Sunday, 2 March 2014


                  Limbo as portrayed by Hieronymus Bosch - not very much peaceful waiting going on here.

It's that dance that involves shuffling under a pole held low and horizontally.
It's one of the frenzied images of morality produced by Hieronymus Bosch.
Most appallingly, it's the place where the Roman Catholic Church taught that unredeemed souls bearing the weight of original sin went until they could be admitted to heaven......a vast waiting room of unbaptised babies, crying in the darkness.
It's a state of waiting.
It's where I am at the moment.

It's an unexpectedly peaceful place for someone who is used to a fair degree of choice and control. I'm waiting to be told what degree of surgery I need and when. The decisions will be made by people I don't know, but in whom I must have the most profound degree of trust.

I find this extremely interesting because in this increasingly sophisticated world a great deal is expected of us in the two extremes of caution and trust.
Nearly every time I switch on the computer there's someone having a go at getting some money from me.
I often answer my telephone to someone who wants to help me claim the money owing to me through mis-sold insurance, or otherwise help me with all sorts of problems I may not even realise I have (and this is despite the Caller Preference system). There was a particularly nasty one the other day purporting to be following up an accident to a member of my family. Nasty, nasty stuff, and of course I don't trust any of it.

But then I go into a room where an unknown person operates a clever bit of machinery that apparently can see inside me. If that had happened to my grandmother she would have no more believed it than I believe I've bought an insurance policy without realising.

I meet a charming man who will cut me open and take out some bits. I say, "Thank you", and trust him to do exactly what he says. How illogical might that seem?
How illogical might it seem to put one's life in the hands of someone we have never met, will never meet, but who will hurtle us up in the air for several thousand feet and drop us down again on the other side of the world? Yet many hundreds of us do it every day
Life is dangerous, and we all have to accept the risks every time we take a step. Being born is the most dangerous thing we can ever do. Assessing risk is one of the most sophisticated things we have to do, whether it be crossing the road or eating prawns.

Then there is the situation where you can do nothing or very little, For me, this situation called limbo is a good place where I can take stock, tidy the drawers, do the paper-work, generally Be Prepared and have complete trust in others. We all need the occasional jolt when we realise we are not omnipotent and that our control of life is a fairly thin veneer.
There is no Hieronymus Bosch-type howling in the darkness going on here. There's a relaxing time pottering in the garden when the sun shines (and it DID, yesterday), admiring the daffodils nodding in the cold drizzle when it doesn't.
Limbo is all right.

Rhossili Beach, the Gower, Wales, added for Frances, who finds Mr. Bosch's Limbo a bit too much!


Zhoen said...

It really isn't wholly logical, is it? But then, much of what gets us through isn't. Courage in your foyer, vestry, midway up/down the staircase.

Relatively Retiring said...

Thank you, Zhoen.

Elephant's Child said...

It seems the 'family accident' callers are world wide. We got one here the other night. Nasty indeed.
And yes, sometimes limbo is a relatively peaceful and calm place in which to do a bit of loin girding.
Good luck.

Relatively Retiring said...

E.C. I'm sorry to read this, but it's good to put up the warning. There are some truly devious people around. Limbo is too good for them!

Jenny Woolf said...

Thank goodness for stringent professional training. I'm glad you are in a good place. I think of limbo as bobbing up and down in a peaceful pool somewhere. Good luck with the medical procedure.

mm said...

RR: I know this limbo state. Moving through it well comes down to the attitude of mind and it sounds as if yours is good. And it is indeed helpful to have a space, a window of time, to take stock and tidy up those odds and ends that don't otherwise seem to get done.

Good luck from me too!

Relatively Retiring said...

Jenny: the peaceful pool is a good analogy - I'll hang on to it. Thank you for the good wishes.

mm: thank you, too. I'm sure the state is familiar to you,

pohanginapete said...

I agree with Zhoen: logic only goes so far in situations like these. If we tried to reason our way through everything we'd do nothing; we'd be paralysed into inaction. Trust lets us carry on with life. Sometimes it can be misplaced, but mostly our intuitions serve us well. I trust yours will prove well founded and deliver a good outcome.

Relatively Retiring said...

P.Pete: thank you.

Isabelle said...

You sound admirably calm about the situation, which is good. I hope they don't plan to remove any bits of you that you particularly need. Hope it all goes well.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle: thank you for the good wishes.

Leslee said...

I hope the decision is for minimal surgery but most effective. And I hope you maintain your calm and equanimity. I expect you will be in good hands, hands you can trust. Medicine is amazing these days, making things just decades past look like the dark ages. Best wishes for a smooth procedures, quickly recovered from.

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: thank you for your very kind wishes.

Frances said...

Who needs challenges at our age? But there they come.
Can you wipe Mr Bosch and add say, some peaceful impressionists to your consciousness?
Best wishes, RR.

Relatively Retiring said...

Frances: I'll see what I can do. but I rather enjoy Mr. Bosch!
Thank you for the kind wishes.