A friend of mine told me that it looks good enough to eat! 🙂
A friend of mine told me that it looks good enough to eat! 🙂
I usually approach the daily prompts from a creative writing perspective, however, the word ‘grit’ seems to have pushed a playful button in me, so I’m going to veer from the well trod path and play a word association game, and I have no idea how it will go…so, come and join me wordsmiths! 🙂
Grit – Grain – Sand – Beach – Waves – Water – Sea – Boat – Travel – Journey – Voyage – Ship – Map – Compass – Treasure – Gold Doubloons – Pirates – Eye Patch – Sight – Vision – Binoculars – View – See – Eyes – Features – Face – Person – Head – Shoulders – Knees – Toes – Body – Mind – Think – Feel – Love – Desire – Want – Obtain – Give – Kindness – Character – Determination – Grit! 🙂
That one short phrase left me paralysed. I saw him emerge from the trees, at quite a distance, before (I hope) he had the chance to see me. I knew him. His stature, his gait, the way he was so absorbed in his music as he jogged through the park alongside the river, catching the breeze. It was freedom to him. His solitary pursuit, and he felt free. I could see it. I knew it. I knew him.
My face burned red as the gap between us gradually began to close. I worried that if or when he saw me he would think that I was a cliché, or a character of my own making, rather than me. My camera hung around my neck, and I fumbled with the pen and notebook in my hand. I had come here to slow down, to walk at the river’s gentle pace, to capture moments too inspiring to miss, that most of us sadly, in too much of a hurry through life, did miss. I was here to think, to ponder, but most of all, to write. This was my freedom. Did that ever really matter to him? Did he ever know me the way I knew him?
He was in his zone. I wanted to be invisible just to give me time enough to compose myself, to figure out what to do or what to say. I took a deep breath. Invisible or not, I would never be ready for this.
He spotted me. He raised his arm slightly in a friendly wave, and I could see him begin to slow his pace, turn his music down, and switch gears. He was always so much better at doing that than me. He could hide the way he felt so much more easily, and that frustrated me. Not that he could appear calm and composed, but that I could not, no matter how hard I tried. Surely he would be able to see right through me, my feigned calm, cool demeanour, to see that inside I was terribly flustered….and afraid. Part of me wanted to be an unfathomable mystery to him, composed, stoic, in complete control. Another part of me wanted him to see me just how I was, and in that to see how much he, how much all of this really meant to me, and in turn to care as much as I did. I wondered if he could.
The distance between us grew shorter and shorter, and then in a breath, he was there before me, hunched over, his hands resting on his knees, his dark hair flopping over his face, as he paused to regain his breath. As he straightened up, his smile disarmed me. He gestured that he would have hugged me but then pointed to himself and his shirt damp with sweat, as if to save me from the discomfort. I smiled, nervously. He was charming as ever, gentle, kind in the questions he asked. He did seem to focus on me, to show a genuine interest in what I was doing. The familiarity seemed to comfort us both. I could see what I couldn’t see in him before, or what I was too hurt to see, what perhaps he was trying to hide. He did care. He did see me.
For some precious moments it seemed as if time had stopped, and if nothing at all had changed between us. As we reconnected, I gently began to ask him about how he was, what was going on in his life, how he was doing. I had never seen him flustered before like this. He wiped his brow, laughed nervously, trying to hide his hurt, trying to protect himself in a way that I sensed he still wanted me to protect him from himself. Somehow, unwittingly, I had disarmed him.
He laughed again, that charming, genuine laugh, and shook it off. And then he said it. ‘It’s been so great to see you, but you know’, he paused gesturing to his sports watch, ‘I’ve really got to dash’.
I froze. I just couldn’t engage myself to speak or act. ‘Got to dash’. Was he in such a hurry to get away from me? Were we still journeying through our lives at such a different pace that even now he could not pause to take this in. Would he miss it yet again? Would I?
He paused just longer than he had intended to and I could see the hurt in his eyes. He really didn’t want to dash, but that was his way of coping, the way he thought he could be free.
And as he turned away, I let him go. Life was too important to me to live at that pace, and he knew that that held true for him too. Perhaps, in time, at a gentler pace our paths would cross once more. But in the meantime, we both had our own journeys to make.
I think this little fellow quite nicely sums up the word for the day: ‘Scamper’. 🙂
‘Today’, I told myself. ‘Today will be the day’. I held this thought for a moment, then let it drift from the forefront of my mind. I wondered if I had everything that I needed. I was sure that I had checked and checked again, but still it was best to make sure, again. Papers, money, tickets, my bag. Yes, I was fine. ‘Just try to relax. Sit back. Enjoy the view. Just breathe, ok. You’ve got this’. I hoped that nobody around me could sense the pep talk I was giving myself, so I looked away, just in case.
For a while I was away from here. Perhaps it was just what I needed. The enforced rest that this journey seemed to bring. Only, it was more like an interrupted sleep. I was lost in the blur of trees and train tracks, of riverbeds and fields and animals grazing. Of city and country intermittently giving way to one another.
I tried to close my eyes for a while. Tried to sleep, or at least to rest. But I was a note in the middle of a symphony of crackling newspapers, wind whistling through the windows, conversations in unknown tongues, the sounds of coughing and the shuffling of feet, as well as metal upon metal and the rhythm of the tracks.
I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t rest for thinking about, imagining all the possibilities of this encounter, and it made me wonder were the people around me travelling to someone, or were they simply traveling to a new place, or perhaps an old and familiar one? Were they solitary in their pursuits, or like me, was this day, today possibly one that they had hoped for, prayed for, one in which their paths might converge or reconnect with someone else on their journey?
And as we hesitantly snatched furtive glances, passengers curious about each others journeys, I wondered were our own stories converging in ways we didn’t yet realise? I knew we weren’t here by accident. And perhaps someday, we would have the blessing of hindsight that foresight could never afford us with to see the significance of today in each others stories.
Maybe someday that would be of more importance to me. But today there was only one person I cared to meet. I checked my papers again, my bag, my ticket. It was almost my stop. I held my breath knowing that I would never feel ready, but I had to take this step. If not today then maybe it would be never. ‘Today’ I told myself. ‘Be Brave. Today’. (c).
Holly Golightly (‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’) called them ‘the mean reds’, a state progressively worse than what some jazz musicians and common parlance have termed ‘the blues’. Winston Churchill branded ‘it’, that terrible and impenetrable fog of depression, ‘The Black Dog’. And perhaps we ourselves find ourselves oscillating between colours on the spectrum of wellbeing.
‘Sunny’ is not a term commonly associated with depression. For me, it evokes inspiring images of wide open fields, blue skies, sunshine, meadows of brightly arrayed flowers, children running, laughing and playing, and key to it all….happiness.
Having a ‘sunny disposition’ connotes cheerfulness, wellbeing, and happiness. It is not the face of depression. Or is it?
Depression is not merely feeling sad. It is not something you can simply ‘pull yourself out of’. It is a real illness, as real as having a broken leg, only not as visible, and it can cause persistent distress over long periods of time.
Although a caricature of depression may involve dark clouds, lightning bolts, lashing rain, sad faces and general miserableness, which can in many cases describe the low moods and despair that some sufferers of depression may feel, it is not an accurate picture of the ‘face’ of depression.
What do I mean? I have a medical condition, among others, known as clinical depression. I was diagnosed only within the last two years, but I knew or suspected for decades that I suffered from something like this, particularly since and perhaps mainly triggered by being badly bullied at a formative time in my childhood, when I ceased to want to exist. At times the pain has been unbearable and I have not been able to hide it. However, as something that is a persistent condition, it somehow becomes ‘normal’, and since as adults we have to keep going and keep doing and keep living our lives and going about our business, we can sometimes ‘forget’ the seriousness of such conditions in ourselves and others. You do often seek to ‘just get on with it’, sometimes at your own risk. And getting on with it can mean putting on a smile, having a cheerful face and a ‘sunny disposition’ such that the invisible illness that you carry around with you is unseen and undetected.
The ‘face of depression’ therefore, at times, could in fact be a big smile, sunshine and blue skies, quite unlike the dismal ‘gloom and doom’ picture painted above. However, that makes it no less serious. Statistics show that in the UK, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness such as depression at some point in their lives, and in the US, depression is said to affect more than 15 million American adults. That means that more than likely, either you or someone you know, or know of, carries this ‘Black Dog’, and suffers from the ‘Mean Reds’, perhaps while showing you only a bright sunny smile on the surface.
So, knowing this, what can you do?
If you have been suffering and struggling for a long time, and trying to just put on a brave face, yet suspect you may have depression, please reach out for help. There are many mental health charities, and obviously talking to your doctor is a good first step. Depression is a very treatable illness. It isn’t easy. I know, I have it. Yet, you don’t have to suffer alone, in silence, or hiding behind your sunny mask all the time. A friend once told me, very helpfully, that I wouldn’t feel ashamed to reach out for help if I had a broken leg, nor try to ‘fix’ it myself (which is what I had been doing with my emotional and psychological issues, to no avail), so why should anyone feel ashamed to seek help for an equally legitimate medical condition, where the suffering is often profound and long lasting, perhaps caused by brain activity, trauma or genetics among many other factors.
If you are concerned about a friend, but are not sure because they always ‘seem happy’, carefully ask them how they are.
And if you can’t keep your sunny disposition and happy face in place today, don’t worry, it’s ok. And you’re not alone. It may seem bleak just now, but there is hope, and like me, I trust you will have brighter days ahead. x
They crouched together, one soft tiny hand entrusted fully into the safety of its father’s broad and steadfast hold. The little one, wearing orange shorts, a pale blue t-shirt and white trainers, his straight blonde hair fluttering in unison with the kite strings, was a picture of innocence and excitement.
It was time. Hand in hand they arose, and ‘father’ flicked his wrist and let go of the kite, as both reached one arm upwards, the stronger of the two reaching into the sky with the kite, while the tiny, tender arm reached up safely into that steadfast grip. They ran. Slowly at first, and then gathering momentum, one large stride to the pace of three hurried steps.
Up it went, the ribbons and bows fluttering wildly behind it. How long it would last, they did not know, and so they ran, and ran, and ran, as the kite soared and swooshed, and caught the wind, as its tail tapered excitedly into a cloudless sky filled with dreams!
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