Wednesday 20 July 2011


  A circumlocutory trip around my head.  An inane passage from a ricochet existence. The seemingly infinite meanderings of an internal struggle. This perpetual motion allows no respite. Holidays and high days are denied; a deluded sense of promised hiatus propels a restless mind. Time makes little allowance and sleep only intensifies the noise. The clamour inside my head all but drowns out any clarity of thought. Silence rings heavy and doleful. My voice when I hear it is so alien that it surprises me. A faded facsimile, a croak. Another redundant muscle, flabby and inconsequential - reduced to an elemental collection of tissue. Appetite has become anorexic - not starved but lacking. Stimuli of the past are rejected - discarded.  The mind moves from one impulse to the next seeking resolution. Questions haunt us in sleep and waking. The desire to communicate reduced to neologisms - an excuse to reveal nothing - a blank unconstructed response that will retain privacy, obscure and distant. Responses become little more than linguistic expulsions - too hazy to be questioned, a rebuttal, a shield.
   The duality of the domestic environment - where self created careful comfort resides but forms a simultaneously gilded cage. Circumstance, financial limitations turn this comfort into torment. The walls inching closer, the mind delimited by the interminable familiarity of surroundings. The soporific claustrophobia of the suffocatingly familiar. Sunshine illuminates the vestiges of a previously house proud existence. A domestic dust bowl inhabited by tumbleweeds of hair, dead skin and urban decay infiltrate the environment through every fissure. Time reduced to sucking up and wiping down, pride in the servitude of the nihilistic pursuit of cleanliness - rejected. Dust lies on dust, on dust.  Amongst all this sits the pot plant. Stoic in its refusal to die. Content to survive on the offerings of leftover residues. Bursting out heart shaped leaves delivering a symbolic thank you to the elements that sustain it. Magenta flowers that initially bow their heads, subjugated by the sun, soon face up proud, defiant almost, heralding – I am alive. The light catches on a train and bounces through the block - somehow transparent, transmutable. At night the light is blue, unworldly, it momentarily illuminates the darkened windows of adjacent domiciles and mixes with the persistent glow of the plasma screen. Suggesting scenarios otherwise unimagined.
   My eyesight is a villain and a friend, as the world seems to daily become a little less focused. My vision fades with the same rapidity as my looks. Nature’s way of allowing beauty to fade without us even noticing too much. As the colour drains from my hair, my skin also reduces in texture and elasticity. Each complimenting the other - here there is no antagonism, no rupture. Nature carefully choreographing an itinerary from middle age to old age. But hasn't it always felt that way. Each decade a reminder of the previous lost time - a nostalgic desire to grapple with the past and bring it to the present.
   The Sunday papers are a horror story - I turn each page quickly to avoid the gaze of columnist, celebrity, model, or the unwitting victim of the photographer's camera - images shot to remind us how lacking or lucky our own lives are. Are we that simple? Do we really imagine that these collisions of digital reconstruction offer any insight except those carefully mediated by journalist, PR, editor, photographer, philanthropist? Passive dupes in a holy matrimony - feeding off the detritus of another's life - scavenging for titbits - information. The idea that gossip is somehow positive, life affirming - look at them, they really are the result of some low life freak of nature and I can feel infinitely superior. Or how can I become impossibly perfect, a concoction created through the daily onslaught of vanity.
   I plan my constitutional. I contemplate my wardrobe. Freedom of choice overridden by an exhausting propriety. Knowledge that all choices are consequential. What shoes, coat, hat, scarf - urban camouflage or fashion dandy? To slip unnoticed through the streets or parade in peacock style? Private thoughts entombed. But there is respite echoed by the footsteps as I walk and walk and walk. I wander with no particular place in my mind but as I walk my mind expands and my thoughts escape their previous state. Air, light, wind, rain occasional rain – the aching in my feet, the burning in my calves, the heavy weight of my thoughts are exalted beyond the confines of my head. As I synthesise with all beyond the boundaries of the immediate – for a moment I move through time and space unencumbered. My skin no longer resembles the faded parchment in a forgotten volume but regains lustre. Blood pulsating through my veins as I walk and walk and walk and the further I walk the less I think of where I am going or why. Reason or the desire to have reason is admonished and all that remains is the rhythm of my feet with the earth. I feel each step and connect with every footstep as sole of shoe makes contact with concrete, flagstone, bitumen. I rejoin and centre my existence. A pole running through my being connecting me to the universe. The heaviness of my soul is replaced by the lightness of my step as possibility is once more invited in.
   But inevitably there is a time when I must return home. Footsteps that meet the stairs to walk up previously so light, now turn to molasses – treacle footed I laboriously climb the steps – the last few always the hardest, as exhaustion reclaims my body and mind. I am greeted as always by the impossibly optimistic spectacle of my balcony filled with more potted plants. Nature captured, nature nurtured. Gardening seems little more than an attempt to superimpose order. From the baked earth of the terracotta pots to the entombed plant, root bound there is only one prospect - to reach upwards.
   I close the door and remove my coat and shoes. Once more denuded from my exterior camouflage. Windows flung wide open to commune with the air that momentarily liberated this disquieted soul. Fatigue is not an acceptable state and luckily I have no desire to be acceptable. I switch on the radio in the hope of capturing that occasional beacon of hope – a voice speaking from the heart, not the usual verbatim catechisms, but the falteringly unrehearsed utterings which cut through the airwaves rapier sharp, silencing the deafening clamour of the seemingly all pervasive opinionated rhetoric. Voices goad my isolation. I continue my own existence quietly. The loud, the brash, the bullish, the belief that one day modesty, silence, thought and contemplation will replace the need to have it all. Have it all, you can have it.

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