A Perfect Circle
A point, as the pen touches the page. A perfect circle in itself, yet
only the beginning. And at the same time used as an ending, to define
the space where one thought or point finishes, and another is destined
to begin. And as we commence the next sentence – the words that flow
from our original point or the origin of our first contact with the
blank page, a picture is forming.
We begin by way of carving a path, sending the reader or listener
veering off in the direction we would like them to follow, or rather
hope they will follow, if they don’t get distracted in the meantime
and run off in their own entirely different train of thought which
is not at all along the lines we intended to steer them. Full stop.
That’s better, a pause, allowing them to come back to where it was we
were going as our words all flow together creating a continuous chain
that will eventually come to its conclusion, or its own ending.
When the whole picture reveals itself there is always something of
a surprise as the loose ends are tidied up, and all avenues we might
have gone down that were thrown in as red herrings, akin to the very
clever ones we find in Agatha Christie novels, in fact, lead us nowhere.
We must now make sense of the undeniable facts which remain and
piece together the clues, not jumping to conclusions but allowing the
only true one to gradually present itself that we may marvel at the
simplicity of it, and how it was there right under our nose all the
time, if only we had been able to recognise it.
A story takes us on such a journey, toying with us, engaging all of
our emotions and challenging our beliefs. It has the ability to lure
us into uncharted territories, and to widen the horizons that we might
previously have seen as a little smaller than the spectacular vistas
that can be conjured up by words. Still leading us somewhere, each letter
containing its own energy, each wriggling worm of a word creating a
sense of anticipation.
Our expectation starts to fill the air as we skip merrily through the
pages towards the inevitable, eagerly, till the end begins to draw nearer
and we have to know what transpires. The now, or present moment must
be reconciled before we allow ourselves to take a peek at the future.
Could we ever forgive ourselves if we read the last page before our time
is due? Each perfectly rounded vowel brings back memories of the way
things are supposed to be done, the rules of engagement that should
be utilised in the correct manner.
Plot; an important ingredient to throw into the mix along with our
developing characters and sub-plots, and tantalising twists and turns
along the way that must somehow smooth themselves out into some
kind of order so we can regain our bearings. Another full stop.
Here we are at the end, yet we are not sure what the point is?
It is only ever a matter of beginning.
Savouring the New Day
It is well past morning as I sit here and write. The sun reaches its
zenith, the shadows have shortened, and the air is heavy with the
midday heat, filled with flies and the constant chitter-chat of birds.
I only notice this as I take the time to tune in, to just be with
Nature’s palette around me. The activity goes on, regardless of whether
I acknowledge it or not – the birdsong from a bough, the bees visiting
clover flowers, and each blade of grass waving in the gentle breeze.
In this moment, time stands still. I am drawn into a silent conversation.
I am part of this web of life, weaving its story anew each day. I try to
differentiate each sound, each hum, every melodic chant that lulls me
into a state of wellbeing, of peace, of contentment.
Just as each sip of coffee is a moment of time, a reflection, a pause,
I am reminded of how simple it is to engage in these pleasures – to slowly
inhale all that life has to offer. A cup of wisdom, a cornucopia of
delights, mouthfuls of speculation, and the promise of things to come.
A ritual that signifies a new beginning as each day brings surprises that
lie in wait, asking only that we take the time to notice the little things,
to count our blessings and to send forth our happy thoughts as we too awaken,
refreshed by every drop of liquid amber that passes through our lips. I am
infused, and now, newly enthused. Ready to stir into action and embrace
the feelings that surge with warmth into my being – I am alive.
The Book of Changes. Spring
Here I am, sitting in a little cottage in the outskirts of Berrima. Inland.
I wonder why I am here, and think about all the paths that led to this
destination. How every step we take on our journey leads us to a moment
where everything is born anew, this constant change that seems to be
forcing me to keep pace with it, to trust that I am meant to be here.
As I look over the acres of trees they are being shaken by the wind.
Yet they stand, moving, flowing with the conditions that occur around
them, battered but steady and strong.
It is only when we resist the flow of the tide and the natural cycles
of all things that we find ourselves beached – helpless to act. I have
learnt to jump in, to release the urge to hold my breath, to drown
amongst these waves. They carried me here, to this place, they washed
away everything I thought I knew.
The birds reassure me. The petals shower me with blessings; their pink
carpet laid beneath my feet as I take another step forward – another
step into the unknown.
At first I was surprised at finding horses in the garden, now I have
grown accustomed to seeing them open the gate. The grass always seems
greener on the other side. It is only when we are there that we wonder
why we needed to reach for it at all, was it not more comfortable in
a familiar place?
Yet it is not until we open our eyes to new possibilities that we are
able to broaden our vision. For beyond the gates we have built to
contain our lives there are many new experiences that lie in wait,
asking to be discovered.
So I treasure this time, I relish this moment and where it has taken me.
I allow the sun to warm me each day as I sit and write. For that is now
what I know I must do. I must forget the past and let go of the future;
there is only the urge to answer my present calling, to allow the words
to light my way.
Chapter by chapter they bring new awareness, as if I am the reader being
led by the hand. I imagine Salome as I move to the dance of the seven veils,
each one removing doubt, shedding confusion, releasing insecurities,
bringing me closer to the clarity of the complete vision, eager to expose
the final result – the sound of trumpets announcing the finale.
Each page is spun with gossamer thread, each chapter woven with its own
pattern, its own fluid form. They cling together as I allow them to take
shape, this creation that is slowly emerging into being.
It is a new beginning, the seeds are sown and with patience I will watch
them bloom. My book, my first book. Can I really say it?
Yes, I have written a book.
The Trees of Knowledge
An envelope has arrived. A pale cream paper, fine to my touch. What
really captures my imagination is the name and address, seeing it
written in such a beautiful hand, as if these fingers came into
existence for the sole purpose of writing ‘Rose Cottage’. It is
someone older I feel, a woman, each carefully formed letter speaks
of an era of elegance long since passed.
I treasure it. I put it aside, to the end of the pile. I await the
surprise that I know lies within. And finally I let it reveal its
contents to me.
It is an invitation. A formal request with an acceptance letter and
another page should I wish to decline. I am reminded of Jane Austin,
of invitations penned and delivered, by carriage and footman of course,
requesting the pleasure of another’s company, perhaps to tea, or
a recital. The days when poetry flowed from quills and love was
declared within folded pages sealed with wax.
How accustomed we have become to the non-descript standard envelopes
that clump together in our letterboxes. To receiving messages we do
not enjoy. The sense of anticipation that we might find words to
delight us has been replaced by demands for our attention and time.
There are bills and statements, promotional flyers and catalogues
– an endless stream of information about products and services
that promise to transform our lives, to make them easier, simpler.
We may just glance, or sift through and form piles or stacks, and
eventually, when it is clear these papers are out of control,
sit down and make the time to digest them. Each page, each leaf,
forms a mountain that grows before our eyes until we find we are
now drowning in a sea.
Yet it is a forest.
Behind every message, every envelope, there is a process. A tree that
has given its life so we may gain knowledge. From the grass roots labour
of the logging industry to the print production line, along the branches
of distribution, the efforts of many are connected to us indirectly
through every leaf we hold, to bring us the very pages we are now,
as we read, screwing into balls or setting aside to yet another pile,
to be born anew. An ever-continuing cycle in which we play an active role.
Each day as I collect my mail I think of the forest, and I wonder about
the leaves I am holding. Yet I will never know from whence they came.
The invitation though, I accept.
The Next Day
There is nothing quite like the feeling of a looming deadline. Every
sense is heightened, every effort bent on accomplishing what must
be done. Any choices have been taken away, a commitment has to be
honoured. There is no room for movement in this arrangement. I am
walled in, trapped by the constraints of this box I have so willingly
built. Plans are laid aside, all tasks forgotten. To even stop and eat
would consume precious seconds.
Dread hangs heavily in the air; the voices in my head will not be
silenced. Distractions keep appearing, taunting me. Yet the excuses
have long been exhausted, and my friend procrastination firmly asked
I must now stare my demons in the face, for I have used up all my
tomorrows. There is only the next day. This pending day, held in place
by our collective perception of time, constructed of the minutes, the
hours that stretch behind me as the ones before me seem to dwindle
all-too-quickly with each glance at the clock.
It is only a matter of beginning. Of gathering my thoughts, mustering
my courage, unleashing the potential that lies within, waiting for
this very moment when the floodgates will finally be released. For
these weeks have not been completely lost. Somewhere in the recesses
of my mind a brew has been fermenting, all the ingredients carefully
measured and added, stirred, and then finally left to rest, to settle,
to form substance.
I turn the tap – the act of placing pen to paper is enough, and I am
pressed to keep up with the torrent of words pouring onto my page,
as if I am merely the scribe, keeping pace with the dictation of
another. Line after line they flow, directed by unseen forces that
order them in to being, until they finally slow to a mere trickle.
And so it is done. The 11th hour always proves to be my finest, the
moment where I may pause and savour what has been birthed on the page,
the pains forgotten in the joy of creation. Sheer relief bathes away
exhaustion that follows such a labour.
This air is now filled with celebration. For I am free, released from
the prison of my own making, buoyed by the knowing that I will always
come through – I can trust that I never fail to achieve what I set
out to do. For it is the very feeling of these highs and lows that
sustains me – the rising and ebb of the tides – the daily challenges
and victories that drive me forward, in eager anticipation of the
Ersatz is a word that deeply bothers me. Whenever I see it lurking in
a literary work, I think ‘impostor’. It is too clever, too pretentious,
or arrogant even, trying a little too hard to arrest my attention
“look at me,” he (isn’t it a ‘he’?) cries, too loud for my sensitive
ears, ‘tzing’ like the crack of a pretzel.
I read a poem where this pretender appeared twice, fashion dictating his
critical and connived placement – for effect of course. I cannot imagine
this word slipping naturally from the tip of my tongue – caught between
my teeth – into a conversation; its presence is jarring and makes me
shudder. “I am the only one in the know,” he cries again, “you don’t
even understand my meaning.”
It is true, I have to consult the dictionary, there is simply no place
for him in my repertoire – albeit one that contains riches. He is a
stranger, speaking another language that I haven’t learnt – because it
doesn’t appeal. I prefer dulcet tones, words that lull; melodically
calming phrases that take me in their embrace, transporting me to the
rolling clouds as they change form.
‘Clutz’ equals the esteem I have for this invader who crashes his way
into my daydream: “So where did you study for your degree?” – I am
reminded that the pleasures of conversation are simple – born from
the desire to share. This he cannot offer; one who separates the
educated from the unaware.