Time Away

time-away

It’s strange, the way that time away begins to nurture that creativity in my head. Away from social media, away from glaring screens, all energy used in walking, eating, drinking, socialising, instead of work and stress. Instead of have-to and should-be. A break from alarm clocks and commutes, from bank statements and bad news.

A few days in, my mind stretches into this new space, breathing and relaxing and unwinding. Words start to flow onto blank paper. Company inspires. Priorities are changed, reset.

And more words flow. And more.

Anti-social Media

anti social media

Today, I awake especially early. Dawn just hinting behind grey clouds. Rain battering the window pane, hurled against the glass by the strong gusts roaring outside. I sat up, bleary eyed. Pulling back the white curtains, wrapping myself in the residual warmth of the duvet, I sat in that space between sleep and wake and absorbed the peace, no-one else awake, no one else around.

I felt connected to the world in that moment. Smells, natural sounds, muted sights. The uniqueness of a Sunday morning, a day where the hustle and bustle starts just that bit later. A morning where the roar of roads is delayed by an hour or two. A time to come around slowly, nestle into the day, feel and experience.

Instead, I grabbed my phone and began to stare at Facebook.

A little bell was ringing faintly in the back of my mind, shouted down by bad news and politics and shares and likes and comments. My eyes, relaxed, reflecting the grey of the early morning, were suddenly jerked wide open by the glare from that blue screen, instantly awake, the peaceful quality of that morning shut out from my bubble now. Facebook turned to Twitter, turned to Instagram, turned to Snapchat, turned to Facebook again. My eyes began to ache. I felt a dull thump of a headache begin to suggest itself, and still I stared, the screen closer and closer to my face.

And I cycled through the social media circle, minute after minute and endless minute. And then I came to.

It was an hour later. The dawn had broken and the light had changed, now a heavy, grey morning, the rain falling in lighter drops, the wind still dancing and playing. The black rectangle of my phone was hot in my hand, my back aching, my eyes tired and my shoulders tight. I remembered the peace, quiet and joy I felt as I awoke. Now I was on edge, a bit down, thoughts whirling with the misogyny of the world, with the worry of political events, the endless shouting of media and lives that never even touch my own. I felt ill. I felt nauseous. I felt deflated. I felt that the day had lost its promise.

But it hadn’t, of course. It was I who had broken that beautiful spell. The twitch that happens every morning. The pull of social media. That addiction. That black hole.

Even now, as I type, I have checked my phone 2 or 3 times. I’ve got tabs open with Facebook and Twitter chattering away in the background. I feel like I can’t stop checking. I think I need help. The app on my phone that tells me how many times I check it is a terrifying reminder. 89 times yesterday. 4 1/2 hours.

I feel as though I’m missing out on life. I feel a sort of anger at myself rising up, at all the things I could have done and all the things I could have been. At how many hours in total I must have wasted sat, grey, hunched, staring, while the world turned on outside in beauty and glory and joy.

I resolve to live more. I resolve to work at this. I resolve to experience, not imagine.

I resolve to be.

 

 

Barriers

barriers

It’s near midnight in this strange place. A new country, preceded by stress and illness, frustration and decisions. Set off on the wrong foot, I haven’t found my place here yet – mind still playing the same old tricks, unsettled, on edge.

3 days in and I’m beginning to calm a little. The tongue so different, the barriers break down a little more each day as my confidence builds. Sunshine helps, smiling helps, exploring helps. Shaky foundations for this trip start to feel more solid, substantial as my mind quiets bit by bit.

I sit and watch as birds flit between rooftops, as the sun rises and sets, as water flows and stone warms and cools. I become accustomed to the rhythm, to the heart of the city, and begin to give a little more of myself to this place.

Alone in a rented apartment, I take time and feel what I need to feel, think through the thoughts and experiences of the past few days. Distractions of the day ebb and settle, coming down, slowing down. A halfway point and adventures yet to come.

I stand, and climb the stairs to sleep.

Settle

settle

The 1960’s radio in the room plays softly, songs from our youth, nostalgic, coating us with that rosy haze of times not so long ago but that feel like another world. The soft lilt of voices murmur across the evening, red wine days, cards played. Lulling in the afterglow of a deep corner bath, I observe, writing and finding solace in this small bubble of familiarity in an unfamiliar country.

I feel the lingering heat of three days of sunshine still warming my soul and skin. I revisit icy waters, toes dipped in sparkling rivers, fresh and clear and blue.

Plans for tomorrow, plans from today. Days well spent, focuses changed. And in this small comfort, I change too.

Blanket

blanket

And all of a sudden, darkness falls. The pitch black creeps over the fields like a blanket, smoothing, silently covering dewdrops in an inky shroud.

The darkness is absolute. It cocoons me and I breathe the comfort of it deep into my lungs. It wraps around us all, a velvety void, bringing silence, stillness, calm.

I am used to the orange-tinted perma-twilight of the overpopulated north, where one or two stars strain to shine, where sirens wail, traffic continues to drone on, streetlights laugh as their harsh light spreads on into the night. There is never a stop, never a breath, save for the odd moment snatched between 3 and 4 am, where the evening seems to end and grab a quick pause before the morning begins once more.

This is something more, an echo of that healing time before light and technology and busyness took over, hollering that brash message of more, more, more.

Pinpricks of light appear shyly, one by one, faint, gentle light glittering, reflected in the galaxies of my irises. Wondering, I look to them, pupils and mind wide. The haunting call of an owl flutes in the distance and I stare out, blindly, into the blackness.

All good things

all-good-things

My house, my heart. Stone, wildlife, fields, nature, peace. Open skies and long views. Foxes. Deer. Birdsong. A place I felt safe. A place we made our own, and lived with nature and hoped and dreamed.

But no more. Last week a building contractor started to build 312 houses on our fields with no warning, on 40-year old planning permission. No-one was told. No one can do anything. The fields are conservation land. None of this matters.

Today I awoke to the buzz of chainsaws. I watched helplessly as beautiful trees were slashed down, one by one. Homes of birds, homes of animals, living trees, gone in a matter of minutes. I felt as though a piece of me screamed with each branch, each trunk. A physical pain, ripping a part of me away as each tree died in a mess of metal and chain and petrol and noise.

And it continues. And will continue, until the views are gone, until the animals are homeless, until each and every sightline is blocked by soulless, intrusive boxes. Until the rich developers are even richer. Until green is replaced by grey. Until our dream is destroyed.

Ideas

ideas

The seat presses hard against my back, legs jammed up against the hard plastic of the chair in front of me. Wheels skim over rails beneath, a warm sound a comfort in my inadvertent cocoon of seating. I make myself small, away from commuters, retreating to a world of headphones and motion. I lean my head on the window and watch rain running in rivulets, tracking along the glass, small spheres reflecting the grey clouds hanging low outside.

The train motion rocks me, soothing, and I let thoughts come and go with the rhythm, gently ebbing and flowing.

I feel the energy of the earth slowing awakening deep below my feet, small shoots pushing through earth to greet the wan light. I feel the unease of society, a planet unsure of which direction to shift, a divide deepening and people, humans, trying desperately to bridge that gap. A scattering of fears and no coherent plan, a time of danger, of unrest, and yet, still, a tiny sprinkle of hope. I feel a settling of self, an acceptance, layers stilling around me.

I feel ideas and the options they spark, pinpricks of colour as they fizz into being. I direct my attention towards one, or two, and watch removed as they expand, glow and begin to grow. I add and mix and bring the separate points into one, lazily, a tiny curiosity piqued. Ideas join with others, and wait somewhere deep, on the knife edge of consciousness, tiny and shimmering, for the right time to burst forth.

I smile and the train runs on.