I heard the mission bell; it sounded like a cell phone ringing, or beeping, or buzzing. I was on the bus last week. I use it regularly in winter because two wheels, motorised and un, freeze me slowly. The walk to the bus-stop clears the lungs and head, at least it does until I step on the bus.
Twenty people on the bus, heads at 90°, texting, Whatsapping, emailing, surfing; whatever they’re doing. That’s OK, free country and who am I to care? So I whipped out my notebook and ever-present 2H pencil and started writing. The noise of lead scratching paper could have been one of H.G. Wells’ Martians yelling “Ulla!” the noise was so alien.
In front of me a head righted itself and probably swum from finding itself in a hitherto unknown position. To the side of me fingers stopped doing whatever they were doing and someone who could have exited the bendy-bus at the other door decided to walk past, catching a snide glance at my activity. Fairly bloody surreal for an 8.00am bus ride.
So, I decided I had a mission, not impossible and not even difficult but a mission nonetheless. Every morning or evening or both, I would write a poem. Chances are it may not be a very good one but a poem it would be. Today’s one went OK, at least I liked it and that matters more than anything else, and it goes a little like this:
The hours slip through time,
as time seeps through the hours;
mark the beginning
and the end of time
Celebration of life and death
Eyes open for the first time
or close for the last
and tears tear the heart
But now life grows
and time never slows
But seeps through the hours.
It could be the title of a book, albeit a not very inspiring one. It could but it’s not, it’s a reflection of someone, somewhere. It’s a reflection of me, looking back at me from the glass with shadow-circled eyes and skin paling in the fresh autumn breeze as the rain falls while the leaves take their time to turn from green to brown and the summer (what summer?) looks around, sighs and departs.
It seems a long time since I wrote anything ‘creative’, and by that I mean fiction, my first writing love. I looked in my diary and saw the last entry almost a month ago; that is terrible! Even laying aside a brief bout of ill-health and outside stresses it’s still a long time – too long. Thi is only alleviated by the fact I’ve managed to post poetry on my writing blog since July. I would sometime use the blog to air some of my morning writing exercises, at least those that could be aired. I’ve always used those hours in the morning when I should be sleeping but can’t, to write. Just lately, for a number of reasons, I just haven’t had that get up and go to, well, get up. There’s a correlation between no longer writing in the morning, my most creative period, and not producing fiction. And I have a theory:
Contrary to my fiction-writing habits, my poetry seems to take a peek behind the curtain later in the day. I feel about as disposed to write poetry in the morning as I feel disposed to go to the office… yeah, enthusiasm eh? Although the latter will change from 1st January but more of that another time. Anyway, my theory is my poetic soul picks up on the sins of the day; the tensions, arguments and darkened thoughts. Instead, the writer in me, the storyteller, likes a new white canvas, the first breath of cold, clean mountain air as he opens the window, thoughts untainted and summed up in five words.
Living in a daily world of imaginary conflicts, in which the tide of others washed and pushed against him, He lived ever in anger’s twilight. The anger simmered, threatening to boil over but not quite managing to do so. In some ways it would have been better if it had.
In his make-believe world in which everything was a hurt against him, either directly or indirectly, he no longer lived; not in the true sense of the word. Whereas sensibility to his condition was heightened, other important aspects of his character were made obtuse. Happiness was an emotion felt by others. His anger would obtund any sense of enjoyment or achievement and his spiral continued downwards.
The world outside is bright
Spring fills the air
The fields and the trees are colour
Animals awaken from winter slumber
But within him the winter remained
And for him the clocks unchanged
He slivered on ice
where others walked on grass
He shivered with cold
while others warmed to the sun
He withered, his face white
when others danced with new life
He lingered in the shadows
whilst others cavorted in the long,
joyful hours of sunlight
He revered in his head
his sufferance in a world
where hurts imaginary
and conflicts obtusely
Beat him to the ground
into the dust, to be found
Where maybe hope one day
will bring him out;
out into the world again.
Depression can take manifest itself in various guises, this I know from personal experience. Whilst at the height of my chronic insomnia 4 years ago the hospital put it down to depression which, personally, I couldn’t understand as there was no real motive, so I believed. I just thought it was the other way around – that I was shot to pieces in the head, imagining scenarios which weren’t there simply because I didn’t sleep. Thankfully, with loving support and no lack of determination, I managed to untangle myself from the shadow-spectre of this awful and destructive condition.
During last 4 years I’ve started writing, which is a therapy in itself. I still don’t sleep anywhere near the recommended 8 hours but whoever recommends this probably has nothing to do all day. The above, in a very rough form, has been around quite a while, probably written during ‘recovery’ stage. Ordinarily I avoid personally-related posts, but this is different – I want that reminder there. I want to remind myself of where I was and where I am and be thankful for it.
p.s. – Shadowplay is a track by Joy Division from their “Unknown Pleasures” album. It just seemed apt in this case.
In certain aspects during these last 12 years I’ve become ‘Italianised’ living here so close to the border. When I’m back in the UK I dread hotel sachets of instant coffee and certain coffee-house chains, famous apparently for their ‘Italian’ coffees, serve me an espresso the size of a large glass of wine. “No!” I want to shout. I don’t however, I just sit there sipping and dreaming of my trusty Moka at home. I like coffee, very much in fact but as I already have a sleep disorder I was advised not to drink it after 2pm. However, when I wake up the first thing after splashing my face is the preparation of the Moka. Then I can work. Like, about now…
Once I was a fruit on a tree
Then they dried me, fried me
Made a coffee bean of me
Photo credit: markmiller from morguefile.com