Sunday, 12 April 2015

Will Winter Never End?

"Lady with Her Hourglass", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Time... what is it?  This is a question philosophers have been asking since the "beginning of time".

We are told by scientists and philosophers that time does not really exist.  That it is our brains that categorize our sense of the present moment, of time passing, of time past, along with the expectation that a future time is coming.  Yet, all of these only exist in the present moment.

We have our clocks and we watch the hands as the days, years, decades pass and, yet, all we ever really have is this present moment of awareness.  The past only exists in our memories which are stored in our brains and even those are subject to distortion and fading. Yet, the only way we can perceive of living, of having lived a life, is to be aware, in some way, of each moment's arrival and passing -- even if it is only by glancing at the clock occasionally and seeing that the hands have moved from one position to another.

Most of us have experienced some distortions of time in our lives either through meditation, drugs, illness, dreaming or traumatic events.  We all know what it feels like when something bad is happening to us and time seems to have stopped or, at least, slowed down to a crawl.  Other times, in moments of great happiness or joy, time passes so quickly that we simply cannot believe it when someone tells us what time it is. 

Because I have suffered from PTSD, I have experienced, on occasion, something known as an "dissociative disorder".  There are a number of different types of dissociative disorders; however, in my case, during a dissociative episode, usually triggered by a flashback, I "lose" time.  Let me try to explain:  
A flashback occurs and once again, I am "inserted" into some violent scene from my past -- then, suddenly, everything goes blank. I mean, hours pass during which I have no awareness of myself and when I do become aware of myself again, I have no memory of the time that has passed, no sense of time having passed at all.  

People who have observed me during one of these episodes have told me that all I did was sit, staring into space! As far as my brain is concerned, I remember sitting down in a chair, suddenly and vividly recalling an event from my childhood for a few seconds and then becoming aware of my surroundings again.  My brain says less than a minute has passed.  Those observing me tell me that three hours have passed.

In spite of all these difficulties with time, we still, most of the time, just keep it simple and get on with things.  We live our lives as though present, past and the expected future are all reliable constructs that are as real as anything else we experience.  This sense of time passing is what the featured drawing above is all about.  Our sense of time is what allows us to say to one another: "will winter never end?"  "It feels as though it has gone on forever!"

For so many of us, this winter has been far too long, too cold and too snowy.  We are ready for it to be over.  We are ready for spring to arrive in all its glory.  We want the sand in the hourglass the lady is holding, which represents the passing of wintertime, to run out completely so that there will no longer be snow on the barren branches; rather, the branches will be covered by leaves of springtime green.  

Up here in the frozen north, we are all saying "enough is enough". It is time for winter to be gone.  It is time for spring to arrive.  If you are living in a place where it is already spring, be very grateful.



 Ronàn may be just a wee lad, but he already has that look 
that will cause the heart of many a lass to melt...


2.  "I found one!"
3. "Look at all my eggs!"
1.  The Search Begins

4. "The Easter Bunny was very
good to me!"

Braden sharing his moment of glory with his brother --
while saying to himself:  "thank goodness, Ro is still too young
for chocolate!"



"Some days it's easier just not to move at all..."
Suki normally, after eating a meal, gets onto (or into) one of her favourite sleeping places and stays there for anywhere from two to four hours before moving on to a new sleeping place.

This past Monday, even though Joycelyn was cleaning various things in the vicinity of Suki's sleeping place, the cat was zonked out as usual -- only occasionally opening her eyes just a bit whenever Joycelyn and I started talking again.

Suddenly, though, mid-way through the morning, Suki simply disappeared.  Of course, there was a bit of a crisis going on at the time which might explain her behaviour, but where could she be? Joycelyn and I searched everywhere and it appeared that Suki had simply, magically vanished from a locked apartment.

Perhaps, I had better explain a bit about the crisis...  I have one of those useless balconies -- useless because it is the balcony at the end of a long line of balconies which all slope slightly downwards towards my balcony.  This means that all their debris, melting snow and rain water end up on my balcony.  Unfortunately, whoever designed this system of balconies failed to put in a large enough drain in my balcony to handle all of this stuff  Thus, I have a balcony which is constantly in a state of flooding -- usually caused by the debris blocking the one drain hole.  This means that someone has to frequently go out onto my balcony and clear the drain hole in order to keep the water from backing up into my apartment.  

On the day Suki disappeared, Joycelyn noticed there was some flooding on my balcony (probably from melting snow) and the next thing I knew, she had the balcony door wide open and was out on the balcony with a stick and a broom trying to get the blasted drain hole clear.  My building's maintenance supervisor was outside while Joycelyn was clearing the drain hole and there was a certain amount of shouting back and forth as she enquired as to our activities.  I suppose this was all just too much for Suki and so she decided to pull a disappearing act.  We only noticed she was gone, of course, after clearing the water from the balcony and closing the door.

At any rate, we searched and continued to search but there was no sign of the crazy cat. Calling her got no response -- not even rattling her food dish accomplished anything.  After we had searched through all the usual places (and even the unlikely places) a second time and just before I picked up the phone to call the Humane Society asking them to be on the lookout for a fat, black cat, we heard a slight scratching sound.  Joycelyn and I both stopped and listened carefully.  The noise had gotten a bit louder. It was definitely coming from the coat closet near the front door -- a closet with sliding doors -- doors which Suki is able to both open and close.

I hurried over, opened the doors and there discovered Miss Suki crawling out from a very narrow space between two large plastic boxes -- one for storing extra scarves, mittens, hats, etc. and the other for storing blankets and lap robes.  She had obviously been sleeping as she looked up at me with those half-open, sleepy eyes. We looked at one another for a few seconds and then Suki said, rather plaintively, "meow".

We had checked that closet twice but I had never imagined that fat Suki could fit into such a small hole, but cats, as all cat lovers know, can, amazingly, fit into all sorts of unusual spaces.  We figured she must have gotten in there when the balcony door was open and I was shouting to the maintenance lady.  Suki has a real fear of whatever lies outside of this apartment and is prone to run and hide whenever the balcony door is open even a little bit.  As well, she dislikes shouting or any loud noise and has been known to run and hide when people get too boisterous.

Although I welcomed Suki back from hiding with much happiness, I told her straightaway that this adventure did not entitle her to extra rations!  I knew this was what she was hoping for as she immediately began to try to lead me into the kitchen -- the way she does at meal times.

Otherwise, things have been relatively quiet for me this past week. I had two "medical" appointments -- a fasting ultrasound one day and a visit with the podiatrist on another.  There has been no news back from the ultrasound and my feet are doing as well as can be expected.

This coming week I have two more medical appointments -- one with the pain specialist and another for a particular testing procedure.  I expect these to be routine as well although I am hoping that the pain specialist will have some suggestions for ways to treat these new pains in my neck and upper back -- suggestions that do not include taking more pain killers!   



"Icon -- My Lord and My God", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  John 20:24-29

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I am reminded of what I once heard a priest say.  It went something like this:

"At the time of my death, if there is anyone waiting on the other side asking me what I have to say for myself, I plan to say only one thing and that is 'mercy', 'mercy', 'mercy'."

This has become my plan as well.  

I have missed the mark; I have fallen short; there is nothing I can say that would justify all the wrong I have done in my life.  And, so I cry out now and forever, "Lord, have mercy".


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