That is not a Cherry

On the walls of the room which I had as a child…

A room which served as my mother’s walk-in closet and store room before I arrived on the scene and which still retained all of her belongings after my birth, me being one of those many belongings which she collected and had to find a place in which to put them should she ever need them.

…was a typical 70’s wallpaper pattern of psychedelic stripes.

Breaking the flow of the stripes intermittently, arranged seemingly randomly, hung some of my father’s paintings from his early period.

That period was a time when he was a struggling artist who could not afford the materials of his craft. He improvised, economised, did without what he didn’t have and made what he did have work for him.

He dreamed of and spurred himself on with what one day he might be able to create if he had access to all of the paints, canvases and other tools which were out of his reach yet could be attainable if he pursued them with determined focus.

The paintings were small. Little windows into other worlds. Worlds which his eyes had seen, his imagination had translated and his hands had rendered into simple lines, abstract shapes, with a limited palette of colours.

I couldn’t tell what most of them depicted, even if I squinted my eyes and turned my head at an angle, but my eyes and mind tried to make sense of them, give them a form which was familiar to me, as I lay on my child’s bed in the half-light filtering through the shuttered windows of the room.

There was one particular image which I called – The Dead Pigeon. It was of a seascape, or at least I thought it was, with as its focal point what appeared to me to be a pile of bird bones, speckled with blood. I don’t know why I decided that the dead bird was a pigeon. That’s not a bird associated with the seaside, and I was aware of that even then. Perhaps it was the shades of grey. Perhaps it was that I loved pigeons.

Adults don’t always like pigeons, and often consider them to be vermin, creatures who carry disease and poo on everything like critical killjoys. However most children tend to love pigeons… and poo… they see the fascination and beauty in many things which the adult eye and mind finds repulsive.

Children can be morbid. Morbid is the sort of word an adult would use, perhaps to describe a child who is revelling in something which the adult finds… morbid. Who exactly is the one being morbid?

There is much about nature, human nature and the natural world, which a child understands better than an adult because they see it with an accepting eye, curious to know, absorb, and learn, yet allowing it to be free and fluid. Perhaps what is seen will change, evolve, grow, reveal more facets of itself.

The child is open and expansive… the adult narrows and restricts.

Moving from viewing life as a child to seeing it as an adult is a rite of passage, but a passage to into what and where?

A child does not view death and dead things the way that an adult does, perhaps it is because they do not fear being mortal. Life is an adventure, an experience, an experiment, to be lived here and now. Not something to be viewed with eyes looking backwards filled with regret and nostalgia and eyes looking forward with dread and trepidation.

A child’s perspective sees the past and the future as being in the same place as the present. Yesterdays and tomorrows are a part of today.

I was later told by an adult, talking as they do to a child they see as being… those things which adults think of children and their mental capabilities, that my painting of a dead pigeon was actually of an old boat, beached and decaying. It was a dead boat. It’s skeleton bleached by the sun, its vibrant paint almost completely chipped away by the elements. The flecks of blood were not the blood of veins in a living being but the last scraps of pigment, paint, the blood of an artist.

Yet, even though my eyes had been opened, examined, found to be defective and in need of glasses with lenses prescribed by an adult so that I could see what was actually there rather than what was not… to me the image was still of a dead pigeon. My dead pigeon in its little window into its world by the sea. A world into which it had welcomed me when I did not want to be where I was, whose sounds of surf and sand had muffled noises which I did not want to hear, and which had kept me company in the lonely dark hours while I waited for the other shoe on the ceiling to lose its adhesiveness and drop with a thud, squashing the joy of childhood.

 

ThatIsNotACherry

That is not a cherry.

Maybe you knew that.

Maybe you never saw it as a cherry.

It looks like a cherry to me.

A succulent, ripe and delicious cherry, the kind which makes you long to eat it…

…but I have to remind myself that it is not a cherry because I am an adult now.

 

*for The Daily Post’s Photo Challenge: Work of Art

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34 thoughts on “That is not a Cherry

  1. In my room as an infant I too had a single painting on the wall that was created by my father prior to me being born,. It was done in various shades of grey. It was of a clown. There was a tear drop on his face. This grey painting was all I had to look at in my tiny baron room . There was no colorful or cutesy stuff , Just that. . I forgot all about it until I read this.

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    1. The things which our memory holds and what it means to us is a fascinating place to explore. We often find missing pieces in looking closely at our memories. There always is a part of us which observes and records, which knows things that we sometimes miss until we notice.

      Very intriguing story. Clowns in particular are interesting because of the symbolism, we often think of them as funny or scary but there is always a sadness, a pathos, to them.

      Thanks for sharing this 🙂

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    2. Thanks for responding. Also thought of one more thing. The picture was actually very foreboding . Life ahead with my Narc mom would be very black/white . It was only I who was able to see all the shades of grey in our relationship & in life situations. . Narcs cannot see the the greys in life they are so rigid in their ways & their views.They mostly seem to be blind to grey .
      Philosophically, though we can say that grey is actually a combination of black & white so there that side. If you want to get into analyzing why a Narc is the way they are.
      The subject of the painting too is quite interesting on may levels but I won’t get into all that.
      I guess you can tell I enjoy looking at artwork.
      (:

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      1. Looking at artwork is a wonderful way to explore ourselves and others. One image can mean so many different things to so many different people. It can evoke strong reactions and allow us to access what we sometimes can’t express any other way than when we look at a piece of art and it speaks to us and for us. It taps into our subconscious and unconscious, like dreams do, using imagery and symbolism to express so much.

        When I used to work in the art business one of my favourite things was to listen to collectors express why they loved or hated a piece. So revealing and intriguing. I remember one man bought a piece, an impressionist image of a woman, because he said it reminded him of the ‘popular’ girls who used to ignore him in high school and he wanted to ‘own’ them, not in a nasty way, but as a reminder to him that he had made something of himself and his experiences in high school had inspired him. I have many stories like that, and each one is a treasure in one way or another.

        This is one of my favourite paintings – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/let-everything-happen-to-you/

        What about you, what’s your favourite painting, artist, image? And why?

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        1. I have had the opportunity to visit quite a few museums and and view some infamous pieces of artwork in the past few years. It so thrilling to view some of these world renowned pieces I used to have a couple of favorites but now its more of a long list. Thanks for sharing your favorite!

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  2. You write in such a way that I never could. This is so precise and clear and wonderful.

    That last paragraph. I must have read it seven or eight times just to relive the feeling I got when I read it first. Fantastic.

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      I’ll let you in on a secret, that last bit is reflective of my dyslexia, it can be as wonderful as it can be annoying to have it.

      You have a beautifully immersive writing style, you have the ability to pull the reader into the world which you are creating and make them feel it through all the senses, lose themselves in it, be there and in some ways be you while being there. Your post – My Happy Place (which is here – http://cupidorcats.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/my-happy-place/ – for those who may read this and want to read it) – is a stunning piece of evocative writing. I loved the post so much I didn’t comment on it because I had no words to express what it stirred. One of the things which it stirred was the admiring wish that I could write the way you wrote it.

      I wish you could read it without knowing you wrote it, then you’d see how talented you are. I think you know it, which is why you have the compulsion to write, but I think you may have what all great talents have… the talent is an innate gift and you’ve always had it so it doesn’t seem as great as it is to you and you may doubt others when they make a fuss about your natural skill, think they’re being nice, when what they are actually being is truthful.

      Your talent to write speaks to you when you read someone else’s words and feel moved by them. It’s a strange and inspiring dynamic 🙂

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      1. I’m not going to lie…this is the kindest comment anyone has ever written to me. You have put so much thought into this and I’m just mind blown by how happy you have managed to make me feel. Thank you so much. I often think what I write is complete rubbish, but I enjoy it so I keep going. To receive compliments like this off someone who writes like you do is just overwhelming. Thank you, thank you!

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        1. Hi janeybgood,
          just to tell you also think what I write is rubbish, we should behave to ourselves as we behave with others..Ursula is wonderful at making us feel worthy! Thank you so much for what you do and how you express yourself!

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          1. Hi seashell, sorry I was AWOL for a little while. Ursula is one of those bloggers whose comments constantly put a smile on my face and she has a way of making me feel worthy. I love this community 🙂

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            1. Hi Janeybgood,
              Ursula has the same ripple effect on me, and I love too the community here.
              Just wanteed to tell you i couldn’t find a way to leave a comment on your website (I am not very technological) but i read your interview post and i laughed my head off- are you a comedian offline? Your description for the “suitable outfit” is hilarious!!!!
              Plenty of inspiration for your writing and take care

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              1. Thank you, what a lovely comment 🙂 the comments are just under my posts I think. I’m on my phone at the moment so I can’t see a website for you, or do you have one? I would love to visit 🙂

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                1. No i haven’t, it’s in my head:))).Thank you for saying you’d like to visit..I did appreciate it!
                  your narrative is so fluid, it’s like seeing a movie..telling stories is a crafted art!
                  Hope your health is getting better, best wishes!

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        2. Thank you 🙂

          You have a beautiful writing voice.

          It’s just always difficult for us to hear how others hear it because when we hear our own voice we tend to cringe… at least I do when I hear mine 😀 … but sometimes we hear it as others do and there’s a moment of inner joy at the sound of it.

          The enjoyment you get from writing, that’s your inner ear hearing the beauty of your own writing voice. Listen to that enjoyment, and keep going… because I’m selfish and love reading your writing!

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          1. Thanks Ursula. I’m sorry I’ve been away lately, I haven’t been well and I’m just catching up now. I really can’t put into words how much your confidence in me means. I really respect you as a writer so thank you 🙂

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            1. Thank you, means a lot to me 🙂

              Take good care of yourself. Sometimes we need to go into a cocoon and let the world drift by while we regenerate and regroup our atoms.

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                  1. That comic is brilliant 🙂 I love having a small group of intimate friends rather than a large group of people whom I barely know.

                    “It’s important to feed our soul with delicious things.”

                    That is beautiful 🙂 Does cake count? 😀

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                    1. Cake is an excellent source of deliciousness!

                      Cake story coming up… 😀 … I was watching football (no idea what it was all about, something to do with a final and a cup) and one of the teams was sponsored by Azerbaijan – Land of Fire. So, I wanted to know why it was the land of fire, because I know nothing so I try to fill my nothings with something in a really rubbish and forgetful attempt at being a polymath (one of my goals which is way out of my reach). In my search I found this place called Yanar Dag in Azerbaijan which is basically a mountainside which burns due to natural gasses – and according to legend a shepherd accidentally set the gas on fire. So now it just burns constantly and you can visit it and have a picnic next to it and snap photos of mysterious nature with yourself standing next to it (trying not to set yourself on fire). But also in the search results for Yanar Dag was a cake. Drool not included. It’s like a cream-filled sponge mess of sorts and looked rather delicious. Everything comes back to cake. Cake is a mysterious source of deliciousness which must be respected and nommed 🙂

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                    2. I had often wondered that! I could have just looked it up but now I don’t have to 🙂 Thank you! Azerbaijan does look like a beautiful place.

                      And that cake sounds delicious! Om nom nom 😀 now I just want cake…

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                    3. The story behind the Land of Fire and the history of the country is fascinating. Azerbaijan is very rich in natural resources, and it’s very volcanic. Stunning place. Their president and first lady are also rather intriguing. I had a wonderful time researching that search 🙂

                      So what’s your favourtie cake and does it have a story attached – and do you think certain cakes taste more delicious because of the stories we associate with them?

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                    4. I have lots of favourite cakes 🙂 But I can tell you that the best cake I had was Black Forest cake in that region in Germany. It was my brother’s wedding day, very hot and we were on an island on Mainau Island on Lake Konstanz. It was the most beautiful cake I have ever tasted. I think it may be because I was in such a beautiful place, with beautiful people on such a happy occasion so yes, I believe that it made the cake more delicious.

                      What about you? What’s your favourite cake?

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                    5. That sounds like the most delicious cake and memory 🙂 I looked at photos of Mainau Island, what a magnificent place for a wedding!!! Black Forest cake is a bit like diving into chocolate heaven.

                      When I asked you the question I was trying to think what my answer would be. Three cakes sprung to mind, all of which I had when I was a child. But the one with the best tasty memory to go with it was when I was in Capri one Summer and I went to a local bakery and bought a Torta Caprese, it’s a very simple cake and yummy, especially if you eat it by the pool (in bikinis) and you haven’t eaten anything else all day, drinking champagne in the baking midday sun serenaded by cicadas. There was something slightly decadent about it. It was a spontaneous celebration, no one had prepared anything, we just all went out grabbed some stuff and made an impromptu party. It was a random happy moment in between life’s storms 😀

                      This cake thing is a great way to travel, isn’t it!

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                    6. It was a beautiful wedding. I’ll never forget it.

                      That sounds fantastic. Like some idyllic spontaneous cake party 🙂 my kind of party! Yes, I love trying out different baked good in different countries. I remember being in the with of France and being in croissant and baguette heaven. I have a complex relationship with carbs haha!

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                    7. France… yup! Yum! When I lived in Paris I gorged myself on patisserie 🙂 Carbs just want to be loved, they’re very misunderstood 😉

                      Do you ever find it distracting when watching a film or TV show when they’re eating something and it makes you crave it. There are certain things I’ve watched which I have no idea what was going on because all I could focus upon was food. I have a particular thing for Japanese food and get cravings watching Japanese anime 😉

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                    8. I could never give up carbs, not that anyone should. They are just too delicious and satisfying.

                      Oh man, yes! I love watching cookery shows but I have to eat something before I watch them because I just crave the food too much haha! Sometimes even eating before doesn’t work.
                      Oh, and I adore sushi. Japanese cuisine really is delicious although it’s hard to find here in Ireland.

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  3. … I can see your seeing a cherry where I and my little girl see a damaged eye of a tiger… and the story goes on in my mind that even eyes can frizzle… after they turned red…

    Love what and how you write about the pigeon you saw. Pigeons are totem animals for peace, love, maternity, gentleness and spirit messengers. One more reason that adults do not like them maybe? I am glad you had this animal’s power in your child’s room.

    Your words touched me deeply again. They even allowed me to travel back in my little skeleton mind-boat to my last period of time with my former boyfriend who was…. well, you know anyway. We stayed at a Spanish monastry and they had these stone walls there. We lay on the bed together and the kids in us saw all these shapes and faces and figures. We saw the same. We were connecting from inner child to inner child. And now, while I am writing this I am tearing up again with all these emotions… yet it is okay. It has moved me deeply. I will never forget this precious moment of two soul-kids connecting. We were amidst the end of the relationship then. But this moment was like in a eternal time-bubble. So beautiful and deep. I know in all the pain and betrayal and hatred was love, too. Four years that I have not come near a man.

    Thank you for giving me that memory back by reminding me of this special energy of childrens’ gaze into worlds they see… :_)

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      We all have many treasures inside of us which we have gathered over the course of our lives, sometimes they get tainted, the gold turns to brass and discolours, rusts, because we also gather many other things along the way. Sometimes good memories become intertwined with bad ones and we can’t view the good without feeling the pain of the bad. But as we heal, so we can heal our memories too, learn to find our treasures again and enjoy them, perhaps more than we did before because we lost them for a while and now know their value.

      Life flows every which way like water, washes things away, hides things in its deep, and sometimes returns things to us, placing them on our shore, it can do it gently or after a storm.

      There is much beauty and mystery within, it’s a fascinating world.

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  4. Beautifully written, Ursula, and incredibly moving. I love, ‘they do not fear being mortal’ – and, indeed, all the other vast distinctions berween adults and children. xxx

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      We all still have our childhood within us, and it is sometimes insightful to see what we once saw when we were children, and to merge it with what we see as an adult. It creates a painting of us, a window into our own inner world.

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