I am very lucky
I have a wise woman living in my head.
I had no idea she was there until recently, but better late than never.
I do hope she understands what she is taking on and won’t have second thoughts when she realizes the content of my anxious beleaguered befuddled mind.
Already I have called on her three times and it is only seven am.
Twice her answers have made me laugh (at myself).
In fact as I listened to her answers I wondered why I didn’t think of the solution.
‘What would the wise woman say?’ Has become my mantra.
THE WOMAN WHO COULDN’T MAKE UP HER MIND
Once upon a time there was a woman who couldn’t make up her mind.
When she bought a red pair of shoes she wished she had chosen the blue.
Until she spotted a green pair.
When it came to dresses her dilemma was even worse, for now it was not only color she had to decide on, but patterns as well.
Plain or flowery, stripes or squares!
Oh and then the type of fabric.
linen or silk or cotton or wool?
She blamed the designers for giving her so much choice when really it was her own dithering mind.
A mind that was like the warbling of the mountain stream.
Her thoughts rampaging like midges in summer, stinging and biting her addled head. (Though who could blame her. A human being has on average 40,000 thoughts going through their brains per day)
When it came to work she was at her worst.
If it was crazily busy, as it usually was, she would cry and stamp her foot and whisper to those who would listen (she would have liked to shout but as a nurse in a busy hospital she knew her boundaries) ‘That’s it! I’ve had enough. I can’t do this anymore! I am too old! I have had cancer myself! It isn’t fair. I am leaving this minute!
If it was less busy she would whisper (to those who hadn’t a chance to back away in time and were expecting another rant) ‘This is do-able. It’s not so bad! I’m a good nurse. I’ll stick it out’.
On her days off , she sat at her window, sipping her morning coffee, admiring the sunny scene out side and trying to decide how best to spend her precious day.
A cycle through the woods? no maybe by the sea would be better? or should she leave her bike at home and climb a mountain instead?
And sometimes the whole day would pass and she would be so undecided that she would end up going nowhere.
Her friends were beginning to find her tedious
‘You need a therapist’ They said
So she looked for a good therapist but she soon became even more anxious.
Should she choose this one or that one?
The older one with the impressive initials after her name or would the younger one be more up to date?
Did she need mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy or even medication?
‘I have decided I am even more indecisive then ever’ she cried to her friends who she found were getting few and far between.
But really that wasn’t so.
It was because when they suggested meeting for a coffee or a drink she couldn’t decide what to wear, how to get there, whether to wash her hair or not first and by the time she got to the appointed place they were gone home.
‘You need to get away for a few days’ one of her friends advised her ‘Go somewhere calming and recharge your batteries’.
So she pulled out her map but of course …..couldn’t decide where.
North, south east or west?
‘Oh for goodness sake’ One friend grabbed the map and closing her eyes jabbed her finger on it.
‘There’ She said.
The woman looked.
Her friends finger had landed on the Burren in Co Clare.
‘And look’ said her friend ‘at that track’. the woman peered at small black dots ‘ see how it meanders through a valley? that might be a lovely walk to do.
And that is how she found herself, one fine day in mid spring, down a small boirin, her way blocked by a large gate.
She could see the boirin continuing on for a few meters passed the gate before turning into a single track and disappearing around a bend.
Her map (A precious black and white one by Tim Robinson) hadn’t shown this obstacle which judging from the lumps of earth beside each pillar was new.
The gate itself sported a large lock.
‘Sure its just a gate’ a quiet voice in her head said ‘you can climb over it.’
But she didn’t hear the voice (as usual her brain was full with her 40,000 thoughts) and she stood trying to decide whether to climb it or turn back.
Suddenly a gust blew her scarf out of the front basket and it floated over the metal bars and down the track only to tangle itself on a hawthorn bush.
Cursing she leaned her bike against the pillar and climbing quickly, scrambled over the gate and ran down the boirin to retrieve it.
But just as she reached for her precious scarf, another sudden gust lifted it off the tree and high into the air.
Again she ran after it, stumbling along a track that was unevenly pitted by the hooves of cows
If she had looked up she would have noted that she was going deeper and deeper into the valley.
Its steep sided cliffs dotted with wind-bent hawthorn trees and its rugged rocks leaning out to look down at her.
but she was too busy trying to catch her scarf to note the beauty of the place.
Then, at one point it rose up the cliff face and as she followed it with her eye, her gaze caught a particularly large outcrop.
‘You look as though you are eating your young’ She shouted out loud in horror.
Young young young……
The cliffs echoed her mockingly.
But she had no time to be alarmed,
On blew the scarf.
On ran the woman.
Every time she thought she had caught up with it, it blew further on until eventually her way was barred by a hazel wood.
She watched helplessly as up rose her scarf high over the trees and vanished.
Scanning the woods she spotted a gap.
Breathless now and red faced, she squeezed through, stumbling into a small stream.
Hardly noticing her wet sandals, she pushed her way through the heavy dark undergrowth, following the small path made by some animal.
Light appeared through the hazel.
Squeezing through the last stand of saplings, she found herself out on a huge stone platform.
Far below lay the sea. Blue against the cerulean sky.
Making her way easily across the flat stones, she climbed a small wall and stood looking around. She was on another flat ‘stage’ and ahead of her lay more stone.
Stone as far as the eye could see.
and no sign of her scarf.
Then, either because she was exhausted at this stage or maybe because the gentle breeze seemed to be soothing her, she realized she no longer cared about finding it.
Instead step by step, she began to pay proper heed to her surroundings and to the action of putting of one foot in front of the other.
She became aware of her wet soggy sandals.
Slipping them off she laid them on a flat stone in the sun to dry out.
As she did, she noticed the softness and warmth and smooth undulations of the stone, its surface worked by the winds.
She noted the small Burnett roses, wild geraniums, Mountain Avens, orchids, all peeping up from out of the crevices which had been formed by the action of rain.
She became aware of the loveliness of walking in bare feet on the sun warmed surface and began to make her way across the wide stage. Sometimes she was forced to leap when a crevice was to wide to step across but it caused no discomfort to her bare feet.
At one point she paused, listening intently.
Ah! there it was again.
The call of the cuckoo.
Clear as a bell.
Echoing and bouncing against the cliff face.
She sat on a stone and listened.
And as she did, all the churning thoughts began to fall away, dropping out of her befuddled brain one by one, until she was only left with the clear cut sound
Reminding her of a Buddhist bell a friend had once given her.
Sharp initially, then growing softer.
Fading until all that was left was the fullness of silence
And she teetered on that silence like the curl of a wave before it broke, until it came again
How long she sat there she had no idea!
But it occurred to her that in doing so little, in just sitting, listening, she was gaining so much.
Her shoulders relaxed.
Her mind empty of befuddlement.
Eventually the cuckoo stopped
She stood and looked around
The sun was lower, the stone wall throwing a long shadow as she re-climbed it, slowly and calmly retracing her steps.
She paused as she reached the huge child eating rock.
It didn’t look as though it was eating its young after all, but instead as though it was kissing it tenderly.
As she stood looking up at the outcrop realizing her mistake, She heard a gentle voice in her head
‘How you perceive things often depends on which direction you choose to look at them from’.
Post script; For the sake of my story I have exaggerated my indecisiveness which the wise woman reminds me may not be a clever thing to do.
You see the mind is wily and loves the inner critic so as I wrote and corrected spellings and changed sentences and reread and got more and more bogged down in my story, I was fueling it (my inner critic) So that’s my excuse for not I rechecking any last mistakes.
My calming place