If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

 I want you to know

one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Should I stay or should I go

Should I stay or should I go

If I go there could be trouble, if I stay it could be double.

Everyone of us wants to belong, to be part of a tribe, it’s hard wired in to our DNA. I self identify as coming from Yorkshire although, because my Dad was in the Army, I’ve moved around all of my life so lived in many places, but my heart calls Yorkshire home.

This used to annoy my late Mum who used to angrily say ‘you’re not from Yorkshire’ yet she still self identified as being a Londoner even though she hadn’t lived there for decades,

Trouble is I have lived for the last 35 years away from Yorkshire, but now find myself at a potential crossroads in my life. After manfully trying to resurrect my marriage (at my wife’s invitation in 2012) it became clear over the last couple of years that the relationship was stagnating and not going anywhere and we (apparently) mutually agreed that the marriage was over.

So. Where do I go?

The only things that keep me where I am are:

  • The proximity of my stepdaughter and her beautiful three children who I love very dearly.
  • My allotment.
  • Familiarity I guess.

The things that are tempting me to go back ‘home’ are:

  • My children and grandchildren.
  • Hills.
  • Decent beer.
  • Leeds United (my first love).
  • An accent that I quite like (as opposed to one I hate).

Decisions, decisions!

Live fast, die young

Live fast, die young

I’ve struggled all of my life to conform.

I come from the ‘live fast, die young’ rock and roll generation that eschewed all notion of being a responsible grown up and instead embraced a path of hedonistic pleasure, self destructive behaviours and a series of bad life choices.

I’ve smoked, drank and gambled (throw in a little light drug use too) my way through life, fallen in love with the wrong women, failed to find fulfilment in my career and struggled at times with my inner demons. Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t all been bad; I’ve had many high points and experienced great happiness, but on the flip side too many God awful lows.

Even parenthood didn’t save me, an experience that for many serves as a seminal moment of adult enlightenment. Not me. I was far too busy indulging in an ill advised and tempestuous relationship to take my responsibilities as a father (or a husband) seriously enough.

In the book I’m reading at the moment, Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, there’s a quote by Norman Mailer who described the desire to be cool as a “decision to encourage the psychopath in oneself, to explore that domain of experience where security is boredom and therefore sickness and one exists in the present, in that enormous present which is without past or future, memory or planned intention.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. Like the eponymous and deeply flawed hero of Californication, Hank Moody, I just wanted to be cool.
‎”Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

Lives of quiet desperation

Lives of quiet desperation

‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’ So said the American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

Most of us start our adult lives excited by the infinite possibility that life offers us, the fulfilment we will find in our brilliant careers, our perfect relationships, the respect and admiration of our peers, but all too often the setbacks of a normal life confine us to a life that is anything but fulfilled.

The older we get, the more we excuse this by writing ourselves off as not creative or talented enough, that we’ve missed our chance to shine and apathetically accept our fate, too scared or too lazy to do anything about it.

Fear holds us back, so conditioned do we become in not risking the life we know for one that the fatalist in us might fear be worse. We sit around not daring to try anything new, believing we don’t have the power to change things. It’s true, we don’t have control over all aspects of our lives, but we do have some.

I’m reading Mastery at the moment, a book by Robert Greene. The central philosophy of the book is people face the same problem – that we are born as individuals but are forced to conform to the rules of society if we want to succeed. To see our uniqueness expressed in our achievements, we must first learn the rules – and then how to change them completely.

I’ll let you know how that goes!

This coming year, 2013, I’m going to spend time thinking about the things I can change — and work to change them. My list, in no particular order includes:

  • Let go
  • Meditate
  • Yoga
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Write daily
  • Reduce/eliminate debt
  • Read more

I’ve sat around for long enough waiting for good things to happen to me without any effort on my part. Time to be happy again.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

To a Passer-By

To a Passer-By

The street about me roared with a deafening sound.
Tall, slender, in heavy mourning, majestic grief,
A woman passed, with a glittering hand
Raising, swinging the hem and flounces of her skirt;

Agile and graceful, her leg was like a statue’s.
Tense as in a delirium, I drank
From her eyes, pale sky where tempests germinate,
The sweetness that enthralls and the pleasure that kills.

A lightning flash… then night! Fleeting beauty
By whose glance I was suddenly reborn,
Will I see you no more before eternity?

Elsewhere, far, far from here! too late! never perhaps!
For I know not where you fled, you know not where I go,
O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)