Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Bipolar World 

A world described only by the presence or absence of its few defining features:

White and not-white;


and not-sun;


and not (altogether) frozen;


and not (quite so) steep;


and not cowed;


and not outside.

So much more elemental; so much simpler.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Dinner is cooked and eaten, the washing up done. The lights are dim, I lie curled on my side, warm and snug, half dozing whilst a sultry-voiced Diana Krall sings softly to me, courtesy of the ubiquitous iPod. At this moment, there is absolutely no need to do anything else, be anywhere else, be anybody else; for a few rare moments I’m completely relaxed, at ease – happy, in fact.

And this is in spite of the fact that underneath the down sleeping bag which keeps me so warm, underneath the two layers of sleeping mats, lies four inches of frozen snow – but snow which has gently moulded itself to my shape making this the most comfortable campsite ever – no tree roots, no stones, no hard lumps which magically grow bigger and harder and lumpier during the night.

Beyond the thin nylon of the tent walls it’s a wild night; every so often the growl of the wind in the treetops crescendos to a menacing roar, warning of a fresh onslaught to strike the tent a few seconds later, the sides bulging inwards under the pressure. But I’ve already checked and tightened the guys, adjusted a couple pegs here and there to give the most secure anchorage; let the wind howl – I can turn up Diana’s volume, snuggle deeper under the down and idly watch the circle of light on the tent roof dance as the fabric bows under invisible forces.

This is how evenings should be – all the hard work got out of the way during the hours of daytime, and a clear space after the final task – the preparation of the evening meal – in which to relax and reflect, to set a seal on the labours of the day before the descent into slumber.

It hasn’t been like that for me for a long time; life has become a too-frantic bustle of never-completed activity, from the moment the alarm goes off to the moment my eyes close at the end of the day, with the only pauses forced through sheer exhaustion. I’ve never set much store by New Year’s resolutions, but if I were to make one, it would be to give myself permission to keep some time and energy free from all those pressures of the day, and remember who I am.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I need to start writing again. Need to, because I need to start thinking again, otherwise the already weakened thinking muscles will atrophy still further until they wither away completely. It has become too easy just to drift through the days and years doing little more than reacting to circumstances, rarely taking the initiative, rarely engaging; just becoming sufficiently involved to muddle through the day and survive until the next. Yet the thought just manages to form itself in this treacly consciousness of mine that unless something changes, this is how it’s going to be from here on.

This blog has stood all but abandoned for months now – the current front page contains posts dating back to September. I’ve been unable to find the energy or the will or the purpose to link a few words together. Or a few thoughts. It could really do with a major reworking – the 800 pixel wide layout is an anachronism, the blogroll is out of date – but changes there will have to wait a while. I could start afresh, but for some reason I can’t explain, the continuity of the stream of posts running back to 2003 feels important.

I had no real intention of stopping writing, I just allowed everything else to get in the way. A day, a week, a month, letting circumstance dictate the ways in which mind and hands are employed. That’s a risky road to travel, for it leads away from opportunities for self-examination, away from prospects of growth, towards only a kind of oblivion of the soul. And yet I still can’t escape that puritanical notion that any activity whose beneficiary is the self is by definition selfish and therefore in some way bad. Heads you win, tails I lose.

So I make no promises, either to you or to me. But taking a bit more effort to marshal a few thoughts and set down some words here would seem to be a Good Thing. We’ll see how it pans out.