#thoughts on Leaves of grass – Walt Whitman #amreading

Last night, in a fit of… well, no idea what you’d call it, I just couldn’t sleep cause of all the thoughts in my head…in a fit of sleeplessness (?), I lay in my bed and started reading Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The version I have prides itself on including the original 1855 version of the text.

I didn’t get very far.

You know some days when you feel like all you want to do is have a good cry in someone’s arms? That’s how I felt – that’s what I did, minus the ‘in someone’s arms’ part. I’m not sure why I had such a strong reaction. To be honest, I don’t even remember what I read that triggered it all. It was just his opening lines about ‘I celebrate myself’ and then something about grass, then my perception and attention shifted to my own imagination and I couldn’t get out of it: laying in a field of green green grass beside her, with nothing but the sky and clouds to answer to. Sunlight warming – not burning –  skin, a gentle breeze caressing it.

I’m not sure exactly why that image was emblazoned in my brain or why it made me cry like it did. Maybe it’s my vision of ‘ultimate’ freedom.

Tomorrow (Wednesday December 7, 2016) I’ll know whether my heart can handle itself (literally). Whether I’ll be able to get rid of my heart machine without a transplant – or not. Tomorrow is a big day.

All I know, a field of grass has never been more important to me.


waking dream

He awoke with a sense that something was lost. Something great, wonderful, rich in colour and fragrant as freshly-cut grass. The more he strained to put a finger on it, the more it slipped away from his perception, liquid through his fingers.

the lie of the happy mean: #thoughts

Do you talk too much?

You probably have an issue with not listening to others. You should talk less and take time to listen to what others have to say.

Do you talk too little?

Oh my, something must be wrong with you! You should talk more – you don’t express yourself enough.

Do you look at yourself in the mirror too long?

Well, you’re a narcissist. 

Do you avoid looking at yourself in the mirror?

Oh, well, you should be more confident.

Do you rely on others too much?

You should become more independent. Think for yourself.

Do you never accept help from others (even if you didn’t ask)?

You should stop being so proud and let others help you once in a while.

Are you too happy?

It’s impossible to be that happy all the time. What is wrong with you? Are you compensating for something? 

Are you too sad?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself – you should get help. 


I’m not saying that balance and harmony aren’t a wonderful thing (if and when you are able to achieve it) but trying to stay on the straight and narrow that is the range of socially ‘acceptable’ feelings and behaviours is maddening. Seriously. Kind of like that story about the farmer, his son, and the donkey. [the version I used to know was the farmer, his wife and the donkey, but that’s not the point]

Obviously, in certain cases, certain extremes of behaviour are best avoided and it does feel important to be open to interventions and help from others. But people – it seems – go to the other extreme. Being too much of anything freaks them out. And of course,  everyone’s a critic.

Of course, being me (the king of all excuses), I could link it back to our prejudices about…well… everything: being too fat; being too thin; being too calm; being too angry; being too childish; being too mature; being too confident; not being confident enough; being pushy; not being  assertive enough… it seems we struggle with just being, even if that means being on the edges.

Weirdly, for gender identity and sexual orientation, this battle of extremes has gone the other way: you were/are born either a man or  a woman (according to society). You could only be monogamous (again, according to society). You could only be attracted to men or to women, not both or neither. The whole grey area of human rights and LGBTQIA+ rights and the idea of having a spectrum defeats the whole point of polar opposites.

Yet the mainstream is fine with the boxes provided by the man – woman distinction. One of the most essential decisions about the self has been handed to a doctor and a paper pusher, in a process which (oddly?) makes me think they are cataloguing us like cattle.

However in everything else, we’re meant to keep to the (narrow, slippery) path of the ‘happy mean’. And then, once you’ve bought into this idea, you’re told that it’s important to go outside your comfort zone, to push yourself to the limit so you can ‘grow as a person’. In a society that tries to marginalise, oppress and undermine anything that isn’t ‘normal’.

Are you fucking kidding me?

[This is one of those blog posts where I started off with a completely different idea in mind and ended up somewhere else entirely.]

Stories about the Olive, part I: Civilisation or curse?

Dateline: Atlantis


This is not so much a story about the olive tree and its fruits, as it is a story about the stories we tell ourselves, about where we came from and how we got where we are today, in which the olive happens to be a central character.

In the archaeology of Greece, the time when olive trees began to be systematically exploited by humans is seen as a pivotal moment in the region’s development, at least as important a transition as the beginning of agriculture which took place several millennia earlier. The first to credit the olive with a “civilising” influence was a British archaeologist, Colin Renfrew, who wrote a hugely influential study called The Emergence in Civilisation in 1972. In it, he made the first attempt to provide a comprehensive explanation for the emergence of the Minoan and Myceneaean societies in the Bronze Age. It was an ambitious project…

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