“You can’t think your way out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” John Rogers
The screen mocked my every thought, the arctic white page blinding my eyes as snow on a sunny day, making me squint in the hope of a direction even though I cannot see where I am going. The page an abstracted projection, a freudian note to myself that the page was mirroring my inner malaise of lost consciousness. The page was not unfriendly, we dined together as always. It’s just that the ideas flew past at the speed of sound, refusing to land in my mind. Even the dictionary drowned in my thoughtless fug. But, mercy be, there was the letter i and I’m sticking with that.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus
The land lies like sodden clumps of wool as winter inexorably crawls towards spring and the hope of warmth tantalisingly held out like an olive branch. This has been a winter of winters, unseen for decades, with icy winds and robust storms aplenty. I took shelter for the most part, unlike previous years when winter seemed more like autumn, which seemed like summer.
This winter has left an indelible mark on me like no other. It offered me reflection and hallowed retreat from the tempest. I have waited for emergence like a chrysalis opening to the world, seeking sacred islands with new eyes. Soon the clumps will dry. I will breathe deeply of August, knowing that its waters gift my spring.
Luna dropped her keys and bent to pick them up, and something unlocked in the very core of me. I pocketed my hands just in case they reached for the moon, which was no half moon, a fulsome globe that lit the scene and moved a tide within me that took me to places forgotten. I gasped.
She turned, intuitively , smiling a knowing smile, as if she knew my secret thoughts, dispelling all my shadows. she moved with sighing hips, more Friday night than Monday morning. Each step a fertility dance, a cycle blossoming before me. I was transfixed. And then, just as suddenly, she was gone.
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. But, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
The Present Moment
If I try to, I cannot reach back into all my yesterdays and reclaim them. And, even if I could, all that I would achieve is a reconstruction of days as perfect past moments. So I cannot reach back and hold any moment as it was. Besides I don't want to, the past is the past and best left as formative memory for better or worse.
The future eludes me in smoke and mirrors, the pathway is unclear, no plan is foolproof. Besides, if I could see even just a little ahead I would be adjusting my approach towards the perfect experience.
The most abiding feeling I have is of the fleeting present moment. That moment, the blinking of an eye, the moment between the inward and outward breath, which passes so quickly. These moments come and go and I have learned to treasure them before they slip into yesterday. But, to be in the present moment, I have to be present.
Come Join Me
Going to hell in a handcart seems infinitely better than joining with the elite ignorance of those who presume they're on for a visit to the angel bar in the ether. How can it be that we tolerate the essence of ego over integrity, where is the authentic one, where the grounded reality? How is it that we have put a gun to the head of community, in pursuit of self-indulgence?
Of course, it is infinitely more valid if we charge a small fortune for courses that enable wrong choices to look like someone else, someone who knows the mantra. Surely it is time to self-prune, to take stock and account for the present moment? Whatever your disposition, my handcart has plenty of room, so come join me on the road to the hell that is not really hell, it is not what you'd imagine, but then, the path to a constructed heaven is just an irony of marketing, so what have you got to lose?
“Everybody should keep some grip on childhood, even as a grownup.” Tim Curry
One Way Through
As spring made way for summer everything seemed full and lush, even the northern July evenings were slightly longer than the ending of Hey Jude which was idyllic when sleep seemed like theft of life. But there were dark tones in this summer of light. Why was mum so frightened, why were dad's fists so loud? It was a house of mixed feelings like the edge of a wave teetering near rocks.
Sometimes there was a deep silence, followed by absence. Baby-sitters appeared at intervals, young couples whose tongues were intertwined in closed eyes of desire, though not so much before I was given a cup of cocoa and soon sent to bed.
Our house wasn't ancient, but it was easy to hear anyone coming up the stairs, so I knew I could please myself in a wonderland. So I would throw back the curtains and marvel at the light, open the window and dangle my legs over the ledge. I was lost in the wonder of peace and stillness, dreaming of tigers, Sherwood Forest, and rescuing Alice from queens unknown. This was my refuge.
I sailed the angry sea
past dark resolution rocks
you are my refuge.
“Fierce eagles do not produce timorous doves.” Horace
45c and the road, straighter than straight, rolling beyond what the rusted sign advised. Blues, liquid, twelve bar, driving through this dry land. Paddocks hollow and stricken, rain forsaken for so long now, nothing holds in this dust. Crows picking the eyes out of everything that ceases to move, that cadaver buffet for pall bearers.
The gates blur in fifth, the barbed wire whispers strained songs of lament and I weep as I pass the delusion of hope trying to bale non-existent hay, the sadness of twenty bales to a hundred acres. And I weep for this place where endings complete and there are no obvious beginnings.
I slow as I see the spectre eyeing emaciated sheep. The angel of death eyes me and I nod in deference, better an ending than tortured horizons. I wave my blessing, thankful that the feathered euthanasia will ease the shepherds pain. In this moment the eagle is surgeon, priest and mourner, holding a ritual, taking death for life.
Sometimes old tricks return, seemingly of their own volition. The mind puts on front, suggesting that it never forgets, but it does. Sometimes old tricks are left in dark corners simply because their pleasure faded. And sometimes old tricks return, not by will, but by motion rooted in embodied memory. To once again pick up spade and shears, to don hat and gloves and fold into the joy of memories turning soil.
The joy of a garden is so primal, so simple, yet so profoundly felt. To rejoin my elders in time honoured pleasure is a rediscovery that refreshes my soul. Sanatorium, health-spa, surgery, clinic, call it what you will, it is healing in every way.
And that’s the thing, remembering. Remembering is a strange thing, a rebuilding, putting back together what has been lost though not forgotten. It’s in the word itself. To remember is to re-member, to narratively, even practically, put that past back together in some semblance of knowing. There’s a host of saints in my collection of dearly departed who taught me to garden and impassioned my green spirit. And, as I lift my spade and plunge in rhythmic moves, I fondly recall them one by one in this eden.