attempt at a poker face in place but failed miserably. Apparently this was the third time we’d met, in person, and I would have sworn it was the first.

virt3This turned my world upside down a little. The blending of the fine line between virtual and reality was a little disconcerting. Here was one person I’d never met in person yet it felt like I had; and another whom I had met in person a number of times, but could have sworn I hadn’t.

Perhaps it has something to do with what’s called the online disinhibition effect that allows us to be more ‘real’ online… Something to think about.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Grateful 7

I lost my grip on reality for a time this week. My inner sense of balance went out of kilter and for a while I was caught between two worlds – that of the adult that I purport to be and that of the child I wish I could be again.

Sometimes it all gets too much. First world problems, all of them, but the responsibility that comes with being an adult, with being grown up, with being sensible and decisive can bring me to my knees; I want to sit down and cry until someone comes along, gives me a hug, and tells me everything will be alright, just as they did when I was a child.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing very attractive about a 40-something-year-old behaving like she was five. That child-like refusal to see the obvious, believing that if I ignore it, it will cease to exist, simply doesn’t work. The five-year-old who still lives inside me wants to believe that everything is possible, that life really is a fairy tale, and that ice cream and chocolate will provide all the nutrition I need without adding poundage. The adult me knows better.

A chorus of ‘it’s just not fair’ bounced around in my brain for most of the week, sung in the same tuneless voice I used to sing Óró sé de bheatha abhaile in school – now there’s a song I haven’t thought of in years.

The shift to this child-like state started innocuously enough when my personal trainer (how posh do I sound?) told me that he was very proud of me, proud that I was sticking with the programme and getting results. Fair enough. I’m proud of me, too. So why was that so unsettling?

I can’t remember the last time someone told me they were proud of me. It’s not really something you say to adults, is it? I know that the few occasions on which I have said this to friends and colleagues resulted in a distinctly uncomfortable feeling as I felt I might be misunderstood as patronising and they didn’t quite know quite what to do with the compliment. Hearing it myself triggered something in me that saw me revert to when I was  child and my parents or an aunt or uncle, or a teacher took pride in something I had done. I know on a rational, adult level, that I don’t need anyone’s approval to verify who I am; I know that I don’t need praising or plámásing to make me feel good about myself; and I’m fully aware of the danger of depending on other people’s validation.

And yet, when a few days later, my writing coach told me he was proud of my progress, too, I felt like my heart would burst. I was five again, opening my homework and seeing the gold star and feeling the intensity of emotion resulting from my teacher’s approbation. What was I like?

Is it a zero-sum game? With each positive emotion is there a negative one, too? With each empowering emotional high is there a corresponding disempowering low? It certainly felt like it. For no sooner had I dressed myself in the warm glow of accomplishment, the doubts set in. They didn’t in any way relate to my muscles or my essays though, but had more to do with my ability to cope. It was as if I’d become a child again and had lost that independent self-reliance that so many associate with me and never question. I became needy, a tad truculent, and more than a little dramatic. And I threw a tantrum or three.

So what, you may ask, do I find to be grateful about this week? Well, I’ve learned that no matter how old I am, I will never be too old for compliments. I’ve learned that no matter how independent and self-sufficient I might seem (even to myself) there is a part of me that needs to be looked after. And I’ve learned that we, as adults, are really just children trying to cope with the responsibility that comes with age. And occasionally, we should give the child within us permission to play. As someone more quotable than I once said – Only some of us can learn from other people’s mistakes; the rest of us have to be those other people. For these lessons, and for those who were instrumental in their teaching, I am truly grateful.

 

 

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2014 Grateful 8

When your world is actually a series of interconnected smaller worlds, sometimes mixing them up doesn’t go so well. I have lots of worlds of varying sizes, populated by different people. And I usually keep them quite separate. I don’t think it’s a conscious choice. It’s not that I find it stressful, it’s just that I don’t ever think of blurring boundaries. Lately, though, I’ve been doing a lot of mixing and it’s taught me stuff about myself that I didn’t know, or didn’t admit to knowing.

IMG_8756 (588x800)Last night was a case in point. I was the only one at the table who knew everyone else there. Sitting with me were friends I’ve known for 25 years and more and others I’ve known for 12 months and fewer. Some I see quite regularly; others maybe once or twice a year. The age span between the youngest and the oldest was about 20 years. We came from three different countries and all work at very different things. And I hadn’t given any of this much thought when I was issuing invitations.

Usually, when I’m in these sorts of situations, I tend to orchestrate, to conduct the conversation, to make sure that everyone is involved and engaged. A little like a workshop. But perhaps because I’ve had more practice than usual at it lately, or maybe because I didn’t have the energy, or perhaps because I’m finally growing up a little, I gave up. Yes, I did it for a little while, but then I stopped. I figured that everyone there was adult enough to find their own way, their common denominator, and they didn’t need me to guide them.

What was interesting though, was a comment made by a more recent friend about needing ‘Mary Murphy on steroids’  for something or other. This was greeted by those who have known me for much longer by pure, unadulterated, shock. The thoughts of me on steroids was simply too much.

As I sat back and watched the conversation unfold, it dawned on me that while many people know different facets of me (and because of what I do, I know a lot of people), few have a clear picture of the whole shebang. Including me.

Just when I think I have a handle on why I do what I’m doing, I do something that makes me question what I’ve done. It’s like I’m constantly changing and the person people meet now bears little if any resemblance to the me that they might have met 25 years ago. But something at the core remains unchanged.

This week has been mad – a series of late nights and early mornings has taken its toll. But at the end of it, I’ve learned from friends, old and new, that life is about trust – trusting yourself to make the right decisions given what information you have to hand, trusting others to accept you for who you are even if they don’t fully understand, and trusting the universe to bring you all together. For this lesson, I’m truly grateful.

 

 

2014 Grateful 9

There was a stage in my life when I would drive the length and breadth of Ireland to see a fortune teller. I was fascinated, obsessed even, with the future and what it held. Not known for my patience, I wanted to know today what I could expect tomorrow. I went to markets, caravans sites, suburban houses – and sat in line with scores of others curious to know what life had in store.

The same when I lived in the States. I remember once, in San Diego, going to see a fortune teller with two friends. We drew lots to see who’d go in first. I was in the middle. Both the others had readings they were happy with – but me? She refused to read me at all. In South Carolina, I saw a chap who predicted three outlandish things. I remember walking away chastising myself for wasting my money, resolving to give it all up. And then each of the three things came true. Can I remember his name or what city I was in? Nope!

IMG_5509 (600x800)I’d been looking forward to visiting Salem, MA. Of all the places we’d planned (or not planned) to visit on this trip, this was the one I most wanted to see. I’d been there years ago and wanted to revisit. It was here, in 1692, that about 150 people were accused of witchcraft and 19 were convicted and hanged for their sins. It was here that Mary Bradbury, on trial for witchery, uttered the words ‘wholly innocent’ a term still used today. The Salem Witch Trials are still frightening to read about – especially knowing that the essence of human nature has remained unchanged, and such things could likely happen again, if there was enough momentum and mass delusion.

IMG_5504 (595x800)But I also wanted to have my fortune told. It’s been a while, you see, since I’ve been read – I think the last time money changed hands was in Tatabanya, here in Hungary,  some years ago when a gypsy woman told me I needed to get out of the convent  and start to be more feminine. Mind you, she was speaking in Hungarian and I was relying on a male friend of mine to translate. I have no doubts at all about his fluency in Hungarian; it was the missing female nuances that concerned me.

But it was pouring with rain that day in Salem. Torrential. We had made the mistake of heading to Salem NH and in the traffic that had ground to a crawl with the poor visibility, time wasn’t on our side. So by the time we got to Salem, MA, instead of having the afternoon, we had about 45 minutes. And did I mention it was pouring?

IMG_5503 (800x600)I found the witches and wizards school (I kid you not) and found the famous FT that the likes of Charlie Sheen and such rely on, but she wasn’t there that day. The rates had gone up, too – $90 for 30 minutes. Was I really that interested?

It’s hard being a Catholic who cannot number patience among her (many?) virtues. Do I believe in a divine plan? In the gift of unanswered prayers? In the certainty that what is for me won’t pass me? Of course I do – without reserve. It’s just that I want it all to happen today or at least, to know by when I should expect it, so that I can decide what I want to do while I’m waiting.

Two weeks later though, I’m grateful that I didn’t get a reading. There’s lots of stuff up in the air right now, a lot of balls floating around taking their sweet time to land. And had I been told they might land in a certain way, I might be even more unbearable to live with (tolerance levels are at an all-time low as I’m punch-drunk with tiredness). There’s knowing and there’s knowing. And with knowing comes the need for decisions and decisiveness isn’t my forte, especially  if I’m given any time at all to think. Am best with empty-handed leaps of faith than planned, orchestrated design – so why then the fascination with fortune tellers? I tell you – at times I confuse myself.

Another friend of mine died last week. Unexpectedly. And with every one who passes, I’m reminded even more forcefully that time is of the essence – we never know the day or the hour and we shouldn’t waste what time we have. But then I remember that I can’t make the grass grow any quicker by pulling on it. The divine plan will unfold at its own pace – and while I might be chomping at the bit, I need to take a deep breath and hold fast to the faith.

Mind you, I couldn’t resist buying a spell-infused candle… which lands me front and centre of the pick-and-mix Catholic brigade. Ah, the confusion of it all. But still, I’m grateful that I can at times even amuse myself with my figaries.