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Like the songs of shells in the ocean,
The past feels like an inconceivable dream,
Breathing beneath this lighthouse
as its eyes permeate the night.
Lost in the shadow of a family tree,
I was but a struggling amnesiac.
Till I felt the weight of my bones
and learnt the art of breathing,
through the length of arid days.
Till I learnt to be of service
and soothe the pain of vanity.
Now through these stone walls
and this sword of light,
Free of the borders of skin,
A stranger no more,
I am found upon those waves
that carry the lost home.
This evening as I walked along streets I've traced countless times before, a thought took hold. 'How wonderfully fragile and changeable the human mind is'. Years ago, upon these same streets I'd nurse tales of woe and be unkind to myself in the basement of my mind. As those streetlights glared back at me, I was a particle of dust , bereft of hope and significance. Even contribution was an act of existential guilt. All this heavy on my spine as I wearily trudged through the days. Yet through the days, the months and years that were to unfold... Came a new way of being. Seemingly through attrition, the roots of despair came to wither. Exposed by questions. Starved by the ascension of gratitude and choice. No longer frivolous intellectual notions but palpable truths of the day to day realities of living .As the grip of victimhood unraveled, there was space for new things to grow. New colours where there was only black and white. New layers above a greedy undertow. A life richer than binary choices. The capacity to receive love.
What contrast upon the same streets, within the same skin. What capacity we have to shape and shift our perceptions. But is not only human to forget this power we wield? How vigilant and compassionate we must be to ourselves and others as we scale the mountains and swim through the oceans of circumstance.
Themes of death seepedinto my dreams as a child. Streams of existential guilt flowing into scenes of judgement and descents into an eviscerating infinity. Over and over.
Maturity first bred weariness, Deep in teenage flux, twisting through the purpose of my time, Preordained or to be determined? My thoughts anchored in morbidity. "For I did not choose to be"
Alas I did not implode, but rather, Surrendered to the fevers of thought, A victim reduced to mere survival, till the burden set me free. Now impassioned by mortality I see...
It was a black mirror to peer inside, To find joy where I once cried.
In the depths of the haze I was in, I found solace in the strangest things. I was waiting for the reasons to dawn on me, reasons to persevere, to rejoice in the midst of my despondency. Not the reasons of intellect, those wisps of so called insight have never had the roots to survive within me. I was waiting for reasons that would reverberate through my very being. I was waiting as I would for the train at Central Station every evening ...for a timely means to get me home. And It was here that a peculiar habit started to form...
One day I rose from the catacombs of thought and my eyes chanced upon a group of pigeons roosting on the platform's rafters. Their breathing seemingly vigorous and brimming with vitality. Their movements like uninhibited expressions of every impulse swimming within them. I was captivated by this scene and thereafter, I would habitually scan the rafters and while away the wait. Days turned to weeks and then to months. I'd often feel the borders of a rare smile on my face upon each sighting.
I ask myself what it was that drew me to this seemingly unspectacular scene each day. Perhaps it was a sense of kinship I felt in their seemingly frantic ways, their apparent lack of direction and purpose. Their subservience to impulse. Their existence in the shadows of the lives of others, relegated and labelled rats of the skies , scavenging upon the scraps of those who truly lived.
Or was it very different? Was it that I perceived their manner as being reflective of an intensity of living I sought? A freedom from the shackles of thought. Did they encapsulate a vitality and innocence lost to the largely mechanical, discontent passengers below? Were they smiling at the useless smoke I was mired in? Was I smiling back because some part of me recognised this?
Alas it is the nature of the mind to examine all of this in hindsight. To vilify or to romanticize, to simplify or to add layers to what was. The truth is that it was likely a murky mixture of these reasons that swam in the sea that is my subconscious. What I do know is that the sight of those birds brought me to the present. Freeing me, if but for a series of moments, from the tentacle grip of the past. Immersing me in the vitality of living through the sheer contrast of their impulsive activity against my rare stillness. I am of the firm conviction that this in itself was instrumental in me transcending the smokey rooms that thought created within me... so I would wield my pen again.
As I walked along the platform this morning , I paid thanks to my old friends as they flew on to their daily adventures. For when I was waiting, they were beacons of the present.