Short Reads

I met two women on a ward.

I met two women on a ward.

They were sitting together in a packed hospital canteen on a sunny afternoon some time in April.

They were so entirely and inconceivably opposite it was disarming.

One resembled a startled bird. She was scrawny and fragile and twitched as she continuously glanced about her, her eyes darting about like ferrets.

The other was large and rumpled and sat like like a deflated blancmange. Her eyes yawned like cows mouths mechanically chew grass; they never reacted or even moved as people shouted and jostled about her, and her whole appearance seemed to slow down the very air.

One flinched at everything; a noise, a smile, a thought would cause her to jitter into unrest, like she was knocked about and unnerved by the very air molecules.

The other seemed to be frozen still by gravity, like life and people had worn her down so much that she was now immune to every and any shade or inclination. She lolled still and merely gazed through everything rather than actually seeing anything.

It seemed to me, as I watched these women, that life’s forces can be strong. The winds by which we are buffeted through our days can blow us far and wide; they can remove us from our selves and bite like frost.

“We should be wary,” I thought, “but which woman’s way is best? Is it better to be so sensitive to every nip and eddy, that one cannot sit and feel the calm? Or to be so far removed and reticent, that the eddies no longer provoke a reaction, and the wind simply passes through ones self and soul.”

I looked away and sighed, somebody had upended a table and was ranting incoherently, eyes flashing and spittle flying from their lips as an unassuming orderly attempted to clear it up and reestablish order. The people sitting about were mixed, a few had looked up, but still more remained merely eating, raising forks of food to their mouths, heads low and shoulders hunched.

I noticed a spare, last plate of pudding sitting behind the servers rack; and as I got up to go and claim it realised that neither woman’s way is better, and neither way is right. The winds will always blow us, even knock us even from our chosen paths; we cannot resist the vast forces which rain around us.

To be wise is to accept this buffeting and be responsive to the changing tide, but never to be consumed entirely, never let the vastness of the very space we exist within fill us so fully that we cannot move ourselves and determine our own direction through the second and the day.

The cow woman vegetated, languid and vast; and the bird woman flinched at the very fierceness of her continuing breath.

I finally looked away, picked myself up a last plate of pudding, and sat down at another table.

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5 thoughts on “I met two women on a ward.

  1. I got up to go and claim it realised that neither woman’s way is better, and neither way is right

    The one has a comfort zone but dare not leave it; the other cannot find it. Neither is right.

    What is better?

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    1. Hmm one was so fearful she’d lost her comfort zone, the other was in a state of dissolution- this isn’t a comfort zone, it’s a state of stoic yet tragic loss, a disconnection so complete she was dreaming whilst awake. A comfort zone is a positive thing, I don’t think either of these women were in positive places. It is how we react to the threats we perceive around us, or the forces etc we perceive to threaten us. I meant to email you last night my thoughts, but have had quite a calm day today so didn’t want to go back there. How are you doing today? xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry to miss this response, I was quite overwhelmed by your next post.

        Firstly, thankyou for your thoughts on the comfort zone. If you can say that about the comfort zone, you’ve grasped something that is extremely important for your future. I would like to lessen them a little by saying that it is in its healthy employment that the comfort zone is a positive thing; but when it is abused it acquires a hard and largely impenetrable surface.

        I appreciate your reasoning about the email, albeit I would have liked to hear from you … even if it was to say something that was nice for you.

        What I will say is that your two most recent posts have shown me something quite new. Of you, and of the world. They’ve been worth waiting for!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks so much, I’m gonna try and publish another one today I think. Yes, lol I am gradually picking up more and more of how you conceptualise the comfort zone, rather than I had previously seen in. I had previously taken issue with how you seemed to see people hold onto it too tightly, but my impression of what the phrase means is developing! I wonder- what you think makes up the comfort zone, what is within that zone which makes it so comfortable? Old entrenched views and impressions which keep that person feeling safe and in control? Very very interesting 🙂

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