In the middle of a very long telephone conversation with a friend this morning, a chat that oscillated between feelings and fears to aspirations and wants, my friend pointed out a particular contradiction in a certain thought process that was on verge of consuming me and my subsequent responses.

We were talking about lack of appreciation. I was beginning to rant about a work situation that didn’t reward success yet punished you if you didn’t achieve.

My friend pointed out that I was equally guilty of the same injustice I was railing against. And she was right. I need to appreciate what I have, what I’ve done and what I can do. Too often my default reaction is to focus on what I don’t have, what I haven’t done and what I consider I can’t do.

At first I tried to deny this observation. But it quickly dawned on me that she was 100% correct. At that moment, I was too deep in self-pity and focusing on what I had once had and lost, instead of what I still have and can still do. It was great insight, and and it made me stop and think.

To correct this negative spiral, every time I catch myself doing it I must change the the viewing angle and take a different approach. If I’m true to myself, and actually understand and apply a simple Yin and Yang philosophy, I will see that the opposite forces can actually be complimentary to each other, and not in conflict.  In other words, the positive and negative dualities will often give rise to each other.

This philosophy is that the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organised into the cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and Yang the active principle, and is seen in all forms of change and difference, such as, the annual cycle between winter and summer; or in sexual coupling or in socio-political history between order and disorder. (Thanks Wikipedia for the succinct overview.)

Yesterday, my daughters and I went to visit my Mum, who resides in a Nursing Home close to where one of my sisters lives. It’s a six-hour round-trip journey for us to travel there, so I can’t go as often as I would like. My mother has dementia and has been in lock down for three months or more.  In that time the only people she has interacted with are the staff at the home and the other residents. I had not seen her face to face since the end of December last year.

My mum was a little bewildered by everything yesterday. For safety reasons, the visit had to be conducted in a gazebo in the gardens of the home. We had to stand two metres away and wear face masks.

There were fleeting moments of recognition, but for the most part she didn’t understand who we were or why we were there. Her biggest smile came when one of the carers came to take her back inside. Mum knew whom the carer was and that it usually meant reward of something nice. This time, she knew it was nearly time to eat.

So what positive could we all get from this? Simply by knowing that she is well looked after and she has genuine affection for her carers. The despair of only fleeting understanding of who we all were has to be offset by this. This Care Home is providing a level of care that the family can’t provide. The chaos created by her illness has resulted in her being in the best possible place for her needs right now. And that for us that is comforting.

After the care home, I met up with my younger sister and her trusty Black Lab, Max. She had put together a picnic for us at a local beauty spot. This was a really nice end to the visit. I also took the opportunity to capture a few photographs to work with. My favourite picture being an insect that just appeared in the frame of a shot I was capturing on the macro lens. The resultant artwork was created and inspired by listening to the smooth jazz grooves of Mood Swing by the Joshua Redman Quartet along with some more experimental jazz-fusions of In a Silent Way by Miles Davis. To put these words together I opted for an album that reminded me of happier and simpler times – The Seeds of Love by Tears For Fears. 

Ronnie xx