Creative piece – Look around

The low hum of air conditioners filled the room. No talking or laughter could be heard. If you closed your eyes, the only sign of life from a room full of people was the click-clacking of fingers on keyboards. The paint on the ceiling and walls was an efficient and completely nondescript colour. Stale coffee smells filled the air.

Garth let out a deep, anxious sigh. He wondered how long it was until lunch. Lifting his head he stretched his neck to peer over the top of his cubicle. Rows of people at desks, wearing collars and pretending to be interested in what was happening on their computer screen. The coffee cups at their sides, a last ditch effort to get a buzz from the day. A corporate drone army.

How did it come to this? What made it even more unbelievable was that Garth knew he wasn’t alone in his disengagement from daily life. In a recent survey the company had found that only four out of ten employees knew what they were selling. And yet they stayed at their desks.

Garth wondered what Mandy was doing. He had noticed her new haircut this morning when she arrived at work. She seemed chuffed to hear his remarks. Or maybe that was annoying for her?

As if prompted by his thoughts, Garth saw a familiar brown hairdo rise from a cubicle at the other side of the room. Mandy was on the move. She walked purposefully down her aisle and then, Holy Cow! She turned down the aisle that Garth was sat in. She was headed straight towards him!

Garth panicked and ducked back down in front of his computer. What to say? Another hair comment? No too much. A joke of some sort? No…..Oh please dear Gods give me something to say to her!

Garth looked up again. As she passed his desk Garth managed to let out a small sound that somewhat reminded him of a stray cat living on his block. Mandy smiled and kept moving. Garth resorted to holding his head in his hands and beating himself up in his mind a million different ways.

Breaking the moment of exasperation, Garth heard quick footsteps coming back towards him, and then a little piece of scrunched up paper landed on his desk in front of his face (which was still in his hands). Garth looked up to see Mandy trotting away, disappearing round the bend.

It’s from her?!! Garth’s heart pounded like he was running a marathon. His palms secreted a layer of fine sweat. Must open it.

Uncrinkling and unfolding the paper, Garth saw her smooth hand writing in green ink. The sweat layer doubled up on his palms.

There in front of his eyes a little message lay: “Let’s leave here now and go get an ice cream…xx M”

 

 

 

Creative piece – Barista

The lady behind the counter was an artist. A barista, she could fashion tiny messages in the cream of the coffee she served. She wrote something to each and every customer.

As a customer, the message depended on what was on the barista’s mind. One man might be told to “have a nice day” by his coffee, another might get a left-leaning political opinion. Another might get a phone number and a small map to the barista’s house.

A cappuccino with a mini-newsfeed.

Meditation – Creative piece

Cross-legged on the office floor,

Focus, the aim – Can I live like a monk, like a hero, like a God?

Sore, mechanical body bulldozes the spiritual moment. Brain a butterfly flitting to and fro.

A strange automaton wheezing out air and sucking it in again

Filled with inner peace? I fear filling the room with pungent breath.

 

Shakespeare: The Phoenix and the Turtle

In his latest podcast, Russel Brand interviews professor Tony Howard, an expert on Shakespeare. (link) In particular he discusses diversity and themes of parenthood and addiction running through Shakespeare’s work. Howard’s idea is that Shakespeare is one of the greatest reference points for the human condition and for how to best live your life. The interview is fantastic and a reminder of how deep a well-point Shakespeare is for England and the English language. Like the best songs, Shakespeare’s plays give space for consideration. Therefore he is more of a mirror reflecting the truths of humanity for us to consider, rather than a dictation of good versus evil.

The interview pointed me to this poem, The Phoenix and the Turtle: link

I have always found the whole works of Shakespeare daunting. The interviewee refers to the Phoenix and the Turtle poem as a quick and relatively complete introduction to Shakespeare.

I have just started reading it and memories of “A Level English Lit” are flooding back. I thought to share the poem on here too. I will try to reflect on the poem in another post.

Knysna – What is left after the fire

We are staying in a swanky golf estate up on a hill with views for miles. In the distance at the bottom of the hill I see Knysna central. Far below the trucks rumble down the main road into town, but from the estate they look like small toys for my daughter to play with.

Beyond the town starts the lagoon. Flat from shelter, the water flows, bends and stretches like a snake flexing its muscles, eventually leading you out to sea through two mammoth heads of rock. Here the water hops and jumps to make a choppy swirl – the lagoon meets the vast seas. This all looks like some sort of ancient Oceanic gateway from another world. We are on Olympus. Poseidon will surely come from the depths because the great gate is open.

Fire has ravaged most of the valley below me, but it seemed to pick and choose its victims haphazardly. Anywhere that is within the golf estate has been saved from burning and thick green bush prevails amongst the carpeted fairways and manicured greens. Fairway watering systems surely helped. Elsewhere there are skeletons of houses and whole hillsides are black and naked from the scorching heat. People lost everything. Then there are neighbouring patches, houses, and hills untouched. Unfair.

My gaze is lifted. Baboons have come sauntering up the path eating the protea leaves and fighting with each other for bragging rights. They must love eating the green shoots that are coming up through the ashes.

 

 

Exhaustion

I always WANT to write something amazing in my blog posts, I really do.

I have visions of an eager subscriber looking forward to daily pieces from my blog. Content so damn good and interesting that it hits a sweet spot in the reader’s brain. Like drinking a coke or listening to a great tune, my writing in my dreams is good enough to build a career on top of.

But…

But I can’t even think straight at the moment with 2nd child exhaustion syndrome. No sleep = no brain functionality = no good writing.

I am struggling to even poor a cup of tea, let alone inspire the world with wordcraft.

Bear with me and my blog though, apparently the little critters grow older and easier with time! Either that or the parents collapse and never ever recover.

I hope it’s the first one.

The perfect website for creatives?

I think I have found it.

If you are a struggling artist, you might be able to get funding/support for your work, Kickstarter-style at Drip (https://d.rip/discover)

The site is owned by Kickstarter and it just re-launched – it aims to support people (rather than projects ala Kickstarter) with a focus on creatives.

Right now it is in an invite only launch phase, but when this opens up to the public, it will be awesome. I encourage the dedicated writers and creatives out there to try and get support through Drip one day.

Fractured life

At the moment I have a total of 4 WordPress blogs including this one. Two I have temporarily disabled, one is supposed to be for studying – tracking my CFA progress but it isn’t really working – and this one is for everything else.

I am realising that the fracturing of my own attention does not work – I cannot possibly maintain all of those blogs, so I will have to consolidate. I will maintain this blog alone.

It is a liberating thought to think I will only have this one to think about and focus on.

Motocross – a.k.a – Fitting in the writing

Life gets in the way of our goals and dreams on a daily basis. As we get older what was once a clear freeway in front of us is now littered with obstacles to manage – a child to feed, a wife to care for, an illness to recover from. In fact, once adulthood gives way to middle age, life resembles a motocross track. It’s all jumps, bumps, woops, berms, ruts and corners to manage.

So how to fit in writing amidst the chaos? A couple of thoughts:

  1. Forcibly push it into your schedule and stick to your guns. Simple and effective, but it might annoy someone who isn’t expecting it.
  2. Realise there is more time than you think in a day – particularly if you are diligent with focusing on what is important.
  3. Carry a note book with you and use it. Writing something small every day – little ideas and observations – will add up over the long term. Referring to a book of notes when you blog or write a story will speed up the process and feel more like drawing from a bank account than conjuring something from thin air.

Of course this is not an extensive list. To juggle responsibilities successfully is the end goal – when its done well a busy life can feel like launching a scrambler into the air on a tabletop jump, rather than coming short and tasting dirt through your helmet!

Jacaranda – Part 1

Jacaranda trees look like they are dead for much of the year. In the late months of the dry season they are often chopped down because people assume the dilapidated branches have run their course, have lived their life. However, if you leave the tree standing for a few more weeks, the rain may come and that may bring vivid purple flowers sprouting out of the stony branches.

Most of us have an idea of what is right and what is wrong.

One hot sunny afternoon when we were about 12 years old I was at Jimmy’s house. A large garden of five acres and good weather meant we were outdoors most of the time. Jimmy’s house was exciting. He had all the toys and as we got older the toys just got bigger and better. I was deliriously happy because we got to ride Jimmy’s motorbike all day. This was no kid’s bike either – Jimmy had a 250cc motocross bike. Pull on the throttle too hard and the front wheel flipped you off the back. Get it just right and you felt as though you were flying. I could barely contain my happiness.

After a couple of hours of giddy fun we ran out of fuel to ride the bike and Jimmy got bored. Then he got visibly agitated at the petrol situation. He started to accuse me of riding his bike too much, of taking over his riding time and burning all the petrol. An accusation for a fight, but before the argument could get going Jimmy spotted his cat drinking from a bowl. I didn’t even know that he had a cat until that moment. For Jimmy, it was a new target.

“Looks like your chain is a little rusty there, Moggy!” Jimmy took a can of spray-on lubricant and decided to terrorize his cat. Cornering it against two walls, Jimmy sprayed the can onto his pet. A stream of thick, black goop shot at the animal. The whiskers dripped with oil, the hair was a sticky mess. Furry legs tried in vain to shake it off. Jimmy laughed while I stared in shock and the cat screeched and hissed at us, leaping feet into the air only to be sprayed again into submission.

Eventually the can ran out of oil and Jimmy ran out of laughs. I tried to absorb what I had seen, but the experience seemed to drip off my body and gather in a pool at my feet. The cat ran off to regain its stolen pride. I managed to force a smile at Jimmy. Slightly unhinged, Jimmy and I moved on to the next toy.