Day of peace

As today is International Day of Peace, I took five minutes out of my day, shutting my eyes to think what it means to me.

Minute one – I thought of those that bring me comfort when sad, the people that make me smile and laugh, the way they look, the sounds of their voices and what they individually mean to me.
Minute two – I thought of the differences I have to the people above in my life, their little quirks and indocracies that I see as being very them, and the acceptance we have for each other.
Minute three – I thought of what life would be like without them in my life, how different it would be to it is now, and how I would react to someone or something hurting them in any way.
Minute four – I thought of those elsewhere in the world that have no one to love or trust in, live in continual threat of war, and where being different is stigmatised with fear of death.
Minute five – I thought of hope, to send to those that are in war zones, some have never known peace, how we magnify difference and not accept, and that one day that there will be peace.

© Fi S. J. Brown

View from my window

Listening to the sound of my neighbour cutting his grass, it is like a metallic bee hovering over flowers, which duck in fright that it may sting them not share their pollen with the others. The air is filled with the grass’ scent, an air freshener that joins the clouds floating on by, together they sing a strange duet that few seldom stop to hear. The blue skies overhead watch over the land like gods and goddesses from mythology, joined together hand in hand and led by the Jupiter of the ocean in the sky. Finally a beacon comes out to give the touch of hope to all that not only see her but let her gentle touch in reassurance to those that need it.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Scotland’s day under the lens

Today is probably the greatest (if not most important) day of my life, as Scotland decides whether it wishes to be independent from the rest of the United Kingdom. It is probably the most important votes since the referendum to have a Scottish parliament that I have and will vote in. I feel the eyes of the world watching, as the day of decision is here and I live in the capital city, filled with the lenses of the media from all around the world.

I am not saying aloud here, but as I have said previously those that know me well enough know the answer to that already and happy to share opinion privately. However, I am of both Scottish and English heritage (my parents one of each), I know what my trio of instinct, heart and head say, and remarkably they all are saying and singing the same thing! I only hope we do not end up with a nasty hangover wishing we had not woken up to that.

Enough of the debates, spin and lies, it is time to mark this day with a cross.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The black box

I am looking out of my window, watching metallic animals charging through the concrete jungle, tamed like wild animals in a circus by the self-proclaimed kings of this jungle, like all other living things in this world they want to control and own them. They are self-proclaimed as their egos are so big; the shelters they build for rest are grand and fill with objects that serve no purpose other than they feel the necessity to own them. One such object is a black box that sits in a room meant for living, which is ironic as the black box means they do not live but worship it like a false god giving it praise each day rather than see what is outside the concrete jungle they’ve created and the walls that block the daylight from shining.

This false god they believe what it tells them, when in reality it is all carefully orchestrated to appeal to their egos and desires as much as their love and empathy, making sure they invest their emotions again and again in this false god as believe informs educates and entertains them. They react not with their fellow kings with conversation but reach for smaller boxes to complain and praise, under a false belief they can change the future despite the fact the script is already written, all was planned years before, and they are merely players in a movie themselves. Some remove the false god, knocking down the walls of concrete to rediscover the multi-coloured and multi-sensory it hides; like Neo in the move “The Matrix” it feels like they have taken the red pill and awoken from deep sleep. Where as many continue unknowingly or unwanting to acknowledge what they see take the blue pill as rather have the comfort the false god brings.

I have had enough concrete jungle, I prefer to sit among the autumn leaves listening to their stories and songs than listen to the autotuned songs and false stories that the kings of the concrete jungle tell. This world is incredible, the trees of different shades with birds singing 101 songs as the wind tickles their branches and rivers do not run but massage the wounds of the mountains and forests. Take a hammer to break down the wall of concrete or smash the glass of the window in the room of living to begin to live. Pick up the telephone or write a letter, create something new, be it a pot of lentil soup or cakes with butterflies on them to a painting of the view from the broken glass to a song celebrating your love for another.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Be the change

Be the change you want to see in the world” is perhaps one of the greatest faux quotes of them all, yes you heard me faux, there is no reliable documentary evidence for Gandhi ever saying it at all. The closest verifiable remark we have from him is this:
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

So what does it actually mean? To me it means that if we do not agree with the way something is, and feel the need to do something about it, do not sit back and wait for another to do so…if we’re that passionate about it, that should be our driver for change. Despite the celebrity culture now enriched in our world, it is doing it because it is what we want to change it. The money that may come with fame can act as an incentive for many to act on making a change rather for the change.

Not everyone will gain fame and/or see change in their lifetime, Ghandi, Henry Salt, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall or Emmeline Pankhurst did/have and why we thank them now. Think of the actions of others such as Thich Quang Duc who set himself on fire in protest in Vietnam or “Tank Man” (Wang Weilin?) at the protest at Tiananmen Square. Even now I know people from Kenya, Cameroon, DR Congo, India and Pakistan working for change as it’s what they believe in.

I am passionate about humanity’s connection with the environment, to think individually not as a herd of sheep, and losing the stigma on mental health. Using my actions, words and art to speak for me and inspire others that is what I love. To that end, I now use my writing and photography as my way to be the change in the world I want to see. Do I want to be the next JK Rowling? No I do not, I only want to be remembered by friends as someone who tried and gave their all.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Physical Form

It is said if we met ourselves in the street we would not recognise them as our twin. Every morning, afternoon, or evening in general we see our reflection in a mirror at least once, does a it really reflect who we are? To me it is like a silent mime act mincing our actions for a few moments in time. The visual it shows is a representation of us but not who we are as a human being lives in a world of words and sound.

A photograph does similar, it takes a representation of us at that moment, but no matter how many selfies we may take or edits we make on Photoshop, they can only speak for us so much. We form a representation of our physical form based on these, this can be both positive and negative, but what we need to remember this is only a brief representation in time of who we and how we look to the outside world.

When a stranger on the street or in a bar stops to tell us we’re beautiful or handsome it again is only a representation of ourselves they find beautiful as they do not know the mind and soul of the person within or our history. Accept it with a thanks. If we had never seen a banana or pear before, what would we think of their shape and colour, would we judge them like we do other people or how we see ourselves?

Beauty shines from within not just from the physical form, we’re like flowers in a meadow or a piece of art. Decorating with “make up” or other “beauty products” is like decorating a with glitter tortoise shell, pointless. Make up creates a mask to the world, perhaps we have been brainwashed for so long to believe it gives us confidence and/or makes us more attractive, when they are colourful chemicals to paint us.

A surgeon’s knife or injection may be used to change our physical form, but why do we spend money on vanity and ego, is it from believing our own voice or that of an industry built to give us poor self confidence? Accepting who we are is hard, it is sometimes call self love, I call it acceptance; it cannot be bought, sold or made, as we are the only ones who walk the full journey of our lives and nobody can change that.

Also our behaviour demonstrates who we are; for example do we help others because we want to, it looks good or our mate does it so we will do too? If someone suddenly became interested in helping others, like volunteering at their local hospital with sick children, at the same time they were starting internet dating to find a partner, are they connected and does the first really show their personality or a tool?

Knowing someone at a friendship level tells us far more about a person, their likes and dislikes, passions and hates, so the representation they have of us is the real us. They accept us for who we are as see beyond the tortoise shell and/or mask we wear, it is through their love and friendship we see ourselves better than any mirror or selfie can ever show. So if a friend says we look beautiful, we wear it with a smile.

Our physical form comes in all shapes and sizes, a variety of colours too, no one size, height or colour is better than the others, we are all human sized, one size does not fit all. Next time we see ourselves in the mirror, or a photograph of another, do not judge them or ourselves on that image as only a representation of physical form for a few seconds of their or our lifetimes nor the story behind the image we see.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Sciurus and Me

Today I walked in the late summer sun, the leaves were chatting to each other to discuss the forthcoming autumnal ball and the birds were busy packing their bags for the journey to the south. As I looked to my left I saw a flash of grey dart past, which then settled down in front of me, as my eyes caught up they saw it was a squirrel. I swear he smiled before he was off again. I followed with my eyes and ears where he ran, up the nearest beech tree to the top, then looking down to see if I was watching him, he paused for just a few seconds but unlike an Olympic diver he did not jump off but run back down the tree and paused again to see if I would ever catch him with my camera lens or not.

Instead of running he teased me walking slowly through the grass, posing briefly in the sun before running off once again up a tree. This time he chose a sycamore, going through a hole then stuck his head out from it, like a small child it felt like he was sticking his tongue out at me. As I went to take his picture, again he disappeared. Soon I felt a brush by my feet, as I spun round into the distance between to oaks I saw he’d run. He stopped again, but this time was to say goodbye. I held out my left hand aloft and waved his way but he was gone again for his next adventure. I hope one day we’ll meet again, even if we do not, I know I will always remember our all but brief encounter.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Sciurus

Let’s go for a walk

Let’s go for a walk this sunny Sunday afternoon down my street,
Look at the world through my eyes just for these next few hours.
Listening to the conversations that go on behind the closed doors,
Or reading the newspapers with a pot of tea and rich tea biscuits.

Cars arriving back and forth to visit family creating lifetime memories,
But remembering those that are alone and love even a phone call.
Birds flying south as know the festival season is all but over again,
And not because soon the trees will be reds, oranges and yellow.

There are the those that suffer from ill health (physical and mental),
Wishing that people saw them the person and not their diagnosis.
Looking out of their windows not to spy upon their neighbourhood,
But wishing they could be outside enjoying it not stuck inside.

Others head to worship their god not in a cathedral but in a mall,
Buying yet another pair of jeans identical to their other twelve.
Do they stop to think just who made the clothes that they buy,
Or the welfare and life of the animal now their Sunday dinner?

A few take time to reflect over their week now over forever more,
Learning from the days past and planning for a future to come.
Where as some prefer the company of the black box in the corner,
Watching anything from the Grand Prix to Celebrity Big Brother.

Each one on my street spends their Sundays in their own way,
An unique artwork of many colours, sights, sounds, and smells.
Perhaps one day you will walk down the street to enjoy it too,
For now look out your window to your street view with fresh eyes.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Last Ship

From a writing prompt: “The last ship is leaving Earth and you aren’t on it. You’re standing at a console able to send a message to Humanity’s destination. You know it will arrive before they do.”

This message is a from the ship Earth, together we make up the last of the citizens of the Planet Earth, third rock from Apollo’s cave, in the Milky Way galaxy.

Many of our species thought themselves lord and lady of our world, when really we were as important as a grain of sand to the greater world. They thought they could build concrete jungles, instead of the ones in guidebook of Earth. Many did not see how like the flowers of a meadow they are, different colours and varieties, none more special or worthless than the next. Nor did they hear the songs of the birds and animals, instead they drowned them out with bombs and gunfire. They became to scared to touch each other as frightened what diseases they may catch from a hug of empathy and/or love. Their taste did not warn them that genetically modifying their food sources would change not just the source itself but destroy homes to other living beings and kill ourselves slowly inside. When they released the chemical weapons they did not smell them, as had not seen the planes that had flown overhead for many a year in preparation.

So now the last of us are headed for your world, we ask not to be treated as slaves, royalty or equals on arrival. We ask you make your mind up when you see the similarities we share and the differences between us and all that makes up your world. We come in peace as have now learnt it is fighting over difference that hurts many, we all make mistakes, money is not a source of happiness but control, and we know how fortunate we are to be heading to your world, millions did not.Thank you.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Dare to imagine

Walking past Summerhall (formerly home to the vet school of the University of Edinburgh) I saw an art installation outside by Mexican installation artist Antonio O’Connell called “Virus”. I took photographs and examined it from different angles before reading his note on it. O’Conell states that that we live in a “contrasting world – where imagination is a luxury for some but a necessity for others”.

I immediately thought of the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his brilliant book “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince), which has a theme of while children have imagination that is capable of understanding the essence of things, grown-ups have had their imaginations encumbered by attachment to the quantifiable. They have lost the curiosity of childhood, and their lives are bound by the here and now. What we see with our eyes is merely a shell; the essential reality of things is detected only by the heart.

I first read the book in French around twenty years ago and is still one of my all time favourites. As a deep thinker with a vivid and visual mind I can see this still true of now. I have a curtains that are a mix of blue flowers, which I swear the leaves spell life or love at one point! Equally, I agree with O’Connell that it has become a luxury as we too often do not take the time to look or read with the creatives or artisans that try to look beyond the boundaries and make us do the same.

If we do not know the answer to what a child has asked us we probably look the answers up on the internet so can explain it in a way they understand. My favourite time of year is autumn, I remember asking my great uncle and later my biology teacher what was happening, despite understanding the science I see it as part of nature’s art. I love the idea that the deciduous trees are the girls of the forests where as the boys are the evergreens; the girls are in all their different coloured dresses ready for the autumn ball, but like Cinderella must disappear at midnight, hence they fall off the trees.

I think using our imaginations as to understand and appreciate what is happening in what we see, read, hear, feel, smell and taste is important as lets us experience more from this world than we can from a book or the internet alone.This in part is why do I not work in a laboratory now; I would be imagining the environment changing as I worked, the seeds or pollen from a particular tree telling me it was growing around 2000 years ago to the present day. The world is an infinite art gallery, with innumerable works of art.

Let your imagination lose, don’t be afraid of being “silly” or “childish”, it’s what matters to and part of you. For example, water from a tap, does it not tickle the fingers or is sand on a beach the stars of the ground? Meanwhile, I’m off to find beech (Fagus sylvatica) seeds that have parachuted from the trees by my house and think of what the escape from each year, perhaps taking some photographs of them too.

© Fi S. J. Brown