Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Life seen and Imagined- 'story one'.

To explain what the below is- I carry round with me a small, black moleskin notebook and have started to really notice people, passer-bys, a few seconds glance at the odd stranger who seems interesting for whatever reason and I've noted down some of these people, just some scribbled sentences describing them. From there, I've imagined them as if they were characters in a story and thought about what kind of person they could be and placed them into a fictional context, writing just the start of their story.

The lady below is created from me waiting for a train on Saturday 12th November 2011. In my notebook, I have put..

'Rushed air,
You can feel the collective human energy throbbing in the air, bated and ready for something.
The thunderous trains vibrate beneath my feet.
Everybody here has a purpose, intent, a will to get somewhere and that creates a certain kind of atmosphere.

-Lady character, pleated white silk dress just below the knees, respectable and classy, pale luminous skin, bobbed wavy hair, glittering green diamond pattern on top of dress. Straight ahead selecting a drink in the shop as I sip my hot chocolate and wait for the train to arrive at platform one. Gone from sight then there is a bit of a commotion on one of the platforms, the lady is running with a guy in a suit, laughing and shrieking as they jump onto the train just as the doors shut. In the curved porthole of the train door window they are gathered in a group with another couple, their own world of four, talking and giggling amongst the hushed tones of the packed train, the prospect of a fun night ahead making them glow, marking them out from the grey tones of the carriage.'


I watched the white silk plunge and then nestle itself against my translucent skin, blending material and flesh into one pale hue. I loved the feel of this dress, it's delicacy creating a fragile web of stitches and thread that covered and melted into me like a shadow. It was almost there but not quite, whimsical and romantic, it demanded to be looked at a second time so that it could be appreciated and admired as it was created to be. Oh the lines of similarity between me and this dress, I was this dress and this dress was me.

Recently a friend had gushed that I was a modern day 'Daisy Buchanan', graceful, charming, sought after but I knew the hidden reason for her comparison was that most people thought I was shallow and careless, absorbed in myself, hemmed in by my own self-centered perception of the world. I recognised this but didn't know it enough to want to change. I can only be me.

I glanced the ghostly image of my face in the cold refracted light of the store's refrigerator
 pane and admired the sharp cut of my cheekbones and the blood red of my made up lips. I had worn the same shade of deep rouge on my lips  since I was fifteen and now they were permanently stained, the natural colouring lost forever beneath the waxy veneer of years of pretending to be something, anything other than my real self.

My hand reached and grasped the cool glass of a bottle of mineral water,
"Hurry up Flick, the train will be here in a minute"
" I know, I know I just need to pay"

Ahead of me was a queue of two, the lady being served was fumbling in her purse for the right change, getting more flustered she dropped some coins on the floor. She seemed nervous but she was going to make me miss the train, I quietly cursed her under my breath and willed her to get a move on.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sea and sky.

I want to spend a day just looking out to sea and looking up at the sky to recollect myself.

Stare at the line where the two meet and find something meaningful in the meeting of those 2 vast things that vault me in and contain me.

To see shapes in the clouds instead of wondering if they're going to rain.

Recenter and realign all the thoughts, ideas and doubts into conviction and belief.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Humble Pie.

I'm feeling inadequate, unsure, unanchored.

what do you do when the thing you've always had reserved as your thing, that thing that you will do one day and then you do it and your idea of it as your saving grace crumbles? You realise that you are inadequate and those lofty images of yourself crack because you are no more than average and your capabilites false. Surely, everyone secretly thinks they are more than average and place elevated importance in their own existence else we'd give up wouldn't we?

 And I'm left thinking what next? More haphazard bouncing from one thing to the next until I've dipped my toe and tipped my hat to a bit of everything and I'm alright at everything but great at nothing. Resolve  to be satisfied with a life of being great at nothing. For me that makes it hard to see meaning in anything. Is this sheer arrogance or do we all envisage greatness for ourselves, hope that one day we will make it and with it gain meaning to why we are here.

 What am I supposed to do when the anchor that my life was to float from  has been wrenched and i'm afloat with no direction and no where to head towards now or next? I reached that point and hovered over and in it and built myself around it until I became that point, to find the point I had rested so much of myself on is being erased and with it my sense of who I am disappears.

It was alright that I was ok at everything else because there was the chance and glow of possibility that I was and would prove to be great at this. It was to champion my life and mould it in the right direction.

 So I'm left with no confidence and lost belief and faith in my own opinion. The assurance and sanctity of my own opinion has gone. What an awful realisation or a humbling one depending how you look at it.

It should be enough, my life should be great just because it allows me enjoy and immerse myself in the genius of other people's art, music, writing and thoughts. That's a beautiful thing that the world allows that at least.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A mish mash.

Some fleeting thoughts from today that were grabbed and etched on to a page. Fleeting and grabbing, all I really have time for at the moment.

Sometimes what a shame this world has people. But then there would be no one to appreciate it's beauty and then what would be the point in it's beauty?

I want to spend forever outside on days like today.

I wonder, does wildlife know its a glorious day and rejoice and languish in it and throw back their heads and feel the sunshine and knowingly receive the warmth and freshness on their backs or is it just another day?

On days like today the inside is nothing more than a trap keeping the best of this world away.

Lord make sense of what I'm doing because too much of it doesn't.

Why can't it at the most basic level just be for the enjoyment of learning why does it have to mean so much more?

From reading a bit of 7th century Life of Symeon, 'Truly no onw knows a person's deeds without knowing the person's spirit'.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A ten past midnight thought

I'll never get time in this life to follow all the ends and leads that I want to.

So instead I frantically note them down just in case one of them leads somewhere.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Let me be not do.

I've had my respite of 4 days then, 4 days away from my jobs and uni. Yes, I've slept and languished in my lie ins but I can't escape the ever present sense of all that needs to be done, things of necessity and things I purely want to do, to accomplish something other than the mundane necessary things that need to be done. Things that fulfill and add colour to the black and white and give worth to these passing moments.

I'm feeling hemmed in by all the 'to do' lists and agendas I set myself. I'm constantly noting niggles down of what needs doing and god forbid if I don't note it down and forget about it- that thought on its own stresses me and I can't relax. I think of something and then literally a second later I have completely forgotten what it was, surely a sign of too many things flying across my mind?

Being organised is taking me too far, everything has to be planned, why? I need to let go.

This is a time of change when lots of things are starting and my mind is absorbed with arranging the logistics of fitting everything in, my job at the sixth form college, job at the castle, starting my postgraduate study at university, playing hockey, seeing James, friends, writing and al the extras. They are all pieces that need to fit and mesh and somehow become one smooth, coherent picture that I live, a picture only I can create through advanced planning and organisation, oh but that's to loose the freedom of just living.

I need to focus on the main things instead of aiming for everything.

I want a day, one solitary day to be filled with nothing and empty of obligations. A day to just be instead of a day to do. An empty day for things to occur spontaneously, a day where I do not once reach for my diary or planner or to do list and just focus on living the here and now instead of the tomorrow and future. A day where each moment unfolds link by link, a whimsical, fanciful day of freedom and frolicking (see photos above for such moments that I mean). A day of small steps into each moment instead of frantic, giant, estimated leaps into the future.

I can't remember the last time I was bored though....perhaps as you get older the less chance you get to be bored until it never happens?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The wind and my thoughts are very similar.

I love chasing the weather, feeling it whip and snap, feeling the darkness of the sky leaning on you, urging you to quicken your step. The wind whirling and whipping at your skin, rushing through trees shaking the leaves, making them sound like hundreds of angry librarians 'shushing' at once.

Weather that makes you notice nature, real weather that heaves and sighs like the earth is breathing and exhaling it's woes. I can feel the rain heavy in the air about to fall and I'm alive and rushing trying to beat it. I walk faster and fumble for my key, then the door is open and I'm in.

And all of a sudden the noise stops, all is still again, my skin bites from the waves of freshness that have just washed against it. Every inch of me is wide awake and ready because this is what it is to be alive isn't it, feeling things with every inch of yourself, connecting to this world with your physical body, knowing this world with your mind and feeling it with your soul? I can hear the wind roaring and rumbling around the house, the rain begins to throw itself against the window, but the sound is muffled by the walls that now surround me.

The wildness of that walk followed by the stillness of home, is not lost on me. It makes me want to jump with joy, exclaim and dance for this earth of ours and this life of mine. The abundance of energy that is there for the taking, to be seized and transformed into something of my making.

The whirling weather today perfectly reflecting my whirling thoughts. One idea thrown around after another.

That somebody I know, just a few years older than me has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, how can that be?

How can our human minds make sense of or comprehend such a thing? To be told you don't have long to live, that there is a limit to your days here at my kind of age, when, at my kind of age, I feel like my life is just beginning, that I am just sorting out who I am and starting to edge in a direction, choosing my path and stumbling along it. I can't imagine being told, well you'll never know whether your stumbling turned into long, powerful strides because your path is being clipped short in the stumbling, finding your feet stage.

It is playing on my mind. But there has to be good out of terrible things else the human race would never cope and would have given up a long time ago. So I'm searching for the good and the good is the people it has brought together again and the effect it is having on people's lives in reminding them to enjoy what you have got right now, to see every day as a whole life lived. To not wish for things in the future at the cost of ignoring the vast opportunities and wealth of potential we have in each moment we live in the present.

I started my postgraduate masters course in History yesterday and I enjoyed and savoured every moment of it. Finally, after 2 years of trying and working, saving and struggling in jobs that were not me I have arrived at the point it was all for and doesn't that make this point so much more worthwhile than if it had just been handed to me with no effort or meaning 2 years ago?

The hard way is hard along the way but so much more worthwhile at the end of it. Everything I have got it is going into it this year, 2 years of hard and frustrating work means that I know now, the result of all that must get my 'all'. I am in such a better place to do well now than 2 years ago. Now, I know the true value of 'hard' work, how to motivate myself and just how much it means to me. Things I would have been too naive to know before.

This is a written reminder to myself, this whole post that life is a wonderous, far-fetched, all consuming thing, that events work out the way they do for reasons that will one day become known.

'What matters is not whether we preserve our lives at any cost, but how we preserve them. I sometimes think that every new situation, good or bad, can enrich us with new insights. But if we abandon the hard facts that we are forced to face, if we give them no shelter in our heads or hearts, do not allow them to settle and change into impulses through which we can grow and from which we can draw meaning-then we are not a viable generation.' (Etty Hillesum)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Thoughts for a Sunday Night before another week.

Is this Sunday the end of the last week or the beginning of the next? Are these thoughts the sum collation of a week already lived or in anticipation of a week yet to come?

This moment right now is your happiest, because you know and feel it better than any other, it is immediate and 'here' surrounding you in time. Because you are alive for one more moment on this earth and that moment is tangible to you and only you. This moment holds everything you need it to hold for now and so by it's existence it is perfect.

Should I let this anger go, is that the good and right thing to do? Does anger help anyone or does it burn and cut, usually yourself more than the one it is directed against? Sometimes though you need anger don't you, -to get riled up, to give you the blind faith that you are right, allowing you to voice your opinion that you otherwise would've kept hidden away. So take the anger made by last week's happenings and channel it into something useful to face the week ahead, sleep on it and turn it into strength, a slow-burning strength.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Today gleamed.

The sky all day was a luminous egg-shell blue and it just shone, the sun gleamed. The sunset was the most golden, look at me, cannot be ignored sunset I have ever seen. Nature was showing off well and truly today and the recgonistion of this was all I needed to put a smile on my face.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

'I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness the astonishing light of your own being.'

Monday, 26 September 2011

That black time of night.

There is a time when my ability to think rationally dissolves into the blackness. Where my facility to make sense of this world folds upon itself into a flat, oblique, nothingness.

Oh it happens every so often, it comes along unexpectedly and sends me reeling for a while thereafter. Always, always it occurs in that still, quiet moment of the day as I reach across myself, stretch and press off the light of my bedside lamp. It clicks, and then.... silence.... knowing silence, the world, my world stops for the day.

And what am I left with? My thoughts,                  alone and bare,               revealed completely.

A taunting pardox that the darkness shines light on my innermost musings. It allows them to creep out from the nooks and stones in my mind. Black shadows of remembered images become merged black clouds of doubt cast upon the here and now.

Fears for the future flicker unharnessed across the dark-quilted quiet around me. The certainty and confidence, that I had carried so assuredly in the easy light of day, becomes fragmented, shards of piercing clarity of why I'm inadequate for whatever lofty goals I had dared to imagine as possible, but hours before.

It's funny how time moves you on from one way of perceiving, from sweet hope to bitter despair. Hope lost, hope in these moments vacates me and finds somebody else to brighten and illuminate. I loose hope in myself and what I can do. I doubt my capabilities and the capabilities of this life to make things right, for all to be well in the end.

These are not nice moments. These self-depreciating times used to be persistent, they would haunt me most nights, BUT you know, now they are fleeting and weaker. They don't bring tears anymore but determination to shake them off and move on. The gaps between these episodes are expanding until they are becoming more and more remote. Just dots on my horizon. That is progress, real measurable progress and I'm so grateful for it. I. am. getting. some.where.

Now, I fight these thoughts. I escape away from them into the words and imaginary thoughts of somebody else. Before, I would have enjoyed dwelling on them, I would've purposefully allowed them to start, to just -  'feel'.  Now, I have my remedy, I take up my earphones and slip into another world, created by somebody whose thoughts weighed heavy too, to a story about somebody elses' life and worry about what is happening to them instead of me. It works. oh the written word, how you work.

(Image from,r:8,s:51&tx=54&ty=68)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Life should reflect art

Today I looked into the life of Oscar Wilde because I could and because the internet lets you wonder and find out about anything and one thing leads to another. Apparently he was into 'aestheticism'. This was a movement in art that basically said that beauty was the sole purpose of art, that beauty was all it needed.

It denied that art is created for any political, social or moral reasons. In fact art had no purpose except to be and show beauty. Art was beauties home and vice-versa, In this way life should reflect art as opposed to the other more usually conceived perception that art should reflect and imitate real life.

This led to a life philosophy of enjoyment, life is to be enjoyed and full of pleasures and good things. Rationality was frowned upon and 'intuition' heralded as the crucial human sentiment, science seen as utterly inadequate when compared to the potential and possibilities of human 'intuition'. The ephemeral intuition, the start of all creativity, the connection to the spiritual, YES I agree 'intuition' is where it is at and where things should start.

Oh the romance of it all, 'Art is beauty' and all life should do is reflect art and therefore be beautiful. If only life was this simple. To live at a time when this was strongly believed in by small intellectual circles, to move and converse in such circles. I know, I know such things exist today but it doesn't seem as quixotic, dreamy or idealistic some how.

I love the idea behind 'aestheticism' and I love that knowledge is so readily available to me and surely that is both the curse and blessing of this modern age. But I have got such a thirst to know more at the moment, it can't be quenched. I want to know all there is to know about art, music, literature, words, history, ideas, human beings and life. I could spend the rest of my days just finding out more, understanding more, becoming more.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Motivated to do.

From nowhere, it has struck and hit me. Landed on me and made itself known to me. The will to go on and just work and do everything that needs to be done.


The power of will.

I welcome it with open arms because there is so much to do at the moment. Maybe that's why, I have no choice but to just do. I know, a large part of it is where this year will take me if I make it succeed and that helps, there is a real point to it all. To end the distance and be able to move south with James. To finally be doing a bit of what I love and to see where it leads. Whether I can actually make a potential future out of the here and now. I am finally moving a small tentative step in the direction I want to be after going backwards for a while.

Maybe the secret is not to stop, i fear stopping because it'll be much harder starting again.


for now I am so grateful to have this relentless motivation, long may it last into October and beyond when I will really need it. I am battening down the hatches for a whirlwind year. A year, in which my own time to relax will be non-existent but weirdly, I am looking forward to working hard and being utterly absorbed in that and putting my all into it.  I realise 2 months down the line I will be complaining I have no spare time but for now I'm optimistic.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

I've just seen this and I might do it from tomorrow if time allows.

30 day photo challenge

Life is Beautiful.

Life is beautiful or it's ugly. Yet its so easy to notice the ugliness, to focus on and voice the ugly. To notice it and pass it on. To cause more ripples of bad-feeling. Now... to instantly recognise the beautiful to actively seek it and see it everywhere, that takes a different kind of person. To witness suffering and not being overwhelmed by it because you realise without suffering there is no compassion that there is beauty in suffering because of that. To absorb the beauty of this life we live, to know it in depth, to experience it's shades of emotion and yet still love life because of it's beauty is something else entirely.

I'm trying to.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

I'm a 'Z' shape and Ohh Etty!!

Oh Etty you keep on inspiring me so and I can't get enough of your words and I did promise more of them on here...(earlier post that promised this)

'I saw old cities and new cities arise and I thought even if the whole of this world is bombed to bits, we shall build a new world, and that one too will pass, and still life will be beautiful, always beautiful'

'Am I too busy? I want to get to know this century of ours inside and out. I feel it everyday anew. I run my fingertips along the contours of our age. Or is that pure fiction? But I always project myself back into reality. I make myself confront everything that crosses my path, which sometimes leaves me feeling battered...But I imagine it has to be like that...I am being forged into something else...But then I also have the feeling that all the problems of our age and of mankind in general have to be battled out inside my little head...'

'Everything is chance or nothing is chance. If I believed the first I would be unable to live on, but I am not yet fully convinced of the second'

All quotes from Etty Hillesum from 'An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43, translated by Arnold J. Pomeran.

In other news today, I found out I can be likened to a 'Z' shape. In training, at work today, we had to pick whether we most likened our character to a 'square', 'triangle', 'circle' or 'Z' shape and explain why to others. My bluffed and clutching at straws attempt, was to say 'I felt I was like a 'Z' shape because there are many layers to my character which are all connected and I like to see things from different angles'- What, WHAT, I can hear you saying, were you talking about!?!?! Apparently those that liken themselves to 'Z' shapes are innovative, fast paced, creative, do not like being restricted by time or anything else really.....hmmmmm.

Also by doing such exercises it was further confirmed to me that I am 'socially awkward' and when asked to introduce somebody as part of a task, managed to get their name completely wrong and fed back their talent was 'sleeping' when it in fact was 'karaoke' making it seem like I hadn't listened at all. I blame it on working 6 days a week as opposed to my usual 5 days, my brain can't cope!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

More Etty

'I won't take along any photographs of those I love; I'll just take all the faces and familiar gestures I have collected and hang them up along the walls of my inner space so that they will always be with me'

Etty Hillesum

I love the idea that faces and people's gestures can be stored inside you and perused at your own pleasure in your 'inner space' and so never lost. Etty wrote the above when she considered how she could deal with missing those people she left behind when having to go to the concentration camp at Westerbrok.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Straight from my mind onto my phone onto this page.

Do you want thoughts, spilling straight from the mind into non-sensical words on a page? Well this is what this is.

A collection that lacks structure, order or sense, of my thoughts as and when they come onto the memo pad on my phone or saved in a growing draft message from the last few months.....complete with wrong, rushed grammar and spelling....

What is this thing in the early 20's that says we have to decide now what the rest of you life is going to be, you've had enough experience you wiser enough to decide- no I'm not actually. Who can really know what their best at where will i flourish and enjoy i just don't know. This bothered me but now I think the people who have had most jobs have experienced so much more and lived so many different lives a thousand rather than one and is that better? surely if i want to be a writer the most experience the better.

I want to explore the limits and infinite of you

, Maturing taste of words, mindless reading will no longer do, spontaneous prose, writing-here is a piece of me world forever for you to see here is a trace of my inner sanctum for you to know and judge, the trails of thought now lines on the page,

why am i embarrassed to write in a notebook in public because writing is a private thing, to consider yourself and thought to carefully is seen as self-induglent and sappy.?

Think of me what you will- leave me behind from your life, it matters not to me because my words have captured your fleeting existence and cast you in verbs and adjectives onto a paper prison forever

i am maturing and knowing more how my writing should be. This is the way I am and why i think too much so that I can try to understand people like that and write the vigour I am going to write.

Sometimes I feel like saying to myself look at you with your Bukowski and Kerouac with your larger than large headphones so that you can hear all the sounds of people like Modest Mouse and Elliott Smith-their lyrical and musical greats you say but what do you know?-and your flowing skirt and jewelry from around the world- your so deep with those outward symbols of introspection or maybe your just pretentious

train snap shots that's what you get of people.

I wrote with a blind fury, i had to get it out.

Have you ever argued with somebody who is too stupid to understand so it seems like their winning because you can't be bothered explaining everything to them or maybe I'm the stupid one for thinking their stupid or for not explaining because i can't and letting them live in ignorance.

I'm quite impressed with myself that I recycle lolly pop sticks and make them into bookmarks my obsession with ice is utilised by my obsession with books, that justifies them both then.

Yes yes there was once somebody that  .

why do we need all these things objects, everything that counts is inside us, the lilly in the field needs nothing more than it's spot of soil in the field, animals need nothing but their fur coats so why do we humans think we need all this worthless stuff? because we can 'think' so we think we need it to satisfy whatever prestige, comfort, status, laziness those objects represent, maybe it would be better if we just didn't think.

She'd never quite acquainted to anything

Look at you strutting around like toad from toad hall lott ticket

Tiger Tiger Frangoso

Ask Merty about death cab date of run

Are you bust existing or living?

Pass for less

Six pence none the richer kiss me, sea of love

The trangression of gender roles in the tudor court. Thought experiment what would someone's life be like  if they lived in a dark, windowless room which they never left and no-one ever entered, they are taught to read via video, and then do nothing but read every second they are awake, would they know more than the normal person and be happier?Is an imagined reality better than a real one?

Bus 42 dogs beetle museum

Buffoned brown hair flicked and flecked.                    She
thinks she's something but maybe really she knows she's nothing, nothing now but the way she looks.
Spider legs of black cling and ring her eye.
Her eye heaves and they dangle reaching for the sky.
Skin glazed a roast chicken brown, fake-burnt around the edges.
Beads and bangles marooned on her arm like shimmering, flashing orbits.
Adorned with gold and beads  which jangle with promise of exotic delight.
Eyes... her
eyes roam the aisle for a passer by's attention
                                       what does she
really look like 


Rambling thoughts of a lunatic, or inspired ideas, seeds of something that could grow into something else? ....yeah pretty much rambling thoughts of a lunatic.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

An Interrupted Life.

‘In the past, I would live chaotically in the future, because I refused to live in the here and now…Sometimes I had the certain if rather undefined feeling that I would ‘make it’ one day, that I had the capacity to do something ‘extraordinary’, and at other times the wild fear that I would ‘go to the dogs’ after all…I refused to climb into the future one step at a time. And now, now that every minute is so full, so chock full of life and experience and struggle and victory and defeat and more struggle and sometimes peace, now I no longer think of the future, that is, I no longer care if I ‘make it’ because I now have inner certainty that everything will be taken care of. Before I lived in anticipation, I had the feeling that nothing I did was the ‘real thing’; that it was all a preparation for something else, something ‘greater’, more ‘genuine’…But that feeling has dropped away from me completely. I live here and now, this minute, this day to the full and live is worth living…and we know life, don’t we? We have experienced everything if only in the mind, and there’s no need any longer to hang on for dear life.’

‘Sometimes I want to flee with everything I possess into a few words, seek refuge in them. But there are still no words to shelter me... Everyone seeks a home, a refuge. And I am always in search of a few words. Sometimes I feel that every word spoken and every gesture made merely serves to exacerbate misunderstandings. Then what I would really like is to escape into a great silence and impose that silence on everyone else’.

‘Every pretty blouse I put on is a kind of celebration. And so is every occasion I have to wash with scented soap in a bathroom all to myself for half an hour. It is as if, I were reveling in these civilised luxuries for the last time. But even if I have to forgo them one day, I shall always know that they exist and that they can make life pleasant and I shall think of them as a great boon even if I cannot share in them any longer.’
(All quotes from Etty Hillesum from book mentioned below, translated by Arnold J. Pomerans)

Words are strange, strange things. Especially when 70-year old words speak directly to you and illustrate emotions that could be 1,000’s of years old or felt just yesterday. Words which are interchangeable with thoughts, phrases that are a seamless transition from mind to page. Etty Hillesum’s words speak a thousand different things to me in one sentence. I get everything she writes, her words have made me think deeply and carefully about how I live and the way I see the world and started a change in me, her words are that powerful.

There are strange parts but for the most, her way of looking at the world, despite the terrible things going on around her, was simple and beautiful. Her capacity to see the good in everything and everyone is remarkable. This book landed on my lap unexpectedly but I know it was meant to fall into my hands at that moment in my life because it has made me see and I mean really see what life should be about.

Her book is called, ‘An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943’. In a very quick nutshell; Etty was a Jew living in Amsterdam when it was occupied by the Nazis. She chronicles the gradual alienation of the Jews and their eventual deportation to concentration and extermination camps. She herself, worked for the Jewish Council in Amsterdam, and accompanied other Jews to ‘Westerbork’, a transition camp before they were taken to Auschwitz. Her own fate was to be transported to Auschwitz, where she died in November 1943.

She wrote it 70 years ago, she didn’t know that anybody else would read it and now I have read it and her words are some of the most profound I’ve ever read and are changing me now in the present-that is the power of books. She wondered ‘when she would become a writer when she was already writing beautifully.

What I’ve written here is horribly clumsy compared to the eloquence with which she writes and doesn’t really do her writing the justice it deserves, all I can say is please read her words. I leave you with this…. And because she writes better that I ever will be able to there will be more ‘Etty’ on here this week.

Etty describes the last thing a lady says to her before being transported to Auschwitz the next day, ‘ I would like, oh, I really would like, to be able to swim away in my tears.’

Monday, 15 August 2011

All the small things.

I have let the big, ugly scenarios of living blur the beauty of the small beautiful things.  Whilst in Turkey, these past few weeks, I have observed the deaths of two people in the same day, people I do not know but whose passing away made me stop and wonder at things.

One life taken by accident and one by natural causes but both quickly illustrating the briefness of our time here causing me to somberly reflect on what I’ve done with my time so far. More than this, I have considered my perception of my time here and the way I live and constrew this life I have been given.

Books have fallen into my lap, which have made my eyes open wider, my brain pulsate in wonder and my heart beat faster at the words which are literally laced and marinated in wisdom.

Opened my mind to where in the past I have been going wrong and revealed the world to me anew in its simplest form.

One of these has been ‘An interrupted life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43’, which I will explain further some time soon and quote some of the beautiful words .I have about a zillion pages in it marked for me to note down as she manages to articulate what I have felt in the past so perfectly. Amongst this backdrop of; books appearing so timely in my hands to read, which seem to have been created for me in the moments I read them, together with the witnessed deaths of strangers and the riots at home (which has lead me to conclude that no humans are civilised we’re all just acting at being ‘civilised’)  it has made me hugely appreciative for all this world has to offer.

So I have not just noticed but paid attention to the small brilliant things in this world that make me want to leap and dance with the vivacity and depth and richness of life.

Just sitting quietly sipping my cup of tea, letting its’ warmth and calmness wash through me.

Walking across the grass and feeling it’s quiet, earthy dampness seep around the bottom of my feet.

 Exercising hard, pushing the limits of your body so that the muscles scream with being used to their capacity, skin gleaming with sweat, your mind telling you to stop because it hurts but beating it and finishing anyway. Overcoming something. Stopping and realising the dull ache of a body used, recognising the limits of this physical shell that contains the real you and being amazed at how much it can do, more than you thought. Admiring the interconnectivity of mind and body, if your mind says you can do it then your body can only follow what the mind instructs but then the body tells the mind, enough, in constant communication with each other.

Feeling hot, weary, sweaty and done but then stepping into a steaming shower and being revived. Wiping away the grime to reveal shiny, scented skin. For a moment, a delicious frozen segment of time, I stood in the soapy, swirly steam and breathed in the soothing scent of Jasmine and Ylang and Ylang. I audibly sighed with the feeling of becoming fresh and clean again, coming back to rightness. The world outside could keep on going around me but for a delicious few minutes I was away from it in the steamy air of the shower.

Sleep. That blissful slip from the conscious to the sub-conscious, where thoughts, coherency, trouble and worries from the day melt away into something else completely.

Hanging washing out. Just that age-old task of taking your clothes outside, pinning them to some kind of line and knowing that the sun and wind will dry them for you. Watching them bop and sway merrily in the breeze so that the clothes almost look alive and  taking part in some kind of strange line dance. Then when you next put some of them on, the freshness, the smell of outside of sunshine and the wind rather than the manufactured smell of being trapped in a dryer.

Rectangle shaped, compact, page upon page, word upon word. We have buildings dedicated to housing them, lives devoted to writing them and people changed by reading them. Books. The potential and possibility they hold. The portal into other minds and worlds; whenever and wherever you may be.

Hearing the rustle of the leaves in the wind, like hushed applause for another day lived.

 Paper and pen- something so close and personal about it. Seeing your handwriting unfurl across the page and knowing that those patterns, curls and flicks are uniquely yours. Thoughts unfold, becoming tangible, imagination, ideas, people and stories transformed onto the paper, no longer ephemeral fleeting shadows in your mind but solid words on a permanent page. Witnessing the fluidity of your writing- there is my thought spilling out for others to see and understand.

Running, just being able to run and get faster and go where your feet take you. Specifically, ahead of me a straight thin path, to the left the setting sun on a deserted beach ahead in the distance mountains, to my right fields with different farm animals, horses, cows, sheep, lamas and geese lazing in the evening sun. Then the cows and the horses start running, one starts and the rest follow as a herd dictates that they should. They are just running for the sake of it because they can and they look so majestic in the golden light. A snail making it’s slow way across the path, on it’s way somewhere. Above me to the left of my head a swallow dipping and rising and swirling in the breeze jut by the opening of its wing.

Observing the myriad of feelings and emotions crossing people’s faces as they watch different stages of a film, lost in the reality of it as blue frames flicker into their eyes.

Watching a mother duck and ducklings cross a road. Them all waiting at the side in a little huddle, then the mum suddenly deciding its safe to go. Off they go, with the mum setting a hasty pace at the front, then the seven ducklings in a straight row behind running as fast as their little feet can take them, tripping and jumping trying to get to the front. The one that’s always at the back because it’s the smallest and slowest trying with all it’s might to keep up, rescued occasionally by the mum who stops and tries to nudge the last one along. Their anxious fear to make it safely is palpable as is their sense of family.

Sunshine dappled in moving water becoming liquid light.

Leaves, roots and trunks of trees all working together for the same purpose. Green fingers reaching into the sky, so the tree can get taller and more leaves can grow, the cycle continues year in year out.

Mum quietly just having a bowl of sour, bitter yogurt for breakfast so that there will be enough cereal for everybody else. Nobody else realises this when they later eat their bowls of cereal and she doesn’t want them to know.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Dorian Gray you got it all wrong.

Recently I have spent considerable time with 'old people' or ' old codgers' as they referred to themselves. All I can say is what interesting people, they have lived their lives and have so much to tell about it. They have learnt who they are, how to carry themselves and have a quiet confidence in themselves that is rarely there in the 'young'. Their sense of humour is actually hilarious and they soon had me labelled as 'trouble', 'here comes trouble' was my affectionate greeting.

I wonder when it is that you just 'know' and are content with who you are and no longer care what others or the world thinks of you. How many days of living and night of sleeping does it take to feel like you've done your bit, you've played your part and lived your story? Where you relax completely and feel liberated to just enjoy the here and now because you 'know' not like the young think they know but really know and feel with every bone in your body that the future is short and your time is precious.

It is a catch-22, on the one hand life is considerably worst your body is physically in more pain, you have to take pills 4 times a day just to keep going, it takes ten minutes of creaking bones and large sighs to heave yourself off the sofa and in the back of your head you must know death is just around the corner. BUT all this physical angst must free your mind to just enjoy and live for right now, years on this earth gives the value of experience to know there is no point worrying anymore because you've expereinced enough times in the past that worry is a beast that needs to be beaten else it just drags you down.

What I'm trying to say is that this group of 'old people' who I had the pleasure to spend time with were the loveliest and happiest group of people I have been in the company of for a long time. I work with young people and these 'oldies' had more life and get up and go in them and were living purely to enjoy rather than to impress or achieve.

My goodness, they made me think about it all, this thing called life. They've lived theirs and I'm just starting out really, it's all ready to enfold in front of me and all the time I seem to worry about how it's going to go and which way it will pan out and whether I'll achieve what I want or I am supposed to and what if I don't use my time here in the best possible way. I believe that one reason we are here is to learn and become the best possible version of ourselves but what if I never do? Yet these old lovelies have for a while stopped these questions and shown in the end none of it really matters because you'll get where you need to be when you need to get there and in the mean time just live and enjoy.

                                The view from my bedroom window.

 After walking through what can only be described as 'bog land' laying in the sun in the nook of  a hill reading with nobody around

                                        View from dream house below....

The photo above reminds me of this quote- "What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."
Kerouac-on the road

                                Warwick Castle

                                 I would like to live in this house please.

                                In the maze.

                                Pub Lunch

                                 Shakespeare's place of birth.

                                The Fool.

                                             A good cuppa Cha that!


                               Another house I'd like to live in.

So this last week I have had the most carefree, let it go, fun and happiest weeks. This is all revealed in the fact I am actually smiling with 'teeth' in some of these photos, something that never usually happens despite my Grandma's prompts to show my teeth when I smile. As my little story here unfolds, these last two weeks will be a shining example of how life should be lived as directed by the 'old folk'. It was castles, picturesque picture card villages, mountains, skies, tea and scones, mud, history, fresh air, rivers, laughing, James, stories, wonderful people, living in moments, ice-cream, Shakespeare and silliness.