God rest ye non-denominational gentlefolk

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On Tuesday my new friends are holding a little carol service to celebrate Lucia (a well-celebrated Swedish festival). At first they asked me to teach them an English carol to add to their repertoire but as time was running low they asked instead if I would like to sing a little solo. I love the tune of “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” but was hoping to find something a little less Christian. I couldn’t find any replacement lyrics online so I decided to make my own, here they are!

The snow is falling fast outside,

The table now is laid,

The house is full of music,

love and memories to be made.

So come and join us at our feast,

Come be with us today,

Oh, join all together and enjoy,

Hoi polloi hoi,

Oh, join all together and enjoy.

 

For though the night is dark and deep,

Our hearts are not yet still,

So much remains to celebrate,

So fill your glasses, fill,

Come gather round the fire

And let love your hearts instill,

Oh, join all together and enjoy,

Hoi polloi hoi,

Oh, join all together and enjoy.

 

The hour is late, the guests are gone,

Yet sleep will still not come,

This child full of joy and love,

Has only just begun

To stretch out now his golden rays

And shine his glorious sun

Oh, shine all together, shine as one

Bright as the sun,

Oh, shine all together as the sun


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Ängsbacka aaaaatchoo!

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*sniffles*

I’m sick. In fact, I haven’t been quite so intensely sick in a while. I also haven’t been sick in quite such a supportive atmosphere for a while. So I’m sick, but I’m not especially unhappy..

I arrived at Ängsbacka at 2pm on Saturday after 36 hours of travel, 18 hours later than planned having missed my scheduled flight. I went to a 5 Rhythms class in London on Thursday that turned into something of an all-nighter and resulted in me getting on a train to Cambridge instead of a train to Stansted Airport. I thought I was going to get away with it when I saw that there was a train to Stansted arriving at Cambridge a few minutes before my own was due and on the adjacent platform but… as I leapt out of one train, the terminal ‘doors closing’ beep of the second train sealed my fate.  Of course there is more to this delightful story: the kind-hearted woman in the Stansted airport cafe that kept trying to kick me out despite my repeat order of rooibos or the two bacchanalian devotees sat behind me during the 3 hour flight… but these are stories for another time 😉

The last local Värmland bus (I’m loving the region’s name: I can just picture these frost-beaded vikings descending from the deep North and exulting in the balmy weather of this wintry paradise) dropped me at Krakerud and drove off, leaving me to contemplate the snow blanketed wonderland all around. Large clearings (perhaps fields under the snow?) are bounded by bristly copses of silver birch and pine. All is quiet.

I hang a right and head off in what, my smartphone assures me, is the right direction. I hear a car approaching from behind and turn, slowly at first and then with all the rapidity that I can muster as a Volkswagen estate races towards me, back-end sliding back and forth all over the road. When I see the driver’s expression I realise that he has not lost control, he is merely enjoying a local past-time, as perhaps he does every day. When the same car hurtles back past me in the opposite direction 2 minutes later my suspicions are confirmed.

I feel a thrill when I see the first sign with Ängsbacka written on it. I have committed myself to a 4 month volunteer position here with no more information than a website and a Workaway profile. “Eek!” crosses my mind of the first time. Already some Gallic aspect of myself is questioning my arrival here in the North: aren’t you supposed to go South for winter? I cross a railway line and Ängsbacka is before me: Two large buildings in red-brown and custard yellow surrounded by a cluster of smaller buildings in similar colours. There are plenty of cars in the parking lots but no-one around. I follow the directions I’ve been given and skirt round the outside of the yellow building to find the volunteer’s entrance and…

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…here I am! So many emotions, names, faces, sensations, sights, smells! I stand around smilingly gormless for a moment saying “I’m Dom” to various passers-by until one of them says “Ahh Dom!” I have just enough time to pose my heavy rucksack before I’m whisked off on a whistlestop tour by Emma, hugging and shaking hands as I go. I’m so whacked out from lack of sleep and climate shock and its a trip to meet so many people having spent the last 36 hours in the isolation that long-distance transit can create. I can feel the web of connections between these people, feel the intimacy that exists as they share space and work together. My new friends are warm, relaxed and open, they look me in the eye and seem genuinely pleased to meet me as I am them. I’m told that I will be working on dishes in the kitchen tomorrow and Phillip gives me a 20 minute run over what that will entail. Again, I’m so hanging, so exhausted that part of me is laughing deliriously that someone is attempting to impart practical information to me at this moment but I smile and do my best, leaning into a feeling that I won’t get into trouble for needing help. I’m an exceptionally happy bunny when at long-last I can find my dorm and lie down for some blessed sleep.

I hesitate to write about this place because I feel I know nothing about it! I’m entirely aware that this first impression will melt away as the snow outside in this morning’s unexpected sunshine. I don’t know these people, I don’t know how this place works or what tensions and issues lie beyond the surface. Does that make these fresh perceptions any less real? I don’t think so. I think they can be enjoyed and savoured just as anything else in this life, even more deeply so in the knowledge that this experience is fleeting, impermanent.

I feel good here. I’m already playing and laughing with these shiny beings and I feel like there is so much more to come! My shifts in the kitchen were a blast: We whacked on some good tunes and laughed and danced our way through the dishes. Walking in the wild pine forests behind Ängsbacka felt deliciously alive and vibrant, the cracking of snow and ice under my feet making a welcome change from the susurrus of southern sands.


I wrote the above yesterday whilst still running a high temperature and I deleted the rest as it gradually descended into incoherent ravings 😉 I am happy to report that my fever has dropped today and I feel like a new man, a sniffly, coughy, sneezy man but a new man nonetheless.

More to come! Photos too I promise but for now… I have a date with my bed 🙂

Love to you all, beautiful beings!

x

 

EDIT: I knew there were bits I’d space out on due to being ill! I am volunteering at Ängsbacka for the next four months. After that, who knows?

Ängsbacka itself is primarily a business that hosts courses and festivals relating to consciousness, tantra, shamanism, movement and the like. There are roughly 5 staff members who live here along with a community of between 15-200 volunteers (during a large festival) , at the moment we are maybe 20-25 living in the big yellow house together. There are also something like 200 people who comprise the ‘extended community’ who live in the surrounding area and have varying degrees of participation in the project. Here is a quote from the Ängsbacka website regarding the goals of their volunteer programme 🙂

 

The goal of Ängsbacka is that young people from Europe participate in the development of sustainable living in its various aspects and become leaders of transition. We see that in the world of continuos degradation of ecosystems, declining biodiversity, changing climate, peak of natural resources (especially oil), increase of population and instability of economical systems, there is a need for transition to stable, just and sustainable society. This can be achieved through focusing on four aspects of sustainability – social, environmental, ecological and cultural on community level.   Ängsbacka sees the project as one example of sustainable development for all of Europe. A part of the vision of Ängsbacka is to “demonstrate paths to sustainable development, wellbeing, and harmony”.

I am Spring, in love with the Sun.

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I am spring in love with sun. She calls forth my leaves and under her gaze I have no shame. She makes my sap to flow, oh, oh, oh…

 

Creeping vine and twisting briar, grow as one organic lyre, music soft as soil and sleep, of mother’s womb and roots down deep..

 

Sounds of my soul, of my truest, of my light, of my dark, of my shadow, of my infinite flight. Irreconcilable reconciliations, everflowing palpitations, sick with spring, quite sick with green…

 

Leaves burst from buds, sticky and pale, stretch to cold air all aquiver and aflail, reaching out blindly, silently, driven by yearning, aching…to feel her light upon my skin, to feel her breath amongst my branches.

 

Listen!

 

Do you hear the music she makes with our love?

 

Listen!

 

Listen to this whispering, fluttering susurrus, my oceanbound groans to be so known naked and alone with her, my sun, my light my warmth. She brings forth life from my death, light from my darkness. I live not but for her…

 

So, so, sewing stitches in britches in bitter reminisces of winters gone by all alone with my ‘I’.

 

“’I’ do not want to die to love, I’m scared to let go of what I know, give up this cold-corpse-clinging of mine..”

 

“And yet we shall, my love!” I whisper to him, laughter in my eyes, on my lips, in my heart, “For in all this sweet earth what else is there to do? You shall die to love one day, in this you have no choice. Why not die whilst you yet live and see some portion of what you may give?

 

We are incomplete without love, an unfinished story, a closed flower. Despite your contrarianism you make no sense alone, even in your own tongue! She makes peaceable folly of your anxious madness, bottomless creativity of your neurotic mentation. She is the sun to your moon, the summer to your winter, the flesh to your stone, the fire to your ice…!

 

Love! We will have you! Sigh no more my fretful mind for your way is already chosen… after all, you cannot resist what you are!

 

Even your fear is brought forth from this self-same love! Oceans and oak trees, basalt basilicas, rose-hibiscus bowers encircling entwined lovers, we are one with this love and all that it sings!

 

We are song and singer, words melody, rhythm, instrument, voice, air, sound, intention, inception..

 

We are the way and the walker, destination and departure. We are the answer to our question, the truth to our lie, seed to shoot to leaf to flower to pollen to seed once more.

 

This love and only this love, dancing in myriad forms, laughing through all creation, eternally as one.

 

What fun 🙂

Where once there were two, now there is one. And so life goes…

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This is my journal/morning pages entry for this morning. I hope that it can be for you something of what is was for me 🙂

 

Winds all ablow but a meditation on this tenderness restores some measure of stability. And there was me thinking after last Friday that sadness has passed! Well, there is nothing wrong with sadness and much of use for a budding writer.

 

Then he remembered that in his meditation he’d had the idea of writing his morning pages in the third person, the better to understand and incorporate this perspective in his writings.

 

He felt worn out, a little sick even. He knew he’d really overdone it playing at three markets straight on the weekend. Even so, he could sense that this discomfort could not disrupt the perfection and completion of the present moment when met with the gentle presence of unconditional love.

 

In fact, the experience led to a deepening of this sense of love as he learned to act with care and compassion towards a self whom he would have judged as unworthy in the past. He didn’t feel so full of energy and bounce and excitement. He didn’t feel highly motivated and productive, or ecstatic and positive but, with this new awareness of love, these things didn’t stop him feeling a tender, supportive softness towards himself.

It felt like an entirely new experience of love, most strongly reminiscent of the love from his mother that he’d known as a child.

Our mothers are true teachers of unconditional love, he thought to himself. They love us no matter how we feel, they love us as we are and without reserve, to the best of their ability, of course.

The adult world is quick to adore the bright and shining, the confident, the outgoing, the charming. It has little space for the tired, the drab or the melancholic. And yet these experiences are inextricably a part of being human and to reject any part of ‘what is’ is to suffer, most surely.

He smiled and tugged at his beard, gazing out at the buzzing, bird-filled forest and brightening skies beyond the window.

 

“How foolish, how blind I’ve been!” he thought. “All this time spent chasing after one set of emotions and experiences and running away from all the rest. How completely I missed the point!”

Life is not punishing me or tormenting me, it is feeding me, blessing me. What beauteous perfection in the harmony of this place!

 

I am pure, unconditional love and yet… I am identified with a mind that places conditions upon this love: when I’m bright, animated and upbeat, tick! I allow myself access to the bounty of my true self, hooray! But when I’m morose, irritable, unsettled, sad, ill-tempered, Nah-nah! These things are bad! They do not deserve love, oh no! Here, have some guilt, shame, frustration and despair instead and yes, you guessed it, they’re not included in the lovable remit either!

 

Oh life, you are so unfair! Why must you bring me these miserable, unlovable experiences. What a hollow and cruel world I live in! You never let me rest in this golden happiness, why must you always bring me this intolerable grief!

 

Then, as the morning sun crests the distant mountain tops and the gloom of the valley floor erupts in radiant, shining golds and greens, the penny drops.

 

This love, this beaming, roaring, melting, engulfing acceptance that I am is always here. The boldest constructs of the mind are mere flimsy cardboard cut-outs alongside the shimmering Everests and towering Taj-Mahals of this love.

 

We are so used to using our minds, trusting them, believing in them, that we don’t think to ask twice if love could be, as well as misery! We rush headlong into the multiplying drama of suffering and the affirmation of self-limiting belief without a second thought.

 

I could not say what it is that inspires this second thought. Certainly I could not turn and look into my past and see any one thing but the whole seething, screaming, pulsating entity, propelling me inexhaustibly into this moment here

 

So this agonising misery comes upon me and I feel myself begin to go under. I hear the storm-whipped seas of my mind, feel bow-shredding strokes rasp across the strings of my heart and squirm with the scratching, biting beasts who infect my muscles, my skeleton and my spirit.

 

I feel all of this. I sit still. I breathe. I witness it. What more can I do? It is here.

 

I ask myself, without trying to change or reduce in any way this experience, is it possible to feel love for myself, even as I suffer in this blackness? As if it is not I who experience this but instead a beloved child who brings his pain to me, trusting in my ability to accept what he cannot?

For me, right now, it comes alive with the word ‘tenderness’. I feel every muscle in my body as soft, yielding, accepting. I feel as if all my pores and my heart are open wide, yielding gratefully from the fatigue of endless conflict into peaceful, accepting surrender.

For me this is a new experience of love, or a least one long forgotten. It awakens in me a totally new awareness of myself, of life, of other people. With a dawning sense of awe I realise that behind every one of these hateful, despised, unlovable experiences that have tormented me all my life, is a doorway to a new experience of love.

 

The love I thought I knew is in fact an incomplete image, distorted and disrupted by the lenses and filters of my mind. As I allow myself to experience love again in all that was once unlovable, these lenses and filters open and dissolve. The experience of mind begins to flow, uninterrupted into the experience of unconditional love and my truest nature is revealed to me, always bigger, fuller, deeper, richer than I could ever have envisioned in my wildest imaginings.

 

This is the healing, this is the solution that I so blindly and clumsily but earnestly and honestly sought.

 

The first steps take much presence and patience. The moment where an experience is perceived and judged unworthy of love is often unconscious. Without a willingness to awareness and mindfulness it is difficult to see where we ensnare ourselves. I cannot deny that living away from the internet and modern world in a forest with the space and time to meditate and spend time simply being are very supportive in this unfolding.

However, we need not fret. The beauty of this experience is that it feeds itself. Beyond these first few hesitant foot-falls the mind itself begins to transform. We learn quickly, powered by the limitless energy of love.

 

Instinct changes and now the unfamiliar is met with love, acceptance, welcome, joy and curiosity.

 

For my part I am infused with a childlike excitement. I feel like an irresponsible adult has gifted me the key to the sweet-shop and now I run amok, gleefully dissolving all these hated beliefs and restrictions in a fit of heady rebellion.

 

As the clouds begin to clear and the morning sun warms my face, I smile. The adult in me can see that even these beliefs that one could so easily judge as bad or wrong are in fact gifts too. It is through the sense of limitation they impart that I encounter limitlessness and through their unlove that I come to know true love. They are the lead to my gold and the mud to my lotus and I love them. They are the keys to my unfolding and to the smile that daubs this once sad face.

I woke up this morning anxious, low and full of dread. An hour later and I am sitting in sunshine, both within and without. There is still a sadness, somewhere in these enveloping folds of light but it is wrapped up snug and warm in love, content to be included and recognised as an essential part of the indivisible whole.

My morning pages have over-run from three pages to six and my belly tells me the breakfast is in order. Thank you for reading this far, I hope that what I live may be of some service to you.

 

With love,

 

Dom

Ready, Fire, Aim! And other well-intentioned approximations…

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Ready, Fire, Aim! And other well-intentioned approximations…

 

Many months have passed. The long, cold winter nights are slowly growing shorter and in the wings the heralds of Spring buff and shine their golden bugles.

 

Change has come. In so many ways and so many forms, we are not the same as those who crept, step by step into the freezing darkness.

 

I’ve abstained long from writing here for so many reasons: avoiding discussing my terror of marriage, feeling that my life is nothing special to share and changes in my relationship with myself being the foremost. I apologise to anyone who was waiting on tenterhooks for the next instalment; well done, you’ve survived! J

 

Deja and I left the cabin in mid-December, passed a merry, bucolic Christmas with my parents and then left for Croatia. Deja’s father has been kind enough to allow us to pass winter in one of his vacant villas whilst our cabin is buried in snow and ice. We’ve spent the last two and a half months in luxury accommodation in Istria, just outside of Pula and about 20km from the coast.

 

It has been something of a culture shock to have running hot and cold water 24/7, electricity, lighting, internet and a fully equipped kitchen! Living in the cabin created a very strong sense of purpose and direction through necessity: we knew we needed to get out of bed to chop wood or carry water or work on plastering the walls. After the merriment of Christmas some inspiration was required to make good use of the time and space available and not just slouch in front of a vast plasma screen watching re-runs of American sitcoms!

 

January was accompanied by a bit of a shock, namely the realisation that some of my primary ‘firing’ needed some major adjustment to its ‘aiming’. I’ve been relentlessly plunging myself into all the challenging emotions that I feel for some time now in the understanding that the only way to expunge them is to feel them completely. After a conversation with Deja I realised that actually focusing on these emotions maintained and even recreated them in the present moment. If I really desire that my life include more love and happiness I need to create them for myself now, accepting pain or sadness or fear that arises but focusing instead on what I want my reality to be.

 

This realisation was a major ‘down-tools’! My life has been centred on ideas of liberation from these emotions and for a moment I was quite lost as to how to proceed. Then I got to work.

 

The most obvious way in which I was not creating love in the present moment was in how I spent my time: moping about how I was abandoned once or how sad I was feeling. I decided that one way to love myself was to support and nurture my talents. I appreciate that what we love to do or are good at is not always clear but life has streamlined my activities very thoroughly in the last few years and it was clear to me that I was not giving my writing or my music the attention they deserved.

 

I’ve spent the last two months playing flute and writing every day. I’ve also been exploring fasting, doing circuit training to keep fit, perfecting the art of baking 100% wholemeal sourdough, meditating, doing yoga, busking in Pula and generally trying to make use of the time I have here. Strangely enough letting go of my desire to directly heal my pain brought much more healing than directly trying to work with it had. Before my healing was at the centre of my life and now I feel like it is my creative endeavours that motivate me to get out of bed and play.

 

I have decided that I would like to write fiction, starting with short-stories. I’ve been writing stream-of-consciousness stories everyday but also studying the craft of story writing as the more I write, the less I realise I know about writing. I’ve never before appreciated how the text we encounter on the page is the tip of the iceberg of what the author has explored about his/her story. I’m having fun and I hope to be able to combine my love of growth and transformation in my chosen medium. Sadly many of the competitions that I am keen to enter stipulate that the entries must not have appeared anywhere in print, even on my blog. I’m trying to find a way around it but this is why my blog has remained so silent.

 

So to Now! Things have changed again, seemingly in an avalanche the last few days. I read a book which dropped a few more pieces of the puzzle into place and suddenly I’m welcoming all my discomforts with open arms and a smile on my face. I feel a bit like hitting myself on the head and saying ‘doh!’ A lot of my old ideas about life and its mechanisms are falling apart and the realm of possibility that I glimpse through the wreckage is quite frankly wonderful. Fortunately Deja is right by my side in this metamorphosis, if not already flying around in the air alongside me nagging me to stop pupating and enjoy the sunshine J

 

 

And the future? Well, it’s widely said that the future doesn’t exist so my ideas are of the loosest persuasion possible. I will return to my mountain cabin in a month. I want to stay there for the next 9 months and I have many projects in mind! I intend to install running hot (solar heated) and cold water, build a shower, build a water filter, insulate the roof, buy a larger solar set up and lighting, buy a laptop and mobile internet connection, build a cob-hot tub, start a garden…

 

Ultimately we want to have our own land, build our own eco-home and plant up a forest garden but for now we are happy to indulge in play and explore the world around us. Deja has also leapt into her talents in the last few months and has started painting every day. She has already sold a few of her paintings and she hopes to sell more in the market towns where I busk.

 

Perhaps a word on getting married? Gods, I don’t know? These things happen and you just say ‘yes’? There was a lovely Oscar Wilde quote on Facebook the other day that love has nothing to do with appearance, it’s because the other sings a song that only you can hear. Deja and I just seem to fit. We both are passionate about growing in self-love and openly committed to our own happiness before that of the other. This might sound very selfish but in fact it works really well. We understand that we are responsible for our own happiness and so there is no recrimination when the other does not satisfy us. We also feel a great freedom because we do not feel we have to be or do anything to please anyone else. We have a very loving and open dialogue that makes working through even the thorniest of issues much easier. We go through a lot of ‘stuff’, I think the more intimate a relationship is the more ‘stuff’ comes out. We are all mirrors for each other’s unseen inner worlds and the closer you are to someone the more honest the reflection you see in the mirror. This isn’t always pleasant but it’s not something to be feared or avoided. It is a gift that allows us to see what we are blind to and so allows us to be liberated from our deepest, most shameful fears and doubts. We also feel united in our dreams: both of us want to live in a sustainable fashion in nature, learn how to grow our own food and create from a place of connection with the mother that surrounds us all.

 

If we could both live together in France without getting married would we? Quite possibly, certainly the idea of getting married has caused great turbulence in and of itself. As Croatia is not in the EU we can only spend three months at a time in each other’s respective countries unless we are married. In truth Deja and I are already completely committed to ourselves and to love itself, we are agreed that if we are no longer growing together then being together is not something set in stone. Obviously this goes against the somewhat rigid tones of a hard-line Christian marriage but what being can honestly make promises on behalf of another? We are not our future selves and we do not seek to restrict their freedoms, just as we do not seek to restrict our own. For me, if a relationship is not something that we give ourselves to freely in each and every moment then it is just another kind of slavery. I am done with slavery, to an exploitative ‘system’, to fear, to any limited idea of myself or this universe. I want nothing but love in all her manifestations and I will continue to open myself to her and see what more adventures she has in store for me.

 

I could let this rest and rewrite it but I am impatient and impulsive, this is from the heart and you can love it or leave it.

 

I will be honest with you. I do not think I will be writing here as I once did. Some great part of my yearning to commune with the world across cyberspace has been met by the woman who walks by my side and for this I am grateful. I will keep it open and post irregularly so that the question ‘I wonder what Dom is up to?’ should never go unanswered. Sometimes I may even upload some of my stories or poetry, we will see. I could try and write about my life here ‘off-grid’ or ‘moneyless’  or whatever you like but I feel that others are already doing this better and with more energy than I care to.

 

Perhaps I will say just this: I haven’t worked a ‘real’ job in almost 20 months. I spend the vast majority of my time as I choose. I ‘work’ (as in directly for money) somewhere between 3-7 hours a week. I actually save more money than I did when I was living in Bristol and working 25 hours a week. Now this might appear lazy or dead-end but I believe if you find and nourish what you enjoy the most then it will ultimately be accompanied by all the material abundance that you personally desire. I am motivated, I use my time well. To wean myself into a new lifestyle in the last two months I used spreadsheets to timetable my days. I ‘work’ an average of 5 hours a day, minimum 3, maximum 7.5 and I rest on the weekends. My ‘work’ consists of those things I shared earlier: writing, playing flute, meditating, researching, studying, and exercising. I have huge chunks of time to myself and I still feel like there is so much I can’t fit in, so much there is no time or space for. I cannot imagine how I ever survived when I was working for 25 or even 40 hours a week.

 

To put it simply, my life is my own, far more so than when I lived in Bristol. I’m not interested in spending the best years of my life doing something I don’t really want to so that I might, might (!) have enough money to be free when I’m old and infirm. I believe that I deserve to be free now! I deserve the time and space to meet myself and this glorious planet that is our home. I deserve the time to nurture and nourish my gifts such that I and all those who I live with may share in them and enjoy their bounty!

 

You might say “Well, your girlfriend’s Dad let you stay there rent-free and someone leant you the cabin, I don’t have all those things, I couldn’t do all that”.

 

I didn’t have these things when I left Bristol, I had no idea that they would appear. I just knew that spending my life desperately awaiting the weekend and dreading the arrival of Monday didn’t feel like the infinitely abundant and generous universe that I believed in my heart to be real.

 

If you are in any state of doubt as to whether to cast off and leap into the unknown, please give yourself the gift of your own life. If you spend most of your time doing something you don’t like but feel you have to then you are complicit in its continuation. If you don’t say, “No!” to what you do not want then you are saying “Yes!” to it and the belief that you deserve it. Life needs space to move and if you do not throw out what you do not want or need then there is no room for the new to appear. It doesn’t matter how familiar it is or how long you’ve had it, if you don’t like it then let go of it!

 

The abundance that I have experienced in my life since I left Bristol is beyond telling. I may not live in a comfortable town house but I have my own life! I am my own master and my time is my own to enjoy, make use of or waste as I see fit..

 

..and that, was worth the worry 🙂

 

Lotsa love beautiful people, please do message me if you have any questions on this or any other aspects of this life that to me has come to seem normal 🙂

 

As ever, your Dom 🙂

 

xx

Eric

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The alarm rang out in the familiar tones of a synthetic cockerel and Eric breathed a sigh of relief from his nest of twisted covers and duvets. The alarm hadn’t woken him up as he was already awake, of course. In fact he was always already awake but this was beside the point, the alarm was not there to wake him up.

Every night Eric dreamed the same dream and every morning he awoke early, possessed by the same fear. The alarm was like the long-anticipated coastline of some foreign land sighted by starving, scurvy-ridden sailors. It was a beacon of hope, a firm place on which to stand in a quagmire of uncertainty. To Eric, it was a clear sign that, for today at least, the world had not ended.

With some difficulty he unwrapped himself from his sheets and with the self-control of one long-used to the burden of such apocalyptic anxieties he swung one skinny leg after the other out of bed and towards the curtains.

The alarm clock was one thing but the curtains were quite another. Who only knew what technologies an alien race might possess, capable of eliciting electronic rooster calls unheeding of their owner’s commands? The alarm clock was an indicator of probability, no more. It was a mere stick in the mud when taken into account alongside.. the curtains.

The curtains in question were sadly ill-suited for their momentous significance, being incredibly bland and rendered remarkable only by faded cohorts of psychotically grinning elephants in bowler hats capering amongst their pleats. They were not quite opaque and so even before opening them the inexperienced layman might be tempted to draw conclusions re: ‘the existence or otherwise of the world outside’ in terms of the light passing through or around them. Not Eric. This morning’s ritual had been part of Eric’s life since before his mother cared to remember and he was wise to the weaknesses inherent in such premature speculation. Even if there was light shining through or under the curtains who was to say it was that of a streetlight or the morning sun? Perhaps it could be a fleet of invading enemy ships or a hoard of torch wielding zombies setting Little Pickering alight or even the supposedly melodious light of the transcendental divinity itself!? Eric had never particularly understood this last one, ‘melodious light’ sounded rather nice actually but his fear was so deeply rooted and ritualised in his life that such thoughts were immediately washed away by tall waves of worry and wariness.

Having stood motionless before the window for some time, each hand tightly gripping a curtain, Eric moved suddenly. His hands parted the curtains just as Moses once parted the Red Sea, the sodium streetlamp glow that consequently fell on his face no less glorious or nourishing than the light of the heavens that had kissed Moses on that his day of glory.

Eric regarded the brightening sky with a critical, practised eye and, apparently satisfied, turned his back on the now almost certainly existent world, and began to think of breakfast.

Oh me, oh my, oh meat and pie..

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Wow am I bushed! I never worked so hard in my life!

Long time lack of posting is due to my long-standing lumberjack commitment and new found adventures as a builder…
I wrote a journal entry that was intended as a blog post that would become the focus of a script for a movie of a bad acid trip found in a briefcase under a bridge near a small town that was the birthplace of a world-famous arsonist who died on a bonfire… or something..
Either way this is not that journal entry.

Life is hard, full of joy and pleasure but hard! My body is sore, my back aches, my eyelids are all adroop and its soo dark! The last month has dissolved in a blur of lumberjackery, grange renovations, huge quantities of food and 12 hour sleeps.

Our slightly befuddled solar panel is giving us a wonderous two hours of light so we’re still living by candlelight. Its not uncommon for us to be in bed and asleep my 8.30pm, not waking until the sun comes a visiting at 8.00am!
We are warm! Ok so we’re sleeping in multiple sleeping bags under a mountain of duvets to conteract the late-night fridge effect of living in an uninsulated barn with a metal roof but once I’m awake the stove is roaring and we are toasty as you like. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone tells me that burning a wood stove heats you three times, once to chop the wood, once to carry it and once to burn…

There are too many lovely things to speak of really, from daily porridge with banana, cinnamon, ginger, and a huge dollop of creamed almonds through to returning from a weekend of busking in the cold and wet to be treated to a day of massage and rest by the dear Dejana.
Last week found me hitching home 150km from a rainy market where I made a monumental 30 euros in constant rain only to arrive a good hours walk from home as night fell without mobile, flashlight or passing traffic. The experience of powering myself up a mountain with a fully loaded rucksack under a new moon after two days of exhausting travel and music whilst wrestling with my fear of moonlighting bears is not one that I will forget..
With luck we will have some temporary insulation in the form of polystyrene sheets in a week, just to make the wood burning a bit more manageable (at the moment when its cold it takes a day and a half to burn what I can chop in a day….) and now that we have finished half of our project to cover the walls in a mix of lime, earth and sand there is considerably less draught to complain about too..
And I guess more than anything else, its working 🙂 We even had our first few raised voices arguments, even though we couldn’t help laugh during them at seeing ourselves get all explosive over toothpaste.

There are moments where I look around and think, what in God’s name am I doing? But by now I’m so far down the rabbit hole that I can only look up at the sky and say “Well, you told me to!” and then get on with dragging logs up a vertical mudslide or running down mountains with dawn’s first light, hearing for distant markets..
So, wiffle and waffle that’s a little something of this adventure. In a month I’ll be back in civilisation and I’ll try write something spiffing for sure.

 

Huge love to everyone and big silly hugs for dark days and darker nights.

 

Wooof,,

 

xx