Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Night, Moonlit

Early morning, late night, did not check the hour. A hurried phone call - get up, get dressed, drive to hospital. I'm fine, we're fine. Just an alarm we found, thankfully, false. Nevertheless the A&E (Accident & Emergency) Room, lags. Drags. A strung-up tension pervades with the lingering scent of spilt bottles/cans. So quiet except for the hum of the coffee machine. While I wait for the doctor to see our loved one. I sit, write and look out. Expectant of a long night. All around us, the murmurs of humans. Delicate, hushed. All the vulnerable souls in this room are in it together yet utterly separate. Small islands of fear, trepidation, calm.

I am fine, we are ...

A woman with red hair and white clothes bobs her head to her ipod. A young woman with short hair and pyjama bottoms holds on to the hand of her beloved for dear life. Lifeboat love. He is young - dutifully responsive without looking at her. Shy - embarrassed, I can't tell. She rocks back and forth for a while then continues touching him - his hair, his blue-jeaned leg. He might as well be in another room. I notice the twin-taped cuts on her shins, then look away.

Not for the first time, I notice the lady with the green shoes. Beauty with tired eyes and hair. She looks alone, even desolate. Somehow she has turned up stylish. Looking at "us", so did we but this was done in a haze of sleep. Her green shoes glisten in the fluorescent glare. Her eyeliner, smudged. Is she alright? The result of a late night or late life. She curls up in her steel chair. Then stretches here and there, head back, uncrossed then crossed legs, conspicuous. I think that I am watching a show. Perhaps she has played the role of beauty too many times, opposite a beast of a life.

It is now 2 a.m. I write and ignore any gaze from me to pen and back again. Why can't they look at the lady with green shoes? Stream of consciousness, I am adrift. Thank God for this pen. Ipod lady has started speaking with two porters, they are pally. I wonder if it is a return trip. The lady with sore taped shins has stopped touching him. I feel relieved. Almost want to get her a coffee. It's alright, he's brought her one. Perhaps that's how he touches. Perhaps it's none of my business. Yet tonight I feel we are all in the same lifeboat, - While children sleep, mothers worry and God watches. A microcosm of a night, somewhere in England. I am fine, we are fine. Looking back on what I wrote, thinking. Sometimes I know I love the whole world and see only beauty, soft-winged beauty.


Saturday, 17 July 2010


It was two hours until dawn, late summer night, this girl was cajoled into bed. Apparently I looked tired.

Perhaps, yet I couldn't sleep. To blog, perchance to dream: I wrote the following just before my eyelids drifted shut and am posting it the day after. Within this post are old photographs I had taken in my teens. I'd forgotten what "real" film looks like, warm and grainy. I'd forgotten that girl who carried a camera instead of lipstick. Quite nostalgic in an "If I had told myself this or that..." way:

A true life = clear thought.

Clear thought combined with... perseverance, which is another word for "patience in the long haul".

If one is in it for the long haul, one must hold back, refrain a little. Not jump to that first desire like a magpie meeting a sparkle in the grass.

Conserve your energy for what really matters, not just the physical reserves, but your mental energy too. Step back, look clearly upon something and think.... before you speak, before you leap... focus gently.

One of the things I have learnt in this tiny span of existence is - it helps to keep your eyes wide open, along with your mind. So, although no one might know it, you are taking it in, drinking it all in. Studying the horizon.

I've always admired the grace of animals in the wilderness, they know the above naturally. Especially cats. The soft slink of ease and languid determination. So languid that as a child, visiting game reserves abroad, I would watch transfixed if any crossed our path. Part of me would be struck by their confident beauty, the other part would sometimes think "Hurry up, please".

That second part is the one I work on... every day. For impatience can sometimes be delicious, you want it now.... you want it cartoon-fast and vocalising that releases something. The truth is, it only releases energy you could use otherwise. Observe patience as something tangible, not just an ephemeral object. Think of it as a muscle one needs to work on.

Strengthening this gives you real release. Rather than falling upon a sparkle in the grass, your thoughts and feelings share equal space, equal respect. Ultimately, you grow patient with yourself too, an unexpected gift. A necessary one.

Odd how "Go with your heart" as true as it is, is nowadays given more reverence than the brain - why not emphasise both? If one consistently goes with the heart in life, relationships, faith even - at the first sign of real trouble we hear:

"This is a recording... go with your heart" and some of us lash out or ... jump ship; it is not so much that rationality is abandoned - just that it is easier to react without thinking of the consequences. Patience is a wee casualty in the "heart only" mentality. But thankfully, it can be revived. We just have to allow both sides of our nature an even playing field.

What I find amazing is that while you are reading this, wherever you are, you have unique brain cells, synapses, emotion sparkling away inside of you, bubbling to fruition. So real, thank God and so wonderful. Everything you have just read, you have absorbed or recognized. Everything and everyone are somehow linked.


Friday, 28 May 2010

Just Add Water

A while ago I heard about this clever company that came up with a new pancake mix in the 1940's. All you had to do was add water and hey presto .. pancakes. Now being an enthusiastic cook, the thought knits my brow. "Water? what else is in there?". But I understood the convenience and of course the company thought that they had hit on culinary alchemy. Somehow when it came to the sales launch, shoppers stayed away. People (or in those days, women) found it too easy, too strange and alien. So a clever duck in the company changed the recipe, now you had to water and ... an egg. Sales shot up at a blistering pace. They didn't understand it but were pleased, the mix was finally off their sorry hands and into those of the fairer sex.

What they forgot to tap into at the beginning, was reality as seen and known by people at that time: Nothing is that easy, some work goes into achieving anything worthwhile. Which makes me think of the world we live in today. Everything is at our tiptap fingertips. We may lament about the declining economy, petrol prices and finding the right shampoo - but on the whole, we've noticed that those who do complain, are hardly the ones lying in the street or counting loose change under a streetlamp.

Yet while we we have so much more materially - the fear is always driven into us that we have nothing, not really. That life is not as it should be. The spouse is not quite perfect enough or psychic enough to anticipate each and every need. The job is too stressful. Time is far too fleeting. The last one is the only one I agree with: Pardon me for my absence.

During all this fear-mongering, the "counter message" we get to balance this out is: More. That's their answer. As if by just adding more (water) we will be gifted with an instant life. A life other than the one we borrow. I use "borrow" here, because that is how it is. We don't keep life forever; we are entrusted with one for a short while: Why then are we so determined to remain dissatisfied with this gift?

I feel as if people are bombarded by their own side sometimes. Good, intelligent people are buying into the idea that they are not quite capable, because they are unhappy - and they are being sold that idea by OTHER human beings. An endless spiral of enabling - the drug is "This is not good enough and neither are you".

Perhaps they are right to be unhappy! Or dissatisfied. It's good to know when something needs fixing. The only harm occurs when they barely scratch the surface of why there is discontent; when they use the outer life: appearance, career and status as the passage to contentment. The truth is, all those things only equal a material life - which no matter how much you improve upon will never bring true fulfillment.

Deep down we know this, yet we still forget. The other messages are too prevalent. Why? Happy, fulfilled people are rarely voracious consumers, it helps profit margins to keep us in a state of constant need. I don't think that those who enable this process truly mean harm - but let's face it, they are partly responsible. Though not completely.
The greatest opportunity and thus the greatest test lies with us. Taking responsibility for why we are and what we value is not the easiest thing. Sometimes it can strike like a lightening bolt - when reality forces us to see beneath the veneer. Most of the time, it takes work, real hard introspective work. We actually have to sit down in a quiet spot and think. Shut away the world and all the images dangled before us. Just sit and think and ask every question we have avoided or neglected. Remember our question mark? It comes in very useful during those tender, worthwhile moments. This life is so precious and it floats by in the blink of an eye; I hope we can give it the time and thought it deserves, soon and often. Throw out the pancake mix. Start from scratch.


Friday, 12 March 2010

Farewell Sweetheart

It's 10pm in London, returned from a marathon writing session. The whole day, the sense of something tangible, something missing followed me. Just wanted to be indoors. I ate little, what little I touched lacked taste. I prayed, found some peace in that. I wrote some more. Then, looked at missed blogs.

It's 10pm in London and dear Renee, a person of incredible warmth and goodness of the blog "Circling My Head" is.. not here. Her cancer, telling title is her blog's name, had deteriorated quickly. Her warmth and strength are needed elsewhere, she is dead.

Renee, today I wrote, after a long time of my brush with the dreaded tumour; the lease and breath of new life that came when they removed it. Today I found, you, missing. I know Renee was here for a short while. I can't tell you how much she means to me. I want to post her picture and I can't.

I don't always let people deeply into my heart; give - yes, receive? carefully. Except when I come across genuine and kind people, it is very easy to love them. I don't know the romance of that emotion, but with family and friends, it is there and means much. Renee was an instant, loving and sincere friend - certainly not something I expected when I started to write this blog. I did not expect her familiar love, her endearingly sweet emails, her glowing trust, encouragement, understanding of vulnerability and unexplained delight in knowing my real name. I did not expect a complex, amazing, ballsy, (sometimes potty-mouthed) funny and shatteringly good person. Renee did everything her own way and answered to nobody. She grew up Catholic, married her Muslim husband in their "unique" 1975 wedding and together they built an amazing bond and family. She suffered with cancer, sometimes in silence, sometimes with a primal cry for help and we came running, because that's what people who love her do.

I am crying Renee, but it is because I knew you, not because I lost you.

I am grateful to her darling daughter for sharing all the news with us at this sad time. My heart is with Angelique, her father and family. I am grateful for Renee's open heart, searing mind and soul. God I hope I see you in heaven, RK; you deserve peace after all this pain. You deserve every drop of goodness you brought to this world. I am not mythologising Renee, she chose goodness; the simple undiluted kind every day.

I love you.

Peace be with Renee,

Your friend,

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Water Ripples

Dear friends, dear souls I have missed the pleasure of conversing with in some time.

Including the friends who email, hello again.

The absence has been felt. Somehow I wish you were across the street from me, so I could meet you at the window and talk back and forth happily like they did in previous times, ready to share, ready to listen.

For some weeks, I have been trying to be the best person I can personally and careerwise. Sometimes they collided, quietly, change causes sparks. It helps to be prepared. I spoke on the phone sporadically, emailed less. Itched to blog. Forgive my silence.

I hope you have been well, better than well. My thoughts would stray, sometimes even gallop to thinking of many of you individually. As weeks stretched, I would rush to write a post and then leave it, it didn't feel quite right for the time, as always the sincere thought requires a ready moment.

For January I had written an enthusiastic, bold, happy one, and then, Haiti collapsed. A house of cards, heaving tremors around the world. Somehow the happy post seemed inappropriate. But I remembered the posts you wrote and they touched me although I could not reply. How to reply, when you said it better than I?

Aghast and shaken, days after I thought of what happens to people after the rubble is cleared: We are left with questions: these encircle a magnifying glass to the people that were abandoned, hungry and needy before any earthquake shook them. I only discovered this after watching a Charlie Rose YouTube on Haiti. Yet we heard little for so long amidst our normal concerns. Little until one earthquake hurt them and jolted us.

Is selfishness individual complacency? Or an epidemic? Are we to blame for not seeking to know more about the world than we are spoon-fed?

Perhaps the magnifying glass can be held to ourselves. Who are we? Who am I?

Am I like the shape of water? Ready to fill the vessel I am given? Or do I build the vessel myself, grow within it, discard it when it cannot contain me anymore?

Without the analogies, I know one thing. I am in this world for reasons bigger than myself. This means I must share of myself freely and without expectation. This means that sometimes I am needed elsewhere. This is not weakness nor naivety. It is humanity finding its way.

The past few weeks have taught me that without cherishing the bigger truth, life is not quite right, contentment is not as surefooted. I reserve the right to be imperfect, I also reserve a right to aim for perfection knowing I will not attain it, as this is human. Yet how vital is this journey when we try for the right reasons?

I pray we all act on our words and good intentions at this time, however small the action, allow it to form and ripple farther than human eyes can see.