To Walk Invisible

The films we watch before bed invade my dreams. Though some more than others. Last night it was the figure of Branwell Bronte. Such pathos. Not being able to match up to his family’s expectations. Falling short. We’ve all done it? Have we not? And then drinking, drinking to drown that self-disappointment, that self-loathing. The first one makes you feel better, pumps you up, puffs you up, silences the nagging criticism. But then, the slide comes. And the loathing is intensified. I know it. Have seen it. And to be encircled by such talent. His three sisters, extraordinary all. I know him. I know how it feels. To walk invisible. I want it and yet I don’t. How is that? So many contradictions. I love to be home, grounded, in my studio, waiting, thinking, making and writing. And yet, and yet I long too to escape. How is that? How to satisfy, to sate the both, the opposing parts of me. Straddle them. Succour both. Live with the push and pull, use it. Know it for its truth. There is no ideal. Not now, not ever. For nothing is as it seems. An illusion. Practice detachment, pay attention. Know life but don’t give all to it.

The rain has come and with it a fresher, cooler air. I like to walk in the rain. In my waterproofs I feel snug, protected. The tide was in, rushing to the shore. No fishing boats this morning. Yesterday I saw their lights crawling out to sea.

Much commotion outside The Angel yesterday morning. A loud smashing of glass and then a howling. Has someone been hurt? It echoed, ricocheting off buildings. All gone, dissipated by they time I got there, just a girl, barefoot in a parka, on the phone, crying. Do I intervene? Hello, she said in a normal voice¬†down the phone, it’s me. Then the crying started. What had happened? Bless her. It is everything at that age. The sky falls in regularly. Love-sick, love-hurt. Everything is cataclysmic. Things become less so. Or perhaps age makes us more sanguine.

It was Steve Jobs before The Brontes, exquisitely played by Michael Fassbinder. A beautiful man. It took a long time to care about him. Danny Boyle’s production was exemplary. What does it all matter? All that hero-worship – I had no idea. He strokes my feet as we watch. It mesmerises me. Calms me.

On the radio yesterday, a programme about stationery. That newness. The fresh book of paper. Something about being a writer and needing the newness, fresh starts. So hard sometimes. I thought it would be different but the blank page is the same whether you are drawing or writing. And yet, I am blessed, for all the fear, I know it. To sit at my desk and look out of my window at the sky. To have time to make manifest my ideas, to be well fed, dry, warm and loved. It is enough. For all the rest, and all that long-desired journeying. For now I will be still. Not moving, but still. Adventures will come. They always do. For now I stand still and wait.

Enjoy your days wherever you are.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.