Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

06 June 2012

Lamb To The Slaughter

Gullible – easily deceived or tricked, credulous. 
Credulous – apt to believe without sufficient evidence; unsuspecting. 
Absorbent – something that absorbs; retentive. 
Absorb – to suck in; to swallow up; to imbibe; to take in; to assimilate; to take up and transform instead of transmitting or reflecting (this last definition is actually related to physics, but it describes perfectly what I’m talking about). 
Naive – overtrusting and unworldly.

This is me.  At least, this is a part of me.  And, if you ask me, it’s a most annoying part which I could well do without, since it appears to be nothing more than one ginormous liability, and to achieve little other than to frequently drop me in a deep pile of poo.  But no-one asked my permission when they were dishing out personality traits, so I’m basically lumbered with them.

So here’s an example to illustrate.

I had a brainwave recently.  At least, I thought that’s what it was at the time.  And when I got it out in the open and shared it with my friend, she agreed that it seemed like a good idea.  Except it transpired that it wasn’t.  A lot of which was to do with the fact that we were, once again, talking at cross-purposes.  And that the third party involved in this comedy of errors turned out to be wholly inappropriate for an autistic with a history of eating disorders, the absorbency of a toilet roll, and the passivity of a new-born lamb.  Lead me on to the slaughter, baaaa ...

This great idea?  I finally decided to go and see an ayurvedic practitioner to check whether my diet really is as healthy as my friend insists it is.  And ‘cos I love yoga, to which ayurveda is generally attached – so I just have to go the whole hog, trotters and all.  Plus, it’s ancient, eastern, and holistic, so it’s got to be good: well, that’s the message I’ve absorbed anyway, and who am I to argue with a bunch of three thousand year old wise men and their collected words of wisdom, not to mention the force of nature that is today’s media hype?  I even had my friend phone the aforementioned practitioner beforehand (sounds like something akin to Magic and the Dark Arts), to pave the way.  So, on that note, what could possibly go wrong? 

Well, let’s see what happens when we approach this from a more realistic perspective, starting with the not-so-insignificant detail of my autism – you know, the thing that sets me apart from my fellow man, and impairs my ability to communicate with, and understand, the world at large?  Ooops!  It seems I’d forgotten about that.  Or I’d decided that this was not going to be a problem because she’s ayurvedic, so we must speak the same language – yogi.  It transcends all communication barriers.  Yeah, right.  I really must stop snorting turmeric. 

Then there’s the equally-inconsequential item which is my ADHD.  Ah yes, that’s that thing which affects my ability to sit still for nigh on a nanosecond, and influences the length of time I can focus on anything before my brain disengages and my mind drifts off into inner space (of which there appears to be an infinite amount, given the number of times I get lost in there).  But of course that’s not going to be a problem when I’m going to be expected to sit still and concentrate for an hour and a half, in the company of a complete stranger, a feat I can only manage for thirty minutes at a time at home, where I’m by myself.  No, not going to be a problem at all – not when she’s got ayurveda on her side.  Makes perfect sense – to a deranged lunatic, high on the combined effects of numerous eastern mystical philosophies.

And furthermore, we have the negligible factor that is my anxiety.  That’s my Social anxiety.  You know, where a person suffers anxiety when out in society – that thing that involves people.  And where I get extremely anxious about going anywhere unfamiliar, in case I get lost and end up having to ask one of those people-things for directions.  But again this is not going to be a problem because this person is an Ayurvedic Practitioner – she doesn’t count as part of that societal thing.  She was going to have a magical effect on me.  Sheeesh!  I really should give up mainlining coriander as well.

Ergo, the question should really be, “What could possibly go right?”

As it turned out, not a lot, really.  First off, she sent me a booklet to read before my visit.  Bad sign.  I was supposed to be avoiding any more reading because my mind is already addled from attempting to understand what is, basically, another foreign language.  That’s why I was paying to see her, so that she could demystify and simplify it all.  Obviously we were already having difficulty communicating, and we hadn’t even spoken yet.

Then, two days before, I had a blinding flash of insight – what the hell was I doing, going to see someone I didn’t know, with everything I’ve got going on with me?  Really augured well.

The experience itself was underwhelming, to say the least.  The person who recommended her to me (whose dietary advice I have frequently followed like an over-enthusiastic lemming leaping repeatedly from a cliff-top) had said that she had an aura about her.  Well, all I can say is that her aura must have taken a sabbatical that day to get recharged. 

The only aura visible to me was that of wealth, and a carefully controlled and contrived environment of calm and spirituality.  You know, where everything is in its place, she’s got all the right accoutrements (yoga magazines carefully arranged on the dining room table, incense burning, the occasional Hindu statue dotted discreetly around the place), the decor consists of thirty different shades of beige (my idea of decorating hell), and her first words are: “Just be yourself”, followed by, “Could you please take your shoes off as we don’t allow outdoor footwear inside.”  Yep, two phrases guaranteed to make me feel welcome and at ease.  There is something not quite right about a person who has to tell you to be yourself in their company.  “House of correction” is what sprang to mind.

So, what did I gain from my visit?  A headache and a feeling that my mind had reached way beyond saturation-point in its absorbency quota for the day.  Were it actually a toilet roll, then it would have had the composition of one that had been dropped down the loo.

Apparently they don’t do labels in ayurveda – which  confused me somewhat when she labelled me a pitta person (it’s my dosha type.  Don’t ask.)  It also made it rather difficult for me to fulfil her earlier wish for me to just be myself.  By the very nature of being autistic I find it difficult to know who my self is (hence the copying), and labels help me in piecing together a picture of who I am, and how I want to develop.  I don’t use them to restrict my growth but to enable it: after all, if you don’t know where you are then you can’t know where you’re going, or whether you even need to go.  Unfortunately this is not how she saw it, so she completely disregarded all my ‘labels’, which I had diligently listed, when diagnosing me and formulating her idea of my food plan.  I felt so valued.

What I did get was the knowledge that the quality of my diet is excellent – BUT...

I also came away with a great sense of disappointment, and my illusions about ayurveda rather dismantled somewhat.  I’d gone with the expectation of it being something great, mystical, magical, fail-proof, totally non-generic, and tailored completely to the needs of the individual: and come out of there feeling like I’d been put in a box marked ‘Pitta Person’. 
This, as it turns out, is not a bad thing (seeing the truth, I mean, not the part about being put in a box), because I finally have a realistic view of what I have been so gullibly enamoured with. 

Of course, how long this view of reality lasts is anyone’s guess, given my propensity for forgetting the truth at the speed with which it takes someone to mention that Manuka honey is the new wonder food, and is highly valued in ayurvedic medicine ...  The wonder of it all is that anyone bothers to eat any of the bog-standard foods any more, when you can apparently gain everything you need from a few specially selected ‘superfoods’.  It’s also a bloody wonder that I haven’t gone bankrupt or killed myself from my dabblings.  Yep, it definitely starts to sound like I’ve been dallying in the Dark Arts: and me the ultimate sacrificial lamb.  God knows the results are just as terrifying ...

Unfortunately, though, there’s been a high price to pay for the knowledge (and I’m not just talking about the expensive consultation fee).  She has planted seeds in my mind - seeds of doubt, which will now take root and grow, no matter how much I take a spade to them to dig them up and discard them.  And I’ll have to keep doing that for a very long time, to make sure I don’t end up with a bloody forest in there, blocking out the light of truth (not to mention sanity!), otherwise I’ll suddenly find myself surreptitiously changing the bits of my diet she said were not ayurvedic, and altering my daily plan.  My mind, it seems, is nothing more than a manure pile just waiting for any random person to come along and cast indiscriminate information my way, to take root in my fertile noggin.  I should have a sign painted on my forehead: “Plant your seed here, free!”   

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis