Bibi Borthwick


Lina Scheynius

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.