it’s complicated**

“[T]here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

As Shakespeare clearly understood when he had Hamlet say the above line, everything in life is affected by our personal perspective.

And our perspective depends very much on where we were born and brought up, and on the social and family values we were exposed to as children. Even beauty is a learned concept.

What, for example, is the difference between a weed and a non-weed?

Why was the flower that is currently sitting in a vase on my kitchen windowsill considered appropriate for inclusion in a florist’s bouquet, whereas this shaggy yellow bloom is destined to live out its brief life unloved in the park?

dandelion flower

Indeed, if the dandelion were on a private lawn, it might well have been up-rooted before it had even had a chance to flower, whereas the gerbera was probably treated to the best growing conditions the nursery could provide.

Our experience affects our interpretation of the world, but we frequently try and trick others and influence the way they see things: we want them to agree with us, or draw certain conclusions, so we edit and censor our words and our conversations, just as I cropped the photo of the dandelion to cut out the nasty mud and the rubbish, and focus on the flower itself. It isn’t that I didn’t see the nastiness; I just chose to focus on something else.

Sometimes, it’s good to remember that we have a choice to deliberately change our perspective – and to recognise it when that is what we are doing.

Of lemon trees and lizards

I write of lemon trees and lizards, tell how swallowtails
explore the bougainvillea bracts, and honeysuckle
drapes the wheelie bins. The cherries are pinkening
on the tree against a drop of piebald mountains.

She says: Your life sounds so amazing.

I think of damp veining the kitchen wall, a plague of aphids
and the need to fumigate. The post office is half an hour away;
still, I walk and check the mail box daily, just in case. En route
I drop the trash in someone else’s sweating bin
and buy a newspaper which brings no word of home.

I muse: Creative skill is in what’s left unsaid.

Smoke stifles the High Street: the hotel kitchen chimney
must be on fire again. Storks cast prehistoric shadows
on the castle tower. I breakfast in a stone-walled yard;
the toast is golden with olive oil and sunshine.


orange and yellow gerbera

(** Actually, rather than complicated, I think both the dandelion and the gerbera are composite flowers.)

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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