Song Lyric Sunday

Good morning one and all, I hope that life is treating you well :O) Another week has flown by and it’s time once again for Song Lyric Sunday which is brought to us by the endlessly creative Jim Adams. If you’ve never played along why not give it a try this week, it’s a fantastic way of discovering new music and meeting new bloggers

Good morning one and all, I hope that life is treating you well :O) Another week has flown by and it’s time once again for Song Lyric Sunday which is brought to us by the endlessly creative Jim Adams. If you’ve never played along why not give it a try this week, it’s a fantastic way of discovering new music and meeting new bloggers. If you’re feeling inspired this weeks theme is zodiac animals (Rat/Ox/Tiger/Rabbit/Dragon/Snake/Horse/Sheep/Monkey/ Rooster/Dog/Pig) and these are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

 

Once there was a gardener
Whose horse became a dream
It then became a nightmare
And nothing was redeemed
His heart was overshadowed
It yielded to the pain
Of lost and broken memories
Of love he’d spent in vain
There within the labyrinth
He bathed in vapours green
He poured his very essence
Into pools that can’t be seen
He fell into the precipice
By choice he entered through
Dark waters yet unspoken
Of a loss he could not bear to be true
His fate lay among the flowers
Of the desert morning stars
Uncharted lands and faithful hands
Beckon from afar
In time his eyes will open
And he will begin to see
The beauty of his innocence
Free from memory
His horse that was a nightmare
Will be a promise seen
No longer there a prisoner
He’ll realise his dream
And souls will join and be reborn
In the Eden of his heart
He’ll bring forth a light of unity
From which he will not part
Loving eyes will no longer
Pour acid on his soul
For forged within integrity
His horse becomes a foal
And there begins his reckoning
A freedom from the past
The pain in vain will dissipate
And peace will come to pass
Songwriters: Lisa Gerrard / James Orr
This, for me, is  a poem set to music and it’s one of the most poignant that I’ve ever read. Lisa Gerrard who has the most incredible singing voice actually speaks these words and they are almost hypnotic. They tell the tale of a man who loses his love and sinks into a deep depression as he struggles to cope with the loss ‘he couldn’t bear to be true’ but then they speak of his journey back to a place of hope where he can be free from the pain of his past memories.
I discovered this track when I was in therapy after the death of my husband. The therapist had worked with analogies and some hypnosis and my ‘peaceful place’ was always a river that I would arrive at via a winding path, through a wood, and with me (my emotional protection) was always a palomino horse. So, you can imagine, the lyrics had enormous significance for me and I had to share them with my therapist. As she read them, she started to cry which came as something of a surprise to me but, I later discovered that she too had lost someone very close to her. For me, this short, spoken song sums up the journey through grief; five years on, I have found peace and this song no longer makes me cry but, even now, it comes close.
I hope that you love it as much as I do.
Lisa x

The Key to Happiness

Happiness. The thing that we all strive for, dream about, search for and yet, for many of us, it is elusive – why? Most of us have periods of happiness in our lives but they are often over-shadowed by misery caused by events in the past or worries about the future. I am not going to say ‘live in the moment’, even though it’s excellent advice, because, for most people it’s impossible

Happiness. The thing that we all strive for, dream about, search for and yet, for many of us, it is elusive – why? Most of us have periods of happiness in our lives but they are often over-shadowed by misery caused by events in the past or worries about the future. I am not going to say ‘live in the moment’, even though it’s excellent advice, because, for most people it’s impossible. We are a product of our memories (which live in the past) and our hopes, dreams and fears (which reside in the future for the most part.) What I am going to say is that happiness is something that needs to be worked at….

If you’ve ever learned to play the piano – you didn’t get to the end of the first lesson being able to play a concerto, you didn’t learn the alphabet and then were able to write a dissertation on War and Peace. Rather, you practiced, doing the same thing over and over again until whatever it was you were learning came to you naturally.  Do you remember how hard it was the first time you tried to write your name? Do you even think about it now? It seems to me that the same logic applies to being happy. This is only my opinion but it’s based on the things that I’ve learned over the last few years.

After I lost my husband I grieved and that’s perfectly natural but it was also what I focused on. I needed to cry, to find ways to let out the emotion that was crippling me so I listened to sad music, watched sad films, read sad stories – you get the picture. After a couple of years I found that I wanted to be happy but, each time I was, I was plagued by guilt – how could I be happy when my husband was dead – so I reverted back into a state of depression…..which then became the norm, a safe place if you will. Essentially, I was comfortable with being depressed.

The trouble with depression is that it’s so easily reinforced. We find a moment’s happiness but then tell ourselves ‘ something will come along to screw it up, I just know it’ and guess what? It does. Then we tell ourselves that we were right (everyone loves to be right) and obviously that means we don’t deserve to be happy or that, even if we find happiness, something will come along to ruin it. What we have on our hands then is a self-fulfilling prophesy and those are buggers to deal with!

I was trapped in this circle for years and then I started to get pissed off with it. My husband’s death had taught me that life is short and we only get one crack at it so I started to look at ways of breaking this incredibly destructive cycle. I began to search for inspiration on YouTube of all places and, because I was looking for it, I found it. There are meditations which will calm you mind and body, there are TED talks which explain our thought processes and what we can do to change them, there are yoga practices, we have Tony Robbins and Brene Brown, Sadhguru and Ajahn Brahm. In short, there is all the material we need to kick start our minds out of depression and into happiness.

So why isn’t everyone happy? Because it isn’t easy to change years of mental and emotional programming. There is comfort in the familiar, there is a certain self-indulgence in misery and our memories, good and bad stay with us. However, being comfortable generally means not moving and, if we don’t move, what’s going to change? Self-indulgence isn’t a bad thing unless we over-indulge – think half a pound of chocolate and a full tub of ice-cream! As for our memories, we can’t erase them but what we can do is change the way that we feel about them, the emotions that we attach to them. I will always feel sad when I think of the last days of my husband’s life but I have attached a very strong feeling of gratitude and love to the fifteen years we spent together before those last few days and, now, that’s what I try and concentrate on but it takes work.

It’s easy, when you’re feeling down, to lie on the sofa and watch TV – it’s hard to get up and go for a walk.

It’s easy to listen to The World’s saddest love songs and cry for a lost love – it’s hard to put on a Madness album and dance around the living room

It’s easy to talk about negative feelings and listen while others do it – it’s hard to put on a set of headphones and follow a guided meditation

Funny thing is, however hard they might be at the start, like everything else, over time, they get easier. What we tell ourselves has a direct effect on our experiences whether they be positive or negative. I’ve realised that we have the ability to create our own narrative and constantly referring to misery, sadness, loss, grief, pain in our words, our writing and our thoughts serves only to reinforce those feelings. Being happy is like anything else – it can be learned but it takes time and effort and I have decided it’s worth the effort. So, am I happy every minute of every day? No, but I’m working on it and life is getting so much easier in the process!

Have an awesome Sunday one and all :O)

Lisa x

When I Was Young: Published

Those lovely folk over at Spillwords have very kindly published another one of my poems today and I can’t thank them enough!  If you’re a poet or a writer of short stories don’t be afraid to submit your work to them as they’re a great bunch of people and they won’t bite ;O) Anyway, if you get a couple of minutes I hope that you’ll wander over there and read it.

Those lovely folk over at Spillwords have very kindly published another one of my poems today and I can’t thank them enough!  If you’re a poet or a writer of short stories don’t be afraid to submit your work to them as they’re a great bunch of people and they won’t bite ;O) Anyway, if you get a couple of minutes I hope that you’ll wander over there and read it.

Lisa

x

PS. The cat gif is there for no other reason than I like cats and it made me chuckle

 

Just a Poem

Like a butterfly broken by the rains

My memories, once pure

Like a butterfly broken by the rains

My memories, once pure

Lay tattered, shredded by relentless time

Fractured jigsaw pieces

Voice, touch, kiss all longed for but forgotten

Mocking photo prompts

A smile, if not captured, forever lost

So much fading away

Yet love remains. My broken heart still beats

For you and you alone

 

Do You Dream?

When you slumber, free from reality

With limbs in gentle repose, breathing soft

The images come, unrestrained, welcome

Of days gone by or a longed for future

When you slumber, free from reality

With limbs in gentle repose, breathing soft

The images come, unrestrained, welcome

Of days gone by or a longed for future

Complete liberty to construct your view

Of a World that beckons your aching soul

Do you face the fear that binds you: regret

Or are you, in that moment, cleansed, reborn?

What do you dream when night comes to claim you?

When you become, once more, all that you hide

I dream of the day I first saw your face

I dream of the day I’ll hold you again

I dream of you, my love, I dream of you.

Lisa x

Song Lyric Sunday

HAPPY SUNDAY!!! I hope that you all have a smile on your face and a song in your heart because today is all about music! Yes, it’s time, once again, for Song Lyric Sunday which is brought to us by the lovely Jim Adams, I’m sure he’d love for you to stop by and check out his blog.  If you’d like to take part and share your favourite tunes here are some rules:

HAPPY SUNDAY!!! I hope that you all have a smile on your face and a song in your heart because today is all about music! Yes, it’s time, once again, for Song Lyric Sunday which is brought to us by the lovely Jim Adams, I’m sure he’d love for you to stop by and check out his blog.  If you’d like to take part and share your favourite tunes here are some rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

The prompt for this week is Minutes/Hours/Days/Weeks/Months and here is my choice:

A picture, a date,
It’s hard to believe it
‘But it was only yesterday’,
my memory would lie to me
And those children faces, and mine in that mirror
Oh, I’m not complaining, don’t worry about that
Life spoiled me, I’m having a hard time turning it off
Oh, my God, I’ve had my share
And even more, in so many ways

But when we live too beautifully, too strongly,
We forget that time passes by,
Just like we lose a bit our bearings
In too vast open spaces
We barely have time to get used to it, then we have to step aside – Oh, if only I could

One more night, one more hour,
One more tear of joy
A favour, just like a flower
A breath, a mistake
A bit of us, almost nothing at all
To say everything once again, or to remain silent
With our eyes, just one report
Barely once more, even though it’s late

I never asked for anything, it’s not so much to ask
Come on, compared to eternity, it won’t even show
It will stay between us, oh, just a slight delay

So many people are just killing time,
So much that they end up losing or using it up
So many people lie to themselves, making up dreams
And moments of grace
Oh, I would give up my place in Heaven
If I could be forgotten here on Earth

Once more yesterday

One more night, one more hour,
One more tear of joy
A favour, just like a flower
A breath, a mistake
A bit of us, almost nothing at all
To say everything once again, or to remain silent
One look, just one report
Barely once more, I know it’s late

It’s not much, nothing more than a break
May time and its clock rest a bit
And caress just a kiss, just a kiss

Once more night, one more hour
A bit of us, not much at all

One night
One more night
One more hour
A bit of us
Almost nothing at all
One night

I first heard this song not long after I moved to France,  I was with friends and it started playing on the radio. At the time my French wasn’t good enough to understand all the words, it still isn’t, but I could understand enough to know that it was a woman begging for another night, even another hour with the man she loves. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was the first song that Celine Dion recorded after the loss of her husband and you can hear the pain in her voice.
The melody first caught my attention because it is truly beautiful but then I heard the line:
“Oh, I would give up my place in Heaven If I could be forgotten here on Earth” and I was undone as that was exactly how I felt at the time; the tears choked me but I didn’t want to break down in front of my new friends. Unfortunately the line:
“It’s not much, nothing more than a break May time and its clock rest a bit And caress just a kiss, just a kiss” finished me off and I was sobbing because I could hear the longing in her voice as she whispered “just a kiss”. At that moment and in many moments before and since I would have given anything for one more kiss, one more night, one more hour with my husband…….
The translation I’ve included is not perfect but it’s the best that I can find but I’m not sure you’ll need it as the emotion Celine Dion puts into this song speaks for itself.
Lisa x

Get Out!

It’s grey, not pink, that’s a bit of a shock 

But now that it’s out let’s see what we’ve got 

Too many, too much, I’ll make a big pile 

Sifting through this could take quite a long while 

It’s grey, not pink, that’s a bit of a shock

But now that it’s out let’s see what we’ve got

Too many, too much, I’ll make a big pile

Sifting through this could take quite a long while

Small heaps perhaps to the left and the right

The good and the bad, the dark and the light

This one is sadness, it must belong there

Along with contrition, pain and despair

This is a memory of happiness lost

Where do I put it? Shouldn’t it be tossed?

Or kept in a pile with hope and a dream

Of a ghost’s soft reproach ‘Carpe Diem’

Arranged before me, they’re not as I thought

A mountain on one side; how hard I fought

To hold an echo and hoard the shadows

A mound on the other, the things I chose

To leave in the light, hoping they would grow

Hope is the first, a sprout, starting to show

Joy is there too but a almost unrecognised

Love their companion albeit disguised

Now to decide, what to keep, what is thrown?

What goes back? Good or bad it’s all I’ve known

For so long, same thoughts again and again

It’s not so easy to clean out my brain.

The last few days have been pretty grim. Maybe it’s because Valentine’s day is just round the corner, maybe it’s because grief just decides to beat the crap out of you sometimes, I honestly don’t know but sadness is just eating away at me. I’ve spent the last 5 years finding coping mechanisms to stay strong and keep positive, to enjoy each day as it comes but, right now, I have negative thoughts chasing around my head like puppies on speed.

This morning I thought how wonderful it would be if I could just take out my brain, give it a good shake and get rid of all the negative shit that seems to be clogging it up – hence this poem. Have you ever felt like that? I’d love to hear from you if you have.

Lisa x

Roses are Red

Just when you think it’s safe to go out 

There is a knock at your heart, tap, tap 

Trepidation calls, bearing flowers 

Roses, red like the blood flowing still 

Just when you think it’s safe to go out

There is a knock at your heart, tap, tap

Trepidation calls, bearing flowers

Roses, red like the blood flowing still

Through your veins to a stone cold  heart

Violets, deep blue as your eyes that weep

To remember the days without fear

Orchid, black reflecting your humour

‘Love me, love me not?’, petals shredded

Destroying the thing of beauty that

Once was your life. Stamens, yellow stain

Rough hands. Colours bleeding into one

Dull grey where once: yellow red, blue

Delicate stems, plain perfect blossom

Dismay brought you a bouquet. But why?

To remind you that he’s there. Tap tap

Just when you think it’s safe to go out.

I had to go to the supermarket this morning and, everywhere I looked, there were red hearts and roses, cards and chocolates and lovers strolling hand in hand. There is a feeling of romance in the air and, this year for some reason, I am not really dealing with it very well. So many tears today I just locked myself away and wrote this poem because I didn’t know what else to do.

Lisa x

 

Fandango’s Provocative Question

There are some questions that are rarely asked because the emotions that they stir up can be almost unbearable and because they cannot help but completely divide opinion. That said, these are often the questions that should be asked because they provoke discussion and, however unpalatable these discussions may be they are necessary if the human race is to continue to move forward. For that reason, I’ve decided to try and answer the incredibly provocative question posed by the fearless Fandango.

There are some questions that are rarely asked because the emotions that they stir up can be almost unbearable and because they cannot help but completely divide opinion. That said, these are often the questions that should be asked because they provoke discussion and, however unpalatable these discussions may be they are necessary if the human race is to continue to move forward. For that reason, I’ve decided to try and answer the incredibly provocative question posed by the fearless Fandango.

Do you believe that terminally ill people should be allowed or encouraged to end their lives via physician-assisted suicide? If so, under any circumstances or should there be restrictions? If not, why not?

My first response to this is to ask another question: If your family pet was dying, visibly suffering and the vet had told you there was nothing they could do what would your reaction be? You knew that, if you did not take action, your beloved cat or dog would face the rest of its life in pain and anguish…what would you do? For most of us, although it may break our hearts we would ask the vet to put the animal to sleep, to end its suffering. How is it then that we do not afford the same kindness to our fellow humans?

Almost 5 years ago, I watched my husband die from esophageal cancer which was complicated by secondary cancer in his liver. I watched him suffer when the doctors put cameras down his throat, he was sedated but told me that the process was agony. I was with him on the day that they decided to operate on his esophagus, a major and frightening procedure. They opened him up and then found the secondary cancer so they woke him up from the anesthetic and, while he was still groggy, told him that the operation would not go ahead and that there was nothing more they could do for him. That was his death sentence, it was delivered with little compassion and it broke my husband’s heart because he knew that he would be leaving this World and everyone in it that he loved. Worse than this, he knew that he would die in considerable pain.

I fought to find him a place in a hospice because I couldn’t bear the treatment that he received in hospital. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to relive the memories but no-one deserves the mental and emotional cruelty that he suffered in the name of ‘treatment’.

Cancer is the most awful disease. It is cruel. It robs people of their dignity, it strips the flesh from their bones and leaves them as shadows of their former selves, in pain, connected to machines, drips, tubes all designed to keep them in their suffering for as long as possible. For what? For who?

A few months before his death I was asked to sign a ‘do not resuscitate order’ and, although I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to the only man I’d ever loved, I didn’t hesitate because watching someone you love slowly taken apart by this terrible disease is far worse than letting them go. What is it they say about if you really love someone you’ll let them go….?

One of the things that I will always feel guilty about is not spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my love before he died. In films or on the TV it’s always like that isn’t it? The relative sleeping in a chair beside their loved one’s bed, holding their hand, not leaving, eating or even changing their clothes but real life isn’t like that or at least it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t or wouldn’t accept that my husband was going to die. Of course, I knew on an intellectual level but I wouldn’t believe it because the thought was too awful to bear. So I visited every single day, for hours at a time, but I also carried on with my life because, in my head, that which I knew to be inevitable could never happen.

This went on for several months, my husband suffered, I suffered, his family and mine suffered, it was prolonged, torturous and unnecessary. If my love had been given the option to end his life with a morphine overdose I believe he would have taken it just to put an end to, what had become, a miserable existence; it could really be called a life any longer. If he had made that choice I like to think that I would have supported him in his decision because it was his to make.

When I spoke to one of the hospice nurses after my love had left this World she said that his death had been ‘difficult’, basically, he had suffered. The really awful part of this was that I was not there with him, he was alone with a nurse, a very caring woman but not someone who loved him; don’t we all deserve to be with someone we love when we die?

If medically assisted suicide was allowed I could have been there, he could have been surrounded by the people that he loved at a time and place of his choosing and not at 2am, in a hospice with a kind nurse the only person there to hold his hand. I know that people will say that the processed could be abused, the lawmakers fear that assisted suicide could become murder or that people who would otherwise go on to recover, especially from mental illness, will take their own life but it is their own life isn’t it? The human race is happy enough to kill, many places still have the death penalty, we start wars over territory or religion, we maim and murder for pleasure or profit and yet we balk at the idea of allowing someone to take their own life. Why?

The grief that I have suffered and still suffer following the death of my beloved husband would be no different had he died as he did or through medically assisted suicide. The pain would not be lessened but the guilt would have been because I could have been there with him.

We put animals to sleep, when they are suffering, in the name of kindness and compassion, it’s through noble intent. We condemn those who hurt animals or treat them badly because animals like cats and dogs can’t really fight back against the mighty human AND YET we allow our fellow humans to go through far worse in the name of ethics. Why?

To finally answer Fandango’s question: I absolutely believe that people should have the right to end their suffering through assisted suicide if they are terminally ill.

Lisa

x

 

Empabots

“Do you know Paul, I’m really not sure about this, I’ve honestly been doing OK these last few weeks” He’d tried for certainty but even he could hear the hesitation in his voice; he hadn’t been doing OK at all but was this really the answer?

“Do you know Paul, I’m really not sure about this, I’ve honestly been doing OK these last few weeks” He’d tried for certainty but even he could hear the hesitation in his voice; he hadn’t been doing OK at all but was this really the answer?

“Look mate” said Paul, gently squeezing his best friend’s shoulder “you need to talk and, more importantly, you need someone to listen. Please trust me, this is cutting edge in the field of psychology and I should know, right?” He grinned and nudged the man so terribly kind but deeply unwilling to bare his soul. He’d been treating Dave for many months and, close as they were, he could not break down the barriers that were preventing his friend from moving on with his life. Added to that, Paul felt that their sessions were beginning to put a strain on their relationship and he wasn’t prepared to take that risk; he was sure that this was the answer.

“Yes, I’m sure you’re right but why would I want to talk to a machine when I have my friends?” Actually Dave wasn’t sure how many friends he had left these days, what could he contribute to a party or a night out? He was 31 and should be out and about enjoying life but how could he without Sammy and their daughter?

“They’re not machines mate” Paul’s voice interrupted his morbid reflection “they’re Empabots and they were specifically designed to help people caught in emotional loops. Traditional psychologists, however well trained, however well-meaning cannot truly empathise with their clients and, sometimes, that is the only thing that will actually help them; feeling as though someone genuinely understands what they’re going through. The Empabots have been programmed to ’empathise'”

“How can they” Dave said, flatly “they don’t have feelings or experiences, they’re machines for christ’s sake” He was beginning to regret coming here today, he loved his best friend but wasn’t he just looking for an easy out? He’d tried to open up to Paul but, although he said all the things that he supposed people thought they should say, none of it made any difference and he felt his friend’s growing impatience.

“They’re not toasters Dave!” Paul was desperate to elicit a smile but his attempt at humour fell on deaf ears; when was the last time that Dave had smiled? He ploughed on “This is next level artificial intelligence my friend. The Empabots have been fed millions of scenarios and have been programmed to ‘feel’ the corresponding emotions. They don’t have solutions for all the negative emotions that are causing people to suffer, they offer understanding in its purest form” Paul had been brought on board with this programme by a colleague that he’d first met at Oxford and what he’d seen so far had deeply impressed him. Emotional loops were a massive challenge for everyone in his profession as having feelings about feelings, as was often the case with grief, could be without limit; the cycle just went on and on and the patient continued to suffer.

“Why don’t you just watch an Empabot at work and then you can decide for yourself if it’s something you want to try” Paul knew that it wasn’t strictly ethical but whatever patient he selected wouldn’t be aware that he or she were under observation. They both sat down in front of a two way mirror which offered an excellent view into a small, comfortable room. A woman and a man were in there, sitting opposite each other. The woman was listening intently, her face a reflection of the emotion that seemed to be pouring out of the man in front of her.

“There’s something I don’t get” Dave had turned to face his friend and was actually looking him in the eye which was something that happened rarely these days. The tragedy that he’d suffered had caused deep lines to form around his gentle brown eyes and he looked profoundly tired.

“What’s that mate?” Paul was happy to answer any question. At least it seemed as though Dave were taking an interest.

“What will happen to you? If these ‘bots’ start doing your job, what will you do?” There was a genuine concern in his voice

“Well, one they’re not used to treat all conditions so they won’t ‘take over’ but a number of us, who are recognised as experts in our fields, have been offered contracts by the military. With the war still going on there are too many soldiers returning from battle, with PTSD, who are just falling through the cracks and turning to drink, drugs and crime and it’s a big problem for the authorities. I’ll be one of many who will help soldiers adjust back to civilian life in the 3 months before they’re discharged” He didn’t add that the contract he’d been offered was extremely lucrative or that the new generation of anti-psychotic drugs would make his job pretty straightforward. In the coming weeks he knew that he would need both money and time.

“Oh, that’s good” Dave had lost his mildly concerned expression and Paul thought that his face would quickly revert back to its normal mask of quiet despair so he was surprised at hearing another question

“What do they think, these Empabots? What do they think about this job they’ve been given?” Dave wasn’t looking at his friend any longer but watching the scene being played out before him in the little room. The man was sobbing uncontrollably and all his pain appeared to be etched on the features of the woman facing him. Dave had, by now, realised that she was an Empabot but, even knowing she was a machine, he was beginning to feel sorry for her.

“They’re not programmed to think per se” said Paul. He was frowning as he tried to think of a simple way to express the science. “They are programmed to feel. Humans attach feeling to thought and it’s virtually impossible for us to have one without the other. The depression that effects you now, for example, is a feeling attached to the thought of their loss and the guilt is a feeling attached to the thought that you are to blame. An Empabot has not had the experiences and the attached thoughts needed to generate feelings but they do have artificial ‘memories’ and, obviously, they learn to ‘feel’ more, the more time that they spend with patients”

“So all they have is pain, without true origin, without reason?” Dave was watching the female Empabot intently, she seemed to be shrinking somehow, folding in on herself as she listened to the pathetic litany of the desperate man before her.

“Well, yes, I suppose you could put it like that” Paul was not comfortable with this question as it implied a level of suffering from the perspective of the Empabots that simply wasn’t there “But remember Dave, they’re AI, not real people”

“Look what it’s doing to her Paul, just look” Dave had not moved his gaze from the Empabot; something was breaking inside her as he watched. She was taking on all the pain of the human before her. “How many times a day will she go through this?”

“She’s not ‘going through’ something Dave, it’s a treatment and she will see 6 to 8 patients a day” He wasn’t sure where his friend was going with this but he was mentally searching for a change of subject

“6 or 8 times a day, every day, she will take on more and more pain? She will feel the pain of the people she sees all day and every day? Is that it? Is that what you’ve created here Paul? An endless cycle of pain?” Dave’s face was both tortured and incredulous

“Well, I didn’t create them mate, I mean, I helped a bit along the way but it wasn’t me who came up with it” Paul held his hands up in front of his chest as if to ward off his friend’s anger.

The previous patient had left the little room and the Empabot appeared exhausted, shoulders slumped as if carrying the weight of the world, eyes sunken and limbs heavy.

‘I know that feeling’ thought Dave.

As he watched the outer door opened slowly and another patient sidled into the room looking lost and apprehensive. The Empabot roused herself from her apathy and greeted the girl with an understanding smile and a small hand gesture which indicated she should sit. Her face was, once again, a mask of pure empathy and, in minutes, the girl was opening up to her like a flower to the sun. She began to talk and the subtle lines of stress and cracks of pain once again distorted the Empabot’s fine features.

‘I can’t watch this’ Dave thought ‘she is in pain and it will never stop. All the negative emotions and feelings that people bring to her will stay locked inside going round and round and………’ He felt tears spring to his eyes, unbidden and he turned to Paul

“That’s what I’ve been doing isn’t it?”

‘At last’ Paul thought to himself. “Yes my friend, that’s what you’ve been doing”

“For 10 years this pain has been going round and round inside me, getting worse and worse, I can see now what I’ve been doing but…….” His voice broke and Paul knew what he would say next

“It wasn’t your fault Dave” His voice was gentle but he grasped Dave firmly by both shoulders as he spoke “Yes, you were driving but no-one could have avoided that accident, even the scene investigators said that. It was obvious to everyone that you did everything you could to prevent the crash”

“It wasn’t my fault” It was said in a whisper but, for Paul, it was a start. His plan had been elaborate to say the least but, if his friend was saved, it had all been worth it. He loved this man but, it was his professional judgement that Dave needed to feel someone else’s pain before he could begin to heal his own. Somewhere along the line, immersed in his own suffering, he had lost the ability to empathise and remained caught in his emotional loop. Paul would pay the actress well, her portrayal of an Empabot had been inspired…….

I have no idea where this story came from but I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it

Lisa x