… delights of peek-a-boo …

In ways we project ourselves into our surroundings, as children we delight in the appearance, vanishing and re-appearance of a loved object or person.

Georgios Jakobides - 1895

Georgios Jakobides – 1895

To observe something reappear is as thrilling as green shoots returning in spring, as inexplicable as birth itself. Hide and seek or peek-a-boo are games said to adjust toddlers to ‘object permanence,’ an illusion we embrace, yet these games are also the prelude to a lifelong quest for the mystery of existence. Children, unless talked down to and belittled, ask deep questions – where do I come from, where did the candle-flame go, where has grandpa gone, how long is time, how come I see things with my eyes closed?  The same questions spurn lifelong passion in scientists.

Growing social, we slip into collective rituals of seeing, feeling, thinking and doing. We obey, ignore or defy rules meant to serve cultural cohesion, rules promising acceptance and success in life. We respond or react according to circumstance and temperament. Some of us have a need to belong, feel safe, protected, others may venture into the unknown, become spiritual warriors on a warpath with obstacles, often rituals, blocking individual potential.

I’m a warrior learning from obstacles, one of which I like to share.

You may recall commands, often subtle and inferred, by early significant persons, communicated via responses, to you, to life, based on generational ideals. These commands worm themselves into the psyche and settle around an inner critic. While well-meaning in aiding conscience and integrity, this critic can also become strident and counter-productive.

In my case – the critic periodically berates me for not keeping my own promises … stay on top of things, complete tasks,  respond to request without delay, call on friends, de-clutter, prepare accounts, fix the warped front-door, only so many roll-ups a day, only two glasses of wine … the tick-off list is … ah well … endless …

Good objectives aside – the more the opinionated critic berates my shortcomings, the more I need to release the tension by transgressing self-imposed rules – otherwise the noise of my inner battle drives away the bird of intuition, the unexpected and the wonder of each day.

I listen, but won’t bow to the critic, obey in fear and cage the bird. In my book, this sums up the making of tyrants.

More and more often I remember to soften the demands. Instead of berating I praise myself for small promises kept, for what has gone well, small steps in overcoming this stealthy ritual that does not benefit my aims. It’s my idiosyncratic strategy: no fighting, no surrendering. Try it – humour the critic into humanness and adjust your rules of engagement with the elegant phenomenon of now.

P1050813 - lowres You may ask – how does my strategy relate to hide and seek and peek-a-poo?

It’s the play with reality by the child in us – the delight in re-discovering being.

*    *    *

This little bird cheered me, it arrived flattened in a Christmas card. Instructions read: Stand me up on my feet.

Blessings to my friends for 2014 – may the bird of intuition frequently visit you.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “… delights of peek-a-boo …

  1. silentnovelist

    Dear Ashen, Thank you for that wondrous blessing (it is exactly what I need at this time) and for your continued presence in my life. I’d like to borrow your inspiration and wish the same blessing on you. With love, Diana x

  2. Thank you too Diana, for being there ☼

  3. thank you and all good wishes back at you. What a lovely idea to be more gentle – I must try this year – oh dear have I just made myself another promise :-)

  4. Lovely little bird who lands to remind us: “(That the artist can persevere in the interrogation of his art until he or it is exhausted isn’t in doubt. As René Char has written, ‘No bird has the heart to sing in a thicket of questions’)!” http://www.iwishicoulddescribeittoyoubetter.net/overseas/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/aesthetics-of-silence-sonntag3.pdf
    Cheers and Happy New Year!

    • Good to hear from you. Yes. It’s calming to create silences around things. Artists seem to lavish less attention on concrete objects and their definition and more on their movement, and the spaces between objects. Unnaming and renaming, looking for what pops up freshly embodied in an unfamiliar context.
      Wishing a Happy New Year to you and yours.

  5. Ah. That strident admonishment of ‘could do better’. And the fall from grace in deliberate defiance of the bully boy! ( “I shall give up again after Christmas-see if I don’t”, because freedom lies in exercising choice at every moment-self discipline can be reversed!) LOved the quote about the ‘thicket of questions, and no heart to sing’ A very salutary beginning to a more benign year. You do have a knack for the appropriate pulse.

  6. Let 2014 be a thicket of delicious little scents, delicacies and fun company that is home to a blackbird’s songs. Waving, Philippa. I hope we can meet soon.

  7. Great post. Have a wondrous New Year, Ashen.

  8. I love this, Ashen—especially “humour the critic into humanness”. This is so warm and wise. Thank you for a wonderful post. Wishing you all the best in 2014!

  9. What lovely sentiments. If we were all more gentle, wouldn’t the world be a better place? I love peek-a-boo too…despite the frosty mornings or torrential rain, to see the first signs of crocus and daffodils rearing their first green shoots up through the earth is just such a lovely sign of rebirth and hope. Wishing you the very best New Year honey. May 2014 bring peace, love and laughter to us all. :D xx

  10. …Peace, love and laughter to us all … yes, Sophie, please :) same to you.
    I rushed into my garden to look for daffodil shoots. No, not yet. You must be living in a mild valley.

  11. elmer koole

    Thank you Ashen for reminding me to be gentle in judging myself. I wish you lots of love in 2014. Elmer

  12. Happy New Year Ashen. I’ve nominated you for The Sweet Blogger’s award. You can see the details here: http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/ive-been-nominated-for-the-sweet-bloggers-award/

    • Happy New Year to you, Kate. And thanks for the honour, the sweets look delicious :) I won’t take up the award, being in the middle of furiously editing. But I’ll take note of the listed sites, a lovely opportunity to make visits.

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