That's Absurd

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/thats-absurd/

 

What is that I want?

Such a question.

What do I want from you?

Such a feeling.

What will you teach me?

Such a mystery.

What do you want from me?

Such a certainty.

Absurd distractions.

Awakened feelings.

I am not sure I want them or that I can live without them.

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List Lesson: Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge – You'll Do It!

List Lesson

This week, girl in the hat writer Anna Fonté challenges you to write a list that transcends its orderly or numbered format.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/list-lesson/

Being a typical Capricorn, lists are my thing, so asking me to write a list for a post is like asking me to drink tea (it takes a certain amount of preparation, but it’s a daily ritual that gives great satisfaction).

So I happily share with you:-

Verity V’s Bucket List

  • Go to southern Ireland (country)

Only across the water and I have never been – definitely a must for this year.

  • Go to the Edinburgh Festival

Only up the road and I have never been, I am ashamed to be Scottish and to have never been HOWEVER I am going with a travelling friend in August so I would usually mark this yellow because steps have been made to cross it off.

  • Go to a Burlesque Club

Writing this, I realise I have been to a vintage burlesque ball and I am not sure if that counts or not, so I will have to go to a proper Burlesque club as well.

  • Go to the Opera

Pretty self explanatory (again not sure why I haven’t been but really this is the purpose of these lists – to give you a kick up the ass and get it done!)

  • Go to the Ballet

Pretty much same as above – no excuses for not having been really.

  • Go to the Highlands

I haven’t been away up to the very top and I must!

  • Ice skate at George’s Square

Now, this is a very simple, inexpensive one and I go to Glasgow at Christmas every year, but for some reason it keeps evading me!  Last Christmas I was determined and when we went there was a four hour wait and I couldn’t wait.  Definitely this year.

  • Get writing published

 

This is something that I have added recently since I discovered what I want to do with my life.  Technically I could probably cross it off because posting on wordpress counts as publishing (ask Short Story Competition Editors).  It has been added to the top because it is what I am concentrating on most at the moment and it is what will hopefully allow me to start travelling and cross off the rest of my bucket list.

  • Go to New York at Christmas and New Year

This is definitely very near the top of my list and I am hopeful that I will go this year!  In fact, I think I will start saving for this in June.

  • Go to London

Again, only a train ride away really and people you meet when travelling cannot believe you are from the UK and have never been to London (again I have always meant to!).

  • Learn to play guitar

I did buy a guitar and started learning last year.  I can play one whole song, but I sing this song very badly (my sister confirmed it).  I will persevere.

  • Play the guitar and sing a song in public

I am not sure when I will have the skills or the opportunity for this, but I am sure doing it around a campfire could count as public, right?

  • Go to Tibet

I so, so, so want to go to Tibet and do a yoga and meditation course (my friends and family are all worried about this one – they think they will never see me again).

  • Go on the trans Siberian railway and go to Russia

Not really sure why, but again, always wanted to do this.  I do love snow, which is why I would love to go to Russia.  Also you can get a train from Russia to China and from China to Tibet – I did plan this at one point, but not got round to it yet!  This one will require time and money.

  • Camp out at the beach

Again pretty simple, but just never had the opportunity.

  • Go to France

I am ashamed I have never been to so many places in Europe, but I will, I will, I still have a long time yet (but they tell you not to say that right?)

  • Go to Italy

As above.

  • Go to Japan

Met some Japanese people travelling Australia and they were all awesome!  Japan is an absolute must – especially Kyoto.

  • Go to Uluru

I did it.  I did it!  This was a great experience (but an expensive one).  If you have never camped out in a swag under the stars, you really must – especially out there in the centre, I could barely get to sleep at night for lying looking at the stars in complete wonder.  Uluru was impressive, but I enjoyed the walk through Kings Canyon much better.

  • Go to Australia

I did.  I did it!  I left it all and went travelling in Australia for two years – was by far the best decision I ever made and it gave me a wanderlust that will never leave me.

  • Drive along the Great Ocean Road

I did.  I did it!  Absolutely beautiful drive.  This was on the list at a time when I was still learning to drive and I am so glad I passed in time to drive along it!

  • Ride a motorbike

I did.  I did it! I have been a passenger on a motorbike for one thrilling ride going at over 100 mph and rode a small motorbike on a cattle station (not for very long).  I also adored driving a moped around Pai in Thailand, one of my absolute favourite times travelling.

  • Swim in the great barrier reef

I did.  I did it! I so nearly never did this because again it was so expensive, but I am so glad I did.  Floating over the reef was like spying on nature’s biggest, most wonderful secret – swimming above reef sharks, turtles, little nemos and thousands of other fish and marine life – nothing like it.

  • Go to the Isle of Skye

I did.  I did it!  This went on my list not long after I got back from Australia because I realised how little of my own country I had actually seen.  Handsomely rugged place, I would recommend you visit it for a couple of days if you make it to Scotland (and you should).

  • Go to German Markets in Christmas

I did.  I did it! Again another wonderful experience – I would go to a European Christmas Market every year (I maybe wouldn’t go on a coach there again though, but it is all experience).

  • Sky dive

I did.  I did it! I did this on my 30th birthday and I can assure you, this was the most terrifying thing I have ever done.  I screamed murder on the way out of the plane, I have never experienced terror like it.  Again, I am glad I had the guts to do it, but I can honestly say, I have no desire to ever do it again!

 

There are so many, many more things that I want to do now that I read it again – that is the problem:  once you start doing these things, you just think of more and more and more.  I would highly recommend writing one – it doesn’t need to be as adventurous as mine, it just needs to be what you want to do.

Do one for this challenge if you haven’t thought of what to do yet – and ping it here and let me read it.  I love reading other people’s Bucket Lists.

And if you don’t think you can do it – read this poem which I adore and I am going to read every time I think I cannot do it.

If you want anymore Inspiration check out my Inspiration page which is all the Pinterests I collect to keep me motivated!

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Blog Your Block

Just over three and a half years ago, I was not in a good place. I was most likely depressed. After a very stressful time with a job I severely disliked and an unrequited obsession that at I now realise was a futile attempt at finding meaning in a life that had none, I decided to pack everything up and leave. Before I made the decision to leave, I often burst into tears at my work and resorted to copious amounts of alcohol at the weekends to numb the overwhelming unhappiness I felt daily.

Just before I made a decision that would change my life forever, I walked around the town I lived in and wrote an entry in my journal that very clearly shows to me just how incredibly far I have come on my personal journey since then, because my perspective on EVERYTHING has changed.

Saturday 11th September 2010
I am so bored with it all. I have always known that I was not meant for the banality of this place. This town holds so many bad memories for me. It is like the smell of smoke on your hair after a night out, it lingers and I cannot seem to wash the smoke or the memories away. I can never get clean. The small insignificant high street with more shops closed than open is like a hundred towns in Scotland. It takes about two minutes to walk the length of it. There are a few high street stores, takeaway shops, pawn shops, and charity shops. The pavement is grey, the buildings are grey, the sky is grey and the people are grey. It is early evening and it is almost deserted. Every few steps there is a pub surrounded by dirty fag douts and the awful wailing of some drunk attempting to sing on a karaoke escaping from the open doors. The sound echoes through the rough streets and makes them seem ridiculous. Women stagger from one pub to the next dressed in high heel shoes they cannot walk on partly because they are too high and partly because they have drank half a bottle of vodka before leaving the house. They are dressed in clothes that are too tight, too short and too cheap. They stink of smoke and their hair is streaked yellow, their faces lined and hard looking. Everyone I pass is either drunk or on drugs, the heroin addicts walk past with their stuttered, jerky walks, their faces like hollowed out grey wood, their eyes like dolls. Grey just clings to everything, and it smothers me.

 

I did leave. I left in May 2011 for Australia on my own with nothing but a backpack and a couple of thousand pounds.

My mum said to me before I left: “You know V, there is nothing wrong with being ordinary.” I said: “That’s where you and me differ, because for me, there is nothing worse than being ordinary”.

It was the best decision I ever made. I spent two years in Australia, working, travelling and exploring a part of the earth. At times I was as scared as hell, at times I was lonely, at times I wondered what I was doing, but most of the time I wondered at how amazing the world actually is. I looked around me at the sky, the landscape, the sea, the hills, the buildings and the people. Looking at everything new was like looking at the world for the first time and thankfully that is something that I have kept with me.

I came home a year ago and I was worried. I was worried that I would go back to the sad place I was before I left. I was worried that I would not be able to stay, that I would hate my home town as much as I did before I left. I was wrong to worry. The place has not changed much, but I have. My whole perception of the world around me has changed. It did not change overnight, and the change in me had already started before I left, but going away and coming back made me realise two things: what I want to really do with my life; and that how you feel inside can completely change the way you see everything. You can see all the depravity, or you can see all the wonder. The earth has equal amounts of both. What you see is what you choose to see.

Sunday 18th May 2014
Today the sun is shining, and I am going on my favourite walk. I walk down past the residential streets, the council houses, the high rise flats and the old school. I walk up a hill and within several minutes I am walking past large sandstone houses with beautiful gardens. I walk across a path that goes over the motorway, the sound on that bridge is deafening, but I know that within minutes I will not hear it. I walk past a large abandoned community centre and already on my left the fields start rolling up towards the hills in the country. This road goes for ten miles and takes me from the town I stay in to the valley I grew up in. On either side all the way along are fields lined by either rows of bushes or trees. A few minutes down the path and there is a perfectly kept, very small riding school. Tiny birds twitter and tweet from bushes on one side of the road to bushes on the other. There are horses in the field, and a hen swaggers around the courtyard. Someone is renovating their large house on the left, there are a few piles of rubble in their garden and one looks like a face smiling at me. I walk uphill and through a path with many trees which are bursting with green leaves, to my right a river flows downstream, through the spaces in the trees I can see the water glittering in the sun. I walk even further uphill and the countryside opens up to as far as I can see on every side. There are a few farmhouses scattered around the hills and sheep everywhere. It is just after spring and there are sheep and lambs dotted everywhere resembling the green bushes dotted with white flowers. I look up and the sky is blue with many billowing white clouds, it looks like a painting. I turn left up another road and up a much steeper hill. When I am at the brow of the hill I turn around and I can see the valley unfolding onto the horizon. I turn left down another road back to the town and I walk past a field of cows who decide they will come with me, stampeding down the hill. I have to stop so that they calm down and stop running. I take a deep breathe in and inhale the clean, nourishing air of the countryside. I watch the birds soar across the sky, free and where they belong. Rabbits run along beneath the hedges of ploughed fields. I come to the last part of my walk where the road climbs and then dips and it looks as though the road ends in the sky. I love this part of the walk, I love that view, it makes me feel like I am on my way to the clouds. In the distance I see that the clouds are gathering in a hurry and that they have become dark and heavy, I can hear the mumble of thunder a long way off. I can feel and smell electricity in the air. My home is not the town, but the earth itself and it exists perfectly as it is, that is what I am aiming for.

I am not unhappy here now, but what I want is to see the whole world. I want to walk right around the world. I am not unhappy now because I know I will do it again. I am mindful of slipping too far back into normality. I take care to make sure I am always in a position to up and leave whenever I want. It was difficult getting money together to go and to come back, but I did it and I know that I can do it again. The journey I took made me realise that I am brave and that if I truly want to, I can do anything. So now I am on another path, I am trying to achieve what I have always wanted to achieve. I am going to keep going until I can do the two things I love more than anything else in life: writing and travelling. I always said that if I ever decided what I wanted to do with my life, I would be unstoppable. I know now and I am in no mood to turn back, but I will take the time to look around me and appreciate all that is, because without doing that, nothing is worth it and my life will have flashed by whether I publish a book or not.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/blog-your-block/

Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Student, Teacher: Jo and Verity

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/student-teacher/

 

An excerpt from “After the Lights Went Out”.  Verity talks to Jo.

 

The worst thing about it all was this kind of wave of hopeless despair took over the whole country. I have thought about this in some depth. I thought to myself, what if how you feel is not just something subjective? What if your feelings have a purpose other than to motivate you alone? What if how you feel is a frequency that you omit out into the universe that other people can feel? What if it can influence how other people feel?

Would that not explain why certain places have a feeling to them? Would it not explain why at places where something awful has happened like murder or suicide it feels eerie? Perhaps it is not ghosts. Perhaps you are feeling a frequency that was so strong and that unsettled that part of the universe so much that the feelings that resulted can still be felt years later?

I think first a wave of panic and chaos swept over the country and then a feeling of utter despair. People stopped hoping, they stopped believing in religion, they stopped believing in anything and a feeling of sheer hopelessness gripped everyone. No one knew what to do; we had collectively given up on our existence. It got to the point where everyone knew someone who had died; everyone had held someone dying in their arms; many people had lost their children, their parents, their sisters, their brothers, their lovers, their friends. The fires killed so much, so many people, so many animals. Many of the farmers were as devastated at the loss of their stock as they were of the people around them. Death seemed to be blowing over the country with the wind, leaving it in a dark shadow, the people left walking around like ghosts. Hope, Jo, is what keeps us surviving, hope and faith, without those we are a dying species. Oil doesn’t matter, electricity doesn’t matter, money doesn’t matter without hope. It is what made us the most progressive and wondrous of the creatures on earth. Without it we are left with empty buildings and deserted cities. We should have realised that we do not need the governments or wealth to survive and be happy. Money was an illusion. Money is actually worth nothing unless we all believe it means something. If we stop believing in money, we shatter the illusion and we put down the imaginary chains that we’re bound by. That is one thing I am not sorry for and I do not miss. Here we are surviving, living without money. We are finding food and shelter and existing, but we are dying out because we have lost hope. We have stopped reproducing because men and women have lost hope in the human race and there are no children. What a world without children. You, Jo, are among the youngest people in the country, trust me, we have looked and very soon you will be an adult. I do so hope that you get to hold a baby in your arms, to look at its face and see the beauty of human life in its simplest form, to hear children laughing and playing oblivious to everything except love and play.

 

I saw all of this happening before me. I could understand what was happening to the world. I am not sure why Jo, but I see things other people don’t see. There are moments when I feel like my awareness of my experience of life is slightly in front of the reality if it, like I am looking back and remembering it. Like I am dreaming, or reminiscing. It is like my mind is ahead of time itself and I am looking back as a third person – watching the story play out. I can also very succinctly feel what other people are feeling. I feel feelings from other people that they are not aware of themselves. So I could see all of this happening before me and while most people were terrified of their uncertain future, I could feel the hope, the human experience floating away up to the sky, drifting into the dark with the ashes from the fires. I have tried to capture that feeling of hope and faith and keep it here, but I am only one person and I find it difficult enough to convince myself sometimes, particularly when I realised that women had stopped becoming pregnant. That realization was aching to me, I felt afraid. I truly thought to myself that we were doomed. I knew and understood that this was happening because of the loss of hope but I could see no way to reverse that, because we had stopped believing in ourselves. I cried for a long time in a way I had not done in years. I felt so utterly alone. When I had cried all the tears I had, I lay down and slept and when I awoke I meditated for a long time and I accepted the situation. I was still alive and I was a part of a universe that I knew existed for its own purpose. I still believed that. I still believe that now. I had stopped believing in God in the Christian sense when I was 10 years old and although I had lived many years not believing in anything and living the way people do when they don’t believe in anything, I had learned another way to believe in God. I believe in something I call the universe and that there is a divinity in everything in that universe including myself. I believe we are all connected, every person, every animal, every plant, every particle of energy and that the universe exists in a perfect state of harmony. I still believe that and at that point I had to remind myself of it. Whatever was happening was happening to regain balance in the world. I do not believe that when a person dies that is the end of their energy or their spirit. I have a feeling that we are born again. I am not sure whether it is into this world or another one, but my brain cannot reason that the energy that comprises living creatures simply disappears and becomes nothing. I do not actually believe there is any such thing as nothing, even the air and the space in between is something, has gases and particles of energy. I believe that when we die we just become something else.  I did not believe that it was possible for the earth to die.   I reminded myself that there are things I have control over and things I do not and that I cannot worry about things I have no control over. If the earth was changing, I had no control over that, but I had control over my own thoughts and actions and I while I was alive I had to make sure that what I choose to think and do mattered in some way. I decided that more than ever I had to keep going with what I had started, I had to convince everyone around me that there was still hope. Then something happened.

 

We heard a story. It came as a kind of Chinese whisper, passed from person to person and I am sure it was being spread all over the country. There was talk of a child who was born the day the last light went out . They said that this girl was going to save us. They said that she was the last pure, good innocent thing left in the world and that she would return the lost children to the world. They said she was here in Australia and soon she would be coming to return our faith in ourselves. They said she was a child of divinity and that she had the power of the universe in her. People started writing things on the sides of buildings everywhere around the city. When I heard people talking about her I was inspired. When people asked if I had heard about her or if I knew anything about it, for a long time I simply smiled and walked away. You see Jo, people think I have some kind of special power, that I can see the future and see into human souls. I can’t see the future in the sense that people think I can, but I understand the nature of the universe and the way it works and I can guess what will happen a lot of the time. I cannot see through skin, but I do see who people really are because I truly understand myself and therefore most other people. The only people I cannot see are truly evil people, because my mind cannot comprehend that and I will tell you, I have only come across one such person in my lifetime, and you have seen him Jo; the cowboy but we have to leave that one for later.

 

I knew that people believed I had some kind of special powers, which I usually just laughed about and denied, but I had an idea. I thought that if I encourage people to believe in this girl, this “saviour” if they truly began to believe in her then people might begin to hope again and believe. I started to encourage the rumour. I have to admit Jo, I may have written some things on some walls myself. I may have even written some notes and put them in bottles. I may have asked someone to spread the rumour. Well, it grew arms and legs this rumour. People started to believe that this person actually existed and that she would save their souls and the earth. The people around me had a renewed energy. They started to progress in their projects. They were coming to me all the time with new ideas and they were getting things finished. They built a boat Jo, a solar powered boat. They sailed it to Sydney and brought more people back. They were coming to me with thoughts on where we should go, on where this girl might be and they travelled around Australia meeting all of the people who were left and asked about the girl and if the people hadn’t heard about the girl, they told them about it.

 

“Verity, I am not a saviour or a daughter of god” Jo stated, worried she was going to let everyone down.

 

Verity smiled “Oh but you are both Jo, in the same sense that we all are. You are a human being who is not hopeless. You are not a daughter of God, you are life itself – we all are, but every now and again we humans need to be reminded of that. You are the light in the dark, the stars in the sky, the sunlight on the sea, sun in the sky, the rain in the air, the reason for existence. We all are. We were not created by a force that is separate from ourselves. We are life, we are creation, there is no difference. What we have lost is simply hope and whether you are real or a metaphor personified, you give us that. You have already given us that. Even just imagining that you exist gives everyone hope. Don’t you see that? Whatever you believe or know about yourself, the way I see it, we have two choices here, we either tell people that you are not the saviour and that in fact she does not exist and the hope dies and kills us all, or we let them believe that you are the saviour, because in a way, in the way that I am explaining to you, you are our saviour. You are youth, you are the future, what you decide to do will affect us all.

And Jo, there is something in the way this has all happened that is strange, don’t you think? I did not start the rumour about you, someone else did. I just ran with it. I did not expect that Tori would find you, but she did and don’t you see you are exactly the kind of person the story describes. Don’t you think there is something in that? You are good and loving and beautiful in the way every person should aspire to be. All you want is to be happy and for other people to be happy, that is all any of us should want. By being you, you inspire other people how to be, you inspire them to be better, to be more like you, because they can see that it is possible. Don’t you see? When you create a story, when you tell it to other people: that makes the story real, imaginations are spoken and let out into the world and come into existence. Don’t you see? People know what an angel is, they know what it looks like, they know its characteristics, not because they have ever seen one in real life, but because someone described it and wrote about it and then other people drew it and painted it and portrayed it and now everyone knows what it is and what it looks like and in that sense, it exists.

 

“But what will l do? Won’t they expect me to walk on water or turn water into wine or something? I can’t do anything like that. I can’t really do anything special”.

 

“You just have to be you Jo, you just have to smile and talk to people and make them feel loved and tell them what they need to hear. You will know what that is. I am not telling you to lie about anything. You don’t have to say “Yes I am the daughter of the universe” say what you believe, say what I have said, that we are all sons and daughters of the universe, that we are all divine. Say what you honestly believe, just don’t say all of the things that you are not. If you say you are not divine, you are lying anyway. How can you really know what you are and what you are not? How can you know any of this is what you think it is? This life, how do you know it is real? How do you know it is not a dream? How do you know you are human? There is no real way of knowing these things in this lifetime, so how can you say they are true or not true? Now, it won’t matter what you say. Everyone knows that I sent Tori to find you and that she has brought you here and now everyone believes that you are going to save us”.

 

“So what now? What do we do?”

 

“What is it that you want from your life?”

 

“I want to be happy”.

 

“And what do you think will make you happy?”

 

“Mmmm. I guess I want it all to be a big adventure”.

 

“How does sailing to the other side of the world sound for an adventure?”

 

Jo’s eyes lit up and widened. “Oooh. Yes please”.

 

“Let’s do it then”.

The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Flash Fiction

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/flash-fiction/

Flash fiction. You might know it by one of many other names, including sudden fiction, micro fiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction, or short short story. No matter which name you know it by, flash fiction is the ultimate challenge to writers everywhere — to tell a story in very few words.

 

A drum beats in the distance. Fires light the night sky, smoke obscures stars. Chanting chills from toes to hair. Tonight the earth will have him.

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The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Time for Poetry – Life's Eternal Song

When all has burned and flood and bled

hope but gone and faith but dead.

 

Will humans walk the earth no more

or haunt instead some other shore?

 

Will good be gone and peace have left

replaced by hate and hell instead?

 

Or is it all a passing wind,

sent by the universe to find

 

The light in dark and right in wrong

that plays out life’s eternal song.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/poetry/

Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine: Jo Imagines How it Was

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/writing-challenge-time-machine/#more-71990

 

Jo sat down on a fallen tree. She had not had time to think since the journey over to Britain. So much had happened, so much excitement and drama. It was good to finally sit down and process it all. She had wanted an adventure well and she certainly got that. She laughed to herself. Never in her wildest dreams could she of imagined the journey that had led her to this moment. She thought about all the stories that Verity had told her on the boat. On nights when the sea was calm, they would sit together and Jo would ask Verity questions about how life was before.

 

She wondered what it must have been like then, when the world was full of people everywhere. Her mind could not quite fathom the sheer number of people that you would pass in a day and back then, people did not even take notice of each other, not in person, not unless it was someone they knew and even then Verity said unless it was someone you knew really well, people would often pretend they did not see each other to avoid having to make small talk.

iStock_crowded-crosswalk[1]

 

Verity had described how just before the lights went out, the media was such that things that happened in every country were broadcast everywhere across the world, how at any second in time, people could connect to the internet and talk to each other, even if they were millions of miles away from each other. People spoke to each other on video on the other side of the world. It took seconds to send an email full of words and pictures to anywhere in the world, travelling through the air. Jo tried to comprehend how that was even possible. What a strange concept. Where were these words and pictures in between leaving one computer and arriving at the next? Did they physically move all the way to the other side of the world, or were they copied and recreated at the other side? Verity said that these things became so every day that people stopped seeing the wonder in them.

 

Jo made Verity tell her about her day to day life before she was travelling. Verity described getting up, driving to the gym to exercise indoors every morning before driving to work. Verity described how she had always enjoyed driving in her car with her music on, thinking about things, or just driving singing along. Work was something that everyone did but few people enjoyed. Verity left because she found her job mundane, most people did, but most people did nothing about it except complain often, people found a comfort in complaining to each other about their boring jobs but kept doing them anyway. People were living these lives that they thought they had to, but a lot of the time they were not sure why.

 

At weekends Verity would visit family and friends, go for walks, go for lunch or dinner or shopping, she enjoyed going to the cinema, Jo would have loved to have done that, the clips from movies on her mother’s hard drive had entranced her. There was something magical about them. To think that people spent millions of pounds making a movie a couple of hours long where everything was make believe, where actors played parts as though it was their real lives, where they built sets and made costumes to recreate real life so that they could tell a story.

 

She loved hearing about concerts and music festivals, places where thousands of people went to hang out all weekend, camping in mud to listen to hundreds of bands playing music. Verity described the music festivals as one of her favourite places to be, because for two days, ordinary life did not exist there, all there was were your friends, the strangers who would be your friends for just one day, dancing and singing. Nothing else, no stress, no worry, no normality, everyone just did what they felt like doing. It sounded amazing. Verity had managed to get a guitar and had it on the boat with her, she used to get Sam to play it, it was so moving when they were all sitting there in the dark, the waves crashing all around them, the stars shining, the sky looming like an enormous silent crowd of people, everyone listening to Sam playing guitar and Verity singing softly. Jo loved music, she did not just hear it, she felt it, she could feel the fingers strumming the guitar strumming something inside of her, she felt the touch of the musician. It gave her such a familiar feeling when she heard a beautiful melody; it was like remembering a long forgotten childhood home. No matter what was happening and how scared she was, the sound of music comforted her, it made the world turn a pace or two more slowly.

 

Jo remembered when Tori had played the music in the bar that had been in a playlist called “hip hop music”. Now that was something else entirely. Jo could not help but bouncing to that music and it instantly made her smile and laugh. What a happy moment, dancing around that bar with Tori, feeling young and silly and suddenly not in the middle of life anymore, the worrying, the fear dispelled for a time, transported to another life, where everything was just simply sublime. If she could have watched it back, it would have been like a moment in one of those movies. To think that people could have done that at any time before, to think that people could go to clubs and dance all night, Jo wondered if there would ever come a time in her lifetime when that would be possible again. Perhaps somewhere in the world people were still doing that.

 

Jo felt a little melancholy about it all, a bit like the way she felt about her mother. She missed a time she had not experienced, how could that be? She saw how wearied everyone was by what had happened and by all the people they had lost and she wondered how everyone could have let it happen? Would it all have happened anyway? Verity had said and they now knew that the oil running out did not have to be the end of everything, there were many other sources of energy, but governments and corporations could just not seem to let go of using the oil. They fought wars over it; they spilled it in seas; fumes from using it killed people. Scientists and innovators and inventors and entreupeneurs had developed other energy sources that could have fuelled the whole world had they spent all the money they did on trying to covet the oil on developing these things and making them available for everyone to use. Verity had said it was all about money.

 

Money; another thing Jo just could not understand. Before the lights went out, most people thought it meant everything. They spent their whole lives trying to earn it so that they could spend it or keep it in a bank. It was just paper thought Jo, an illusion, how could people possibly need billions of pieces of paper, but then Verity had said in the end, it was not even on printed paper, it was in banks, and only there in computers, only really there in theory. The money that people owed, that countries owed did not really exist. It was all to do with credit and lending and interest. To be honest, Jo could not quite get her head round it. Every time someone tried to explain it to her, she got lost. She was never very good at that type of maths, the type where to Jo it all seemed imaginary. Jo could only really understand things that were actually there, not all this algebra and letters representing numbers and interest rates and all that. Jo liked to keep things simple. Except perhaps when it came to talking or thinking about the concept of the world and the universe and being alive; then she could go as deep and as complicated as anyone and that was why she loved talking to Verity so much.

 

Verity said Jo was a philosopher. They talked for hours and hours on the boat about everything – life, existence, religion. Religion – another thing that was beyond Jo’s comprehension. She could understand the concept of God and some kind of divine power or person that created and ruled everything. What she could not understand was why people thought that there could only be one understanding of it. How people could kill each other because they believed the version of one prophet or another. Often it seemed from what Verity said, they even believed in a lot of the same things, the same god perhaps, the same son of god, but they fought over the particulars, over which book that was written was the right version. It seemed to Jo that no one could really know what the right version was, therefore all versions could potentially be true, so why did everyone not just accept that and let people believe what they wanted to. Verity said, and Jo agreed, that it was no matter what religion people believed in, there were good forces and bad forces in the world and all that mattered was what people choose to focus on, whether people choose to fight for the good side of their souls or the bad side. What matters is not whether someone is a Muslim or a Christian, a Buddhist or a Hindu, a Jew or a Mormon. What matters is what you do, what you say, what you think. What matters is whether you are kind or cruel, whether you help or hinder, whether you love or hate. People of all religions do all of those things, people from all countries do all of those things.

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It seemed to Jo like there was a kind of rivalry between the people of different countries and different religions. People thought that the colour of their skin, the country they were born in or the religion they followed defined them and gave them some kind of sense of righteousness over people from other countries, colours or religions. Jo thought that was very sad. Now there were so few people left in the world that every time more people appeared, it did not matter one bit where they were from or what they looked like, what mattered was that they were alive and that there might still be hope for us all.

 

Jo somehow wished that the people then could see how things were now. She wished they could know how much they were about to lose. She wished they could all know that in the end, when everything else is gone, when the earth is either flooding or burning, when people are dying in their thousands, when you are not sure whether you are going to live another day, when a great wave comes, all that matters is the people around you. The people you love, your children, your parents, your siblings, your friends, strangers, people who might help you, the people you choose to help or not. All that matters is whether they are alive and whether they are suffering.

Jo wished she could go back there and tell them what would really matter to them when all is lost, tell them to look around at what they have and appreciate it, because one day soon, everything would be different.