Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Words and their meaning

People are feckless with words. They toss them over their shoulders as casually as they would a cigarette butt. I, on the other hand, am a word scavenger. I collect them, polish them into brightness, display them, gloat over them.

So when my doctor some 20 years ago described me as living on the edge, I immediately came up with images. I was teetering in the wind on a high cliff. Below me I could hear the roar of the sea but I didn’t dare look down. I could only hope there would be some outcrop of rock that would break my fall. Or, I hoped that, like the blind Gloucester, in King Lear, I would fall over the edge only to land in a meadow with exclamations of wonder that I had fallen so far, floating like thistle down, and yet had sustained no injury.

But on his most recent visit, the doctor said I was on a knife edge. Now that’s a much more violent image. I’ve had no training or experience in tight rope walking. Who, anyway, would venture out on a knife edge, unless she was trying to escape something horrible. In which case, there would be no point in turning around and going back. I would be like a toddler just learning to walk who lacked the necessary balance to turn round. So I would have to go on, but how far and what would be my destination? M.S never gets any better; my point of arrival might well be worse than my point of departure.

My doctor had hoped it would be quick, my being on the knife edge, I assume he meant. So did he want me to fall off and to fall off on to what? Would there be a safety net? Or would there be Gloucester’s meadow? Or did he just want the journey to be short and was kidding himself that at the end of it I would have reached the Elysian fields? More likely I would fall across the knife and whether it was sharp or not, it would cut me. I think I had better opt for Gloucester’s meadow, and his sad recognition.

“I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
I stumbled when I saw.”


  1. There is no doubt that words are wondrous things. I didn't like the knife edge image at all for you Diana - far too uncomfortable - so I came up with 'on the cusp'. What actually is a 'cusp', I thought, going to my old 1966 S.O.D. In astrology a "cusp" is 'the beginning or entrance of a "house"'. In that context, the S.O.D. says a "house" is 'the whole sky, excluding those parts that never rise and that never set' ... etc.
    Parts of the sky that never rise and never set? I could make no sense of this other than to compare it with Gloucester's meadow which was like a kind of dream really. Maybe Shakespeare knew.
    I am not trying to make you feel better - well, I am actually, in part - but mainly just sharing my word adventures with you because I very much enjoy your journal.
    With love

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  3. The following comment was accidently removed and is now being republished:

    I don't like this.
    The image of you walking on a knife edge gave me shivers and it gave me a horrible image of what you must be going through each day. I hope it isn't to violent for you and you have been inventing ways to make the day easier.
    I like the word feckless though I don't think I have ever heard it before. I am very feckless with words, In fact I would rather draw with pastel my thoughts after reading this blog then send it to you but its just not that time efficient as words.

    I very much like the end quote from king lear.

    I am sending the patter to you tomorrow. Sorry that its so late I left it at home so I had to get mum to post it to me first, I needed to redo the pattern so it was able to be read by someone else.

    Sending you my all my love