Everyone has that one song they go to for a reflection of their innermost feelings.
Mine is Esmerelda by Ben Howard, the video in particular.
The waves unrolling back in reverse is what gets me every time. It may be for the symbolic value of rolling back time and rediscovering today’s desires by the method of review.
The moving images are taken in the winter, the British winter many complain of. As a surfer, Ben Howard is staring at the swells as he would have done at any other season, reflecting on the conditions, the possibilities. The weather is not a hindrance, but an opportunity for assessment. A million components pulled together; I could ride that wave, I know I can, I can do it this way or that way. Maybe I will come back to it, maybe I will sit it out, watch it and leave it to perform before my very eyes.
The solitary imagery of Howard looking out from the cliff’s edge over the treacherous weather, is a message of renewal. Emerged from the knowledge that majestic moments happen in the most apparent challenging conditions. Our method and approach is the liberating experience emerging from what is on offer. A source and direction of energy that pulls the surfer to float on the surface is also defined by the surfer’s point of letting go and diving into the water when conditions become too much. These are not polarised experiences of bad or good, of success or failure, but of a journey of becoming one with nature, embracing it and re-establishing our relationship with it as our home.
Theorists have made the case for connecting with our histories in our pursue of conserving our natural habitat. Mythologies of Homer’s Odysseus seeking his Ithaca, and the realism of Caribbean slaves fishing out in the open waters on Atlantic Ocean’s edge have required an intertwined interdependent relationship with nature and its elements. The thousands of Syrian refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea escaping conflict. The skill of ‘reading’ nature and floating decisions under different communication needs, on the nexus with the changing elements, is part of the human condition that can not be aborted.
There are thousands of individual journeys to Ithaca, Caribbean fishermen and surfers connecting with nature in that way. The sea is a pool for everyone to explore their search for a home.
A shortlist of the people, experiences and lessons I’ve been grateful for in 2019.
Feeding Sami reindeer in the Arctic in February.
My pal in NYNY. Balsy girls rock. Sharing vegan ice cream at King’s Cross on my birthday. She’s so smart and I miss her but I know I’ll visit her soon. She’ll go far and I’m clapping her on all the way.
Knowing you can’t please everyone and sometimes people might get disappointed and that’s OK. They may force their opinion of your experiences with them on you, for their benefit. Like, are you being serious?
Letting people apologise, it makes them feel better and takes you out of that equation. 2019 was the year of apologies, four to be specific. Accept and move on.
Hiking partners in the Pacific North West; kindred spirits, great convos, quiet encouragement. A diverse yet unique bunch I am looking forward to rejoining soon.
Having the time to hang out occasionally in creative settings like Sit on This, below.
The incredible outpour of love from those close by towards someone overtaken by psychosis unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy anymore aka living in pseudo-delusions. Not different to a kid putting a costume on and running around the house believing they are superman. Initially, it’s sweet but in reality, it’s sad (quoted). Humanity matters, without interacting in a meaningful way with our peers, none of our emotional and physical evolution can happen.
Travelling on my own in the Pacific northwestern coast and hiking the Columbia River gorge.
Being challenged with the right questions. “Is it who you think they are, or who you want them to be”. Two people; O and R. Thank you.
My life as is: taking each day as beautiful as is by binning stale loaves of bread aka those who are trying to interrupt your good vibes forcibly by not taking ‘no’ as the answer, under the pretence of love. Block block block self-absorption. Lie if you have to. Manage it until it exhausts itself while making sure they stay out of your spiritual and physical space.
Early morning calls from my cousin, chatting over a coffee.
Choosing to be with people whose energies feel settled and comfortable to be around. For the comfort adopted families bring when you don’t have your own. Reciprocated by being respected and loved unconditionally. “We just want you to be happy”.
Strangers and friends I bump in the Greenwich tunnel regularly. We are made proximate, the natural smiles, the flirty exchanges, the unforced kindness/consideration, makes my world, every single time.
That one person this autumn. Acting on what I want instead of what others want from me. I owe you a lot for that time. 🧡
Cycling in crispy cold weather, breathing in, taking the colours and the views, listening to the sounds of the city, connecting and extending.
New pals, I made in uni. Study-related debates were top quality but staying on after and seeing life through each other’s lens is the worth for every penny invested. A bunch of smart, compassionate, honest as fuck sweethearts to challenge and make discussions interesting. Grateful you’re in the world and lucky that two have stayed near where I live too. So fucking fortunate!
Loving being back home from travelling, and an intense work-wise 18 months, in my gorgeous home. Falling in love with the city, its pubs and the golden people that make it, that I loved since my teens, and falling for it again every single morning I walk out the door.
The impeachment enquiry ringing Boom up History back into memory. Played on repeat. Impeachment won’t happen but the feelings of happiness making me dance around like a rapso carnival queen.
Sonia and the kids on Williams Street in Portland Oregon. US is segregated as fuck but these folks are not selling their 750K USD home to make gentrified Alberta any whiter. I stayed there because it felt home, like my Trini mother in law’s. We sat on the porch, talked, people watched the weird and wonderful, watched the kids play with the water hose. Love you girl.
Fortunate meeting S and his two sons London, SLC to LA only days ago this December. ☀️🌟☀️
Watching my pal P dance to Michael Jackson after a few pints in Canary Wharf. Magda and I bitting our tongue smiling. Chunky chips and a drive after. 💙
NHS staff in the Newham clinic. 4 hours later walking away filled with kindness and good news. #savethenhs #thankyounhs
Loving all the people you have crossed paths with, as they are, and letting them discover themselves unconditionally.
Packing my suitcase for the north, log fire, scotch, walks in the cold, good coffee and pud.
They’ll be completely lovely one day and the next you’ll be wondering what you’ve done to upset them.
Toxic people have a way of sending out the vibe that you owe them something. They also have a way of taking from you or doing something that hurts you, then maintaining they were doing it all for you.
They’ll twist the story, change the way it happened and retell it so convincingly that they’ll believe their own nonsense.
Enough will never be enough.
Short term ear noise for long term pleasures.
Please please please walk away and never look back. Whether that’s dumping them right before their birthday, not picking up their calls, leaving messages unread, or changing your flight destination to spend holidays away from them, and with normal people, you’ll feel much more better in the long run.
I read a really succinct article about finding the motivation to your sport during winter in a cyclist’s magazine recently.
It identified the challenge between rationalising between the elements, the reality of enjoying time indoors and maintaining motivation.
We are all humans, and at times of pre Xmas binges, cozy nights in with friends or the SO at the pub or infront of the telly, it is easy to postpone and get distracted. We are not robots or operate in a purely mechanical mindset either.
“The distinction between motivation (the desire to do something) and commitment (a dedication to doing it) is subtle.”
On days we are not motivated we need to accept we are not in the mood however finding a way to meet the commitment to doing it, will pay off by feeling better at the end of it.
Finding a way to committing can be as simple as organising training in a group, or with someone else. You may not need the words of encouragement depending what stage you are in your sport, but knowing someone else is waiting for you, and that your absence will affect their training is the game changer.
The organisation of committing is the process to making it work. Putting the plan, into action, and knowing what is happening, and when.
If you start thinking what’s the point, you’ll miss the opportunity to feel stronger and build on your fitness. Acknowledging why the session is good for you, is often the bedrock of a building on your plan.
Ray phoned up three days ago. We realised last time we saw each other was in November last year. A year ago, when I was frantically settling into postgraduate writing, him chatting away as I was writing one of my assignments. Then a brief discussion early in the year about our concerns for a friend.
Two weeks ago, I got an invitation to someone’s retirement drinks. Didn’t know what to expect, some old souls, maybe not. I was going to go anyway. Then Ray’s call meant he also joined in (he also associated with the retiree the same years I did), and to my surprise he went on to the next level dropping emails to some peeps from our then years.
I picked him up from his studio and we headed to the working men’s club in Bethnal Green, not knowing what to expect.
There were lots of familiar faces in there. More than we expected and lots of peeps we were really close to ten years ago or so.
Most of us were more or less the same but some material changes and a comfort you find in your own skin as you grow older.
My good pal complained about someone missing. I dismissed him saying that person would never turn up.
Then catching up with my old girlfriend and rusty soul, I turned around and the double take clicked me into frame. Our pal had turned up and I was so freaking happy to see him, give him a big hug and chat in all his awesomeness and full on honesty about how things around have been making us feel.
Walking back with my girl to the bus stop we reflected on how the night went. Our fears, uncertainty of what to expect after all these years and yet how grounded and sorted things felt.
We did pick a bone with someone, which was funny, and was extended with ‘well we’re all here now’ and a big hug.
That’s my take away from the get together. No words, promises, expectations or plans. We got together, each to our own, and found each other.
I went to the UK launch of the Judy & Punch movie at the Picturehouse Central near Picadilly Circus.
The event had a live puppet show and actors portraying the audience husslers you’d get in the 17th century pre show crowds.
Drinks flowing, the pre movie event was comic, dark and intense with high pitched call outs and bashing noises, floating between comedy, with hints of tragedy, to fairy tale like medieval perkiness.
Now onto the movie.
Set in the mountain village of Seaside, the scenes are made in 17th century English/western European surroundings with a forest, unwavering views over the mountains and further away and filled with all the weird and wonderful characters you’d find in the dark streets of London mid century.
The story of the name Seaside goes like that. The villagers believed the sea would rise to near the top of the mountain, making their village a seaside settlement. They went on as far as building boats, which coincidentally and comically the housekeeper of Judy & Punch wonders what happened to them.
The script takes you through the success of a puppeteer couple who have returned to Seaside after the money and drink thirsty husband burned through their earnings from the big shows in the Big Smoke.
They start very successful shows at the village, waiting on the day talent spotters will come through and open up a new chance for a show in the city.
Whilst all of this rolls out, the husband keeps on failing. Whilst the wife (Judy and female puppeteer) goes out for the day, he gets drunk, nearly forgets a crawling baby to the fireplace, chases a dog for stealing his breakfast sausages and trips over throwing the baby out of the window into the dense thick forest down the mountain.
The wife returns (Judy) and the fight kicks off where he leaves her for dead in the forest. Nearby travellers/White witches find her, bring her back to health and before they move on their next journey, go back to the village to tell some truths about Mr Punch, who is about to hang the elderly housekeepers to clear his name of his wife’s and baby’s disappearance.
I won’t spoil the finale. From second to second I couldn’t predict what would happen. All I can reveal is that’s the first movie that I watched mesmerised without noticing how the time went past.
Go check it out for yourself and tell me what you think.