He says I shouldn’t listen to them, says I’m too sensitive. He doesn’t mean it pejoratively. He appreciates that quality in me, more than anyone. But I need to hear it. I need to know how other people must live. The TED talks. They are fascinating. Mostly American speakers, they push the boundaries of our preconceptions. Yesterday’s one was the most challenging so far. How to think about about the five major global issues – I forget them all, poverty, food, politics, climate change, I think. And one more. Perhaps I missed that one as I joined it half way through. One of the speakers said that the world is due to ‘run out of food’ in the next decade. Another suggested that the way to deal with poverty is to give everyone a living wage – regardless of the work – a minimum salary or wage to live on. For everyone across the world. Taxation would pay for it. He was passionate about it. Oh, yes the refugee crisis was the other. That speaker quoted the experience of his Jewish grandparents being taken in by a farmer in Brussels during the war. We all should do it, he said. Yes, we should. And in my purest form I can imagine myself doing it. But I fall short of that purity, that goodness daily. The programme was about acting, making a change. Are small steps enough? No, they seem to be saying. Can we change? Can we become kinder, more aware, less selfish, more alert to the struggles of others?

It looks like it’s going to be a lovely morning. Let me change. Let me be less myopic. Become open. Kind.

My writing is turgid at the moment. I’m writing of difficult things. It is a black tunnel that I want to push my way through. Just get it out on the page, he says. Writing is often like that. Yes. It is. But I’ve been given the gift of time so I shall use it. It is precious. As are we. All of us.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.