Outer Hebrides: Transient Spaces

When we were on holiday, I was experimenting with writing in nature–or writing with nature. The ebb and flow of the ocean, having to relent to the power of the water, made me contemplate the ever changing nature of our environment but also our selves. I thought what if we just relent, let go, let go of pain, fear, guild, shame? Let the waves wash them away? Wash away hate. Wash away your sorrow.

I tried to write down the themes that often burden survivors of trauma.
Verlustangst = fear of loosing, usually a loved one
Unzulänglichkeit = the feeling of inadequacy
Pain
Shame
Sorrow
Fear

Then set up a time lapse of the incoming tide washing away the writing in the sand. Wash away the pain. Wash away the sorrow. Wash away the shame.

Outer Hebrides: Washed Away

Long evenings on the beach created an unfamiliar amount of time for introspection, breathing, watching, and then watching some more. The sky, the water, the sand, the animals. At some point the Gospel song ‘Oh Happy Day’ became stuck in my head. Mainly the phrase ‘he washed my sins away’. Exploring issues around trauma, there are some things we have been working with themes, phrases that seem to be taken on by the survivors: such as shame, guilt, worthlessness. In some workings phrases such as: ‘this is not my shame to carry’, ‘I am worth it’, ‘I belong’ became significant. So I tried to remember the main themes and words from this and wrote them in the sand on the beach, and let the ocean wash them away.

Incidentally while I was exploring these issues, the alienating parent called and insisted that the kid needs to be brought home immediately for a life and death medical appointment (literally: you are putting his life at risk). When trying to suggest that surely such an emergency would mean we should bring kid into closest hospital that was refuted. A flight was booked and the alienator flew all the way up to the Outer Hebrides to pick up kid for what turned out to be a routine follow up appointment after a course of antibiotics. Which a) could have waited until the end of holidays or b) could have easily been done at the medical centre, which was literally 10 minutes from the camp-ground. Sharing-agreements here in the UK mean the doctor would have had access to all records and also could have easily consulted with family doctor. Interestingly the alienator called once they had boarded the plane on the way back from holiday, so they were sure they could run through the whole ‘I am the hero’ scenario, and the plane did not have delays and would hamper the narrative. So after being convenient childminders for a week the poor kid was torn away from his dad to play their part in the story of ‘How I save my son from a made-up drama’.

It was on our last evening together, everyone was really sad and we tried to squeeze in as much of the favourite activities as we could. When walking along the beach, we found this heart made of shells. For me this was a sign: love always wins. And I made the little drama installation to ritually wash away the drama for our second week of holiday, the kid had to miss out on.

The other words and film snippets will follow over the next couple of days.

Outer Hebrides: Go with the flow

Again this one does not quite fit yet.

drying wet-suits and a grill in the foreground looking over an ocean bay

Discarded wet suits
Drying in the breeze
A sad looking bag of charcoal
Crunched up
Holding the potential for one more BBQ

But not here
Not now
Not on this holiday
ANYMORE

Sadness creeps up
The simple life
Of our ever-so-slightly moving abode
Will soon be packed away
For another summer

August has just begun
But for us the summer is over
100s of emails looming
I have 48 hours leeway
And mentally push
Against the tidal amplitude of work-life

I love my work
But the constant pressure
Like currents in the sea
I have rowed against
Had become too much

I hope my learning
Will last and like my kayak
I will only put the paddle into the water to steer into the right direction
Occasionally
And not dispense all my energy rowing against the swell

I won’t fight
Against the tide
Anymore


Outer Hebrides: Relenting (first draft)

Not yet happy with this one so bear with me

The kayak moves in rhythm with the waves
We are far out of the bay
As we paused to sort the fishing lines
The swell became stronger
Pushing us out even further

I do not like this
I do not like relenting control of my kayak

Letting go

However, control is an illusion
The water pushes me on steadily
I can steer a little
Keep direction
But when a rogue wave hits
I have to let go
I have to relent
Otherwise the kayak topples over

We can but put some safe-guards in place
Life jackets, wet suits, throw ropes
Emergency whistle, knife
But life has its own mind
And often our direction changes
Without much choice
So there is nothing left
But to let the water carry you
Where ever it seems fit

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