Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Afternoon Light

This is a memory, a feeling, a philosophy...

Afternoon Light
By Me

These days I sit here amongst the trees, and even when I close my eyes, I see the brilliant gold light through my eyelids, making my vision bright pink instead of black. I inhale deeply and the smell of damp earth, of life, fills my nostrils. I can no longer hear the cars that plague this area, hearing instead the distant bleat of an old sheep and the crackling of leaf litter as I shift in my seat. Recognising every individual aspect of this moment gives me a feeling of peace that starts in my stomach and moves up to my heart, then to the rest of my body, making me smile without realising: this is my mind at peace. I am happy; I am calm; I am at peace with the world, just for this moment.


Finding yourself swimming in the thick velvety blackness of ones own mind, and realising that you can’t see beyond it, is never a comforting thought. You move through life day by day, never seeing the goings-on of the people around you, of your friends. You are so focussed on your own inky depths that the joys of life pass you by without a glance back at you. The velvet consumes you until you find yourself in so deep, you can’t see the surface; you can’t see even a sliver of the light that used to consume you with the same potency that the velvet does now. To you, dying seems like it would feel like floating on air: totally weightless, painless, free. Yet despite this, you can’t trick your mind into believing this completely. The brief moments of clarity in your mind reveal that you know how much it would hurt those select few who can’t live without you around, so you keep moving, keep living.

No matter whom you talk to, or what they say, sometimes it’s not enough. Their words can’t cut through the thickening velvet. They remain floating on the top: there, but unable to reach you, since you have realised that although you need a loving hand to grasp yours, and haul you above the surface before you drown, here in your private velvet, you do not want saving. But no matter what you do, there are people bothering you, talking to you about how you feel and why you feel that way, and bit by bit, their words do either of two things: some lift you enough to make you want to smile. Others will make you sink so far into the velvety depths of your mind that you wouldn’t care if you died and left the world to move on without you, which, you reason with yourself, it would undoubtedly do eventually.

Yet every now and again, someone comes along and sees you. Not just looks at you with a sympathetic smile, or a, ‘Cheer up sweetie’, but really looks at you, through your dismissive replies of, ‘I’m fine, just tired,’ into your eyes, until their gaze begins to pierce the fabric of your mind, fraying the velvet. And although you try to look away, to reinforce the barrier you created between others and yourself, you cannot; their piercing gaze holds your mind, gently sweeping away the cobwebs created by the refusal to utilize the mind’s skills…

You hear your name called softly as the space around you empties of people. As they reach your alcove, you wipe away tears, the last remnants that you were just crying again. They see your hand wipe them and she asks if you’re okay. You don’t answer, knowing that she already knows your answer, instead choosing to resume your previous activity in your sheltered alcove in the wall. The silence stretches out before the three of you, and then she holds out a piece of folded card and says ‘I hope this makes you feel better’. He nods, staring at me with the same intense gaze as he always gives me when he’s worried about me. I don’t meet his eyes this time, instead looking at the stiff card sitting in my hand.

“Keep Smiling”

… This is dedicated to a wonderful person who lets everyone in…

Their names are written proudly below. I unfold the paper and line after line of lyrics scream at me in fat black marker.

Sometimes it’s amazing how several lines of poetry can affect you. How they can completely destroy any mindset that you may have, no matter how different to the twisting rhymes your opinion is.

Reading their words is like having a blazing light forced into you, making you warm and happy, burning the velvet into embers that float slowly through your mind, settling where they can no longer grow into originality and consume you again. Tears slide over hot cheeks and a laugh escapes you. You stand up, turn to the writers and almost strangle them in a hug, trying to express without words, how their song has brought you back. You can feel the coarse material of her top and the warmth of his body as they hold you in a tight embrace with more feeling than you have wanted to feel in a long time. You apologise for crying again, explain that they’re not tears caused by sadness, but by love, for this is the wake up call from reality that you have been unconsciously screaming out for, even though you thought you did not want it.


Sitting up here, in the afternoon light, I see that there is no velvet:: the light burns any recurrences to the ashes of a memory with its intense orange glow. Despite the rustling of leaves overhead, there is no wind here where I sit, contemplating my life. Although I don’t get along with some people, I see that I am not who I am without their influence. After reading their letter, the hand that had been reaching for me caught me and pulled me back to reality so fast it left me breathless, the velvet in me burnt beyond recognition. Nowadays I go through life telling myself not to stress about some things – I won’t even remember them in a few months. For life isn’t about what people say about you, or think of you, or what your academic achievements are, it is about living through everything, no matter the difficulty, and surviving to see another beautiful sunset, another love at another time, all in the afternoon light.

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