I’m fed up with faces on screens
Endless memes about 2020
and what a shit show it’s been
I’m fed up with working from home
Living alone and seeing
no one’s face but my own
I’m fed up with lockdown
With going around in circles
not able to leave my town
I’m fed up with walking for the sake of it
An attempt to keep fit and snatch
a breath of fresh air, but I’m over it
I’m fed up with covering my face
Keeping my space and nodding politely
when I want to embrace
I’m fed up with rules and restrictions
All these contradictions and not knowing
what’s fact and what’s fiction
I’m fed up with not seeing my friends
When will this end and
when can I hug you again?
In my last blog here, I announced that I have just completed the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in less than a month. I know that it is not yet a good book, and that it will take a lot of time and effort to make it something that could possibly one day be published, so why am I feeling so relieved right now? When I know that, actually, there’s still a lot of work to do, why do I feel like I’m over the hill and tobogganing down with the finish line in sight?
I’ll tell you why.
Because, not only have I been dragging that damn toboggan up the hill all throughout November, I’ve also been dragging it about behind me everywhere I’ve been for the last three years or more. It’s a weighty old thing and can be really tiresome to drag around behind me, no matter how beautiful it is or how important I know it could be. I’ve dragged it around behind me all this time, hoping that one day I would have the time and energy to climb up that hill and take a ride, but always making excuses and feeling too scared to do so in case I reached the top of the hill and found I couldn’t let go and slide down. I was scared I might never reach the finish line, but also too scared to try.
Well, let me tell you, dragging my toboggan up that hill was worth it. Not only was the journey towards the finishing line spectacular, even the view as I was dragging it up the hill was worth the effort.
And, now that I’ve gone through the process of dragging the toboggan up the hill and enjoying the ride down, I know that there’s nothing to be scared of, and it’s worth a little blood, sweat and tears. I won’t be afraid to do it again, and again, until I become a world-famous professional tobogganist!
So, if you’re dragging your toboggan about, whatever kind it may be (a novel, a song, a poem, a painting…), don’t let go of it. Just get started on that hill, chase yourself to the top, admire the view, and enjoy the ride towards the finish line…
Recently, I’ve been teaching a bit of poetry to one of my private students at work. She’s quite enthralled with it all, and it’s been making me miss my poetry collection back home. Until I’m reunited with my books, I will have to make do with the Internet. Yesterday was National Poetry Day. I used to try to write something on National Poetry Day, but this year I settled for reading. This morning, I discovered a Chilean poet called Pablo Neruda. He wrote this wonderful poem, translated by Alastair Reid, called “Return to a City”. Here it is:
Return to a City
What have I come to? I ask them.
Who am I in this dead city?
I can’t find either the street or the roof
of the crazy girl who once loved me.
There’s no doubting the crows in the branches,
the monsoon green and boiling,
the scarlet spittle
in the eroded streets,
the air heavy–but where,
where was I, who was I?
I understand only the ashes.
The betel-seller looks at me,
recognizing neither my shoes
nor my recently resurrected face.
Perhaps his grandfather would grant me
a salaam, but it so happens
that he succumbed while I was travelling,
dropped deep into the well of death.
I slept in such a building
fourteen months and the corresponding years;
I wrote out my misery.
innocently into bitterness.
I pass now and the door is not there.
The rain has been working overtime.
Now it dawns on me that I have been
not just one man but several,
and that I have died so many times
with no notion of how I was reborn,
as if the act of changing clothes
were to force me to live another life,
and here I am without the least idea
of why I cannot recognize a soul,
of why no one recognizes me,
as if everyone here were dead
and I alive in the midst of such forgetting,
a bird that still survives–
or, the reverse, the city watching me,
and realizing I am the one who is dead.
I walk through the silk bazaars,
and the markets of misery.
It is hard to believe the streets
are the selfsame streets; the black eyes,
hard as nailpoints,
glare back against my glances,
and the pale Gold Pagoda
with all its frozen idolatry
has no eyes now, no hands,
no longer any fire.
Goodbye, streets soiled by time,
goodbye, goodbye, lost love.
I return to the wine of my house,
I return to the love of my loved one,
to what I was and to what I am,
water and sun, earth ripe with apples,
months with lips and with names.
I come back not to return;
no more do I wish to mislead myself.
It is dangerous to wander
backward, for all of a sudden
the past turns into a prison.
I want to be the kind of person who wakes up early in the morning to practice tai chi, yoga, or meditation.
I want to travel, explore, take photos and write about it.
I want to have a high-flying career which I adore and am successful at.
I want to wine and dine with friends, family, someone special…
I want to cook, and invite people over for dinner.
I want to study languages. (I want to be fluent in Japanese.)
I want to take workshops and short courses and learn new skills.
I want to write.
I want to sleep.
I want to dream.
…but there’s not enough time in the day.
Look at the ship in the bottle!
Sails standing tall, masts high,
floating on a sea of air and glass,
a mystery to the eye…
Look at the ship –
too big to fit through
the slim neck of the bottle.
Tell me how to
complete this impossible task.
Break it down, says the DJ.
Break. It. Down.
It’s the only way.
Look at the ship in the bottle…
Image from: http://www.pbase.com/jwalk/image/29083377
Due to vast amounts of studying recently I haven’t yet been able to write anything significant on this website, so instead I want to share something I recently discovered, which I wish I had written…
I just think this is so clever, so well written, and fucking hilarious!
Tim Minchin is my new favourite comedian. He seems to be a little bit of everything I like (including uncanny resemblances to both Bill Bailey and Victoria Wood!). He’s rock, he’s roll, and he’s a fabulous pianist. (He’s also pretty damn cute!) 😉
I’ve often toyed with the idea of putting my words to some kind of music, and would love to one day meet a musician I can really work with who is willing to listen to my waffles for long enough to try to find their rhythm. Unfortunately I’m really not musical myself.
Anyway… I will try and write something soon. My Japanese exam is on December 6th, and after that I plan on actually chilling out a bit and spending time doing things other than studying… so watch this space!