I visit my averageness. Taking out the reports my father had saved from when I was between eleven and sixteen, I visit my averageness. Some surprise, others merely tell me, reflect back to me what my mind already believes. Without question. I feel detached. It is a detaching process such revisiting. What am I looking for? Confirmation of something deeply understood. Or is it more a search for relief, for permission to let it be? I was no shining star, when I have shone it has been for brief moments and it was never believed by me. Not really. I test such accepting. How would it be to live with the averageness, embrace it rather than fight it? I worked with ‘industry and application’ but still only got 37/60. Is that so bad? I worked with industry and application. I remember. I did. So frightened of failing. So frightened of not understanding. Of judgement. And it is with me still. I will explore this. Not to be maudlin but to gaining a better knowing. Is that not a good thing?

The seal was still there. I thought it had gone but it has merely been moved further up the beach. The bleeding flowers had gone. So had its head. Decapitated. There is no dignity in death. A carcase. Something has begun to erode its form.

The answer to the anagram was shape-shifter. Something that takes on an animal form. A shape-shifter. The stuff of fairy tale. Women who become seals and vice-versa. The sailors thought they were mermaids, sirens of the sea. Those eyes. Icelandic tales of women whose husbands hide their skins so that they cannot escape back to the sea.

A homeless man is sleeping under the castle. It is a kind of meeting place, built under the castle’s ramparts. There is a mosaic of dancing people on the wall. It is dry, that is all. But cold. Open to the elements. Open to the wind. He is a sleeping mound, looking just like the decapitated seal with his blanket pulled over his head. I am shamed. What have I to feel sad about when he must be so cold. Is he cold? Do you become inured to it? Or do you just stop expecting to be warm? Is he hungry? Is there some kind of relief in having nothing? Time and time again whenever we stopped for a pee in the motorway services there would be this picture of that African girl on the back of the toilet door. The advert wanted donations towards a scheme that helps girls like her with sanitary products. She has nothing, no family, no home, nothing. And now she’s got her period, it read. Nothing. To have nothing. No thing. No comfort. I stand still with that thought before the wind buffets me again. Returning me back to my selfishness, my self, my minor inconveniences.

They were wrong about the weather. There was wind and there was rain. Five times my umbrella blew inside out. Five times. I swore. I was cross, even after seeing the homeless man, I let my crossness prevail. It buffets one, the wind. My body aches with pushing into it. But I want to return. I want to return to standing in another’s shoes. What can I do? Shall I bring him food? Shall I bring him a warm drink? Does he want to be alone? What can we do for others?

I am cross too often. My sadness makes me imperfect, uncharitable. I ache for peace and know it is there. If I just let go. Accept what is. Accept this. Take it. My gift of averageness.


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.