Museums of the World ~ Museum of Perfume Bottles

I’m going to start collecting pictures of museums, especially unusual ones and the following one I found in La Rochelle. I didn’t go in, largely because I was unsure if there was an entrance fee and I had a humungus backpack on and was sure I’d break things….

I collected perfume bottles in my dim and distant youth; I have some rare and possibly valuable ones hidden away. I wish I’d dared to go in…but I am sure the museum would have been relieved that I didn’t. Bulls in china shops are nothing in comparison…..

(edit: for all those who happened here trying to find Perfume museums of the world, try googling the Fragonard one in Paris. http://europeforvisitors.com/paris/articles/fragonard-perfume-museum.htm I know it exists as I drove past it )

La Source ~ the wellspring

Springing up….

Or showering down…?

I am fascinated by water in all its manifestations and this exhibit called La Source (The Wellspring) was mesmerising as it changed colour as it flowed….

Eglise Notre Dame-La-Grande ~ Poitiers

This amazing place is the church in the centre of Poitiers. Originally most churches were painted like this during the Middle ages, but few have the paint still intact. The pillars, walls and ceiling are painted in geometric designs of great complexity and colour, and though the paint is not as vivid as it once must have been, it still dazzles.

The front of the church is carved in beautiful depictions of Bible scenes and at night colours are projected onto it to simulate how it looked before time and weather washed the paint from the facade.

Outside in the square musicians were playing a medieval style music with modern instruments and equipment and I shivered. Poitiers has a long association with the Troubadours, and these men had filled the same role.

A lovely afternoon, and I’d love to go back one day and explore properly.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer versus Edward Cullen

Some times the good faeries are listening when I come up with ideas. I visualised this scenario a few years back and look what some clever clogs did. Made me laugh till my sides hurt.

Pain woke us ~ why we wake and why we return to sleep

 

Pain woke us

  

Pain woke you,

Prodded you from sleep.

From the first aches of discomfort

To the full blown agony of awareness

It stopped your slumber dead.

You tried to mask it

Tried to distract yourself

With whatever came to hand.

Anything to sleep again

Dreaming the soft safe dreams

That fill the sleeping world

With pastels colours and smooth shapes

And are void of any meaning.

So, the pain is gone,

You tell me without words

Life feels good, you say.

Sweet dreams, I say, resigned.

I’ll see you in the morning;

I’ll take the night-shift

And watch over your sleep.

Someone has to guard the sleepers,

It might as well be me.

 

Pain woke me,

Prodded me from sleep.

From the first aches of discomfort

To the full blown agony of awareness

It stopped my slumber dead.

I tried to mask it

Tried to distract myself

With whatever came to hand.

Anything to sleep again

Dreaming the soft safe dreams

That fill the sleeping world

With pastels colours and smooth shapes

And are void of any meaning.

So, the pain is gone,

I tell you without words

Life feels good, I say.

Sweet dreams, you say, resigned.

I’ll see you in the morning;

You take the night-shift

And watch over my sleep.

Someone has to guard the sleepers,

It might as well be you.

 

 

Pain woke them,

Prodded them from sleep.

From the first aches of discomfort

To the full blown agony of awareness

It stopped their slumber dead.

They tried to mask it

Tried to distract themselves

With whatever came to hand.

Anything to sleep again

Dreaming the soft safe dreams

That fill the sleeping world

With pastels colours and smooth shapes

And are void of any meaning.

So, the pain is gone,

They tell me without words

Life feels good, they say.

Sweet dreams, I say, resigned.

I’ll see you in the morning;

I’ll take the night-shift

And watch over your sleep.

Someone has to guard the sleepers,

It might as well be me.

 

 

{ I posted this first at http://thewildsheepsociety.wordpress.com . As a sufferer of chronic pain, the power of pain to awaken us from more than simple slumber is bitterly familiar; perhaps all forms of enlightenment begin with this sudden waking to other realities. It’s amazing how a simple change of voice changes everything; I started the poem with the first person and then played around. }

 

The hunt for meaning and purpose in life ~ a luminous dream and a hidden vision.

  The hunt for meaning and purpose in life ~ a luminous dream and a hidden vision.

 

For many, the belief that their life has a meaning is something that keeps them going through the hard times and through setbacks and tragedies. It’s a belief I have long wished to share, and moreover to know and to understand the nature of my own life’s meaning and purpose. The feeling that my life is without either contributes to a large extent to my bouts of severe depression; while I don’t believe it causes it, that fear of being a sort of joke without a punchline is a particularly nasty irritant when I’m already down.

In a discussion with a close friend, the concept was raised and explored that perhaps life is its own meaning, that living it is enough and that for every person to believe they have a special meaning or destiny is a flawed belief. It’s a product to some degree of the New Age movement and of the self-help industry and it may be contributing to discontent and unhappiness.

And yet.

Some of it might have its roots in truth and the distortion of this truth is what is bringing the devastation. Just as not every person is equipped to become a brain surgeon, not every person is destined for something out of the ordinary. It’s our perception of the ordinary that is at fault. We’re obsessed by success and perfection and addicted to higher and higher aspirations, and we judge both ourselves and others on the level we reach, as if it were some sort of hierarchy of achievement. Growing a great crop of raspberries is as great an achievement as any other. Climbing a mountain is no greater than someone making it to work everyday when their illness means it’s a struggle.

We’re funny animals, us humans. At one and the same time we wish to stand out from the crowd but remain within it.

And yet.

That said, I could never bring myself to accept that the meaning of my life might well not be anything ‘special’ or unusual or even terribly interesting. I feel driven, constantly, by a whole host of inner ideas. The fact that these never seem to come to anything however hard I have worked at them has reached a kind of tipping point lately. On Friday I finished writing a novel that has been driving my inner life for the best part of a year. For many that might seem a massive achievement but it didn’t feel like it to me. I felt empty, bereft even, because it’s no longer enough just to write the novels. Over the weekend I’ve felt some odd things going on in the background of my psyche and by the time I got to bed last night, I was feeling desperately anxious without being sure why.

I’ve had serious trouble with sleep for a long while, both getting to sleep and the quality of sleep. I wake feeling exhausted and drained and my head feels so fuzzy and unable to think. My dreams have been mental doodles and nothing more. Now, I believe in dreams, in their value to the mind and to the creative spirit and for almost a year, there’s been very, very little of worth coming through. I write down dreams that strike me as interesting and there’s nothing written for a long while. Last night, I prayed as I sometimes do, to be shown some sort of sign in my dreams, that my life has meaning and a purpose. I think that somewhere in the back of my mind was the feeling that should nothing be forthcoming, then I would let go and step back and accept that my life is not one of any real worth, or purpose and perhaps it was time to forget about the things that have driven me.

At about 2am, I woke from a dream, the kind of luminous dream that has such a grip on the mind and spirit that even now, seven or so hours later, I can still perceive the shining. I’m not going to describe the contents of that dream here, because like many dreams, the power is not in the telling but in the experience that often defies words. I’m also not ready to share what I felt that dream was telling me in any details, partly because that vision is still partially concealed from me and I have a feeling that there is more to be revealed.

Today I feel very odd, as if I have been breathing thin air for months and suddenly, I am back in an oxygen rich environment and my brain is still adjusting to it. I’m not saying I’ve found any answers to my questions. I’m not sure that there are answers, certainly not nice simple ones.

But I might have found enough hope to carry on living and exploring.

Trying to let go of questions I cannot answer ~ till the next time

 

 Trying to let go of questions I cannot answer ~ till the next time 

The last month I have spent in mortal combat. Not a game but a struggle with questions I can’t find answers to. It’s a struggle I’ve been engaged in for much of my life, and at regular intervals it becomes all encompassing and utterly destructive. I am so tired of it, fighting something I can’t even see or name. The names I give it fail to convey the power it has to wreck me.

Having fought and lost, and failed to gain any ground in the exploration of the dark interior of my own soul, I’m handing over to a much better voice than mine own, a guy who fought a similar series of battles and put his thoughts into poetry that has long held a place in my heart. This is the final poem in a sequence of what were termed, The Terrible sonnets, not because they were badly written but because the subject matter was so devastating.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).
 

47. ‘My own heart let me have more have pity on’

 
   
MY own heart let me have more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
  I cast for comfort I can no more get         5
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst ’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.
   
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile         10
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.