Music of the stars

Insomnia called my name so loudly no part of me would sleep,
Opened my window in hope the pre-dawn air would defeat him.
My eyes looked out at the view I painted afresh every morning,
But something was different this time as no birds were singing.
I scanned up, left to right as though looking in a word search,
In that moment the stage curtain went up to begin the show.
Then the first few began to appear like in Cats the musical,
Crawling out in song throughout the different parts of the sky.
 
Ursa Major led the way front of stage with her distinct patterns,
Like the lead actress that everyone would know the name of.
She was joined by a chorus of other constellations in singing,
As I watched and listened to the musical of the morning sky.
Gemini and Leo sang a duet of friendships and partnerships,
Which reminded me of close friends that bare those signs.
No cameras recorded it but all the atoms of my body danced,
I felt privileged l was watching a secret screening of this show.
 
Slowly one by one their songs were done and sky went dim,
And a cold breeze touched me all over like the fat lady’s finale.
I took my old blanket from my bed to wrap myself up for sleep,
Shutting my window to a view now forever covered in glitter.
Lying down I felt like the mire from the week now drift away,
Freeing from the pains and worries that had made me cry.
I shut my eyes afresh knowing I had survived another week,
A fresh chapter had begun but must sleep for the next page.
 
© Fi S. J. Brown
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World Book Day 2016

Today is World Book Day. My immediate thoughts are taken back over twenty years to my high school biology classroom with Mr Dickson as I learnt the subject for my standard grades. He told my class that the longest book some people will read other than our exam paper would be a catalogue that came through the door selling clothes to household goods. It simply took my breath away that some could ever read so little in their lifetime. Coming back to the present I find myself wondering how many now would not read anything more than Facebook posts to Tweets, which brings a few tears to my eyes.
 
However, given the average reading age of the UK population is 9 years – that is, they have achieved the reading ability normally expected of a 9 year old, should I really be so surprised? I discovered recently that The Guardian newspaper has a reading age of 14 and the Sun has a reading age of 8. As someone who reads a lot each day, websites to academic journals to books (fiction and non-fiction) I realise part of me takes for granted this skill and the academic study I did. I first started to learn age four and my eldest niece is beginning to master it, which is beautiful to see. Unlike writing, which I could not do on starting school and still so tiny that many ask for a magnifying glass!
 
Books are ways to get lost in adventures or learn how to do new things, sharing one with a child with funny voices is something enjoyable and laughing out loud on the bus when caught should be smiled upon. However, I am aware some find this difficult due to dyslexia, I cannot imagine how difficult it can be in a world that focuses much on the written word, especially that upon the screen. Nevertheless, books should not be confined to the classroom or bedtime, but instead of mobile phones stuck in our hands with our faces and hands glued to them replace them with a novel, play, poetry, or kindle. Ask friends for suggestions and get caught reading something other than your Facebook news feed, as may find unlike when at school you may enjoy doing it.
 
© Fi S. J. Brown

Song with no name

Standing on the edge of the hill,
Like an entertainer to an empty crowd,
And nobody hears their warning words.
No more practising in front of the mirror.
There’s a silent pause in the evening air,
As though even the wind has been muted.
And the sun sets, another day has ended.

Watching from the edge of the forest,
For the next chapter to unfold.
Words and music for now lie unwritten,
And new adventures to begin.

I am the phoenix,
I am free in heart,
I crave nothing and no one.
Like a warming mug of tea,
A calming energy to others.
Inside my cracks may show,
But I repeat ‘believe it again’.

Standing on the edge of the lake,
Looking at the world reflected there in,
Hoping to find some truth not more lies
And an end to the loop of endless repeats.
There’s a silent pause in the evening air,
As though even the wind has been muted.
And the sun sets, another day has ended.

I am the phoenix,
I am free in heart,
I crave nothing and no one.
Like a warming mug of tea,
A calming energy to others.
Inside my cracks may show,
But I repeat ‘believe it again’.

I am the phoenix,
I am free in heart,
I crave nothing and no one.
Like a warming mug of tea,
A calming energy to others.
Inside my cracks may show,
But I repeat ‘believe it again’.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Normal…a redefinition

How a dictionary defines normal can be very different to how as people we do, ask hundred people and you will get a hundred definitions. Equally, ask the same hundred people what they define as abnormal, and you will get the same result. This is because our life experiences to the people we meet adding different colours and layers to how we see the world. With the advent of social media to the cult of celebrity these too add to this perception we have of the world. Seldom do we stop and think of what is normal and/or abnormal and do not question it.

We pass judgement every day; be it how best to serve tea or coffee to how to dress ourselves and the partner we choose to have in our lives (if at all). They all serve as means of self-expression, that is to say they say “this is my way” of living life. The choice of partner you will already have opinions on, some maybe tutting or swearing at the thought anyone may want a partner of the same gender as themselves to choosing not to have a partner at all. So which is the normal way? Simply put all of them are and none of them are.

Even people that claim not to be judgemental make judgements every day, knowingly and unknowingly. So on deciding if another’s choice partner as in the above example is normal or not we are making a judgement, not on morality or ethics but based on our personal sense of normality.

In defining what is normal, we need to look at our own lives, where we make judgements and where others judge us. Whilst doing this we also need to consider not just why we think this way, but what is the root of this belief and why we have these expectations of others and equally ascribe them to ourselves.

Expectations of ourselves and/or others can be due to our families, beliefs, and cultures we grew up in to the ones we find ourselves living in now, which by breaking these can lead to estrangement and even death. Equally, we need to learn not to be hard on ourselves and/or others for failing to live up to these expectations: For example, in some areas of the world you would be expected to be married with at least two children by 21, but we have to remember that may not happen for all and trying not to be judgemental on someone that by 25 is single and a virgin. How can we ascribe the actions or personality of ourselves and/or another normal and/or abnormal just because they are different to our own?

So should the word normal in this case be left like many prejudices and stereotypes be left in the past? Just because we do not agree with, have no knowledge, expect life/another/ourselves to be a certain way, is it really abnormal? Equally, should we expect others to agree with and/or collaborate with our ideas of what is and is not normal? Have they not also got their own, just as valid, ideas and ways of expressing what is normal to them?

Let us return to defining what is normal, a friend once said “it is a function on a washing machine”. Normal in real terms is what is right for us and our journey, trying to conform to the expectations and ideals of others is like wearing our neighbour’s underwear! We also try to put labels on ourselves so can find like minded people, only do this if you must to let them explore your world but remembering not to judge them by our ideas of normal, for we are not them, have not and never will experience their journey their way.

I am currently writing a short book exploring the above themes, to find just what is normal to us, the journey to find what it is but always remembering that one size will never fit all, and finally accepting what we have found, which can be just as difficult as the prejudice we can encounter from others.

© Fi S. J. Brown

50 Shades of grey – An opinion

All this talk of “50 Shades of grey” has got me thinking; is it glorified porn, a harmless movie with sex for women, an exploitation of women with an abusive partner, and is it worth giving it the oxygen of publicity?

In 2011 when the book was released I was still in the throws of self hate, low self esteem and the idea of a book of any sort on sex would never be one I’d buy. However, reminded it me of the Twilight saga that inspired it and Dan Brown’s work before it, that is to say despite being a poor excuse for literature, masses were lapping it up as wanting to read it for themselves, and perhaps in many ways so they were able to fit in with what people were talking about around the water coolers and offices of the world but few wanted to be like the boy in the Emperor’s new clothes and point out how bad or what the book’s greater message was.

The book’s plot filled me with shivers as someone that has been almost raped and was stalked for three months I know that it is not fun, and if he had done these things I certainly would have thought of it far from the topic of a fun movie to see with female friends or something of enjoyment. One of the things I look for in a relationship is space and freedom, I become overwhelmed by intense situations and I certainly would not want one with Christian Grey. What happens behind closed doors, even with our closest friends, we really do not know for certain how many are abused (female AND male) to how many abuse others (not just their partners). A relationship for me is a partnership that is equal, not 50:50, but 100:100, not give and take as and when another wants it.

The main theme of sex in the book and now movie hits upon something far deeper and darker. The sexualisation of society is something I have seen increase in my lifetime, and this seems to be yet another example of this. The videos from my childhood by Duran Duran or Robert Palmer pale by the ones that anyone can watch at any time via the internet, which some dismiss as “only entertainment” but actually what is entertainment really? Therefore, a book like 50 shades does not surprise me and the movie being made did not either. The scriptwriter and director are women, their gender for me is important and not, for this is a Hollywood movie so would expect it to be done by women for the outcry if been made by men would be far more from certain areas.

I read only last week that they want to have sex education for five year olds, on the pretense of understanding issues such as abuse young. As someone who found that whole thing uncomfortable as the idea of anything going in my girl parts freaked me out then and still does due to unresolved childhood issues. Who are these kids going to go to if feel they’re experiencing these things especially when it is something that is regarded as normal in their family’s social circle? We’re led to believe if follow the media that abuse stories that come out and few between. Yet those that were in children’s homes tell a far darker story, I cried my eyes out at an Irish man telling his story on a live show of what happened to him, with a politician just sat there stoney face, where was that man’s humanity and compassion? It is no wonder that people are scared to speak out and up.

So will I ever read or watch “50 shades of grey”? No way, the book would have made better toilet paper! I’m all for others reading and watching what they like, but sometimes we need to take a step back and be the like the little boy and say no I am not okay with that, which should always be enough. If you really want to see a movie with S&M go watch James Spader’s movie “Secretary”. We should not feel pressured to do or be something we are not, I know this from my own experience. So do not feel you HAVE to see or read 50 shades, having our own opinion is valuable it is important to remember it and respect another’s, even if different to our own.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Desert Island

To answer the old puzzle: “If you could only take three things to a desert island, what would you bring and why?” Excluding a boat, car, helicopter, plane etc. but can take a person fictional or real. I say…

The first thing I would bring would be a wind-up radio, so I would have the sounds of company and music to keep my heart and soul going through however many days I was going to be on the island.

Next I  would take a solar powered notebook, so I could write about my experiences as and when they happened, not relying on memory and also things inspired by what happened on the desert island.

Finally, I spend much of my days alone, so having company would be a bonus. So I would take a Swiss army knife, as would have more in it than a single gadget could alone provide me with.

However, I am far from materialistic, so uncertain whether or not the three items above would really make a difference to my experiences on the island. So on rethinking what my three would be instead…

Perhaps I’d ask for my health to be on it’s best form, so all my senses would take the most from the experience without worrying on getting ill from the wrong things. Sadly for me that is too much ego.

Maybe a book of 100 opening chapters (fiction and non), acts or selection of poetry by my favourite authors that had inspired me when I had read them? Yet, would that benefit my experience, no.

Three of my closest friends from different places, so could continue to inspire and support me as we do for each other now. I feel bad at wanting another there for my own needs, so again maybe not to be.

Finally, I decide I do not want to take anything or anyone with me because in life we have to rely on past knowledge and experience, following our instincts to get us through. Therefore, and so shall I.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Insomnia’s soliloquy

Time to turn the page on the story of my life and end this day, as when I wake it will be a new page to be written and filled of adventure and mystery now unknown. Grateful for what ever blessings come my way, but will not curse the bad tidings if they call my name. Today I laid a foundation or two for tomorrow and sent away a ghost or two of yesterday. So now like the sun that set many hours past, I turn off my light and let the moon with her chorus of stars sing me to sleep. Whatever comes your way, be gentle with yourself, and paint the world with your brush of love, light and peace. Goodnight.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Book, movie, or song on humanity

Upon reading blogging prompts I came across the following: “The friendly, English-speaking extraterrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie, or song that explains what humans are all about.” So I decided to pick one from each medium, as for me life is full of so many multisensory experiences that one medium alone cannot bring out or showcase truly the individuality, creativity, empathy, hope and love that makes us human.

If I was to recommend a book it would be the Epic of Gilgamesh as it for me, despite its age, still shows the nature of humanity in a nutshell. The power of friendship, as someone we let close in life leaves a mark so great upon us that we feel their presence even when they are not physically there; the inevitability of death, no matter what happens during our journey it will end one day but what we do during our lifetime is what is important; wisdom has to come through experience in life, it is not just through hearing about it but feeling and seeing it too; and finally, we may think we can control nature or to change it, but nature will come back again, as it will continue even if we are not.

If I was to choose a song, which as a self-confessed music nut is extremely difficult to pick but one, it would be a song called “Hard Sun” by Gordon Peterson. It is best known for the version by Eddie Vedder from the soundtrack to the movie of the book “Into the wild”, a book worthy of my choice of book or movie on it’s own. For me this song says much about our relationship with nature, which is written like a relationship between a man and a woman (who in this case is Mother Nature), and how we are letting this relationship get estranged as we feel we no longer need her in our lives. What would this world be like if we had not rivers, forests or mountains? The reality is we need her in our lives, as the song says it makes him a better person with her there, and acts to remind us there are some relationships in life worth holding on to.

If I was to recommend a movie I would find it difficult to choose one as rarely go to the cinema, however I have chosen “12 Monkeys” with Bruce Willis. The main character finds himself in a world he does not know, he is confronted by the confusion that is the world we live in, yet the majority of us accept it as normal. The movie makes us question who are the truly mad ones: him, for seeing the world differently to us; or us, as we accept what goes on in the world, for the most part without question. It also features the inevitability of life, that even if we know something is going to go wrong, there is often little or indeed nothing we can really do to stop what is going to happen in the end, as we are merely players acting on life’s stage.

© Fi S. J. Brown