The Silence in the Midst

To-do lists

Chores

Meetings

Deadlines

All of the above govern the lives of so many of us. We find ourselves struggling to get to several different places by certain times with a variety of belongings nearly every day.

We fill our weeks with things to do and spend the weekends trying to make the most of the freedom by forcing ourselves to wake up early and race to the nearest beach or shopping mall.

This is not an accusation. In fact, to an extent I think it’s the wisest thing to do. Life is precious and worth filling every moment with memories and adventure. Even if that adventure is a casual stroll to the office photocopier.

The thing is, we may find ourselves rushed off our feet; we may find ourselves out of breath with our blood pressure soaring through the roof. But as I lay in bed this morning, I discovered a beautiful silence that we all overlook.

As we exhale, just for a second, our body stops. We stop needing any more oxygen; we stop needing to move our diaphragm; we don’t even need to think if we don’t want to. All that’s left is a contented body and our heartbeat.

Just our heartbeat.

Don’t you think it’s beautiful that within such madness, with our lack of time and crazy schedules, our bodies have this gem of magical stillness that continues even when we are ignorant of it?

So next time you find yourself fighting against a crowd or cursing under your breath as you weave in and out of traffic, rueing the day you agreed to start a career – whether that be vocational or the impressive journey of mother/fatherhood – just breathe.

Because in the midst of it all is this wonderful nugget of transcendent silence, the calm in the storm. And it is just you.

Just you and your heartbeat.

Hello Sun!

It has been a glorious day today. The sun has been shining quite fabulously for Britain’s standards, so unsurprisingly we have seen the emergence of pasty English men proudly strutting from the darkness of their homes, socks and sandals their preferred footwear.

Which, as we all know, is tres chic.

The sun has this wonderful effect on people: it brightens their mood, gives a certain squint to their eye and lives up to the well known song, making people believe ‘THIIIIIIIINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTEEEEEEER!’

I, for one, am incredibly happy today. I have booked a holiday with my boyfriend, successfully completed Day One of the ‘generally nicer body’ diet and got out of the house, camera clutched in hand to commemorate the beginning of summer.

*Pause for satisfied sigh*

I have not the energy or the philosophy in me today for a deep insightful message. After a stress free and largely thought-free day (who wants to REALLY think about the amount of money they just spent?), I am simply sitting at my laptop, a glass of red wine in hand, virtually penning my thoughts and sending them out to all of you.

In the vague hope that all of you have a smile on your face too.

Because what’s sun without a little joy?

A shadow of life

You can be perfectly content in life; you can be blissfully happy. And then, the shadow of a pain rears its ugly head and hits with the devastation of a natural disaster.

It leaves in its wake a ruin of what stood before.

Some people hide their pain; they coat it in paint and don their masks. They don’t feel comfortable displaying it to the world or feel ashamed or unworthy of the feeling.

Others wear their pain with tentative pride. They don’t wipe away the tears that fall and show their vulnerability to complete strangers. Maybe they can’t stop themselves. Maybe they need the support.

There is never a right way to deal with a thing so intangible. It would be like trying to pin down the soul and stuff it in a cardboard box, ready to be taken out for use as and when it pleases. There is a reason that there are countless songs, poems and books all fuelled by it. Pain is one of the sharpest emotions, one of the most raw. It can tear apart the strongest of us or creep up on us at any moment – we are powerless in its approach.

I say all of this because I believe that in all its suffering, it is a beautiful thing. Like all beings, we crave learning; we crave the knowledge that can only come with years of living.

And pain is one of our greatest and cruellest teachers.

With one foul swoop it can knock you off your feet and you know instantly what love is because you have just lost it. You want to rip yourself apart and dig out the hard nugget of heartbreak and throw it away. But despite this, you hug that dark little gem closer to you. When truly broken, we cling to our pain for it is our reminder that we are alive. This, right now, is what living feels like.

So let yourself live. Let yourself sob over a novel. Give in to the raw cries of heartbreak. Surrender to the racking sobs that take your breath away and shake you up so hard that you’re left without a solid footing because it is LIFE that you’re feeling.

Life never promised us eternal beauty or a smooth ride. It offered us choice and love and adventure and maybe if we’re lucky, a happy ending.

But in the meantime it is good to be scared, it is good to hurt. Because then we know exactly how much we have to lose.

T.I.M.E

Tick

There is infinite power held by the ticking of a clock. One tick, one tock, is one second and that one second is counting down the millions upon millions of seconds that will make up your life.

Tock

Every second counts. Isn’t that what they say? You should make the most of every iota of time given to you because time is the one thing you can’t get back.

Tick

And what would you do with it, even if you could get it back? If you re-write the past then aren’t you re-writing yourself? Wouldn’t that change the very fundamentals of your existence?

Tock

Maybe you want to re-write yourself, reinvent yourself to become someone new. Maybe you don’t like the ‘you’ you’ve become.

Tick

You can lose things in one second. One second can lose your keys, your love, your life. But can you get them back in the same amount of time?

Tock

Such power in such a small thing. It’s terrifying that we are governed by something as uncontrollable, as untamed as time when we humans grapple for control over every aspect of our lives.

Tick

Control, that’s what time is. Time is order. Time is definition. Time is a schedule. Why stick to it?

Tock

Throw time away and what do we have? We have not years anymore, we simply have space. We have an empty tunnel that we can explore however we wish.

Tick

And yet despite all of our brains and our knowledge, we can’t break free of the shackles that hold us so efficiently.

Tock

Such power in such a small thing.

Tick

Will you watch as it trickles away?

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock…

 

Word Vomit

There are some days when a girl’s brain simply refuses to work. I don’t know if I’m the only one but there is at least one day every few weeks when I wake up, try to say something mildly intelligent to my groggy boyfriend and instead spew word vomit all over his innocent face.

Before any misconceptions about what word vomit is, I’ll give you a definition, provided by none other than Urban Dictionary…

Word Vomit: an uncontrolled spilling of words out of your mouth.

And that is exactly what happens. I have even been known to resort to growling when the words aren’t forming correctly, hoping that my True Love will be able to cobble together some kind of meaning from the splurge of sounds frothing from my mouth.

Which, as of yet, he can’t.

Days like this are painfully slow for me. Time seems to come to a standstill. Tasks seem incomprehensibly complicated. Television shows make no sense whatsoever.

On my most recent Word Vomit Day (WVD), I was scrolling through a few of my blogs and spotted a minor grammatical error. Shocked that I had noticed such a thing on WVD, I triumphantly pointed it out to the room.

‘Read this: ‘…in the life of everyone.’ That should be lives. Whoop!’

It wasn’t until a few seconds later that I added the ‘…s.’

This understandably led to a tirade of teasing imitations throughout the rest of the evening. Which would have been fine if I hadn’t leant over to my partner and said, in reference to not having seen him for a few days: ‘I bet you missed me tomorrow.’

What?!

I don’t know what happens to me. Without meaning to sound egotistical, I consider myself a relatively bright person, one who can usually engage in conversation, whether it be a debate about religion or a comparison of the latest literary wonders. And yet, on WVD, my brain melts down, provides me with a jumble of words and a confusion of tenses, and combines them together to result in twenty four hours of intensely embarrassing gobbledegook.

And as for my reputation of being at least mildly intelligent…?

…whoop.

Meryl Streep and I

I am almost reluctant to write about this incredibly talented woman. She was once quoted to have said ‘Enough people write about  me every day without even interviewing me’ so in some ways I feel I’m not quite qualified for the job. However, I feel an incredible amount of respect for this woman, so I will plough on regardless.

The first time I saw Meryl Streep in a film was in a late night showing of Bridges of Madison County. She was captivating. The film meandered innocently along, weaving a tale so intricate, so real that I felt my heart breaking alongside her. It was the first film I ever cried at…although, when I say ‘cried,’ I really mean something more like ‘howled like a baby at for hours on end after it was finished, walking around the house clutching a box of Kleenex for moral support.’ Her performance was inspirational and absolutely stunning.

Over the years following this, I watched, equally blown away as she performed in other well known films such as Kramer Vs. Kramer, The Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia! and It’s Complicated. What struck me every time was that, despite knowing that it was the same woman playing these roles, she was completely different every time.

To some, this may seem a ridiculous thing to say-after all, what is the point of acting other than to become different than yourself? But in my eyes, it is a frustratingly difficult thing to achieve. Some of the most acclaimed actors today cannot satisfactorily achieve it. And yet, Meryl Streep dives time and time again into different eras, relationships, countries…and creates a character with such depth and soul that the film comes to life.

It is because of all of this that I feel a large amount of respect for her. It is evident that she deserves the reputation of ‘greatest living film actress.’ She works hard at every challenge she accepts, taking numerous classes in accents for each film; she is known to be fiercely loyal and dedicated to her children and her family (as quoted in an interview): ‘Every single decision I make about what material I do, what I’m putting out in the world, is because of my children’; and to me she appears to be a powerful woman who follows her heart and not the publicity-Mamma Mia, for example, was initially a low budget film created by two women who had never done anything like it before and yet look at it now!

At the end of the day however, Meryl Streep is still human. Where other celebrities dazzle in the spotlight and eagerly search out the cameras, she keeps her life private. She’s not showing us how to be famous; she simply shows us what we can do with a little talent and a lot of work when we are driven by our hearts.

…So what are you waiting for?

The Last Silence

I have just finished reading a book called ‘Grievous Angel’ by Jane Hill. It follows the life and love of a woman betrayed by the one man she ever fell for, who, years later, goes in search for him, learning the hard way that every story has two sides to it.

It wasn’t, in my eyes particularly well written; it wasn’t at all unpredictable and yet I powered through all 391 pages in half a day. (It’s one for the poolside this holiday if you’re in need of some literary suggestions.) I for one devoured the book, oblivious to the real world waiting outside my room.

And I find myself now at a loss for what to do.

There are books out there that, despite their lack of subtlety, leave you reeling afterwards. The conclusion was by no means a shock to me and yet I sat in a still silence for almost an hour afterwards, not sure what to think or say, unwilling to break the web that I had spun around myself. There can be a delicacy to the atmosphere that a book leaves behind when it is closed for the final turning of a page. It’s as if the author is trying to tell you something, a deeper truth that goes beyond the facade of the plot he/she just dragged you through. And as I listened to the silence, one word formed on the edges of my brain:

PASSION

It was, I think, the main drive throughout the book. Passion can lead us to the very extremes of what makes us who we are. It can be the spark of love that ignites in our soul and stays with us for all eternity or it can be the motive behind a brutal crime. It drives us to crave human company for alone we are reminded that we are just a shell in an empty house. It was certainly the incentive for the protagonist to fly around the world in search of the man she had loved for twenty years.

Is it passion, then, that lurks in our hearts and aids us in every action, every choice we make? Do we delude ourselves into thinking we are in love before we really feel it? Are the first tendrils of love simply a rollercoaster ride of joy that tricks us into thinking that this is ‘The One’?

I don’t know the answer for everyone. But for me, passion is essential to survival. It is the will to live and sometimes the desire to die. It may be the spark that reignites a lost love but it is also the flame that keeps it alive. It is what drives me to do the things I love in life and take pride in what I accomplish. I am who I am because I embrace passion.

Passion whispers to me in the last silence of a closed book.