Isabella arrives last
Entering a room where someone is already seated is never ever the same as being there first, thought Isabella. On entering, the emotion is even more complex, she mused, depending on the impression formed of the person seated, as Thomas was already. Thomas was fidgeting. Fidgeting as many men fidgeted she noticed. Sometimes it was the shaking foot, usually the left foot. And on other men it was the knee that danced as if a tune was playing. Thomas’s knee did not dance nor his foot, as both feet were firmly placed on the carpet square beneath the carved table top of the Oak dining table. The spiralled legs at each table corner pinned him down as tables do when seated persons clamp themselves in to eat. But, Thomas wasn’t eating, he was fidgeting. Fidgeting with his face so she could already tell she didn't have any of his attention. “Well” she thought to herself, “that can’t be true” because she had noticed that he had started to rise in deference to her entrance. He would typically bob up and down in his chair when any woman or young female came into a room. “A good and useful habit”, she thought and she loved it, not because she demanded respect but for the reason that she saw his full frame standing tall commanding the room every time he rose. And now he was seated again. Seated and a little more attentive. “Good morning, the Thomas” she laughed. He remained seated and replied, “yes, it is, thank you” and he didn’t smile. Isabella made her mind up that she still did not command his attention like his frame had commanded the empty room.
It was a blustering wind that knocked against the sash and case window. Both sash and case shouldn’t have moved as they were tightly hugged by the bay frame. But, move they did, mirroring the fierce wind that had swept Thomas to her presence and he he was, inattentive.
“Thomas, something is on your mind,” she opened to say, “and I don’t want you to tell me what it is for we have work to do!”. “If you tell me”, she went on, “I shall have all sorts of rhymes and reasons to get involved, but, that’s not why we are here today.” “Rightly said” replied Thomas “and I won’t tell you if you don’t wish to know because as you said I am here for my lesson.” But, Isabella knew already beforehand that she would find out just not in his present frame of distracted mind. She decided he would babble, get mixed up, wander hither and thither and she would know no more than she did went he had her attention. No, she decided, first she would get his attention, then get him relaxed then get him to forget and in forgetting she would allow herself to find him again; to find him in a better state of mind where he would talk simply, with reflection and with a detachment which would release him from his pain. And, his fidgeting.
As isabella moved behind him she reached over to his shoulder to gently kiss his cheek, Not for the kisses sake but this is where she would leave her perfume. The perfume that would wrestle him from his deepest thoughts and bring him back to her. Not some Marrakech aroma of spices and coumarin but the petalled oils of garden flowers that smoked through the grass to be mixed with almond oil to create a fragrance that she bottled and kept on her bedroom dresser, maturing with the seasons and settling on her neck. And it worked, as she placed her lips on his roughly shaved face she could see him sit up and take notice of her for the first time. So, she pounced with words, “Thomas? Are you here in odiferous splendour or in splendid isolation” she questioned as she moved to her chair on the other side of the room table.” She had confused him, which was what she had intended, for in the confusion she struck again,
“Thomas be here now in your thoughts not in some far distant track in your mind.” “I am here” replied Thomas, “for surely you can see me”. Isabella was prepared for this, “Thomas, listen now. There are many who can be seen and never be touched. Many who nod and smile but don’t wear the eyes of the present. There are those who are at the forge but never metal cast.” Isabella knew that Thomas would understand this. His work in his Blacksmith’s foundry taught him more than just ironwork. He already knew that she was saying that it’s never enough to be there and to be fully there you had to listen and pay attention. “I’m sorry, Isabella” he offered. “Never apologise, Thomas, for I do not need it. You need to be here listening and learning and you know already you can only do that when you bring your mind into this room where we teach other and grow.”
“Yes, my Isabella” he acknowledged.
The room was unlike many rooms of its type. Neither plain, nor decorated, neither adorned or simple. Nothing hung on the walls but the room hung with atmosphere, No oil lamps burned with settled unmoving flames because candles flared with dancing light to bring the room alive in a magical way as shadows danced around the moving figures carefully placed to cast their reflection against the wall between the candlesticks. And as the walls danced so did Isabella’s heart. These were special moments for her and Thomas. Each meeting like the first and each better than the last. “Thomas, I am going to give you a simple instruction and do you think you could follow it? Will you listen to me today?” Thomas replied, “Isabella, you will know soon enough and I will make my very best attempt. So, let me apply myself.” Thomas took a deep breath. Isabella knew exactly what to say given this accepting breath, “Thomas, what I want you to do right now is close your eyes for me” and she waited for some moments before he followed. “That’s good, Thomas, now pretend just imagine that your eyes won’t open. When youre sure, when you're positive, when you're absolutely certain that your eyes won't open you can try opening your eyes. When you’re sure your eyes won't open you can try opening your eyes, You can try opening your eyes and find them locking tighter and tighter together. The more you try to open your eyes the more they will remain firmly closed tight shut. The more you try to open your eyes the tighter and tighter your eyes will remain closed. Closed, shut, sealed together, not opening. Now try opening your eyes.” Isabella’s gaze was firmly on Thomas now carefully watching each muscle on his face. As much was required from Isabella as it was from Thomas and she knew this so she gave him all of her attention. Thomas opened his eyes. “No, Thomas. I said relax your eyes to the point where they just wouldn’t open. You’ve shown that you can open your eyes. We both know you can open your eyes, you should be closing your eyelids and relaxing them to the point where they just won’t work. Now, make another attempt.” Thomas closed his eyes and didn’t feel chastised. He knew Isabella was correct. He wasn’t paying enough attention. He would sort that, he thought, as he closed his eyes again. This time he could feel the muscles in his eyelids relax and the more he thought on this the more the muscles seemed to relax. He could see a picture in his mind of the muscles actually loosening and relaxing and all at once could feel that he couldn’t open them. As Isabella went on to say, “Now try opening your eyes and the more you try to open your eyes the tighter and tighter they will be locked shut.” he was aware that his eyebrow muscles were moving away from his eyes but the lids remained tightly closed, just as she had said they would. He knew then he was properly listening and then felt the soft tip of Isabella’s pointing finger lightly press the centre of his cold forehead. And in the warmth of her skin brushing his brow he noticed that eyes were once again released. His eyes opened to see Isabella grinning brightly with satisfaction and he smiled to. Her smile lifted her top lip where every tooth seemed to wear its own smile. The drape of her bottom lip fell away to stretch her smile even broader. He could see her happiness. “Well done, my Thomas” she praised. He said “Well done” inside, to himself. This was no game. He was now giving her attention in a new way. From now on every word would have meaning, every feeling linger and every emotion draw them into a new discovery. She continued, “Thomas now close your eyes once more and when you are ready fully relax them. Relax your eyelids the same way that you did successfully a few minutes ago. To the same point where they were fully relaxed. Experience that again. When your eyelids are fully relaxed take a deep breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs.” Isabella always paid attention to Thomas’s reactions. She was as much engaged in the journey as he needed to be. She could see him breath in and this gave her a sign. He was now paying attention and in this Isabella should could start to give him gifts. Not the sort wrapped in tinsel tied with interesting bows but the gift of his infinite imagination and they chance to find some personal treasure yet to be revealed deep inside his handsome head. “Thomas, now take a deep breath and hold it in just a little longer this time and slowly exhale, slowly, slowly, hanging on to the breath. That’s really good. And, again.” Thomas breathed in; held the breath, just as she had instructed. Isabella noticed the muscles of his face drift further back into his frame as his head dropped gently to his chest. Isabella thought on all the places where his face had been tense, the muscles in his neck to the string of forehead muscles in his furrowed brow, carrying a particular woe, now dispelled.
Isabella was sure now that she could show Thomas her way of dispelling the distracted thoughts that followed him to her and how he was ready to begin. “Thomas,” she spoke with full energy, “What I want you to do now is to imagine that you are in a forest at dusk. Its best if you can imagine that you are already deep into the forest, safe and in control. Picture that the dusk light is brightened by a full moon above lighting a safe way for you should you choose to go this way or that. When you have that image in your head and when you can see enough light around you to move ahead just lift a finger, any finger.” Isabella waited. There was a delay as she watched Thomas’s silent face giving nothing away, then she saw the middle finger of his right hand tremble, “That’s good, she said, “You’re doing well, Thomas. Now standing there with the light spilling around you and the path ahead lighted both left and right, through branches and across grass just be sure that you can accept you are in control and safe from all danger. You might be aware of the cold morning air under your nostrils. Perhaps you are already prepared to listen to the sounds of the past-midnight forest, New sounds mixed with the familiar. Nature’s hoots laced through the wind and maybe the bristling leaves giving way as animals forage around you. That’s good. Let the sounds become clearer. Hear them now as close to your ears as if you were there. High notes, low notes, harmonies and screeches, all taking your mind deeper and deeper into the forest. You’re doing well.” Thomas remained silent and relaxed. She noticed, she was aware that the fingers of his left hand trembled slightly. Thomas was unaware, now immersed in his imagination. Brave in the night, valiant in his quest and ready to face the frontiers of his imagination. No doubts in his head and listened to the wood around him and surprised at the night activity that now played a tune. “Now, Thomas, just imagine that you can hear one particular sound in the distance. A sound that finds you through the night. What I want you to do right now is to imagine that this is the sound of the distractions that you brought with you here, today. Just imagine what they might sound like and if you can’t imagine just pretend that you can imagine the pitch of that sound. Maybe shreeks or howls or grawing sounds coming clearer to you now as the other music of the forest fades away. Imagine that you can begin to place where those tones might be coming from deeper in the forest where you stand.” Isabella could tell that Thomas was fully focussed, In his relaxed state she picked out a determination in his face. “That’s good, Thomas” she went on, “I want you to imagine now that you are moving forward in the direction of these distractions. Any other noises you hear or sounds that come to you will only help to focus you more on this task, relaxing you further and taking you deeper and deeper into the wood. Take time, now Thomas, to make sure that your path is clear. You might see yourself step over things, to step around branches, to take a clearer path in your pursuit of distractions. The more you move forward, Thomas, the nearer and nearer you find you are to the distractions, coming closes and closer, still safe and still in control. As you become nearer to the sounds become more aware of how they sound. The mix of gnawing and there behind a tree root ahead of you the source of the sound with a clear path for you ahead. The sound of your distractions now found but still yet unseen. Obscured from you as move and edge forward through the brush below. Doing really well and still safe and in control. I want you to imagine, Thomas, that you move so close to the root and the boulder in front of it that you can now see the animal that was your distractions, a forest boar caught up in the tree roots but squealing in its efforts to release itself. These distractions now apparent to you and tied to your imagination with no chance of release without your intervention. Not friendly, not welcoming, not thankful or grateful to you. You are in control now Thomas and you can reach forward to cut the boar fully loose. Slicing through the surrounding roots to release the boar as it found itself needlessly gripped. All the roots free and nothing now that you can see that now holds the boar that now stands there still ungrateful. Thomas, I want you to chase the boar away in whatever manner or means you decide. You may find that you have to stamp or use a branch to show that you are in command and the distractions are being chased away by you,” Isabella noticed that Thomas, still relaxed, was moving his left foot as if it mirrored the shadow of a stamping foot deep within the forest of his mind. That’s excellent Thomas, Be sure, now, that the distractions are chased fully away. Watch in the moonlit wood as the boar darts further and further away. Deeper lost and now forgotten by your mind. That’s good, you’ve done well. What I want you to do now Thomas is to imagine that you can now look at the cut through root of the tree where once was something caught and now released. Look closely, Thomas. Check that all the traps and tricks that might hold any distractions here are now gone, That’s good, Fully checked and all is good. As you stand there having done all the checks that you need to have done I now want you to fill your lungs with as much chilly air from the dusk woods that you can. All the air carrying the freedom of nature deep into your body, refreshing you. So chilled and refreshing that you can almost feel the air reach your eyes, clearing now as you open your eyes, Fully refreshed and released from the care, now forgotten. Eyes open, wide awake.
Thomas came to life with a start. All as if he had been somewhere else completely but at the same time still here with Isabella, under her care. He felt still he hadn’t fully returned. Some part of him was still chasing the worries away and he told Isabella. “That's good then, Thomas” she encouraged him. “For today at any time you find yourself distracted again find this place where part of your mind is now, remember that picture and how animated its become in your mind.” “I will, Isabella, I promise you that. I feel so released and grateful for it.” Isabella explained to Thomas that gratitude is in the imagination too and there they sat, together, two but in some part joined somewhere still to be discovered.
Note from Patrick Brady
The lesson here, I think, is a secret that we frequently forget and a truth that for some has never been revealed to some. I will write it out here for you to consider:
Our unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between an imagined thought and a real and present experience.
I can repeat this or you can choose to read the sentence over again because it’s so important to know. In knowing this secret you can alter your frame of mind. Im sure that Isabella was teaching Thomas this for all time and not just for the present. Maybe, she could have explained to Thomas that when your imagination chases damaging thoughts away your unconscious mind starts to believe that that this has, in reality, happened. Isabella did a useful thing in allowing Thomas to enjoy a vivid experience. All you need to do is create a story and paint a picture in your mind that serves you well. What you don’t ever need to do is to over-think.
© Patrick Brady 2017. Patrick Brady in an English Lawyer and any breach or infringement of copyright and all its entitlements will be vigorously defended in the British Courts