To a brave man every soil forms his country

The title of this post comes from a translation on the back of a Japanese wall hanging…

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wall hanging wisdom

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which was given to my partner, long before I met him, by his father,

who also received it as a gift from one of the friends he made when he worked for a Japanese company.

It’s one of many mementos gathered along the path of life,

which have waited in boxes,

moving from here to there and on again, for many years.

We’ve moved so many times since we’ve been together that we decided somewhere along the way that not unpacking things which we didn’t need to unpack was easier…

and most of the places we’ve stayed have been too small,

turning mementos into clutter rather than things to cherish.

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“All migrants leave their pasts behind, although some try to pack it into bundles and boxes, but on the journey something seeps out of the treasured mementos and old photographs, until even their owners fail to recognize them…”
― Salman Rushdie

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Finally having a place of our own has allowed us to unpack… and enjoy what is unpacked.

To reveal the old as a new discovery in which to revel.

The Japanese wall hanging came with several beautifully hand-painted cards, each with a message… this particular message seemed the most appropriate for us at this time as we’re both still not quite settled… not quite here yet.

We’re finding our place gradually as each memento finds its own here with us.

Each thing is helping us to truly feel that this is our soil, our country.

We’ve both dealt with finally having a home of our own differently…

One of the ways I’m doing it has been by slowly peeling paint off of the hallway walls.

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Hallway stripping

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I didn’t intend to do this,

I didn’t even intend to paint the hallway…

I quite liked it in its heavy and dark red glory, a part of the vision for this place of the previous owner… and therefore a part of the history of the place.

But then the toilet above the hall overflowed, turning the walls into a waterfall…

sometimes accidents are opportunities.

Life’s way of telling you not so subtly that you should do something which perhaps you never intended to do,

and maybe you’ll learn something new about yourself, others, life, and the place where you live by doing it.

The reason for peeling the paint off of the walls rather than just painting over it is due to the fact that this particular paint is vinyl, it’s like plastic, and it traps moisture behind it, not allowing the walls to breathe…

the walls of this house need to breathe as they’re made of clay, they have a tendency to absorb moisture, which is fine as long as it can evaporate, but trap the moisture in the wall and over time it just becomes saturated and begins to lose its ability to hold itself together, then it crumbles… which eventually could cause the house to fall down.

(I’m basically living in a sand castle…)

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“And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually..”
― Jimi Hendrix

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This is a very tedious job,

even more boring than watching paint dry…

yet there is something satisfying about doing it

(even though I end up covered in a fine dusting of white plaster as though I’m a statuette on a cake someone just sprinkled with icing sugar)

and there is plenty of food for thought which comes with it.

I’ve only just started and have a long way to go,

I’m determined to do this properly

(well, as properly as I ever do anything…)

I even splashed out and bought at least one right tool for the job…

and as I progress strip by sometimes big and sometimes small strip

(there are moments when you can peel huge sections away revealing a smooth surface beneath… and other times when it needs firm pressure applied to a scraper that makes a sound similar to nails on a blackboard, leaving the surface scarred more than it already is)

all sorts of thoughts flood the mind

(not unlike the toilet flooding the ceiling then wall)

memories…

(our mind’s mementos… which sometimes unpack themselves and clutter up our internal space)

of my mother telling me that I never finish anything I start,

which was one of her favourite recriminations…

she once sent me to my room for not finishing a plasticine deer

(I had finished with it… I was over the whole idea of making the damn thing)

and told me not to come out until I’d made it.

(there really wasn’t any reason to make it… other than ones which were chosen at the time)

She had a knack for making creative projects and play such fun for a child!

But she was right, I often don’t finish what I start,

(this isn’t always a bad or negative thing to do, sometimes you have to know when to let go and move on from something…

took me ages to realise that what was so wrong with me could also be what was right with me)

and I suppose she thought she was encouraging me to believe in my ability to do things… or teaching me responsibility… or… I’m sure she was the hero of the story in her version of it, and that it was another gold star on her ‘Aren’t I the best mother in the world’ board.

And of course it hurt her more than it hurt me…

I do have many memories of not finishing projects…

some of which I should have finished, or I wished I had stuck with them longer…

sometimes what made me walk away from them was the sheer scale of the work that needed to be done,

(I’d bitten off more than I could chew…

not unlike that Chinese delicacy I once ate which was just a giant rubbery mushroom and which I had to eat because it was ordered especially for me to try…

I did finish it… and wished I hadn’t

wished I’d never started that.)

which loomed ominously and overshadowed my faith in my own ability to do it.

I was brought up under the rule of perfectionists… and perfectionism is a virus that infects your mind’s eye and makes you see everything that you do as being flawed, not good enough, terrible… scrap it and start again from scratch. In its advanced stages it can also make you see the world around you and the people in it that way too… that’s when you’re at your most infectious and ready to pass the virus on so it can grow and go to set up home in someone else’s heart.

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“Children make prayers so thoughtlessly, building them up like sand castles—and they are always surprised when suddenly the castle becomes real, and the iron gate grinds shut.”
― Catherynne M. Valente

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I woke up this morning with a big case of what I call – The Ego-begos – which is when you terrify yourself by telling yourself that everything you’ve done is awful and you need to undo it immediately!

But what is done is done… and can’t be undone,

however it can be adjusted if it really is awful.

Maybe it isn’t awful,

maybe the eyes which are seeing it just have too much plaster dust sprinkled across their lenses…

and that’s why they are seeing angry fire-breathing red dragon dogs,

where all that is there is just a bit of paint which needs peeling and stripping away.

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Red Dragon Dog

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16 thoughts on “To a brave man every soil forms his country

  1. I love the paint peeling. The idea of taking a wall at a time and making yourself part of the history of this house – the human equivalent of nesting, I guess.

    A clay house – makes me think that you’re living inside a piece of pottery. 🙂 It’s the kind of thing that I imagined doing when I wa a child. 🙂

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      I like the perspective of living inside a piece of pottery, it’s very poetic. I would have loved to have met your child self when I was a child, I think we would have played some intriguing games together 🙂

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          1. That reminds me of something which Agatha Christie said in her bio about her writing process, she’d have ideas which she’d place in a box (sometimes an actual box and sometimes one in the mind) and wait until they were ready to be made into a story. If she tried to write about them before they were ready, they often crumbled away and never came to fruition.

            If we share our imaginings, especially if we do it with those who don’t realise what is being shared, they may lose that special something which they have for us, whatever that is… sometimes they’re an ember which keeps us warm inside when it’s cold outside 🙂

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  2. Wow that red is beautiful… When you asked in a previous post what would you like to write us about I exactly had this in my head… More from Ursula’s place… It’s just unusual how easily people connect to you on such a deep&pownderful (power + wonderful) level. I believe it makes us all feel like we wanna sneak into your house and just enjoy the ambience regardless of walls colours etc… It’s a house of you …remember never finished means never ending, so it kind of feels alright being that way. In audio engineering world many producers say: ‘Mixes are never finished, they are abandoned.’ So write your song, write the lyrics , develop the arrangement, choose the instruments, put it all together, give it some production effects, mix it left and right and central… Decide which elements to emphasises … And it’s done… But then finally you listen to your song only to find a whole new world and how to put the elements in a much different ways… Clearly never ending story it is, so you have to abandon it to let it live. 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      What a superb way of perceiving it!!!

      factoid: The previous owner of this house was an avid collector and seller of vinyl records.

      You have such a beautiful poetic music running through you, so glad you’ve shared the song that is you with me ❤

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      1. 🙂 Well you are officially now the part of my world 🙂 I need you to help me when the time comes to write the symphony…. it will be the 12th Symphony by Veddy… much music in that house I believe you are very familiar with the hollow sounds of 12th 😉 Lonely and hollow, yet glittery and otherwordly 🙂
        It will be definitely an abandoned one as that is the nature of 12th house….

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  3. Bloody brilliant. What else to say… I love the dragon-dog!……… And how you describe childhood memories… All children should have encouragement and unconditional love. It always saddens me to hear the stories about children who do not receive that… (this is odd, because I work with children from dysfunctional homes, but in my work I can keep a sort of distance, being more collected and professional….Anyway, I am so glad you have been able to see where the dysfunction came from, and that it wasn’t from you, but the parent(s)….

    Oh! I hope there is no risk of mold, damages from the water, when the toilet was flooded.

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      I also get saddened by the stories about children who’ve been mistreated by those who are supposed to keep them safe from harm. Unfortunately there are far too many cases. There is nothing odd about getting involved even when your work requires professional detachment – I have to admit that I don’t know how those who work in this area stay sane because it is so deeply touching and can cut to our core.

      I was blessed in many ways, which I haven’t forgotten. I had a lot of time to myself as a child and my parents could have been so much worse than they were. There were times when they were rather awesome to have as parents – as with all narcissists, when things are good they’re very good… it’s just when things are bad…

      I tend to highlight the worst of their influence in my writing because I spent so many years doing the opposite, and keeping the bad hidden form view, so I’m balancing things out for myself. But I do keep that in mind, and I have written posts which show why my parents were the way they were – both of them grew up during WWII which wasn’t healthy for any child or adult, and they didn’t have the best of parents themselves.

      There’s always a bigger picture… which goes beyond us.

      re: mold and such – I read a very interesting article about the whole ‘black mold’ scare while doing research. There’s no mold, just some damp which is easily sorted out (hopefully). The previous owners, The one I bought this house from and the one before that, were fixing this place up… so it’s just a matter of continuing where they left off.

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      1. Wow, amazing thoughts, that I have also had, but in slightly different nuances.. 🙂 Yes, I guess we tend to focus on a lot of the dark and negative quite a lot when we blog… I think, because that’s what we need to process, through out blog “therapy”. I, like you, have thought about what formed the narcissist ex. I believe his mother is a narcissist and they pampered him without ever giving him limits… etc. So yes, there is always more to the story, in the background… About the mold, and damages from flooding.. I think it is easily avoided as long as you can get everything dry and have good ventilation in the area.. I hope! Take care, see ya around 🙂

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        1. It can help to look at the history of a narcissist as it gives us perspective on the way they behaved with us, and can show us that what they did with us isn’t about us, most often it’s about a story they’re repeating, one which started long ago and which haunts them. Very often they’re re-enacting it to get a different ending, but since they keep doing the same thing the ending is always the same.

          The most important thing though is to focus on what you learned about yourself from the relationship, as each relationship we have shows us about our relationship with ourselves. 🙂

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          1. Wow. Again! I am officially dubbing you the oracle of Blogland! 🙂 Your response gives me …. both peace of mind.. aswell as tears, sorrow.. no, that is not your fault, it is because it makes me see the truth of it all… a truth I have known a long time, but refused to see… I know all about the narcissist’s destructive ways.. but the way he “caught” me, was by convincing me, in a deep and profound way, that no one else could ever “save” him.. I was the only one who could ever understand him..forgive him.. love him, no matter what he did.. I think that is what he most looked for in life, someone who “would always be there”, and all the pain about himself, that he could not allow himself to feel, he had to project onto me, he had to see that pain go somewhere else, someone had to take it.. I took it all, I took it well… for him.. until I couldn’t, anymore. I wept as I told him that. He could not understand (I don’t think the narcissists can go that deep?). Anyway… I am freeing myself.. as you say: asking myself, about myself, now, instead of only focusing on “him”. Lots of hugs, and thanks! 🙂

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            1. It’s an incredibly appealing and tough bind when someone tells us in some way that we’re the only one who can save them.

              I had someone awhile ago, someone I only knew casually through social media, tell me that I’d destroyed them, crushed them, broken their ability to trust. This was all over a tweet which I wrote about my father and which they decided was all about them. I confronted them about it, eventually we reached an understanding that they were being overly dramatic. For someone who was destroyed, they were surprisingly intact and bounced back from the brink in a sprightly manner, moving on to their next chapter in the dramatic life of them.

              The thing about those who are narcissists or being very narcissistic is that everything in their lives is always a matter of life and death for them and therefore for those close to them too as their dramas always need others.

              My mother used to do the damsel in distress who needed saving by a hero all the time, even over finding her keys. The world came to a standstill and everyone had to rush to her rescue. It caused me as a child to be in a constant state of alert because at any moment she might need saving and I was often the only one around to do it. But you can never save them because what you’re really expected to save them from is themselves, and even if you could come close to doing that they would never let you. My mother also turned her heroes into villains if they tried to save her from herself in any way. So then you end up being the problem rather than the solution and they go off in search of someone to save them from you. And that other person gets the crown of being the only one who can save them, a crown which you once wore and may wear again as they pass it around, but make us feel as though it is ours and only ours.

              The thing is that when someone gives us the impression that we’re the only one who can save them… well, what are we supposed to do? When someone calls for help, is in distress, what is the most natural human reaction to it?

              The narcissist’s cries for help as similar to a siren’s song, and it is very hard to resist it. They’re Circe luring us to their rocky island.

              A part of the reason why their call for help is so appealing is because empathy informs us, and we see in them our own cries for help, our own distress, our own helpless needs looking for a hero. In saving them maybe we are seeking to save ourselves. It’s a knotty dynamic which takes time to understand and gradually we learn about them and ourselves through them.

              You’re going to be fine, because you are fine 🙂

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