I’ve been doing this for months now, writing little notes and essays for anyone to see, like graffiti on a public wall. I’ve got used to the rhythm of it, as an important part of my life. It’s legal, free and gives me a kick. I’ve long had fugitive thoughts and feelings which seemed precious at the time. This is my way to preserve them. If it wasn’t for the sharing, I wouldn’t bother. Most of my readers are doing the same. We write, we offer feedback on what we read. As far as I’m concerned it’s literature, why not? If posterity doesn’t want our scribbles, nothing’s lost. There’s a dignity in oblivion. I’ll still keep a copy, in case someone, somewhere, sometime, might deem it worth a look.
Originally posted on New Year’s Eve, 2006
Yesterday, I think it was on the feast of Bakri-Eid (goat-sacrifice), I went out in the morning and saw men and boys in white caps and long loose clothes, streaming from every direction to our local mosque. Thus I see for myself that rituals still flourish and that everyone, myself included, yearns for a congregation of the like-minded, for mutual affirmation of our being. When we see others doing as we do, or vice versa, or we simply follow the crowd, we confirm to ourselves that we’re not entirely crazy. We need a little encouragement and support; even more so when we’ve chosen to become lone hikers into the unknown.
Climbers on bare rock-faces must be roped together: one venturing, the other braced and anchored, ready to take the weight of a fall. One of the most moving films I’ve seen in 2006 was Touching the Void. Two climbers are scaling a cliff not just vertical but overhanging in parts. One, who’s already broken his leg, falls off, remains swinging over a deep crevasse, unable to climb back up. His companion above doesn’t have the strength to pull him up. They are unable to communicate.. After lengthy agonizing, the climber above cuts the rope, leaving his companion for dead in a deep crevasse. A true tale of courage, extremity and loneliness—with an unexpected happy ending.
Perhaps inspired by this tale of intrepid Englishmen, I ventured out on New Year’s Eve, leaving the Christmas tree of our cosy hearth for the wild outdoors at twilight. Instead of a climber’s rope I was linked to Karleen by mobile phone. The wind and rain came in wild gusts, driving saner human bipeds indoors. I set off along muddy paths back to the sunflower field, planted last spring but left unharvested for pheasant provender in the autumn. I’ve put up photos of its earlier states, in September and early December. Last evening the flower heads were blackened, shrivelled, hanging down in terminal despair: no longer tracking the weak winter sun which in any case was hidden behind rain-clouds. Not long after, it went below the horizon, darkening the sky.
What keeps those sunflowers still standing? How is it possible to tell when a plant is dead? As a Christmas present someone gave me Tree Wisdom: The definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees. Is there a soul in plants? The book mentions dryads, a kind of nymphs supposed by the Greeks & Romans to inhabit trees. This would have been a valid supposition before the advent of biological science. But it doesn’t answer my questions.