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These photographs were taken by my mum on a recent holiday.  Once a month or so she’ll send me a photo of something of interest with a few lines.  I do the same.

My son and I communicate mainly via messenger messages and occasional video calls.  We exchange news, everything’s going okay.  A couple of times recently he’s needed money and I’ve sent some.

It’s been a source of some anxiety and a fair amount of guilt that these relationships aren’t as close as, as what?  As some other people’s family relationships look from the outside?  As my idea of what these relationships should look like?  (except that I have no idea…..)  As what they were?  No, that had to change.

Anyway, in the midst of my painful illness I had a moment of clarity:  I realised suddenly:  Maybe they are happy with it being this way.

When I went to live and work in New Zealand for a year I had a similar experience of interpersonal conflict to that which I wrote about in my post ‘Every day beautiful, Every day shit,’  only without the self awareness to deal with it or take any responsibility for my part.  I emailed my mum, she emailed me back a long pep talk, and was probably quite concerned.  Even when things were going well, I used to phone her from New Zealand a lot.  I was thirty-five years old.

My son seems to do better the more independent he is from me, without me worrying about him.

I’ve written about my relationship with my son here:  This is life

Because of her own experience; property, security, inheritance were pillars for my mum.  Again due to her own experiences; as a child, teen and young woman I was conditioned to be anti-marriage, anti-men, anti-relationship.  Anti creating a world with another.

And yet that’s exactly what I’ve done with my husband and it’s amazing.  Right now, reading Krishnamurti, discussing ideas, being on a joint quest…

Here is a blog post summarising the life changing decisions we took to dismantle our previous lives and get to India here:  Orientation

And the impact it had on my relationship with my mother here:  The price of freedom

But what can I do, what is my part in fixing or accepting responsibility for these relationships?  Mother and son.  Past and present?

And what about our decisions?

I’ve been a big fan of the idea of illuminating the darkness, and taking responsibility for everything that’s ‘wrong’ in one’s life, for any sadness.
But I’ve realised that it’s also about accepting responsibility for my own happiness.

My husband and I discussed, Could we live with later thinking that we had gone crazy and regretting it and own it, the good and the bad?  We discussed the charge of, will we regret it? worst case scenarios and solutions, but still I say, It’s better than dying without having lived.

What, pregnant at eighteen, getting a career to support me and my son, getting a mortgage at thirty-five years old that would last until I was sixty, so that on my deathbed I’d say Well I couldn’t have done that (any of the exciting things- I imagine possibilities flitting through my mind on death), and then realising, Oh my God, you could have done!  You could have done!  You could have gone out and done x, and x, and x, there wasn’t anything to worry about.  There was never anything to worry about.  Your life is your life*, best message for all even with kids.

We had lunch and talked about keeping hold of this attitude to life once we return to the UK.  How?  Manage fear.  Don’t take life too seriously. Remember the people we’ve met travelling and how it works for them.  I wrote a post about some of them called Sab Kuch Milega (everything possible).

We’ve cemented voluntary simplicity minimalism and ideas about reducing consumerism, by having bought a boat to live on.  There’s no space to accumulate.  There’s a physical check on it!  The moorings are in a completely new area of the country.  There won’t be any old influences.  We’ve given ourselves the best chance we could.

So if the reason for doing all this is the pursuit of enlightenment and the definition of enlightenment is to see things as they really are…

Can you have light in some areas and not in others, just as some bits of life can be going ‘well’ and others ‘not so well’?

While we were in Pushkar my son had his teeth done.  It was such a good thing (after ten years of rotten teeth and poorly gums etc the problems are gone, and he quickly recovered and was so over the moon about facing his fears and it being resolved);  but at the same time it was so sad (that they ever got that bad, that it went on for so long, and that he had so many teeth removed).

I spent that night talking, processing, again, wishing to go to a place that can’t exist, where he’s an adult with no teeth problems, or to go back to his childhood and somehow do it all again correctly whatever it was that I did or didn’t do that could have altered it.  I don’t know what that would be and I don’t know if I could do it even if given a chance, so impossible, pointless….

Just days after, even hours after, he seemed okay, and a month later, it was as if nothing had happened at all.  It doesn’t escape my notice that he was able to finally take charge of himself while I was away.


The night I asked myself all these big questions about my family relationships, I dreamt about going round to my mum’s old house (a sixteenth century farmhouse that she’d lovingly restored and lived in for forty years (true)) as she was preparing to sell (true), and her pointing out memories, including a bit of plaster on the wall where a butterfly had landed and made a print (dream only!).  Maybe you could get someone to cast it, I said, in the dream.  Her so attached to bricks and mortar, making that house her whole life.  She regarded herself as custodian of the house, she put it above a relationship (she said she couldn’t marry or live with anyone as they would be able to claim half the house if they separated).

I thought about what I could have done differently on my part.  The thing would have been to keep separate, not share boyfriend details, not spend each holiday there, not run every decision by her, not do everything she said… yet at the same time it was hard as I was nineteen with a baby, twenty and single mum of a toddler…..  So maybe like with my son’s teeth there’s nothing that could have been done differently by me at that time.

And of course now there’s definitely nothing that can be done.  No time machine.  It- things, all things, can only be fixed in the present.

So exchanges of emails with photos, a few lines, and me living my life, in India, writing a book, discussing Krishnamurti and deepening my relationship with my husband, really it is the way things are.

For photographs of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Part of a reflective review inspired by illness, our return to Kerala, and by being eight and a half months into our twelve month trip.

* Your life is your life, go all the way (Charles Bukowski)

For photographs of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

Getting in touch
Comment on posts (comments are public)
Send a message via the Contact Box (private message via email)
Follow/send a message via my new Instagram: Sadie Wolf so_simple_so_amazing