When I was five the world was full of legs and wonder. All the answers were out there, and to get them all I had to do was pick up a book, or ask a teacher or my mother. I could be anything, everything I wanted to be. The world was mine to discover and explore, and a sheet could be a teepee, and a cardboard box a car. And through it all, I knew with the total confidence of the very young that I was utterly safe and protected, and nothing could harm me, ever.

At fifteen, things weren't so bright. I had recognised that people were very often malign and cruel, and there were now many places I didn't dare explore, even within myself, for fear of what I might find, and how it might hurt me. I'd started looking for my own answers too, aware that I had been lied to in the past, and so ready made answers were suspect and I had to draw my own conclusions. Less cocooned, more scared, but I still knew I was indestructible and I could be whatever I wanted to be, that the ugly duckling would turn into a swan one day.

Ten years on, twenty-five, and I had rediscovered wonder as my daughter started to learn -- to walk, talk, take a wide-eyed, breathless interest in the world. By now, of course, all the answers were mine to give. I'd begun to accept that there were limitations on who and what I could be. I was never going to look like Audrey Hepburn I was probably not going to be a rock star, and I'd be very lucky to ever make a million. My faith in my own security and safety was no longer unassailable either, for reasons of experience and through recognising how fragile the life I was responsible for could be. At the same time, I was loved, and wanted, had achieved many things but had ambitions still to reach for.

At thirty, I was disillusioned. I'd fallen short of many goals. My life was not where it was supposed to be at that point. I'd begun to suspect that nobody had the answers, and that when the answers existed, they were mostly unpalatable. Motherhood and marriage were like comfortable old clothes. I wore them every day, but they had ceased to excite me. I still appreciated them, but in an understated "I'd miss them if they weren't there" kind of way. I had many, many more fears, and I'd seen enough of death to recognise the fact that I was mortal, in a distant kind of way.

Then, suddenly, between thirty and thirty-five, things took-off, big-time. I emmigrated, 12000 miles from my home. I gained recognition in my field. Ambitions I'd almost discarded seemed possible again. Acceptable answers seemed achievable, if only I worked for them. Maybe I could write and get published (I could, I did.). Excitement resurfaced . A new arena opened up for me to play in, the 'net. I found a popularity I'd never encountered before, a chance for my "inner swan" to escape my outer duck. I found a new love that complemented my old one, and I found a dizzy teenager inside myself that I never knew in my teens. My marriage was revitalised too, and I became more focused as a mother. At the same time, mortality became a much more intimate aquaintance, as people of my own generation died, naturally or not, and there were dangerous edges to the world. I found and embraced risk in every area. Some risks I got away with. Others, I didn't. These were probably the five most intense years of my life.

Intensity takes its toll. It's stressful, and tiring. The last two years have been a struggle. Some of the things I gained have slipped away, no matter how hard I tried to hold onto them, and losing them hurts much more than never having had them would have. Others have driven me hard -- because success is possible, failure becomes unacceptable -- and anything less than complete success is failure. Worst, in the intensity of being the new me, I lost touch with the old me, my foundations got shaky and for a while I lost my way. I think, at last, I'm coming out of the maze though. Balancing things. E2 is a help in that, giving me somewhere to store my introspections, to put down my epiphanies as they come to me, to write it down, and come back and analyse it when the torrent of feeling has subsided a bit, and to decide whether the insights were real or not.

Conclusions: none, other than I still have a lot to learn, and if the answers are out there, I haven't found them yet. One day, maybe.

Reflections, by Diana Ross and the Supremes,
written by Holland-Dozier-Holland for Motown Records,
a major hit in the US and elsewhere, in 1967.

The bass line jumps frantically up and down against uncompromising chord sequences - we heard this before, in You keep me hanging on, where it expressed impatience and anger; but this is a song of grief, with a soft organ, soothing background vocals, wailing violins; the contrast creates a wonderful atmosphere.

Compared to the straight pop of Baby Love and Where did our love go that had launched the Supremes three years before, Reflections is sophisticated and experimental, its music and lyrics going far beyond the standard hit single format. Soon after making this record, Holland, Dozier and Holland left Motown, feeling too constrained in artistic freedom.

  Through the mirror of my mind, time after time,
  I see reflections of you and me ...

  Reflections of the way life used to be
  reflections of the love you took from me

  Oh, I'm all alone now, no love to shield me;
  trapped in a world that's a distorted reality

  Happiness you took from me
  and left me alone with only memories

  Through the mirror of my mind,
  through these tears that I'm crying
  reflects a hurt I can't control;
  'cause although you're gone, I keep holding on
  to the happy times, oh, when you were mine

  As I peer through the window of lost time,
  looking over my yesterdays,
  and all the love I gave all in vain,
  all the love that I've wasted,
  all the tears that I've tasted,
  all in vain ...

  Through the hollow of my tears,
  I see a dream that's lost
  from the hurt that you have caused

  Everywhere I turn, it seems like everything I see
  reflects the love that used to be ...

  In you I put all my faith and trust -
  right before my eyes
  my world has turned to dust

  After all the nights I sat alone and wept,
  just a handful of promises
  are all that's left of loving you

  Reflections of the way life used to be
  reflections of the love you took from me

  In you I put all my faith and trust -
  right before my eyes
  my world has turned to dust

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