City of Lights – a short story

Mia’s eyes were drawn to the lights on the hills around her. She found looking out in the evening both comforting and hypnotic. Her heart slowed down and she felt relaxed enough to try to sleep. She liked to watch the sunset, when the sky was clear enough. Its rays lit the windows of houses on the eastern hillside, creating an orange glow, an aurora radiating across the old valley.

She lived in a city full of life now. She loved it and was afraid too. In her corner of the mill town Mia watched the world go by every day. She felt safe because no one could see her. Her home was as high as the birds, in the tops of trees surrounding her. They flitted among the bare branches oblivious to the traffic at the busy junction below.

Sometimes owls and foxes haunted the nights, hooting, screeching and screaming. This she did not like, the sounds unnerved her, reminded her of where she had been before. She preferred the ravens and blackbirds during the day.

The city had a smell – dirt and car fumes. Although chimneys dominated the horizon, they were redundant now. Mia couldn’t imagine what it was like to have been around when the mills were open and busy. She was grateful for not being able to smell burning wood, hair and flesh anymore. She was content with her urban landscape and the smell of pollution.

Sirens and fireworks rang out at weekends from teatime onwards. Mia was anxious on first hearing them and didn’t want to leave her home to go outside. So she stayed in, all weekend, looking out at everything around her. The city was safe from her vantage point.

Soon she learnt to draw again. There was no one she could call her own in her new world, although the church provided some contact with others as well as tea and biscuits. But Mia didn’t want to pray, she wanted to return to her flat and observe again.

She drew all the day birds – the family of ravens who talked constantly as they moved from branches to gutters and back again. The pair of doves amused her. They huddled together over the junction, fat from eating her neighbour’s leftover chapatis, the branch beneath them bending towards the ground, struggling with their weight. Blackbirds sang day and night by her street lamp. The small birds in the hedges, cursed one another – blue tits telling the chaffinches to find somewhere else to live. Then the starlings appeared. There was nothing more beautiful Mia thought.

All of this she noted in her drawings. She became numb to the sound of sirens passing below at the junction. The blackbirds accepted her presence at the window every day and sang on her sill. Mia felt the peace at last, in her corner of the world.

 

If we all look for peace, we will find it, together.

 

Europe, anywhere…

I can’t deny that I feel disenchanted and disappointed by political events of our time. That Europe drifts further away from me when I want it closer than ever before. I think I’m turning in to a lover of Italy to begin with – I have spent a good few months reading Italian novels, history, learning the language, watching films. I can feel the sunshine and warmth sometimes. Italy is close to my heritage in many ways and has been here throughout my life, influencing, quietly.

Then there’s Greece. My local library is being kept busy as my reserves keep coming. I have learnt that the books I want tend to be kept at two other libraries in the riding. That’s quite interesting to note.

On availability of books and films, you would think access wasn’t an issue, but sadly I am finding it more and more difficult to get hold of many non-English language films and even harder to get hold of books. There is a distinct change in the air in our cultural world. But I will be keeping the doors open to my mind and will not be swayed by populism and the  global companies who keep our archives and catalogues narrow. There is a counter-productive element to globalisation  – more sometimes means less.

Oh, I forgot Ireland – definitely deserving of a literary visit!

I live in a part of the UK where diversity is significant to its history and its existence. We are here for a reason, embedded and new. The time when people wanted to send everyone ‘back’ has been here before, a time when some were seen as undesirable, too successful.

Keep the doors open, keep your mind open and above all, don’t let your heart shrivel up. There’s plenty of good stuff to be reading as the world evolves this way and that.

To thine own self be true.

 

 

Article – JK Rowling’s success

This article is well thought-out and presented on the subject of hitting rock bottom and options thereafter.

https://qz.com/961875/how-jk-rowling-overcame-depression-and-rejection-to-end-up-selling-400-million-books/

I think it’s true that depending on personal circumstances, when you are placed in a position of having less, it can give you a focus in your work. But you do need to be able to  do more than merely exist.

It is possible to defy Mazlo’s hierarchy of needs. There are many examples around the world of people succeeding with creative zeal whilst living in extremely difficult circumstances. Determination, tenacity and talent all play a role, but mostly being true to yourself, having integrity, believing in the work you are producing.

Maybe JK is a one-off, a bit like Elvis, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t write your story, in fact, you should. Write it and put it out there. Someone will read it.

I know many artists, writers, musicians who live with depression. Maybe it goes with the territory. Art, afterall, is a therapeutic thing, this I do believe.

Shut out the noise and focus, find a way.

This is all, of course, a note to myself.