On the Symbology of Protection
Images: Lina Scheynius
Sometime in June 2020—or maybe July, a hot month, anyway, a time for going-away—I got restless and booked a flight someplace just to get out of myself.
To be honest “restless” here functions as a bit of a euphemism for “terribly sad”.
If I’m honest, in the heatwave of June (or July) 2020 I was terribly sad and therefore restless, and made attempts to outrun the spreading zone of this feeling, one of which was a literal move, on board a plane and out of there.
I ended up on an island somewhere out in the Mediterranean (an even hotter place), all alone.
Well, that’s fine, I thought. Solitude is curative. I better man up and take my medicine!
Determined to swallow the pill of my own company, bitter or not, I came up with strategies to wash it down with all sorts of sugar.
A game—tinkering with the formulae around me to get the suspension right.
My restlessness was settling down a bit, on its own, under the influence of different waters, different skies. Starrier constellations.
But you couldn’t always rely on EasyJet to carry you out of every tailspin, I thought. I needed some booster juice of my own—available and efficient personal fuel.
I couldn’t always depend on the stars!
Casting around slightly aimlessly (wretchedly), I in fact managed by trial and error to land on a few things.
Sweetness in nature, it transpired, was easy to stumble upon out on an island in the middle of the sea, if you were so primed, as I was, for its discovery.
A moon-rock glowing in the sand when the tides went out.
Sugary blood oranges warm from the sun, lemons squeezed onto my hair: a little ritual juice.
The frothy ocean.
All of these things seemed fresher and more important than the stale fact of my sadness.
In combination, I have to say, it was all pretty potent, and had the effect of smoothing out my jitters and making me feel soothed and protected until eventually I could bear my own company quite effortlessly and well.
It took a while I would say but there is a lot about disentanglement to recommend it, if you happen to be at a vulnerable point.
This is especially true if the final aim is to re-entangle with the world.
So, I mused while supping on a frosty limoncello wriggling my toes in the sand.
I was feeling pretty pleased with myself!
Smugness is far preferable to sadness but of course I was aware that the former is illusory just as the latter is transitory and the sensible mode of being is to occupy the ground that is somewhere in between.
Self-awareness is a similar sort of fantasy to smugness and sadness.
But nobody ever said that fantasies weren’t useful, now did they.
Ocean, rain, blood oranges, moon-rock, fantasy. Frosty limoncello and a healthy self-regard.
Ritual renewal and a recipe for a hot island getaway.
On the plane back I watched the ocean and the nectarines and moon-rocks and icy limoncello get further and further away through the little ship’s port of the window.
I was OK with letting it all go.
The airplane meal came and there were blood oranges in the “fruit” portion of the segmented tray that were refrigerated and blanched-out and cut into decolorized uniform cubes. I ate them with great appetite.