Sunday, 17 May 2015

An Ant In New York City

Being away from home for so long was like taking a long hot shower on a long cold day. Except the showers were actually cold, and the days were hot. In the afternoon sun, my clothes stuck to my body - I welcomed the dusty navy evenings with anticipation. There was something in the evening glow in my East Village bedroom for the night - perhaps it was the orange lamp by the bed, perhaps it was the faint mumblings of Simon and Garfunkel playing quietly beneath my sheets.

It had taken me a while to adjust to the magic of somewhere new - the first couple of days my music didn't sound right in my ears... Perhaps it was the strangers' eyes all over me in the streets, could they tell I wasn't from around here? Did I look like a tourist? Did my clothes look new, unworn? Perhaps I needed to venture out alone, in old jeans with pockets still filled with earlier memories...

I found the swing of things more when I spent the day in the garden. The pressure, when travelling, to see see see, and do do do - the days become so filled you can barely move. So I stopped moving. I stretched out my legs and let the ants crawl up some old metal chair and onto me, we formed a civil friendship. I thought about space, and those ants. Space ants from Planet Earth. Cool.

"How sad to be an ant..." I thought. Say we only have one life, there is no reincarnation... how sad to be an ant who knows nothing about the wonders of this life, how sad to be an ant who only lives around 45 days - lest he be squashed flat by some fumbling bumbling human before his time. How sad to be an ant who can never understand the depths of this song, this city. How sad to be an ant.

And yet, here I am - an ant in my own right. Perhaps there are some other beings in another galaxy far, far from my garden and far from my fellow ant friend and I, just sunbathing together in New York. Perhaps these beings live their realities far more beautifully than I could ever imagine, perhaps there are sights and sounds and songs that would cause my eyes to widen and never shrink back. I wonder, I wonder about all these things I can and never will know, because I am just an ant, passing through in this body - this soul vessel that I really had no choice or control over regardless. Perhaps it is not that bad to be an ant after all.

I flexed my toes and tilted back my head and let the sun soak into my shoulders.
The day I did nothing at all was a fabulous day, indeed.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Planemo

"Planemo; n. A stray planet with no sun to orbit. It was ejected from it's solar system while forming by other planets' gravitational forces."




I am a planemo.
A rogue soul,
Cosmic wanderer;
A body flung from home

I am alone.

'neath my feet the Universe, she breathes
In my eyes she groans, she sighs
And grip my seat

I could feel my heart beat

The stars were emptied onto fields
that day
I picked them like flowers,
to watch them decay

It's better that way

And deep in the black soot dusted night
there, in the corner of my sight
I see you wandering, I feel your breathing
with nothing stopping you from leaving
A thousand million miles away

So close together,
but Alone we'll stay.








Friday, 27 March 2015

Tonight I Felt Alive

The nights I feel alive, are when laughter fills the halls outside my door. The nearly-summer air climbs through the window; I close my eyes. Chinese food, cold, on the floor. But there, in the corner - I can smell burnt out camp-fires, lingering like some old burnt out heart. Smouldering and ashy, the morning after the night in the wild. To my left, musicians are dancing in the background blur of an old barn, I think I went there in a book once. The sound of metal wings hurtles through space. "Now" becomes "Then". These are the nights of my youth, the nights I felt alive.

Monday, 2 March 2015

How To Be Successful



How To be Successful


The definition of success is all wrong, is skewed and twisted and it's tricking humans everywhere into thinking that their lives are incomplete. Success is a bear trap in a forest overflowing with bears - everyone gets bitten. Ears prick up at the mention of it, it's a thirst that can't be quenched. A cut of meat so good, yet so expensive... and we all want a bite.

Here's what I've realised.

Society nurtured me into thinking that success was money, in all shapes and forms. Maybe it was a beautiful, well-kept house. Maybe it was waking up every morning without a worry in how you are going to pay your bills, provide for yourself and your family. Success was soft fabric wrapped around my skin, that whispered: "Don't you want me?"

Success is a carefully woven web, designed to trap and motivate you into a life spent wanting that next thing. Success is approval of the masses, success is being pretty enough, sexy enough. But don't worry - if you weren't born that way, like most of us weren't; you can always buy, buy, buy. Work, consume, work, die.

It all started dawning on me a year ago, after a break-up. I'd felt unhappy, unfulfilled. I'd assumed this was down to the relationship being a wrong fit, so I left. My life was maths, and I deducted the odd number and thought I'd be left with something positive, something even.

But I wasn't.

My life revolved around my work, the Sun to my Earth. More than that, money was the gravity that made it all go. "Just take this job" I thought, and things will grow, and change and evolve and be better. And so, I made a decision to quit. I wanted OFF. I wanted OUT. Since I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my life, as I had so many reasons to be happy, I figured the only way was to throw my life out of the window and start from scratch.

Here's what I did.

1) I moved in with my parents.

Having wonderful parents who didn't ask me to pay rent while I stayed with them helped me hugely. It gave me a few months to work out what I was doing with myself, where I wanted to go. Financial pressures and commitments are some of the heaviest weights you can take on during your journey, and I would highly recommend against them. Success isn't your living situation. Drop your pride, screw the postcode. Imagine being able to live for free, or very little... appealing, huh?

2) I stopped taking on any paid work.

This was tough, because money is nice because you can buy things and do things. But I needed to let it go... my days were filled with computer screens with emotionless emails, chore after chore. I felt chained to my clients because they'd offered me money, I was bound by needing to have a good reputation... because successful photographers don't get bad reviews. Successful photographers make everyone happy, every client is the most important client in the world - no matter what time of night, no matter whether I'm crying from my break-up, no matter whether I'm wondering whether maybe life just isn't meant for me. It didn't matter if the skies were blue and the air blew warm against my skin, if gold fields beckoned, because I Am Successful. Don't you think I'm successful?

3) I remembered what I loved.

At first, when I made the decision to stop earning money, I was daunted by the empty days that lay ahead of me. My instinct with nothing to do was to be productive, organize a workshop or do some client work. But with nothing ahead of me, I forced my guilty self to make plans. Fun, I planned fun. It had been a while since I remembered what fun was to me - here's the list I made in the blog post I wrote at the time.

"Going for a walk
Going to the gym
Seeing friends
Putting music on and just enjoying it for a while
Looking out of the window without feeling guilty for not being productive
Being unproductive
Being productive
Shooting personal work which I enjoy
Stroking my new hair growth
Cuddling my cat"


Turns out, there is even way more fun stuff to do that even those things. I started to guzzle documentaries on space, wanting to know about my place in the Universe. What am I here to do? I'm pretty sure I wasn't given the incredible ability to perceive everything around me just so I could pay bills all my life.

My life turned. I wasn't successful, I was alive. I was running through the streets at 2am with rain hitting my face and violins booming in my ears. I was drunk, dancing and spinning and tapping my silver shoes, as I kissed a handsome stranger on a handsome street. I was soaking my mind in a bath, while my emails built up and up and up. I was devouring poetry and learning that the world was just as alive as my mind, while my phone buzzed and beeped. I ignored it. You can't buy me anymore, I don't want your money. I don't need your money. I need my time. I don't need to be successful.

I was driving with the windows down, exhaling carbon dioxide as song. I was learning to dance in my living rooms, while the neighbours looked on. I was free from the dungeon that had been unlocked all along.

And one day, after months of living, I broke down. It was my first ever happiness break down. I had gone to McDonalds to get some lunch, windows down and music up, as usual. The girl at the drive through looked at me, and smiled. She said, "Hey, it's you! Happy girl! You're everyone's favourite customer here. We love it when you come by." And I smiled inside and out. I loved seeing them, too. A lovely bunch of people, just trying to get by.
I got my food, and started driving back home. The sunlight was hitting my eyes in that way that it did, time was slipping by the way it did, and all of a sudden I just felt overwhelmed with love and pride. I was Happy Girl. I'd made it, I was finally the person I wanted to be all along. I parked up outside my cheap apartment in the cheap beautiful countryside, and broke down. I cried the way I'd cried a year before, broken and alone. But this time, I was crying with pure, pure joy. There aren't words to describe it. I wanted to drive back and hug that girl.

This is how to be successful.

Forget the money. Forget the likes, forget the beautifully decorated house in the countryside. Throw your life out of the window and start again. Because you only get one youth, one life, one chance at it all. There is space next to me for you in the grassy fields filled with gold, and I know this, because when I lie there as the sun is going down, no one is next to me. I always wonder where everyone is at 3am and the stars are white on an ocean of wonder.

But maybe they're too busy being successful.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

I Am Heavy.



I Am Heavy.


For the most part - I am light. I am quick, nimble on my feet. My heart was born with a tap, labelled "happiness" - worn and torn over the years, sometimes empty, sometimes overflowing. Broken, and restored back into working order. My body is damaged, and will remain so, but my spirit is rose-tinted, Rosie-tinted if you will.


My heaviness remains - call it luggage, call it baggage, call it a burden, call it a blessing. Call it what you will, but it's present and tonight, my arms are aching.



I don't like to get into the personal specifics of my heaviness, because it's private and mine to bear. I've met other people going through the same circumstances, I've been lucky enough to help a couple, but I've never wanted to burden other people with mine. Perspective is my saviour, my religion is detachment from myself, and my circumstances. 



Tonight I learned a huge lesson, and that lesson is vulnerability. My heaviness is my own, and no one else deserves to have it thrust onto them to carry. I put myself and my fears and my walls before the importance of someone else, and in doing so, I pick up another suitcase.


I see a lot written about "Being Happy" and I'm a strong advocate for the pursuit of happiness - chase it, run after it until your legs are sore and your ankles bleed. When what cannot be said is wept, and when pain becomes concrete and real in your being, when it ceases to be emotional and becomes physical and unchanging, happiness is the only way to spread that heaviness. If I wasn't happy, I'd have so much heaviness I would be crippled. You have to lighten yourself to make room for the pain, leave the cracks open and sore to let the light leak in somehow. 




"You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
And meanwhile, the world goes on."

People say that a problem shared is a problem halved, or something like that. I don't completely agree. The support I've had from my close friends and family over the years has certainly been comforting - we've cracked jokes, laughed at my heaviness, decorated my baggage with pretty things and tried unpacking it and packing it in a different way, holding it in a different combination, but the weight remains the same. It's taken me years to jiggle it into a comfortable place. 

From today, I am going to be vulnerable. I'm swapping my heaviness out of the designer cases that made me feel better; more accepted as a person and in society, and putting it right back into the ugly old crumbling cases it came to me in. Sorry for the abundance of metaphors. 





This is me. I am flawed, I am heavy.

But I am also happy, I am light. I have a heart which is overflowing with happiness, and I have extra to share, if you want in? If you don't, that's okay too. I hope you have a life that's light, always. 


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Aquarium

She scrapes her skull down the side of the bath
Into a green world, Her green world

Gated ears, well-oiled and sprung for the flood
Drowned out the world deeper than she ever could
Sweet intentions stitched lightly, nimble and bold
Between his hands and her mouth
Down his shoulders, now cold

All those in-between moments, the commas - the pause
When I heard the rain, but you heard applause
The alternate endings, are they kept somewhere?
I wouldn't mind looking, but you're up in the air.
I've run out of room to put all these thoughts.

The replay button is broken on the sound of his laugh.
As she scrapes her skull down the side of the bath.


Monday, 29 December 2014

"The Grass Isn't Always Greener On The Other Side"


First Aid Kit - King of the World | Listen for free at bop.fm

A year ago today I made a decision that changed my life. I was curled up in a ball, crying like a baby; hating that I was being torn from the cosy womb of routine and comfort. I could see the light but I did NOT want to follow it.

Kissing goodbye to my plans, I looked around my room for the last time. Leaving behind someone who had been the main ingredient in the layers of my happiness lasagne for 3 years was gut wrenching and heart bending. My arms ached for my best friend, but my mind ached for More.

More life, more love, more happiness, more adventure... there had to be more.

One thing that sticks to me about that time, was something my then next-door neighbour said to me in the days before I left.

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side, Rosie"

He meant it with care and warmth, but it did strike a little bolt of lightning fear inside of me. What if I never found anyone as awesome as Him? What if no one made me laugh like that, what if nobody else was as accepting of my flaws? I knew the meadow I was leaving was pretty damn green, even if there were a few cow-pats and mole hills that sometimes looked like mountains from far off. I left anyway.

What I learned, was that the goal isn't to be in the greener meadow on the other side. You don't need to claim someone else's meadow to be happy. The goal is to pack a backpack, and enjoy the hike until you find a meadow your own, to plant your own grass and nourish it how you see fit. To rub your eyes and look in amazement at the beautiful earth that lets us live here on borrowed time (and try not to topple over at how incredible it all is) instead of just focusing on the colour of the damn grass.

Maybe it's not just the greenness of the grass beneath you. The skies I'm under are so much bluer now, storms are rare and the scenery I've seen on the journey is incredible. I've passed through Barcelona and New York, skateboarded through the streets (with a little too much alcohol in my bloodstream) and driven with the roof down and my hands flailing, singing at the top of my lungs! Who knows where my feet will take me next - hopefully California and Europe, they feel pretty good right now.

I had an uncomfortable birth filled with complications. It was bloody, raw and painful as fuck. My initial vulnerability has gone - I can't remember where I shed it. But as painful as my birth was, the life that followed is rich in adventure, joy and dancing around the living room with my cat.

"Once you asked me, what's my biggest fear? That everything would remain so unclear?

That one day I'd wake up all alone, with a big family and emptiness deep in my bones. That I would be so blinded, and turn a deaf ear... and that my fake laugh would suddenly sound sincere. I wasn't born for anything, I'm just here now and soon I'll be gone. I'm nobody's 'baby', but I'm everybody's girl - I'm the Queen of Nothing, but I'm King of the World."