In the month of October the leaves change themselves into many colours
And all round my neighbourhood from branches they soon drop like tears
As sadly I look to the distance hills that seem to grow further away by day
Obscured by the ever growing houses and cars replacing crops in the fields
One day it felt like ten thousand leaves fell about by my head as I pondered
With a mist descending with a quickening pace Photoshopping out the hills
And a gentle breeze was replaced by an angry gust of Mother Nature’s rage
Even the birds seemed frightened of her so kept their songs to muted grey
My eyes wandered left and right as watched the destruction she caused
But my thoughts were elsewhere lost in thought of those now forever gone
A father, a friend and a great uncle too all now stars in the evening skies
Even the chaos she caused would not change the internal mess I now felt
In this constantly changing world the view from my window now tarnished
Emptiness replaced where the leaves had once sat among the song birds
But like the soldiers of Flanders Field now lying on the ground in blood red
Humans and Mother Nature fighting to keep control that each feel their own
Too many have swapped the colourful life for that of autotuned human grey
Follow blindly like a sheep that can be manipulated into doing another’s work
But now many are awakening to this each dawn with their swords ready
And on Mother Nature’s side they will fight to keep this world in balance
In the month of October the leaves change colour but life on Earth carries on
And the armies evergreen trees protect us from Jack Frost’s chilling laugh
Humans are only one of the characters in this play not the star and director
So let us let take a back seat and enjoy the show with the others not alone.
© Fi S. J. Brown
Were the every day thoughts, hopes, and daydreams of our ancestors really that different to our own now in 2018?
Painted caves, sharing myths to jokes imprinted in clay, hieroglyphs with 2-3 meanings, and illuminated scrolls,
Philosophers pondering the meaning of the world around us with none finding a true meaning to life itself.
But now words are written not in verse or prose but with hashtags and abbreviated words accompanied by emojis.
Taking pictures that hang not in galleries or shelves in the home but in virtual clouds that in a tap are deleted.
Great discoveries from the wheel to medicines and the internet itself are achievements that make humanity proud,
Knowledge is finding the right app to do it for us or knowing a tomato is a fruit but wisdom is not putting it in a salad.
All the knowledge and information we have from the past to the present of life is available at the tap of a button,
But we use it to share videos of cats, get into arguments with people we don’t know, or legally stalk a celebrity or two.
The food we no long hunt on horses with bows and arrows but drive metallic beasts that lead us to it already prepared
Seldom considering the journey it has made to the plate other than the instructions half glance at the cooking instructions.
Beauty is created with chemicals that mask our real faces and surgeon’s knives to create the perfect body craved,
But is also manufactured in heavily edited images to sell a fake life that makes the normal become the abnormal.
No worshipping of gods and/or goddesses with gifts left in blessing and hopeful acceptance to a heavenly afterlife,
Replaced with puppets saying or singing the words of their masters to be taken as their own thoughts and views on life.
As we crave the simpler life without the hard work our ancestors did in one day to than we ever could in our lifetime,
And have not mastered not judging another or thinking war is the answer without understanding the question.
With the keys to a time machine would we travel back in time or be content to live in the present day in modern life,
Or would we take a peak to a future that for now lies as an unwritten whisper but not a guaranteed promise to us all.
Changes occur great and small throughout our lifetimes just as they have since those now long forgotten in time’s dust,
The only way to survive it is focusing on the present without letting negative thoughts take root and live the daydreams.
© Fi S. J. Brown
As you read this right now, we humans use half of the world to live. This includes growing crops, using trees as timber, and pasture for the animals we have tamed as pets or as livestock to eat. If you added us all up we would weigh 10 times as much as all the wild animals put together. We make our roads through forests and hills to gain access to concrete jungles we have built our dwellings. Not to be content with the take over, we have added little plastic particles to the sand on ocean beaches through our ever increasing thirst for pre-packaged items and gadgets that we change nearly as often as our clothes. Changing the chemistry of the soil with our artificial fertilisers, and even engineer the plants so that in some way they become better than the originals. The air we all breath has also changed, as we breathe in the fumes from the metallic beasts we created, which roam from street to street, and through villages to cities.
We have gone from the actor at the side to the director of corporate Planet Earth, autotuning the voice as the dictator of the planet. So what then is nature in a world that is influenced and run by humans? As we share this planet with other animals, and all the other plants, and all the other microbes, yet we act as superior beings to them. Like lord and ladies of the manor we expect them to be our servants and slaves. However, only this week there was public outcry when it was believed that the British parliament was trying to show animals are not sentient beings. If it had been true it would have led to a backdoor being open allowing further hurt through unnecessary testing in laboratories to destroying habitats through fracking, and a return of fox hunting that is more a game of pleasure by a selective elite than a necessity to keep their numbers low. Nature is everywhere, all our senses recognise it, but we are still are blind and deaf to the need to protect it from further damage.
I remember my high school biology teacher telling us about the many boxes Charles Darwin brought back from his travels, but over a third were still not looked in by the 1990s. This left me stunned, in the time since their collection over a 150 years previously, and further twenty-twenty five since then to the present. The world has changed dramatically with all we have done to the world through the Industrial Revolution, World Wars and the present with our digital world. To think that we may have wiped out a rare plant species that could cure cancer or AIDS and other diseases that lies in one of those boxes. My heart sank then at the realisation of how much damage we have done to the world in my lifetime alone, and over twenty years later there are tears as see how much worse it not only has become but continues to be so. I cannot have children, but seeing the world through my nieces and how attached they are to electronic gadgets. When I took them to them outdoors to a botanical garden for a treasure hunt they did not stop once to wonder at the world around them as I did as a child and would make such a hunt take last twice as long as asked a hundred and one questions. Sadly instead they were glad to reach the end, hoping to be given money as a well done, and only slightly satisfied by a free cookie instead.
Freddie Mercury and Brian May of the band Queen wrote a song over thirty years ago called ‘Is this the world we created’, the lyrics still prick as poignantly as it did then and is as relevant and fresh as if it was written today. Thirty years from now will the images of some plants, animals, and people be contained only on websites and cloud servers as seized to exist in the real world. Children at present are discouraged from climbing trees or playing in mud for dangers we have created that were there before but now we feel the need to protect them from. There are bigger dangers out there from our fellow humans than than those from nature, which we turn a blinder eye to those. Sadly many children now will never understand the magic of sitting on the branch of a tree and watching the clouds above float on by as daydream of dragons taking them travelling on its back. In many ways we are stealing from the next generations and robbing them of what we had. Yes, life has changed in many ways we could never of imagined when I was born nearly four decades ago but we need a balance. This electronic brave new world is no replacement for the real thing, nature is part of us and that is an artificial extension to it not a full replacement. So lets make 2018 the re-connection year and not a further step towards a final divorce from our friends of fur, feather, and wood.
© Fi S. J. Brown
Words matter. As much as we may tell children that it’s only sticks or stones that have power, the truth is that words are loaded with it. It is why we love listening to stories so much. It is the reason that companies pay millions to advertisers to craft the perfect copy. It is why the words smother or strangle makes us shudder but the sound of ‘I love you’ makes us tingle. Yes, words matter.
Storytelling is recognised in every society across the world regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. They are a way of making sense of our cultural roots or identity, and an insight into the social reality we live in at this moment.
Life events, news, and stories that we share on social media enable us to share insights and enhance mutual understanding in a social, political, psychological and spiritual sense. We do not become any less by sharing; it can be therapeutic to give a voice to feelings that hurt us, make others consider something with fresh eyes or ears, and let another know they are not alone in their battles.
However, it can also leave us feeling vulnerable or even angry when someone question something we take for granted or never considered from another perspective, as can feel like a direct hit at something that is special to us.
This is because stories are part of the fabric of who we are, but only in sharing our life experiences do we develop a sense of self. After all, individuals are necessarily social. Stories cultivate the frequently forgotten yet uniquely human traits that are crucial in building solidarity.
For together we are stronger, and can drive out darkness, deafening those that spread fear and hate.
© Fi S. J. Brown
The thunder with its rumbling tummy has finally been fed,
It is tired after playing catch with lightning across the sky.
Clattering over rooftops of houses and up lanes of towns,
Like a herd of invisible horses hooves trampling the clouds.
Bursting them open with a blinding light of purple haze,
That caused the rain to fall in muted teardrops like a clown.
Touching the hearts of windowpanes and soaking humans,
As curse the games up in the sky for leaving them so wet.
But a sick man from his hospital bed joins in the silent tears,
As his fevered brain calms again and counts his blessings.
In the woodlands trees stretch out their branches so wide,
Hoping to score points by catching the drops to its leaves.
Where as the deserts beg and plead for just one drop to fall,
Like a miracle prayer to someone who lives beyond the sky.
Cows out in fields turn their noses upward silently inhaling,
A perfume that comes after a storm that reassures all is well.
The farmer’s daughter shuts her curtains for the final call,
As the thunder goes to sleep and will play again another day.
© Fi S. J. Brown
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week worldwide, so excuse my little essay that follows. For it is a chance to start those conversations that for some are so difficult to begin we do not know how, and need to listen actively with an open mind that does not judge or laugh back. We all have good days and bad days but when those days seem to merge into one grey mess it can be hard to find the courage to ask for help as do not know who’s hand will grab ours back and those that will push us under to drown us. It is often through surviving through the thick fog we discover our true friends that will always have one hand there for us and the other with a tea/coffee to give with us; sharing experiences and a slice of cake and laughter as realise we do that thing too.
For some the image from Hollywood movies is still very much how they see someone that has any mental health condition, yet the truth it can happen to any of us at any time and we look no different to anyone else. We cannot just ‘snap out of it’ as events can leave scars that may not be visible but inside are ripping us apart days to weeks and months to years later, reliving those times again and again without them ever stopping. We may also have a brain who’s chemistry is out of sync, so need medication in order for it function, just as we may take insulin for diabetes. Finding an outlet such as writing, painting and dance can also help us, but others turn to alcohol and/or illegal drugs, as sometimes we just want it all to stop with a full stop/period.
Going to therapy is a way to express just how we feel, words aloud can be scary and ring on in our minds after we have said them. Letting in a stranger can feel as invasive as brain surgery, which is why a qualified therapist is a must. The current UK general election has even been discussing mental health provision, at a time when many services have been or being axed already perhaps this should have been considered first. Health should not have to be split into health and mental health as adds to the stigma; medicine should be holistic covering body, mind, and spirit as everything is interconnected. We are all human, we all experience this journey uniquely, and we are all loved and appreciated, just remember that. The past is gone but yet still may hurt us, the future is unwritten but we can choose a new path; yet we live in the now, we can support and be there for each other today, and we can end this old stigma on mental health for good.
© Fi S. J. Brown
It is that time of year again when it’s not only bells that are ringing but tills with money spent on gifts that we hope will not be returned on Boxing Day to our ears from hearing that song by Slade or The Pogues again and again. The days have become shorter and shorter as ‘to do’ lists get longer and longer only matched by the queues everywhere we turn. The excitement reaches near hysteria as we count down to that man’s arrival with his herd of reindeer to deliver gifts on the 25th, but only if we have been good of course! For some it is extra special for marks the birth of the son of their god in a stable in area of the world that today tears of joy have been replaced by grief and blood.
Those that find themselves more ‘bah humbug‘ than ‘ho ho ho‘ are seen as the party poopers but we have to remember some of us may find it hard to find “that perfect gift” for family and loved ones, whereas others do not know if they can afford the cranberry sauce let alone the turkey or where they will be living tomorrow as the street may become home. There are of us those that live with hidden illness, from mental health to chronic pain, which want the feelings of sadness, darkness and/or pain to go away once and for all, not what Snapchat filter shall I use on my selfie today or which programs do I watch on my new giant TV first. There are also some of us that have nobody to celebrate with, as feel suffocated by the so called ‘magic’ not hypnotised.
When the clock strikes midnight on the 25th of December just remember it is but one day; it does not matter if we mark it or not for there is nothing to say we must celebrate, no matter what anyone may try to tell us otherwise. Do not feel guilty for not giving a physical gift because every day we give a bit of ourselves to those we love and those that appreciate, accept, and respect us for who we are, making an effort to be in our lives, remember this and know it can never be bought or sold. Finally, accepting who we are and what we have now not what we’d like to be/have or were/had, as well as accepting and respecting others irrespective of differences is the magic of Planet Earth not just on this one day or time of year, and spreading peace, light and love everywhere.
© Fi S. J. Brown
When I lived in Aberdeen (Scotland) in the late 90s/early 00s I regularly talked on and off to a man that sold a magazine for the homeless or those in vulnerable housing called The Big Issue outside the supermarket I would go to. To many he was invisible, not even a face in the street or another human being. He was not much older than I was so really hit home to me how life could be different, he was still someone else’s son or brother. I never learnt his name and he never learnt mine but still would stop to see how the other was. Now and again I would buy the magazine but usually I would give him the ‘free‘ from my “buy one get one free” offers in my food shopping, usually fruit such as oranges, bananas or apples, as rather give him that than money as a student I did not have and felt it was better to give him something to eat as could see how thin he was. By my final year in the city I moved away from the area, however, one evening I saw him walking along the main street, we recognised each other and to my delight he had got a home a few months previously. He was grateful for what I did, which to me was nothing but giving the time of day to another human being, which was only a couple of minutes once a month or so.
Fast forward to the present; for the last two years now I have been talking to another Big Issue seller but this time it is similar but different. For a start I know his name is Donald and we discuss his bad health, his history that made him homeless, to the world around us. When I first started to give him my ‘free’ tea from the supermarket I again saw the invisibility I had seen in Aberdeen, to which I was uncertain if was due to the upper-middle class nature of the area or that people had developed a blind spot to the homeless, and simply do not want to acknowledge such people exist. However, my actions prompted others to see us talking, which I will admit caused a few funny looks at first as not the sort of thing a Morningside lady would traditionally do (I grew up in the neighbouring Grange that has a similar reputation). However, a few regulars realised that the ‘free’ hot drink we got with a loyalty card was a way to pay to it forward as I was doing. In fact, he now has to turn down drinks or keep the cups as people are generous in their support, with many of us stopping for a good five to ten minutes to catch up with him. He also has been known to be given Easter eggs by children to other delights (sweet and savoury) from the store….he’s put on so much weight his doctor said he may need to go on a diet!
I will not give to beggars on the street for I have seen a few climb into their Mercedes cars after they have finished and some have become quite rude to me when I offered them something other than money. However, those that sell The Big Issue I understand how the selling works and the revenue they can get from it, dropping a random bar of chocolate or a bottle of water to them and catching their smile as I do is something I’ll never tire of…the gentleman who chased after me to say thank you could not understand at first as had not asked for it and that someone simply wanted to give to him. Equally I am fortunate in my city that there are places like the Social Bite that help the homeless by selling suspended drinks like teas or coffees and lunches, with one in four of their workforce formerly homeless and currently running a campaign to create a small village that will give them a home, job and the help to deal with issues they may have (details here). There are organisations such as Shelter that also help the homeless. However, what matters is we remember that these people could be any of us, our fathers or sisters, aunts to nephews, and be grateful for what we have now no matter how small it may seem compared with others as life can change in seconds. Do not judge or hate another for what they have as will never know their full story, and pay it forward because we can not for rewards (financial or otherwise).
© Fi S. J. Brown
I know I have not written to you in around thirty years but felt it was about time I did again. I know you judge children if they have been ‘naughty or nice’, but what about grown ups? The world is full of people that judge us from our hair style to skin colour, mock our belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster to our chosen special loved one’s gender, and dismiss us due to disabilities but never find the abilities. They paint all in 50 shades of green, which is tainted with hate, greed and envy as they perceive or assume us to be a certain way, yet we are all one shade of red when we bleed when hurt by their ways. We also have voices are multicoloured, but others try mute or copy but never get the right shade despite the auto tune.
This year has been hard one for many, we are emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by it all and looking forward to a break from it raining all the time. There are things that your elves just cannot make and be delivered by you, such as loved ones we would give anything to spend the day with but cannot due to health, distance, estrangement, and death. New jobs that would bring us changes that may improve circumstances, not meaning financial, to us and those we love. Improved health, physical and mental, so we can live life to the full The wisdom to accept today and make the most of it without longing for the past or wishing for the future.
This Christmas forget the iPhones and funny socks but instead bring people together with smiles and laughter. May glasses overfill with love and light not just wine or gin. Create memories to cherish over dinner not recipes that will mean disaster in years to come. To those with nobody to celebrate let someone open their door and hearts not just presents from under the tree. For some they have no home, so may they find shelter as Mary and Joseph did in the story many base this celebration on and give birth to a hope filled with love and light that lasts a lifetime.
Thank you Santa for reading my letter so far; I have now stopped with the wants to consider nobody ever asks what you or your elves want. So what do you want? Some may leave you a drink and mince pie in thanks without considering the bigger picture. Just as the elves help you, some may help us to make that dream a reality or ensure the big night goes to plan but we not always see or appreciate quite all they do. Equally, we do not always thank those that give themselves to us as we take their presence for granted, assuming they will be unchanging and there for us much like you dear Santa.
So thank you once again dear Santa and to all the elves, know even as a grown up we may make wishes for presents that you cannot wrap and put in a stocking, just like my niece asking for a pony. The Christmas magic cannot buy or bring what truly matters, the human spirit filled with love, empathy, peace, light and happiness to others, and that is my gift to you and those that read this letter. This may not sound much but it is all we need, and can be shared globally irrespective of difference, location and.address.
© Fi S. J. Brown