Island Blog – A Looking Glass

The air is still, the sea-loch a mirror. Through my window I watch a reflection of trees, unremarkable hazels turned into art on a saltwater canvas, painted by a master. To my left a little bay curves like the back of a new moon. I see deer running through the shallows, kicking up the still waters into a playful fun, their heads tossing carefree on this fine summer morning. They move more slowly now, heads bent to the saltgrass, soft brown velvet against the green. A family of divers paddle across the mirror, making echo ripples that won’t make land for some time. I go out to feed the birds and Jock is here, as Jock always is. I sit a minute just breathing in the gentle sunshine air and he runs up to me. Each morning he gets closer in response to my welcome voice. He looks at me and then back to the food bin, once, twice, as if to remind me of something I may have forgotten. Bird breakfast. Ok, Jock, I tell him, you win, I’ll bring it out. He follows me, landing with what must be known as a crash in ‘blackbird’ on the fence, like a startle, just inches away. I’m glad it wasn’t you the hawk got yesterday, I say, and he chirrups his own relief. Even though I know the hawk is also hungry and with young to feed, I live in hope that hawks will turn vegetarian.

It thinks me of looking; of what I see and of what that means to me, of how it alters my inner eye, the one that so often chooses wraiths over benign spirits. Those wraiths are always available and not just to me. I can listen (yawning internally) more than often to someone with the thinking that everything has the potential to go wrong all of the time. And they are correct, it does, but it can also go far right, even if we have no control over either. Or do we?

If I watch horror and cruelty on tv, the chances are I will hold those images inside. They can and do influence my quality of sleep, my way of seeing the world, life itself and the colour of the day around me. If I decide not to infect my head with horror and cruelty, even though I know it exists, and everywhere, I can make room for light and bright which also exist, and everywhere. Reading newspapers or listening to the news are two things I abandoned years ago. I can tell you who the prime minister is (for now) but I would rather bury my nose in a good and well-crafted book, thanks all the same, than I would fret my teeth down to a pavement worrying about the state of things in this world.

What I choose to look at and how much welly I give to that lookingness is up to me. Staring across a tidal sea-loch can take up a whole morning, give or take a few snatched coffees and when I do turn away, the image glows like warm embers within. I carry that image with me all day long, feeding it with music, conversation, good books. This image calms me as I breath it deep inside, watch the embers flare into new life. No matter what wraithlike turbulence or self-doubt, chaos or disaster comes my way, I have prepped for them all. I have a dream world inside me and nobody can get their mitts on any of it. Nobody. And, like Alice, I step right in.

Hawks will come. But somewhere in between attacks, there is the chance of sunlight on my back and the wind beneath my wings.

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