A picture comes to life

‘Another day, like thousands before.’
He thought, looking out the window facing him. The weather was fair, the sun shone, and she had opened the window.

Lucy settled on the window sill. His only friend and companion singing her ancient song of freedom. A story speaking of green fields, tall mountains, blue sky and the wind beneath wings. When the little swallow had finished her song she hopped into the room.

“Hello.” She said. “How are you? Anything new today?”

“Hello.” He said. “I feel as I always do.”
“But she got a phone call today. I could listen in on her. I think she is going to have some visitors today.”

“Oh, my Dear.” Lucy answered compassionately. “Another couple of people starring at you, going on and on about the unique brush strokes and colour combination. Debating if the beautiful blooming apple tree was taken from nature or the artists imagination. Botanists still have not identified it, despite the meticulous details.” Lucy imitated the usual spiel. She hopped closer. “You must have heard this hundred times over.”

“Oh please Lucy don’t mention the apple tree! I am not even able to see it. You know I can’t turn my head!” He paused wistfully. “Would you mind singing your song once again for me?”

So she did. Lucy sang again.

Some hours later he heard the door opening. He saw them approaching, she stood in front of him with an elderly couple telling his story again.

“So my Dears, that’s him the famous Sir Captitus in his iron armor. He is said to be bound to this picture by a spell. The only hope for his soul is the beautiful blooming apple tree behind him that he will never be able to see. The legend says, the day the curse lifts its pedals will gently shower him and his figure disappear from the painting.”

“He was a very bad knight slaughtering many people just for fun, until he fell in love with a farmer’s daughter. But because she was just a farmers daughter he could never marry her. So he abducted her while she was walking alone, and locked her into a tower where she spend her life in prison, doing his bidding.”

“But one day the beautiful girl could not take this life in prison any longer. She jumped out of the window, and at the place where she landed this beautiful blooming apple tree started to grow.”

“The girl’s mother, who had tried to free her child for a long time came to know of the incident and laid a spell on Sir Captitus. She painted this picture binding his soul for eternity, or until he found a true friend that would sing for him, the ancient song of freedom and soften his heart.”

He had heard this story—his story—more than a thousand times during his captivity, but only now, in this very moment, he recognized that he never had listened before.

This is one of the old stories I found. It was a 20 minute writing exercise during class. I edited a little (as my written English at the time was really bad), but not enough to change the tone or writing level of the story.

A Prologue

The moon stood in an almost perfect circle on the firmament. For her, this meant time for ritual. The priestess sighed sometimes she wished there were different ways. Sometimes she wished she could refuse to see.

It was a warm summers’ night despite the light rain that hung over the coast for days. She loved this weather, the rain was not strong enough to permeate the clothes and mist arose steaming from the meadows, floating over the small creek in front of her house. This is the time when the fairies are dancing, her thoughts drifted to the heavy scent of wet soil, dead leaves and moss that filled the air. How she loved the smell of the woods and earth, entwined with the salt of the sea. She took deep breaths and enjoyed the peace, while the wolves howled in the distance. They are howling to the moon, they are praying like me; she thought and sighed. There was change in the air soon, far too soon—but not yet.

Her hut stood in some distance from the settlement. It was close to the sacred place she took take care of at the foot of the mountain range. The mountains silhouetting in the back of her house framed the idyllic place she called her home for a long time now. She was contemplating how much she had enjoyed the years here. What would she be doing? Would the change force her to leave? Should she go back to the green isle? The wolves where still howling, soon, far too soon—but not yet.

She forced the dark thoughts away and tried to focus on the task at hand. Taking in the chilly night air with deep breaths she tried to empty her mind. She had washed face, feet and hands before taking the gifts to the goddess. Fresh milk, oatcakes and some flowers would do during an ordinary summer’s night. When she reached the place close to the waterfall she put the things down on a little altar and poured some of the milk into the water. After she bound her skirts up with a knot Rhiannon stepped into the stream. The cold mud squeezed through her toes, invigorating fresh water around her ankles washed the tiredness away. She pressed her feet deep into the mud. With raised arms the young woman looked like a statue, carved into the landscape for eternity. The moonlight reflecting off her skin, left her seemingly translucent. She stood in stillness the only movement was a gentle breeze in her hair.

The wolves where howling again in an eternal night in an ancient time singing old songs of life, singing old songs of love, singing old songs of war and of hunt.

But they were also singing the song of change, as the earth had told her, change as the water had told her—a necessary change the fire had said. And she sang to the moon and to the wolves the ancient song of life.

Soon far too soon, but not yet.

Cornwall

Sea Haar
Wrapping his damp arms around me as a morning greeting

Legs in cold wind
Summers in Britain mean I am wearing a winter strength wet suit

Still my naked toes are in flip-flops
I insist on summer

I am scared of the deep dark blue
Even the striking white tiaras gushing ashore
Can’t help to soothe my fear

So I triple check that the lead of the surfboard
Is securely attached to my ankle

It’s time to work on my floppy baby seal move again
One of my feet always gets stuck

I am frustrated
Fighting the elements, my fear, and my body

Your strength and flexibility are there
Just your foot

We walk around the bay
The sun breaks through

The foreboding colours turn friendly
And suddenly both feed are on the board and I rush towards the beach

I am so surprised
I tumble into the water

The guys’ happy shouts
Are louder than the surf

Seaside-Summer

Thoughts fickle as sand in the wind
Dance whilst eyes scan the horizon
The brain in a futile attempt tries to grasp infinity
In reality even the ocean in front of me can only be understood in knots and hours of flight

The come and go of waves
Being knocked over and over again
So much energy
So little to hold against

Another grain of sand
Memories of eons past
A dragon figure-head rocking up and down
Changing its background rhythmically
Sky–Sea–Sky–Sea–Sky–Sea–Sky

A gust of wind moves the sand
In summer my brain is on idle
It gently moves through stories
Be and let be
What else can you do?

Fighting Ego

Do you sometimes stumble over your ego, and then realize that if you gently would let go, things would just be that much easier? For me this is an ongoing fight against my competitiveness, stubbornness, and yes quite a bit of pride. The penultimate metaphor for ego comes from Disney’s Aladin:

…which is what Ego wants.

…which is what Ego achieves. Because we are caught in the illusion.

There were a couple of conversations lately that brought the focus back on Ego. Luckily, there are always teachers when you need them:

During my undergraduate degree I did Tai Chi with sword. Our teacher was a Chinese lecturer who started the course in his spare time. Now, my friend and I were best in class, and we knew it. One day we went through a fairly complex motion, when he made us stop in the middle of it. We stood on the left leg, holding the sword in the right hand above our heads pointing to the turned heal of our right foot and holding the left hand in a fancy pose.
Now, I got rather cocky because I knew I nailed that movement, which was obviously written across my forehead. There might have been bold lettered neon signs involved.
The teacher made his way down the first line of students, in which I stood. He corrected each student, and we he came to me, he stopped. Just ever so slightly the teacher lifted the corner of his mouth, and then turned around. He proceeded to correct very slowly (gosh soooooo slowly) and deliberately every other student in class. Meanwhile, I was too proud to move, sweating blood and tears to avoid shaking—mind you all still standing on one leg, twisted like an Octoberfest Pretzel—until he finally was done with the whole class and came to me. Only to pause again—for about three hours. He just kept judging my form. Finally! Finally this barely noticeable smile emerged again, he nodded and then ever so slightly twisted my left hand (the fancy pose one) a quarter of an inch.
My friend, who stood next to me cracked up laughing.

My Ego got a big smack on the ear.
It still echoes.
I am still grateful.
It helped me do my own smacking.
But the Ego is persistent.

The Rock

Male Victims of Domestic Abuse
He was a rock.
Strong, tall, rough, boisterous, as happy as rocks can be.
A mountain really, with smooth patches, softened by eons of experience,
With frost scars from a distant past.
‘He will last forever’, they said.
‘He is so strong. He is the powerful one.’
But they didn’t know.
Male Victims of Domestic Abuse
They didn’t know, that:
Every day, the rock was fighting.
They didn’t know, that:
She was the hurricane of insanity.
Screaming at him, tearing off parts of the solid facade.
She was the tornado of destruction.
He never knew when she would hit.
He never knew what ammunition she had picked up on her path of destruction.
They didn’t know, because air is invisible.
Male Victims of Domestic Abuse
They didn’t know that she would always find a way.
To force entry into the frost-scar.
To violently insert poisonous pellets of ice,
Which would break the frost-scars wide open.
Which had made his mountain-top crumble, and eroded his slopes.
Male Victims of Domestic Abuse
They didn’t know, that the hurricanes hatred was an obsession.
It was her sport, her past-time.
Because he was a rock. Because he was a mountain. So he could not move.
He could not defend himself.
He was the strong one, he was not permitted to rebuke.
So she was tantalizing, hunting, hurting, sometimes for a change, whisper warm spring winds. Soft air playing with the bleeding scars.
And he could not move.
Male Victims of Domestic Abuse
They didn’t know that after a couple of days of silence.
She could not bear it any longer and she would vomit her debris,
Violently, spew it all over him.
He could not even open an umbrella.
And still they didn’t know.
He had no bruises, the cuts invisible. The frost-scars, just frost scars.
But this was just the beginning…

IMG_1811

11 ADD (ADHD) Frustrations

1 Spills

When you covered half the house in towels to dye your hair
And the dye finds 10 uncovered square inches to drip onto and stain for ever

Why can I not just be clean and tidy? It’s not that difficult! Come on.

2 Bruises

When you ram full force into the edge of a wooden bench adding to innumerable bruises on your legs

Why did I not see that? What’s the problem with me?

3 Time

When you don’t know why it took you 1,5 hours to walk half a mile and what happened.

By the way: time–what’s all that about anyway?!

When you check your watch every two minutes on the way to an important meeting and arrive half an hour early.

This is just embarrassing.

4 Forgetting

When you just forget TICK to moisturize, check your emails, that apple in your bag, where your coffee cup has gone, what he just said, TICK oh and that sandwich in the bag, and that you put your dishes to soak in the staff kitchen…two days ago, TICK and now you are home in bed on a Friday evening, oh oh oh I meant to read this article, cut your nails, where that gum in your bag came from– it’s TICK soggy and the wrapper has dissolved, paint your nails but forget the second hand, to say good morning, to answer a question…

The most successful people have routines, and stick to them! Yeah. Sure. They don’t forget what they had decided to—oh bummer I was meant to call the dentist.

5 Messy

When you have various drinking utensils TICK spread across the house because you forgot you already had one; or you TICK need one for coffee, one for water, and a herbal tea would be nice, too … TICK oh and look there is Fentimans lemonade. We don’t have enough cups.

I love photos of tidy houses. I adore tidy houses. I feel like I am in a battle every single day. So far the war has not yet been won by me. It makes me feel inadequate.

6 Awareness

When someone less assertive asks you for something TICK in the middle of a conversation and it does not reach TICK–oh my pencil is so nice and smooth, TICK look how the lines change depending on the pressure I use; it looks really grainy; can I make the grainy go away, and make the drawing smooth?

I literally do not hear it. It’s not even that I ignore it. It never reaches the spheres of consciousness. I am so ashamed. I do not want to ignore someone.

7 Talking

When you hear yourself talk obsessively TICK but you can’t stop. If I try to stop my head would explode. Seriously, like in Dogma when God speaks. I am still talking about something really important TICK work related, probably over-explaining some theories. And this is the best movie-ending ever! Meph. Love it. O.k. colleagues are taking notes and I think I am TICK done with talking through the 3D mindmap in my head so the physical pressure in my head and my tummy-pain are gone. Meph. TICK Seriously, so funny. Is this how to spell mep?

I wish I could stop. I try sitting on my hands. Taking notes in old scripts. Doodle. And I still will interrupt someone in the middle of their sentence. 

8 Memory

You find yourself desperately digging for any recollection of the thing that less assertive person mentioned TICK in the middle of a conver…It’s so great that most of my colleagues, look straight at me and explicitly state what they want to know or to do. This clock is so damn loud.

By the way: ticking clocks in all offices? Have you ever heard of Chinese torture?

TICK TICK

TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK

SCREAM

Yes. I actually took Alzheimer tests online because it is so bad. The memory. TICK doesn’t help.

9 Clumsy

The glass just slipped out of my hand, and yes the alphabet noodles on the kitchen floor look as if a dictionary committed suicide. I swear just yesterday that button was there, under this tab … I don’t know where it has gone. TICK

I should just set up cameras around the place for some good old slapstick.

10 White Noise

The white noise in my head so loud. Desperately trying to catch something that has a shape, a smell, a colour, a sound, a story, an emotion. Something, please something tangible. More input drowns in noise. My skin feels as if the epidermis is missing. It burns; there are too many smells, feelings, noises, faces, colours encroaching. I love semicolons; they stand for flow; there is never truly an end to a sentence.

So anxious. Painful. Scary.

11 Anxiety

Panic. Team away day. Means: a night spend running ptsd like flashbacks of faces, snippets of communication, bowling alley: do you want to kill me with sensory overload? Coming out of the underground in Time Square (NYC), breaking stuff in Rock Cafe shop into which you fled to have time to figure out which way is up, collapsing in ASDA finding yourself on the floor, your ears ringing, it’s all flashes of colour, smell, light, noise. The world began to wobble. My place within the noisy wobble became lost. The ground is reassuring.

Mindfulness. Gym. Knitting. Music. Writing. Drawing. Dancing. Singing. Just going out: up the mountains, into the hills, into the freezing sea, on the bike, on my feet. All that helps.

 

A Proxy for War

She was stuck.
All her campaigns at stale mate.
Her soldiers out of steam.
But she had to, had to win the war,
Against a projection of evil.
A fog in her brain.
Trauma telling her a story that didn’t exist.

I need to win. I need control

Suddenly, a new face appeared at the sidelines.
A warrioress unaware of the dire Greed for power and control in the centre of the battlefield.
The Greed honed her focus on the warrioress.

She is my next campaign. Surely with her I shall win the war!

‘Hey fuckin’ lassie. Come over here.’
   ‘What do you want? This war is not mine to fight. This greed is not mine to satisfy.’
‘I don’t fuckin’ care. I need u to win the war. Wot do I care about u or any1 else? See the evil fog over there? I’ve been fighting him for years.’
   ‘You mean the trail of fog that comes out of your ears and mouth and creates the shape of a monster?’
‘Wot u fuckin’ talkin’ about lassie? The monster is real! It’s the cause of all evil!’ Greed screamed on top of her lungs. And with that scream she jumped the warrioress and threw her into the gaping mouth of the fog monster.
‘U will win ma war fuckin’ lassie.’

But the warrioress just turned around. She faced the monster. Hand resting gently on top of the kashira. Her trusted katana remained sheathed. ‘I am not your proxy for war. This battle is your own delusion.’ And with a toothy smile she greeted the fog monster. ‘I greet thee chimera of Greed. Now show thy true face oh monster mine.’
And out of the fog stepped a lion. His gracious mane covering a scared face. Battle wounds, now scars on his massive muscles. He grinned back. Even more teeth.
‘Why are you hiding in Greed’s figment of a fog monster?’
‘Easy,’ he said. ‘As long as she fights herself Greed will always lose the war.’
‘But you could have easily won the war against Greed. So now what?’
‘I break free.’
‘What about the fog monster? The chimera?’
‘She will destroy herself.’

An Ancient Song

Prologue

The moon stood in an almost perfect circle on the firmament. For her, this meant time for ritual. The priestess sighed sometimes she wished there were different ways. Sometimes she wished she could refuse to see.
It was a warm summers’ night despite the light rain that hung over the coast for days. She loved this weather, the rain was not strong enough to permeate the clothes and mist arose steaming from the meadows, floating over the small creek in front of her house. This is the time when the fairies are dancing, her thoughts drifted to the heavy scent of wet soil, dead leaves and moss that filled the air. How she loved the smell of the woods and earth, entwined with the salt of the sea. She took deep breaths and enjoyed the peace, while the wolves howled in the distance. They are howling to the moon, they are praying like me; she thought and sighed. There was change in the air soon, far too soon—but not yet.

Her hut stood in some distance from the settlement. It was close to the sacred place she took take care of at the foot of the mountain range. The mountains silhouetting in the back of her house framed the idyllic place she called her home for a long time now. She was contemplating how much she had enjoyed the years here. What would she be doing? Would the change force her to leave? Should she go back to the green isle? The wolves where still howling, soon, far too soon—but not yet.

She forced the dark thoughts away and tried to focus on the task at hand. Taking in the chilly night air with deep breaths she tried to empty her mind. She had washed face, feet and hands before taking the gifts to the goddess. Fresh milk, oatcakes and some flowers would do during an ordinary summer’s night. When she reached the place close to the waterfall she put the things down on a little altar and poured some of the milk into the water. After she bound her skirts up with a knot Rhiannon stepped into the stream. The cold mud squeezed through her toes, invigorating fresh water around her ankles washed the tiredness away. She pressed her feet deep into the mud. With raised arms the young woman looked like a statue, carved into the landscape for eternity, the moonlight on her skin leaving her seemingly translucent and a quiet breeze in her hair.

The wolves where howling again in an eternal night in an ancient time singing old songs of life, singing old songs of love, singing old songs of war and of hunt.
But they were also singing the song of change, as the earth had told her, change as the water had told her—a necessary change the fire had said. And she sang to the moon and to the wolves the ancient song of life.

Soon far too soon, but not yet.

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