Have you…?

Have you ever lingered in a garden instead of passing by? Heard the songs of the flowers as they gently sing in the warm wind. Or watched the pollen on a dandelion turn a bee’s feet to yellow dust as it dances?

Have you ever looked at our world reflected back in puddles? Or seen birds silently feed their young in rhododendron bushes, where a cat below purrs in hope to spot one to bring home as their own reward?

Have you waited for a red poppy to open, only for it to burst open like a Jack in the box springing a surprise. Or opened the petals in advanced as grew tired of waiting? If only we could learn to be so patient.

Have you walked a path hundreds of times, but failed to noticed all that has changed since the first time you walked down it? Looked for shade in the evening light, as honeysuckle tickles your nose.

Have you ever watched the sun setting behind hills, as its dancing rays play with golden and red hues at the closing of a day.  Being grateful another day is over, but not the good things to lessons it taught you.

There are miracles everywhere you go, be they made by nature or from human hands. It is a beautiful world that you are gifted to live in, but will you ever learn to be just part of it and not try run it yourself?

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Supermarket Dream

As well as deep thinking I have an active imagination and visual mind that like to play even in my dreams. For example part of a dream the other week included a koala feeding me at an Indian restaurant whilst he sat in a bin! They are often a dark comedy that doesn’t often make sense at first but when I stop to think them through they do.

Here’s what I remember of last night’s dream: I was outside a supermarket before it opened and decided I fancied something to eat when it opened. The store had recently been renovated so prepared to be lost trying to find what I needed. Only when I went in the store it was huge and had everything I could ever want or need and seemed like it was expanding as I looked. I only wanted essentials but other things kept coming in to my basket that I didn’t want. When I decided I had enough there were no tills to be seen or people to ask. I found what might be an exit and decided to try it as even if triggered an alarm someone would help…right?! It did eventually but they shook their heads when asking where I came in, which was miles from where I was then and uncertain how I had come so far. One of them took me to the biggest virtual flatscreen I had ever seen and said if I wanted to simply choose not browse I should have used this but with all the endless possibilities how could I? So I was sent in an elevator. I pressed a button to go to the tills and buy the small selection I wanted but the elevator voice spoke saying “are you sure that’s all you want, I don’t think so! There is much more in store!” It sprayed me with a liquid soaking me and my shopping! I then woke up.

What do I think it means? It’s a way of seeing my life, with endless choices and possibilities. I try to exit but that wasn’t an answer. The more I try to work out what I want the more complicated it feels. I only want a simple life but what does that actually mean? I only ever wanted a place to call home, a dog and be happy with a job I enjoy doing. As to what that job is has been a constant headache over the years as ignored my instincts. Although slowly feel I’m getting there at last.

Dreams are odd things breaking that one down finally makes sense of what my waking mind has been thinking. Hoping I am finally seeing my true path and not more trees growing blocking where I thought it was. I am nervous but excited by this development. Who knows what’s next and even if we knew would we really want to?!

© Fi S. J. Brown

37 – The Life Jigsaw

Last year before turning thirty six I wrote a long reflection on the thirty five years lived, now as thirty seven is within finger counting distance I was asked yesterday what I would want from my next year. As someone that tries to stay focused on the present and thinks of others before herself this is not an easy question, however this is the answer that I have decided.

Life for me is a jigsaw puzzle; each piece shows people that made or make a difference being in it, and events that shaped or coloured our lives, good and bad. Therefore, it shows the bigger picture of what it means to be us and our life. How each shape fits together and the order they show themselves is very much like trying to solve any jigsaw puzzle without the box.

Sometimes we see an outside piece but cannot find a context for it, like a bird flying over a mountain or a bit of a rainbow in the sky, which on their own we may feel make no sense at all. Also, trying to make things work can be putting the pieces in the wrong places in our heads, even when we feel they should go together. So all in all can leave us quite literally feeling puzzled!

So for the next year I feel and would like a key piece to be revealed, as there are several missing. Not my purpose in life per se as feel we all have many purposes that change with where we are and who we are with, as well with the passing of time. I also have some incredible friends that mean a lot to me and fit together. So what will be the missing piece?

To be honest I do not know and nor do I want to know. As much as a few things in life make me wonder why do I bother or feel like the outsider watching in rather than being part of it. I have realised this is just what is “normal” for me and our experiences of life have similarities but equally difference. So bring it on life, I’m ready, tea in hand and passport in bag.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Humans 2015.5 AD

For me four words describe many humans in this the middle of the second decade of the twenty first century. They are: Narcissistic, Cruel, Ignorant and Fearful.

As we’ve entered the era of the selfie there has become a thin line between self love and narcissism. A look at most major celebrities social media it’s a case of look at me and my life, which gives the younger generations a false idea of how they must look to what they can achieve in life. The newspapers to websites show us altered images to say “this is what normal is“, yet we’re all normal and it is what is right for us not what someone else tells us. We also have products filled with chemicals to give us masks to hide behind and show off to the world, which if some post without some how become regarded as “brave“. The narcissism entered a new low recently with the news Kim Kardashian has published a book of selfies, frankly who cares; in the past family pictures would be kept to an album brought out on special occasions. The images offer nothing to aspire to and have in much in common with a tortoise’s shell with glitter and glue than they do about what makes that person human and their individuality.

At the same time we have become much less compassionate and caring about our fellow humans and the world around us, many laughing at those with emotions and make them feel like they are some kind of modern day circus freak for doing so. Some like to troll across the internet picking holes at others as do things differently or look different to them, hiding behind a screen as know the screen is not two way. They also will do whatever they can to get what they feel they are entitled to; doing so through lying and cheating, as long as they’re alright and does not matter who they hurt in so doing. Those that try to stand up against them are met quite often by more of the same so back down and lose their voice as pushed aside or muted into submission. Karma will have her way but even that does not seem to make them pause to think, simply because all they think of is themselves.

Is ignorance really bliss? How can we have more people staying on in education yet know nothing about real life. They follow celebrities blindly or get enraged by politicians but only look at the surface as do not think for themselves and allow handheld computers or smart phones to do it for them. No longer going to a library for finding the answers or trying to learn for ourselves, we head straight for Google and believing 99.9% of what is written; which is even more alarming when we consider the words could be written by anyone from an academic professor with an agenda to kid of sixteen that thinks he/she knows it all. For some it does matter as can say yes I agree with him or her and will never look further to understand, interpret their words or create something for themselves. Indeed some will rip off those that have, marking it as their own as don’t know how to, jealous someone else has, or will claim it as their own.

Finally, we have also become fearful that people of certain religions or beliefs mean to hurt us. Someone with a gun is liable to go crazy at a school, especially if they have a mental health condition. Some days it feels like the world walks on egg shells as ignorant to the truth and will hurt them for just being a certain way just to prevent them from hurting ourselves or those we love as gave us a “funny look“. Newspapers to website spread a form of fear porn to make us worry and whisper on what may be as we fear not what will happen if we do but more the fear from not acting when we feel should. Some campaign for peace, but while we are fighting among ourselves due to difference and/or ignorance, can it really ever happen or is it just something to hang hope on?

Four words, yet they say so much of life at the present moment. We cannot change the past as that’s now our history and today lays the foundations for tomorrow. We live life in one direction, even if time travel is possible, with past events re-written to suit the survivors or victor’s points of view. So perhaps stopping and thinking now and again to consider who we are, this world we live in beyond the concrete cages and finally what/who matters most.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Dominoes

This morning as I woke I considered how important one person is to Planet Earth, can one person really make a difference. I’m not talking celebrities or politicians, but people like you or I, someone in our lives from friends, loved ones and family.

So I imagined a picture of my left eye, then zooming out a picture of my body with the collection of books and art on the walls of my room, and out again looking at where I live being grateful to have a home with all its luxuries within.

I then considered the street I live on, with people I did and did not know, then to the city I live with its seven hills and the history it all could tell, and on to the country that marks my culture, an island in the North Sea, which in itself is small.

I zoomed out further to Europe, a continent full of different traditions and customs, then to the world filled with all sorts of different life not just human of shapes and sizes, and finally an universe that holds secrets that few really understand.

I felt so insignificant, I cannot make a difference as only a dot. Then I considered where I saw dots, dominoes. I then realised that my words and actions were like the dots of them. So really my life is but a series of domino displays.

I decided that this week, when I feel why do I bother or give a damn, I will remember my dots,  touching the lives of others that I may never see but go beyond my street, town and country. I may be one person but the impact with others, amazing.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Thirty Six Years

As I approach the thirty sixth anniversary of my birth, I walk up the hill with an observatory that I have climbed many times before, often in the company of a four legged friend of fur and bark. However, today I walk alone to reflect not the lens of a telescope to the stars but my mind on the journey I have taken so far to reach the point I am at today.

As I walk, I look out to a city that became my place of birth after an eleventh hour decision meant I was not born where my journey had biologically started. This city of birth is also the place of many childhood memories that now echo across where I look and make trees sway as feel their vibrations. Many of the trees look on fire, not with passion but as a warning not to dwell on the past for too long. If look close some are shedding their leaves in empathetic tears to the memories they now feel from my memories, good and bad.

I think back to my earliest days, filled with wonder to the world around me and curious to its ways like a newborn puppy yet as wise as an owl in what I seemed to know. I remembered a world that was filled with many colours, but school and family taught me that it was black or white; they replaced the songs of birds and rivers with their own drills and guns; they said I had five senses but I was sure I could pick up at least twice that; and gave me pills to sedate me from asking the questions I wanted answers to, as could or would not answer them. The grown-ups ultimately told of a world of them and us, where the humans ruled over all that l could see and deeper, wider and higher than my eyes could; they were only judged by a man named god, who had created it all and forgave if I did wrong as long as I asked him to.

As I became a grown-up myself I felt a boomerang effect, in whatever I did and wherever I went this city would bring me back. Sadly, I never wanted to be back, in fact quite the opposite, I longed to explore the world like the explorers I read about in childhood books and was not content to do it from a seat any more. At the same time, those around me were settling in “normal” life: getting a job, finding a partner, setting up home and having kids. I felt like an alien in a world to which I did not or would ever belong. Restricted to a tourist visa but not granted citizenship to this world.

Like a circus freak in Victorian times since my earliest teens I wanted to hide away, as my head said I looked like the love child of Frankenstein’s monster and the Hunchback of Notre Dane, an unloveable ogre with growths over my body, and faults greater than San Andreas. I often wondered on making my curtain call, I had enough of being a player in someone else’s movie and being used by those I thought I could trust. When I took what I wanted to be my final bow, I fell not on concrete but autumn leaves, leaving no visible scars but many scratches that I could not itch. Picking the pieces up I knew only I could glue them as there was no one but me there to add glitter or shine.

Much of my life I felt like a donkey among the thoroughbred horses in a race of life, but against the odds I completed a degree, masters two and PhD before I reached the age of 32. When I signed off my final word on my doctorate, I took my own Hippocratic Oath, never to work or study in a laboratory again! The relief felt like I had been given the chance to start again from where I had last saved, which turned out to have been almost twenty years before. So I picked up my pen and let the colours, visuals, sounds, tastes, feelings and smells of that moment release like a series of tributaries forming one big river with each ones strengths and weaknesses.

Now I return my thoughts to today, spinning around on where I stand, thinking where in each direction I could go next without the boomerang pulling me back here. I thought of people that I knew in every one, the special people who’s emails, texts, and phone calls make me smile like I could never have imagined but two years before, for it hurt my face to even try. Whereas now I could share my journey with them, sharing in tears of both pain and laughter. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I know where I have been. Life has a bittersweet taste but the colours, sounds, visuals and things that belong beyond my wildest dreams are within my touch, so I’m going to take a leap and follow them wherever they may take me next.

© 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

Tea and Ponders’ first birthday

Today is this blog’s first birthday. When I started I was still uncertain of my own written voice but over the last year I have learnt who she is and what I want this blog to be about. Like me it is quirky, full of deep thought, and passionate about this beautiful world we call home. Thanks to everyone who has joined me on the journey so far, I cannot tell you where we will go next, but keep following and liking, keeping your mind open at all times and think freely like the wind blowing in the trees.

Twenty words for life

I was asked recently, if you could only speak twenty words for the rest of your life, what words would head your list and why? I thought it was a great thing to ponder, probably nearly impossible to come up with only twenty with reasons. So with thanks to a pot of trusty Earl Grey, I came up with my list, and here it is:

1. and 2. Please and Thanks – They may be thought of as basic manners but they express gratitude without measure or cost;

3. Appreciate – To acknowledge how special someone or something is in our lives, that we would miss if we did not have them/it;

4. Accept – To allow ourselves and those in our lives to be who they are without judgement is a truly wonderful thing;

5. Friend – That special presence in our lives that over time creates a jigsaw piece of them in our hearts and minds;

6. Instinct – We should trust our inner voice, not let everyone we meet close as do not always have the best intentions;

7. Time – We should not put off something till tomorrow, wish we could relive a specific memory or that an event will come;

8. Smile – Something we can all do easily, can change someone else’s day, yet we often forget it also can make our own;

9. Beautiful – Too many are quick to find fault in others, and it is far harder to give a genuine compliment such as this says

10. Love – It does not have to mean what we read in fairy tales, but a special bond with others or the union of body and mind;

11. Nature – There is something about being out with the world we create to being around what is there living it’s life with us;

12.Thinking – So much of life these days is rushed, but it is good to take time to think things over before an action is taken;

13. Tears – Not all that falls from our eyes is a bad thing, as can be a sign of relief after much pain or happiness at good news;

14. Music – The sounds that are so special that they almost decorate our memories in an aural way with or without words;

15.  Hugs – That feeling when something with a heartbeat (it does not have to be human) physically touches us is incredible;

16. Colour – Planet Earth is a paint pallet of different animals, vegetables and minerals that become artworks in our minds;

17. Look – Our sight is a wonderful gift and eyes take in so much, but sometimes we do not notice or appreciate what is around us;

18. and 19. Read and Write – Two things we can learn, opening up new worlds, but we often fail to see their greatness or power;

20. Journey – Life is full of twists and turns, adventures to be had, and think of it like a river not a straight line from A-B.

© Fi S. J. Brown