Lights (2)

The sun won’t rise now till 8 o’clock. It is still pitch outside. An extra hour in bed was spent awake. Honestly, your body clock, she used to say. Darker mornings, lighter evenings but not for long. Not for long. In my northern home it is getting darker and darker. It feels like entering a tunnel, a tunnel that tapers and there is no light, no light at the end.

The street lights don’t know that the clocks have gone back and they came on as usual at 4.45 am but it was 5.45am. It was nice not to have to fumble for my torch. Lights are a blessing in the dark. Some people call it pollution, I call it friendly. I love to see the lights on the fishing boats as the chug out to sea, greens, reds and yellows like traffic lights. And the line of lights marking Aberdovey’s coast, way out beyond Cardigan Bay. Nothing this morning, too black, the cloud too low. And then down by the harbour, the other side of the Bay, Aberaeron’s lights. Twinkling lines of yellow stars. Such a comfort. Walking down towards the station on my way home there was a lit door window. It was an oblong of patterned glass, a lozenge of warm yellow in a thick oak door. It pleased me. Lifted my spirts in the drizzly rain. A grey town in the winter. Soon there will be Christmas lights, I thought. Soon.

I don’t usually look at them, there are so many in my inbox. This time I did. A job. I know the journal, I write for it. Why not? A part-time post. Some extra money. Why not? So I emailed with questions. When he woke I told him about it. He looked serious. Asked questions. Do you want it? he asked I went through all the scenarios in my head. Was it possible? Then he went on their website. Have you read this? he asked. Too much. Too specific. It wasn’t for me. I felt foolish, it was too knee-jerk. I understand now. I understand better now. It is about self-worth. A job is neat. I could’ve offered it up. Ah, yes. Something proper. Something useful, something that brings in money. That’s good. And all else will be forgotten. I know what would’ve happened, he said. You’d give more of yourself than required to make up for your lack of experience. It would take up all your time. He is right, of course. I would. Over compensating. Always. What do you want? To be here, to work at home, to make my art. To be me. So why, if I have it, and I do, do I not value it? I wobble so easily. Has it always been so? There is so much I want to do with my work, I tell him. Good, he says, so do it. Do it. Keep steady, my love. Let it be. Let what is, be. Leave it alone. We have enough, he says. We have enough. Enjoy it, be at peace. A good lesson? Who is harmed? Who cares what they think? he says. Who cares?

I am good enough. I am allowed to choose. I am allowed to be this, this me.

The radio broadcasts a programme about Donald Crowhurst. Was it the solitude that sent him mad? Was it madness that made him fake his course and pretend to win? Or the desperate action of a desperate man. A quiet and modest life brings more joy, wrote Einstein. How do we balance the need for challenge with the need for peace. I work on my sewing, a modest occupation, and at the end of each day I ask, is that it? Is that enough? And yet, so much has been experienced, so many journeys in my head. The pendulum was doubtful, lack lustre. But I wanted an easy answer. And yet, I know that it isn’t a change of place, job, situation but an inner alteration. A change in thought pattern. That is the shift. The shift towards acceptance. Wear orange, they used to say, over and over. Accept yourself. Accept what is. All that moving about, all that searching. The answer is here, now, in this moment. There is nothing else. Nothing. Let it be.

Town was full of them. Scurrying, hurrying against the wind. Students in hoards, mirrored in the sky by gulls, squawking. Empty pizza boxes scudding along pavements, fish and chip papers flattened against post boxes, bins and lamp posts. A girl with cat ears and whiskers, another with sparkly devil’s horns. Boys in t-shirts, running. The harbour is quiet. I begin to breathe down there. The sea is marvellous, the tide is coming in.

I saw a jay through his window. A portent, the man with the beard, who always reeked of garlic, used to say.

He was just closing his window as I approached, I smelt the smoke of his cigarette. I must remember to unlock their cupboard. Must remember. So much minutiae. Enough. Empty it out.

The sky is turning now, a beginning of blue and it’s not yet 7. Amen to that. Light. Let it be.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.