It’s like each of our lives is played out alone, obedient to the rules of a separate game board, the ladders, the squares, following the thread of a unique tale, a tail that curls around until it meets up with its maker, its head, forming a neat ball (transparent, weightless), floating effortlessly on the wind, drifting along alongside billions and trillions of other small balls, all caught up in their own complex narratives.

Yet interestingly, while it is easy enough to peer inside each of these other balls as we pass by them, (noting, as we do so, what its occupant does or does not have – sometimes envying, other times gloating, congratulating ourselves); it is equally as easy to notice (although sadly, very few of us ever do) that all of these balls, these tiny iridescent spheres, are floating towards a similar destination, home, a place where each one is revered and loved.

I am one such individual and, as such, reside inside one such ball, floating and searching, peering and observing, wanting and longing yet never quite getting, just forgetting and having to let go.

I fantasize about a less complicated life, a life with more going on and less taken away. I picture a place with an absence of rules, where fun is a routine occurrence and the right thing a lot easier to do. I jump on the back of my wayward imagination and allow it to carry me away – across the sea, towards the moon and the stars and the sky’s velvet lining. I hang out in clouds that are white and fluffy and cling to my rose-tinted glasses. I try hard to convince myself that the world is pleasant and simple, a safe space. When it starts to rain, which it often does (because this is England and the climate temperamental), I grab an umbrella and retreat towards the outer reaches, the borders, the ramparts of the Kingdom that will surely come. Here I hide out, on the outskirts, beneath the coattails, remaining small and silent until the danger has gone. When the lights come back on, which they eventually do, I make my slow return, reluctant to leave the threshold, to let go of the dream – of what could be, of what could stop being, of being being totally irrelevant full stop. But I must go back because I am not wanted here, not yet, not for a while, hopefully not for a long while. Because, while I might play around with the idea in my memory, the lure of the promised land calling me, I know it is not real and not the remedy I seek. Life is all about taking responsibility, for oneself. The Universe will not intervene, God will not provide the answer, Fate will not lend a hand nor Karma set you upright again. Not if you sit back. Not if you wait. Not if you put all of your eggs into the one basket.

Speaking plainly, forcing the flimsy veil of made-up narrative aside, the homespun web, and looking instead upon what is actually possible and pertinent, what is playing out: I don’t want this – Heaven, an escape, the end. What I want is a lot harder to obtain. There is no simple answer, no quick fix, no way to wave my arm, imagining in my hand a potent wand, powerful enough to subtract the bits and pieces I would prefer were not there. There is no simple anything. It doesn’t work like that. In order to undo the tangles and mend the holes, to put back together what is broken and begin again, I have to make a concerted effort to turn my gaze both outwards and inwards at the same time and take a long hard look at myself. I have to be prepared to dislike what I see and admit to what has become detrimental. I have to start to separate foe from friend, enemy from ally. This is not a pleasant task and not one of my choosing. Given the choice, I would not apply for the job; I would take one look at it and run the other way. I have not been given the choice though. Or maybe I have, it’s just that the options are rather limited and only one out of a possible two contains a tangible future, one that I might grasp and hold, one that I might focus all my efforts upon, one that might provide a more favourable outcome than the one I am currently anticipating.

When did it all change? When did it all go wrong? When did what was previously working suddenly break down? I cannot for the life of me, for the life in me, for life its very self, remember. Sometime way back when…. that’s about as much as I can recall.

But does it even matter? Are the answers as important as all that? Do they outweigh the problems and take precedence over their solution? Surely it is the issue that is at stake and not the reason why it is there that should be the focus? I try to remember this and not to get tied up in the details. I try to resist the urge to delve and dig and instead come up for air. This is better. This is healthy. This provides perspective and it is perspective that I require. I have become too isolated, too contained, too wrapped up in my own comfort blanket. Little wonder that I have over-indulged my imagination and been carried along and away. Hardly surprising that I have lost motivation and hope. The box might well be safe but it is not the ideal outcome, and certainly not the place from which to gain the best vantage point of my surroundings. I know this. I have been told this, countless times. It makes sense. It is obvious. So why the delay, the scuffing and dragging of feet? Is the big wide world really that scary? Is the wicked witch really that bad? Surely every cloud has within it a silver lining? Surely every problem a matching answer that will provide the perfect fit? Surely every difficulty and disease, a failsafe potion that will offer up the desired cure? I would like to believe this. I would like to believe that all of my efforts amount to something and that the time I spend worrying and wondering and waiting for things to occur is time well-spent and not wasted. If everything happens for a reason and instead of punishment is a valuable lesson, necessary in order to proceed a little further along the way, then this is the case and I am being an exemplary student, doing what is demanded and expected of me. My character is strengthening, my mind is expanding, I am changing into something else, something more substantial, something with more of a concrete voice. I will focus on this. I will make it my preoccupation. I will make it matter in a way that it has not mattered before. I still have far to go and the road as of yet untraveled is both pitted and steep, but I am not done yet. I am clinging to my towel and holding it aloft, I am waving it around in defiance, I am yelling and shouting “Here I come”, and I am coming hard and fast.

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becsatherton (joined over 10 years ago)
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I have always loved art and drawing has been an important part of my life ever since I can remember. Having creative parents provided me with the right genes and also meant that my naive dabblings were given plenty of encouragement. Growing up, our kitchen walls were lined with huge pinboards which displayed my work. I guess you could say that this was my first exhibition, my audience consisting of family and friends. To date – apart from school and university, where there was always a termly show – it remains the only one. Life interfered with other priorities and stole away my earlier confidence.
Since graduating, I have been a web designer, a graphic designer, a magazine editor, an art director, a copy writer, a literary consultant, a poet, an aspiring novelist, and many other less inspiring things. I have also founded a literary arts magazine called Inside Out, which published two issues before the recession hit.
For the last year, I have been hard at work writing and drawing and would now call myself a writer, poet, artist and illustrator. I use these mediums as ways to better understand myself and find them helpful in exploring and resolving personal problems. This was the focus of Inside Out, which promoted creativity for personal development and emotional well-being. One day I hope to qualify as a creative therapist, offering workshops and retreats and teaching this valuable skill to other individuals.

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