Quest love

I asked the owl in the woods how to lead a good life. He turned his head sideways, looked hard at my face and then said to find myself a quest. But what sort of quest? I asked. He held up seven feathers to me as he said this:

Overcome a monster. Pull the dragon out of the cave and stick your sword through its rotten heart.

Spin yourself some gold and grow your riches. Pull the levers of wealth in your favour to grow from nothing to luxuries beyond your dreams.

Discover a lost land. Leave your home and find another one somewhere far where the sky is a different colour.

Return a prodigal son. Come back home from the journey of a lifetime and see it with different eyes to the ones you left with.

Make people laugh. “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come”.

Make people cry. “To weep is to make less the depth of grief”.

Die a thousand times over and come back stronger than ever.

 

 

Gestures

For most of his life women would watch him pass by. A little smile guaranteed a positive response. He would practice his gestures to attract their glance. Moving his mouth, stretching his back and arms and turning his head just so. He could give watching women some hope.

One day he found this no longer worked. It seemed to happen in an instant. Celestial youth moved away from him.¬†What was once a thick brown mop had thinned out and turned grey. His hairline was now a replica of his father’s. Teeth which were once white and shining were now stained and chipped. A ragged smile.

This forced in him nothing less than a reckoning with the universe.

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.