Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Trapped in Glass

Yellow lights flicker in their dusty overhead shells, like moths trapped in glass. Wheelchairs wait empty in the corridor. Each footstep disturbs an embedded urine stench.

We pass open doors of elderly- shiny eyes poking out from furrowed skin and folds of starchy sheets. Who knew hope was in a footstep? In the distance, a shrivelled voice of vocal chords strained and mouth parched. The kind of yelp pulled from the string of boots. Help, it said. Help. It tugs my heart one way but feet go another. Guilt leaves an unwelcome taste.

I sit in the corner of the room where my Granddad lives out his days. They are numbered. The wrinkled weight of his body rests in a bed he has not left for four weeks, and counting. Muscles, nerves, control have all left him and he waits, we wait, they wait.

His bed faces the window- a sky grey with seriousness, the lone magpie perched on a tree bare from seasons change, the window glass marred with fingerprints forgotten.

But Granddad sees nothing.

With a bib around his neck we feed him spoonfuls of mashed food, share sad broken laughs with our Benjamin Button, the irony of life in reverse. I grasp his hand, stroking the lines of history carved into skin like a well-read map. Briefly, his grip tightens. Blue eyes fix on mine, lip quivers. 'I'm ready but I'm scared.'

It's a pithy whisper but I hear him. My fingertips stroke his brow and I engulf his frame in blankets, as if warmth will keep his fears at bay. It's a small comfort but to whom?

As we leave, the lights continue their amber dance in dusty shells and I wonder. Though his limbs are feeble, his mind is strong. My Granddad, the moth trapped in a glass. If I could set him free, he would fly.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Unwelcome Guest

If someone dares to tell me I cannot do something, I will prove them wrong. Until that objective is achieved, my actions are absorbed by an unmitigated focus. But there is one area of my life where this system of logic fails miserably. Just as I am raring, ready, I stumble.

But the problem is not an inanimate object that can be moved from my path. It exists in the mind- a place with depths too dangerous. Part of my subconscious has drifted outwards into conscious thought. That little questioning voice is fully fledged and vocal. And with every option and opportunity that I let pass me by, through choice or convenience, or unavoidable circumstance- that voice gains strength.

Now, it is far too loud.

It's the fear- oh, the dreaded wrench of gut fear- of discovering what you thought, hoped you were good at, you probably are not. It's the reason why I don't push myself out there into the world. Why I don't send poetry or stories to magazines and competitions. Why I will never approach a publisher with my novel. Why I think my writing will only be confined to this meagre blog. Oh, it is sad.

On the days when the silence is unnerving and stealth-like in its speed to engulf me, doubt is my only company, an unwelcome guest, my constant companion. Always there, its negative waves erode and chip me until I am rubble and dust.

And now, what little self belief I had in my abilities as a writer has shrivelled. It ventured outside with tentative steps, only for a raincloud of doubt to drift over and soak it, in all its greying scepticism.

Some days, reader, I pray for drought.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Game of Life

I had a fight with Father Time. The scythe-wielding bastard tried to kick me up the backside. 'What are you doing with your life? Time is ticking. You'll be thirty before you know it.' At which point I threw his hourglass to the floor, scattered glass and grains of sand. It probably explains why I went to sleep in July and woke up in September. Blog wise, that is.

Reader, I appear to have reached that stage. The mid-twenties alarm has bleeped. Of late, everyone has a question about the direction of my life, questions swathed in the fabric of time. 'When are you going to settle down?' 'What career path do you want to follow?' 'You know you're not getting any younger...?' And so on and so forth.

Seemingly, the countdown has begun. A peaked sense of urgency to abide by conventions. I'm stuck in The Game of Life. I'm a little pink peg in my little plastic car and, apparently, I need to put my foot down. Marry a blue peg. Buy a house. Have 2.4 children and live happily ever after. Roll the dice, take these steps and do as others must.

But what if you want to take one step forward and three back? Appreciate the journey, ignore the destination. Enjoy the unexpected. Are you going against nature just because you deplore the stereotypical sense of life's expectations? If I don't tick a box on the list of lifetime achievements, is that a life half lived?

The truth is I don't know where I'm going or what I'm doing. There is no dreaded sense of urgency or desire to conform. No fear of setting down roots before I wilt. I appreciate the unknown, the randomness that is my life. I enjoy playing the game, just not by the rules.

To ask me what I'm doing with my life is like asking a monkey for the square root of pi. You'll never get the bloody answer...