Dark only in so far as a little international company were close-gathered beneath the firmament – huddled – half way up a volcano that last erupted here 350 million years ago.
Dark only in so far as midnight arrived before any of us expected her to, amid the silent music of the sun’s solstice-reluctance to leave us through the hours of our night.
Dark only in so far as we needed to scrunch our eyes a bit to focus in the twilight, taking care not to spill hot herbal tea or sit on a plate of grapes or another of fresh mango.
All else was light. Is light. Will be light. The light that – come what may – is irrepressibly present within, and in life-dancing … sometimes silent, sometimes heard(link), as though on a slight breeze …
Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood, Edinburgh. Wednesday 22 June 2022
The journals of our lives (like this one) are filled with very ‘ordinary’ chapters aren’t they? – accounts of daily life that quite often – very often – feel a tad mundane, on the surface at any rate. And yet somehow, in many of us, there’s still an impulse to record some of our experience of the hours – aide memoire – a tool for later reflection and remembering. And it’s often the ‘ordinary’ stuff that comes most readily to mind.
Walking home, at nearly 10pm on a balmy Edinburgh summer evening that feels like early afternoon – peaceful, happily aware of surroundings that make me feel good, conscious of other walkers headed home, slightly out of breath after the uphill stride to the bus stop. Thinking of contact with a number of family and friends during the course of the day. And of flowers and gardens. And the Poetry Library. Noting the bright Italian restaurant for future possibilities. Grateful for the interested friendliness of the lady bus driver on the 113 for Pencaitland, and the many familiar repetitions of the ‘Stop’ bell and the phrase ‘Thanks. ‘night …’ And from somewhere unseen come strains of ABBA –
I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
🎶 (Thank you for the music …)
– and I smile, recognising the sentiment. Yet blood and energy is coursing through my veins. I’ve been engaged in non-verbal connection with other ‘ordinary’ humans for a couple of hours. There’s nothing mundane about the dancing class, nothing boring about a hall full of people glowing and gliding and laughing and smiling and seeing and hearing and feeling their hearts beating in their chests like drums. Hearing car tyres on the cobbles outside – because the windows are open – I’m reminded in this dancing of the ‘ordinary’ dance of life, and my experience of that ordinariness is lifted here. Transformed. This journal, this record, this reflection, remind me that if I move myself, if I’m engaging with others in all the myriad ways I and they might choose to engage – then I’m alive! And aware of that, grateful. Profoundly, warmly thankful.
where great art is found joy and hope abound in life’s expressive dancing
Absolutely astonishing! – I’m just back from a 25th Anniversary live screening of Riverdance (link) – ‘as much a phenomenon as a show.’ Thirty-something years ago I was spellbound by the intense connection between Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean dancing on ice at the Birmingham NEC to Ravel’s Bolero. I remember being well-nigh overwhelmed, deeply touched by such communion and trust between two persons.
Riverdance, today, is an extravaganza. A most exquisite, generous and magical celebration of Irish life, love, history, mystery, joy and pain. Hauntingly beautiful Uilleann pipes, accordion, drums, fiddle, harp, song and whistles. Electrifying, foot-tapping, synchronised Irish (and American and Russian) dancing. Utterly gorgeous costume and staging. Wow! the arts can teach us a thing or two about community, connection, and the rewards of discipline: ‘like any athlete, we think of ourselves as striving in our sport to be the very best that we can be.’
I am deeply delighted. And humbled. And – because such art exists among humankind – also profoundly hopeful.
Caoineadh Cú Chulainn, Bill Whelan Uilleann Pipes, Tara Howley
This is lament(link) and love for an entire culture: a piece about mourning Cú Chulainn, a warrior hero and demigod in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore. The underlying ‘drone’ of orchestral harmonies that are gradually heard here, like ‘dawn’ behind and around the lone (in this case, female) Uilleann piper, may bring tears to your eyes. Our lives are surrounded and supported by ‘other’ sounds – the cantus firmus, the enduring melody
‘Do you ever just close your eyes on winter evenings to remember summer?’ my friend asked me, earlier today, with a wistful look in her eyes. ‘On winter evenings, certainly,’ I replied, ‘and pretty much most mornings, too.’
Sure enough, I’m an advocate of living in the present, but part of the joy of living now is time found here to re-member the past, thereby inspired to breathe deep today, and begin to imagine and to shape the next second or two, as we do.
So here’s a little revisiting Summer ’16. You’re invited to stay here, now, for a little space, and – hopefully – some present grace …
I’ve tried to count
your petals but lose
track each time
around and recall
that numbers never
touched my senses
with clarity of cold
or warmth or taste or
touch or sight or
scent or sound and
after rain this late
I note that tall
and elegant you’re
not much of an
and for you too
life is celebrated
sometimes by each of
these but in the main
by radically returning
your searching face to
There’s definitely an autumnal feel about the colours here today, though still – relatively – warm. I’ll be on the lookout for colour this week though connection / wifi issues will mean I won’t get to post again until catch-up next week. See you soon!