Last exit to Bedlam

A lovely (and concerned) friend messaged me recently: “Are you ok? Some quite black life is a shit sandwich being posted ….not that it isn’t a shit sandwich of course. Nor that there is much I can do about it if you aren’t ok..Except send love. Which I do. Anyway”.
Thing is, having (ever so) slowly sheded the chains of crippling self-consciousness and truly accepted that those who know and love me shouldn’t be offended by my story-telling, my writing is finally liberating me. So much so that I perhaps don’t capture the mood I betray. Worse, perhaps I convey a mood that I really don’t feel. I’m generally of a genuinely chirpy disposition. So the notion of my writing, projecting a deathly negative, troubled me rather a lot.
With these thoughts scampering around my head this morning, I resolved to wear my rose-tinted editorial glasses all day. Resist the urge to scribble down ridiculous snippets of scandalous ear-wigged conversation and instead, be mindful and use that positive focus to observe only the beauty of life around me.
I started well. That the alarm failed to wake me, causing yet another shower-less start to the day, meant my hair looked better. Everyone knows that dirty hair is easier to style than clean locks. Filthy isn’t a good look of course, but I have dry shampoo. Only the aerosol was empty. I just chuckled to myself as I pondered my daughter’s amusing (not evil) habit of ‘borrowing’ (not stealing) my hair products and returning the empty bottles to the cupboard.
Forgetting I’d parked the car on the street and not in the garage last night, brought welcome extra steps into my life, literally. Walking up those two flights from the underground car-park was invigorating. Plus I bumped into a neighbour I haven’t seen in a while. He isn’t at all irritating, as I’d previously thought. He just has an interesting perspective on life and doesn’t like children. Mine in particular. Onwards….
I actually listened to the security guard who traps me in the air-lock and chats for ten minutes every morning. He clearly doesn’t have many people to chat to. So we talked about his lovely son. I deftly navigated the conversation away from his pathological ex-wife and what she did to ruin his recent holiday. This mainly involved me firing the ignition, eventually forcing him to open the air-lock to avoid asphyxiation. But I was in a hurry to embrace the day ahead….
My day job involves helping people. By definition, these people are in need of assistance and therefore, not in a great place.  Today’s people were in a very bad place and this is where mindful-me started to unravel. Weeping with the customer is not at all reassuring. Just as getting to know the rest of the family is getting to know all of their troubles. I was emotionally exhausted when the clock struck lunchtime. Wandering in the Brussels sun for half an hour had been high up on this morning’s must-do resolutions. So it was with a sense of restorative calm, that I waltzed out of work for lunch. I never do this.
The lady in the local newsagent looked at me gravely when I presented my magazine to her. “Why don’t they just do something?”.  This was us meeting for the first time, yet she spoke as if we were engaged in a conversation. “Why don’t they just close all the mosques and cleanse the whole place?.” “They’ve killed a priest and two sisters” joined in another voice I don’t know. But they were both talking to me. There followed what I can only describe as a hate filled rant, covering their, rather less than ‘mindful’, views on the full range of minority groups and all religions, apart from their own. Shockingly ignorant at best. Wildly incendiary and dangerous.
I scarpered when I could and sat on a park bench, trying to gather my thoughts. I’m still thinking. Today I saw how unsteady our democratic world of mutual respect and tolerance is becoming and how the current climate of fear and terror is so divisive. How easy it is to incite hatred and create an army of foot-soldiers willing to do the deeds without even understanding who they serve.
To my lovely friend who sent me the “black life is a shit sandwich” message of care – I raised my game and got smacked in the face for my troubles today. But I’m going out there again tomorrow wearing a suit of rose-tinted armour. Promise you a moan-free, mind-glowingly mindful blog by the end of 2016…..promise.