Richard Pierce


Day 103

I had my first Five Elements acupuncture treatment in about three years yesterday. Meeting a new practitioner for the first time is always a bit nerve-wracking, especially because 5E acupuncture involves almost talking therapy, so this was a very intense experience. Put simply, 5E looks at the causes of an illness rather than just the symptoms, so there was a lot of talking before the needles went in. I did get quite emotional in places, talking about the past, my childhood, recent events, and that’s really good. It’s always someone out of the circle who brings out things we possibly don’t even think of talking about with those who share our lives. And at the end of a 5E treatment there are some needles which go in for a second or so only – tonic needles I think they are called – and which create additional energy for you to carry away with you. My needles yesterday were small fire, because my energy is really low. The secret is to not use up all that energy at once, which I’m not very good at. I hardly slept all night because I felt so hot and my mind was racing. I just hope I haven’t used up all the small fire already.

On the way home, I was thinking about what I’d written in the morning, and, oddly enough (and appropriately enough), one of the comments on my instagram about those thoughts reflects in part what I was thinking – that happiness may well be acceptance of our current state of being. And that this doesn’t mean accepting injustices and discomfort and pain, but accepting that there are some things about our immediate lives that we can’t change, that we have no influence on. Such as raging at people driving too quickly, raging at dog shit on pavements, raging at anything trivial – it’s all such a waste of energy, and only makes us feel worse about ourselves rather than actually changing anything about our lives or other people’s lives. Acceptance doesn’t mean complacency either; it still gives us the room to protest for justice, to strive to help people in need, to look at the bigger picture and to ask ourselves how we can practically contribute towards changing the world. That’s not striving for more without knowing what more is; that’s just being good.

Life intervenes. It’s a couple of hours since I wrote the above. Maybe contentedness is the best word, however maligned it is.

I started this at just after 8. It is now 6 hours later. As I said, life intervenes.



‘That’s sad,’ Zav says. ‘And I can’t imagine it’s true.’

‘The world’s in love with you, Anna,’ Aggie says. She looks at Zav over Anna’s head and shakes her head.

‘Yeah, sure,’ Anna says. ‘I honestly wonder what it’s like, to be loved, and to love.’

‘You’re really not joking, are you?’ Zav says.

Anna shakes her head, trains her eyes out through the front windscreen, the road rolling out so straight ahead of them. ‘I don’t suppose I ever will. I’m too imperfect.’

‘Hardly,’ Zav says, stops himself from saying any more.

‘I don’t get why my clothes are so soaked, though,’ Anna says. ‘That’s weird.’

‘We did get rained on when we ran to the car,’ Aggie says, shoots another warning glance, this time at Marit and Katharina through the rear view mirror. ‘Horrid weather.’

‘What a quaint turn of phrase,’ Zav says.

‘What a quaint word quaint is,’ Anna says and stares at Zav. ‘Do you ever talk normally?’

‘This is normal,’ he says.

‘For people like you,’ Aggie says.

The day lightens a little. The rain eases some more. There’s a hint of sun from behind the clouds.

‘This is so boring,’ Anna says, a whine in her voice.

‘You always were impatient,’ Aggie says.

‘That was a long time ago,’ Anna says.

‘How long ago was it?’ Aggie says. ‘I can’t remember.’

‘Neither can I,’ Anna says. ‘Not exactly anyway. Fifteen?’

‘I was thinking the same,’ Aggie says. ‘But it doesn’t feel like anything’s changed.’

‘I feel no different,’ Anna says. ‘And I’m no taller, no heavier, no wiser.’

‘Wisdom is the privilege of those who don’t have to do and have time to think,’ Zav says.

‘The Dalai Lama?’ Katharina says.

‘No,’ he says. ‘I just made it up. Probably because I listen to you lot.’

‘Us lot?’ Anna laughs. ‘I didn’t realise there was a them and us in this car.’

‘I stand corrected,’ Zav says, and folds his arms across his chest, not in a defensive or aggressive gesture, but as a sign of resignation. ‘I will spend more time thinking about what I have to do.’

‘Bloody Philosophy students,’ Aggie mutters.

‘That bit was the truth, as you know,’ he says.

‘I wonder what the truth will be when we meet Marit’s father,’ Aggie says.

‘I hope he has lots of food,’ Anna says. ‘I’m starving.’

‘That’s because she made us leave before we’d eaten anything,’ Zav says. ‘I was looking forward to the fry-up.’

‘Never on the cards,’ Anna says. ‘Once she’s got a bee in her bonnet it has to be done.’

‘What do you mean?’ Aggie says.

‘Don’t you remember?’ Anna says. ‘That time we were out in the forest on our own? When the mentor had let us run wild for once, just for a day, the whole group of us?’

‘Not sure,’ Aggie says tentatively, searches her memory for some sort of recollection.

‘They were away, and it was just us and the few guards we saw. And even they left us in peace. We only bumped into them when we got to the fence a couple of times, when we thought the estate would never end.’ Anna looks at her, expecting Aggie to say something.

To Aggie, he had seemed enormous, despite her size, that day, the sudden image tells her. The man with the gun slung over his shoulder. Who goes there? in whatever language he’d said it because all languages seem her own language to her, instantly understood. And the machine gun, because that’s what it had been, sliding off his shoulder into his hands in slow motion as she’d assessed the threat, had made the whole gaggle of girls back off and disappear back into the trees until she was the only one facing him. Not afraid then? he said. Should I be? He shrugged Depends on what you plan to do. The fence reflecting shards of sunlight, twinkling like a row of diamonds. You can’t get out, if that’s what you want. She laughed at him, too loudly perhaps. I hadn’t even thought of that, she said. Should I be trying? He pointed the gun at her Not if you have any sense. The next thing she’d known, he’d been on the ground, unconscious, and the gun in her hands, as if it weighed nothing.

‘And I thought you’d killed that man, when I came back out of the forest.’ Anna’s voice from far away.

‘How did you know I hadn’t?’ Aggie says, automatically, not really listening.

‘Because they were suddenly there, telling you how well you’d done. And they got him to stand back on his feet, and gave him the gun back.’

‘What’s that got to do with me having a bee in my bonnet?’ Aggie says.

‘Because after that, every night, you’d take me to the same place of the fence and we’d wait to see if he would appear again.’

‘And it was always someone else.’

‘Exactly. And you never stopped asking about him. You just never asked the mentor.’

‘No. I never did, did I?’

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  1. Ren Powell

    13th April 2022 at 20:11

    Sending hope for little fires. We seem to be in the same place again. So happy you’re writing. It means a lot to me.

    1. Richard Pierce

      14th April 2022 at 07:22

      Thank you. Perhaps you should search out some small fires. I’m happy you’re happy I’m writing 🙂 <3

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