Island Blog – Porticos and Whispers

Sometimes, no, often, words come to me and I can find no obvious reason, nor a tangible link to the thoughts I was thoughting just before the random word shot into my head. This word has such a powerful thrust that I just have to whisper it out of my mouth. At other times, when I am alone as opposed to standing in an always silent supermarket queue, I may speak it out, shout it even. If I am in the middle of Somewhere, like on a cliff or at the very edge of a spit of rock, when the next step would drown me in minutes, I can blast out the word and watch it scoot away on the wind or into the ever-open beak of a Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Of course, I am crazy. Or genius. I flit between the two depending on whom is in charge of me at the time, angel or harpy. However, if I was genius, surely I would know why this word cometh unbidden, and be able to fit it neatly into the order inside my head? I am already chuckling at the ‘order’ word. Obviously there is more chaos than order and much as I might wish I had the same brain as my old ma who would refuse a cup of coffee if it was proffered before 11 o’clock on the dot, I do not.

When I find a portico I feel an urge to go through it and into the whispers. There is something wonderful about a doorway that isn’t because there is no door. No chance to get shut in, or out, nor to shut another in or out. There is no privacy, no Go Away, only an open welcome, often a lot more than one welcome for porticos tend to stand together, unlike the singularity of doors, or a door. We all have a few, but they don’t line up like sentries and are usually placed where walls run out of puff, allowing access or denial of access. They are also great for a tantrum slam, unlike porticos where slamming is not an option. Considerably more complex than a portico and sharply delineated, a door is not an open mouth. I prefer the roundness of the arch, the come hither of such a gentle shape and I love walking into the whispers.

In life without winged words, sentences are thrown together to oblige, deny, accommodate, order, comply and for myriad other ordinary usage. Would you like coffee? for example. Not till 11 o’clock. But that’s five minutes away! I know that. Well you can make your own then. Charming!

But my winged words open up new worlds, even if they do cometh unbidden, unsought. They think me, lead me over there instead of down the usual plodpath. Some say my subconscious is working all the time, some say I’m plain bonkers. The truth is I am both and at the same time but, and but again, if these random words are a gift to me then they are asking to be spoken out. They want a story, a point, the chance to get a breath of air and to fly awhile, even if J Livingston S gets them first. So much of life is loud and noisome, so little room for the whispers from the past, from the future to be really heard. When I went to a city recently and battled my way through a station crowd, feeling like a cow as I followed the arrows and fitted in between the barriers with all the other obedient cattle, I couldn’t hear a single thing from inside my head. Outside of me it was either high volume tannoy information that nobody heard anyway and which needed a considerably more efficient sound system, or a people shouting at each other via their mobile phones. How can they live like this, I wondered, such noise pollution and every single day? I would rather step into the Atlantic with lead boots. I doubt anyone can find an original word inside that chaos, settling, instead for a repeat of what someone else said, preferably on TV or wrote in some magazine, preferably a glossy about half-dressed celebrities. And, yet, there are brilliant authors who do just that, and they can find words and make them fly a whole lot better than I ever could. Must be a mental yogic thing, that ability to shut out the noise from the inside of it. People, it seems, can find the porticos and the whispers among the flashing lights, the going nowhere rush and the complete lack of still silence that makes a city life.

I am just so thankful I live in the middle of Somewhere where words just appear without prior permission, flitting through the silence and into the chaos of my head, one that shuts up immediately as if royalty just walked in. I like that I can take each one and give them freedom for a little while before they fall away again back into a book, just a word in line. One day, someone else will open that book and another word will fly high into the big sky. It might land softly in a new mind and it might change something, or someone, make them rethink, make them want to wander through the gentle arch and into the whispers.

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