Wednesday, 25 May 2011

One of Those Days

“One of those days” is just one of those phrases. 

Who was it that decided that those days were bad days, or difficult days? It would be nice, just once, to be able to cry out that it’s been one of those days, with a smile and a sense of elation, and have people instantly understand where you’re coming from, and how wonderful your day has been. The way I see it, this might suggest that those bleak days are few and far between, so as to merit this distinctive turn of phrase, but in reality, I fear it’s a  by-product of human nature’s proclivity for negativity. Society dictates that we are supposed to be happy; it is pretty much expected of us, but then there is always the desire to keep up with the Joneses, and that niggling feeling that the grass might just be greener on the other side.
It has been well established that a little bit of competitive negativity is allowed, nay encouraged; industries thrive on peddling self-improvement and wonder products to propel you to the front of whatever herd you choose to run with, but when someone is seriously down, medically even, they are singled out and picked off for being “weak.” I refuse to use the word depression lightly, because in its most serious manifestations it is lethal, and at the very least, it derails entire lives. For sufferers of depression, of which I am one, “one of those days” can indeed be a positive day, just one day of let-up, in what can feel like existing on the seabed of an ocean of darkness. 

My issues don’t define me, and I’m sure I will go in to more detail at some point in the life of this blog, probably more than once, because at times it can be all consuming, but when you can come up for air, if you can change even one negative attitude towards sufferers, or educate one person about how to notice the warning signs, or even take the steps to protect their own mental health, then you might just feel like it’s worth treading water one day at a time. 

In England and Wales, MIND is a fantastic organisation, and their current campaign of befriending “The Elephant in the Room” is wonderful, and something that should be receiving more media coverage than it is. So yes, today was “one of those days” for me, in the traditional sense, but thankfully it was just one of those days, and they are becoming fewer and farther between, and with an elephant on your side, there are few battles you can lose.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Power of Prose

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I was first introduced to this beautiful poem at the age of 10. 
Just the other day I was reminded of its ethereal beauty and both genuinely delighted and more than a little surprised, to find that I can still recite it word for word. I hated school, but thankfully no amount of bullying could stop me learning, or deter me from my thirst for knowledge. Sadly, genuinely inspirational teachers are few and far between, (don't get me started) but I was lucky enough to encounter one, even if it was under less-than-wonderful circumstances, who thrust this poem, and many others, under my nose, and then taught me to inhale.
From Frost's snowy woods, to WH Davies' daffodils, with Conan Doyle's eagle circling overhead, each week my imagination was expanding without me even realising. Little did I know that these words were padding quietly across the soft expanse of my childhood consciousness, silently imprinting their images in the corner labelled "For Future Use." 
People have always said that children have minds like sponges, and for me, it is these poems and their lasting effect on me that has cemented this. If, or when, I have children of my own, I will do my utmost to fill their fledgling years with the beauty, and inspiration of the written word, in the same way mine were. I will read at them until I am hoarse, read with them until my fingers are stiff and blackened with ink, and listen to them conjure words until my ears no longer hear. When my life was being made a misery at the tender age of 10, it was the weekly poems that helped me escape, even transcend, the cruelty of the world I found myself in, along with the books of poetry handed down to me by my Mum, which seemed to hold together at the spine through faith and faith alone. I truly believe that I put my faith in those pages, and those pages in me, which is testament to the fact that we have both survived to this day. 
I can pinpoint literary works that have actually shaped and influenced my life. Anyone who knows me away from this keyboard will know that I am positively cuckoo for cats, and I very definitely have T.S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to thank for it. The fact that the musical "Cats" stems from this collection of wonderful characters is also very definitely entrenched in my love of music, but that's a different tale for a different time. 
I am a passionate believer in the written word, and as much as reading saved me back then, so writing rescues me now. My parents taught me to read, and spell, inside out and back to front: literally. Words were fun in my house. I was taught that words are meant to break down barriers, not build them; words are not to be feared, or used to exclude or intimidate. I think this is why I have such an affinity with words: I turned to words when my peers turned against me, because words themselves at least, don't judge. 
The beauty of words, of literature and of prose, is that they never stop giving. With age, words read differently, and life will throw stuff at you that will change both you, and how you read. 
The love affair I have with words is mutual, everlasting, and ever-forgiving, and nothing else will ever come close.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A disclaimer, of sorts.

It strikes me that the internet is both monstrous and wonderful in equal measure. Every day I have this unlimited access to a veritable wealth of news articles, videos, academic journals, and even some pictures of cats captioned with bad grammar, that make me smile and question, but most importantly: think. Ok, so maybe a video of kittens on a Roomba (look it up, it's just about the cutest thing ever) isn't going to inspire me to get on and finish my first novel, and I'm almost certain that my love of stumbleupon is the only thing preventing me from perfecting that cure for cancer, but I believe that everything has its place.
I'm not going to pretend that my answers outnumber my questions, or that anything I have to say can change lives, but I would like to think that here in my comfy nook somewhere between the FTSE, and Rebecca Black, I might just say something worth hearing every now and again. No promises though.