Island Blog – Dynamic Fire

I love to learn new things. Being naturally curious and a once highly involved member of a debate group, I am never happier than when picking apart a so called truth or absolute. I am no academic but I can sniff out someone stuck inside their own pages and the match girl in me begins to itch. However, this itch thingy doesn’t mean I want to put anyone down, far from it, but I do want that ‘whoever’ to relax and to consider another perspective. It doesn’t always work I find. Learned absolutes and truths become a part of whoever’s infrastructure and my fiddling about with questions rattles the legs that hold them up. How many times have you heard “Well, I always do it this way, thought this way.’? Or said it yourself. I certainly have but the second I hear that stuck phrase slip through my lips, I pull in for a rethink. Where the hell did you come from? I ask the words that now founder embarrassed at my reaction, bumping into each other and changing places, skidding to an ungainly halt. I brush them onto the floor. Rearrange yourselves, I say, dismissively.

In the questioning of what others say and believe to be truths I must needs attend to my own truths and what I have discovered is that truths are truths for a while and then they need to rearrange themselves. The words Always and Never are goal posts in the life game of football or rugby or netball or whatever your game might be. They are not the field. The field is wide open, a space where anything can happen and everything can change. The players on that field are wild or half asleep, strong or weak, ready or not. The players are our everyday thoughts and feelings. However, scoring goal does not mean we win the game but only achieve a short term full stop with an accolade, and a roaring crowd and bells and whistles because everyone loves a winner. Apparently.

However, I am with the players, hot, tired, stretched, hopeful and most important of all, ready to change tactic or direction in a nanosecond. If one on that field is focussed on something that doesn’t demand an open mind then the whole team is compromised. It is no different inside a mind. There isn’t just one of us. There are many and each member of us is of value and importance. I get fed up with the noise inside my head, all of me talking at once and nobody letting a.n.other space to speak. Hush you eejits! I hissed at 3.45 am as they woke me to such a hullabaloo that even the wee dog lifted from her snores with a puzzled bark. It’s ok, darling, I soothed. It’s just me and me and me and me and me and me and so flipping on. But, once the daylight decided to become daylight, eventually, I could see that in my so called sleeping moments, my friends inside the head of this match girl, are sorting out latent thinks as yet unresolved. I could ask them to work only in the light but I know they are cathemeral and so my pleas would be pointless.

Back to conversations, to debates. I remember them, around a bar table, height and heighty, fun and fractious, confrontational when someone was losing the power to defend their ‘stuck’, because this whoever thought they were only strong within the old pages, pages that burn easy. In this crazy time, in this ‘stuckness’ we might remember we are field players; we might remember we are many others of ourself; we might think dynamically out of our own troubles, remembering that they are not nothing. They are visibly and actively something. They are not bad, nor wrong. They are real. However, with a little shimmy to the right or to the left of left, we will find ourself mid field, or way out there in the whatever it’s called and with a new perspective on the game, even perhaps with an eagle eye and a match girl with an itch at the ready.

Island Blog – Sunrise, Nature and the beginning of Humanity

It’s 5am. My favourite time of the day. I used to say it was because there’s nobody about, but now there’s always nobody about, so it’s not the truth anymore. I consider how many other absolutes will lose purchase on my mind and will just drift away, like the will o’ wisps over there, floating on the ebb tide, backlit by sunfire. They remind me of water sprites, beneficent creatures, transitional, made of water and to water they will always return. Black-throated divers fly by right on time, turning pink as they head into the sun and the sea beneath their wings glows like rose quartz. Anyone rising from slumber later than this will miss it all. But not I said the island wife. I have always been a dawn raider, greedy for everything my eyes can gobble up, catching every spark and twist, every snatch of colour, every bird flit or cloud shift, each start of new beginnings, life whispering into life.

Walking along the Tapseteerie track, dry-cracked and steady underfoot, I feel the weight of the canopy. This horse-chestnut has never been so abundant with huge green leaves, richly bottle green, a strong spread of gratitude, for whilst we desist in our race to disaster, we gift back life to nature. A robin flits with me, from branch to branch, tree to tree, telling me something that sounds wonderfully joyous but which is beyond my understanding. Bees and other buzzing creatures fill the branches, all of them. I have never heard such a buzz and it smiles me. New mosses adorn the floor of the woods, some emerald green and star-tipped, some gathered in perfectly smooth igloo shapes, the colour of lemon sorbet. I can see the tracks left by deer in their darkling wander, the grasses flattened by hoof-scuff. They will always walk this way, along this ley line, the ancient wander path, following the ones who learned it before them and then taught it on.

Flowers watch me pass, their faces tipped to sunlight. Wood sorrel, violets, primroses, anemone, bluebells, campanula, and stitchwort. Tiny alpines cling to cracks in the drystone wall, feathery ferns, arched like question marks, will open this day to spread their soft fingers wide. Orange tip, tortoiseshell and brown spot butterflies dance around my head as I move through the warmth of the morning. Everywhere I look, there is abundance. Wasn’t it always so and I just didn’t see it, or is it true that our land is healing herself? I believe the latter.

As I turn for home, a flash of silver in the tidal flow shows me a big fish, a salmon, perhaps, or a sea trout on its arduous journey to find a place to spawn, and then to die. Gulls shriek overhead, little gulls, black backs, herring gulls and other gulls I cannot name, for they saw it too. No doubt the otter did as well. I know she is down there somewhere with her kits and soon I will see her on a still morning from my bedroom window as she teaches them to hunt or to play touch-tig.

Writing about the beauty through which I can walk every day is not something I take for granted. This lockdown has gone on long enough now, that’s what I think, although wild horses wouldn’t drag me back among people, knowing as I do, how easily the virus can spread, silent and deadly, invisible to the naked eye. So I consider this. If I, who have barely had to change my life at all, am feeling this way, then what about those whose entire lives have been full-stopped? Starved of social oxygen, meetings, encounters, business flow, cash income, school friends, loved ones and options for free travel, what life are they, you, living now? Many, I am sure will thrill to the peace of it all, perhaps all of us do, some of the time, but when I am told I absolutely cannot do something, it is the thing I want to do most of all.

When I write about my encounters in nature, it isn’t to gloat, but to show to others, who last saw nature in 2019 on a country break, that life is still living on, whether we can see it or not. In fact, the regeneration of this earth is a wonderful thing to hear about, and perhaps it makes the sacrifice worth the pain. I had no idea the ozone layer could heal. I thought it was already dying and so were we all. But it isn’t true, for it is healing, repairing itself and offering us another go at a good life. And so, I write on, a witness to the changes, sending anyone and everyone who is finding this all just too much, who is frightened, lonely, depressed or sick, my deepest respect and encouragement to stick with isolation until we can meet again, and once more walk free.

This could have been the end of humanity. Let us hold fast and make it the beginning.