Posts tagged automatic
Posts tagged automatic
It’s getting darker earlier. The nights are drawing in, the cold is creeping in through the closed windows and the leaves are curling at the edges. You only notice when the sun goes down. The way breath clouds in the air, the streetlights seem brighter but you know it’s only because the nights are darker. The engines take a little longer to turn over and the fires lit don’t quite reach the chill that settles in the bone’s marrow. Even the stones are cold.
The autumn is here, and soon the winter. The time we fear, when the ground is too hard to drive the tent pegs in and you can’t get warm when you’re sleeping in the back of a truck. People are less eager to come outside, no matter how many posters we put up, no matter how colourful the canvas, no matter how much we sell our talents. The audiences drop with the temperature. It’s the time of year where we lose people as well. And it’s this point where we realise how much we had. The cliché is true. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
Every time the air gets tighter people realise what they have left behind. The first winter is usually fine – we stay because we want to prove that we can do it, we want to show people that this wasn’t just another phase we were going through. So we stay around the same area, we get part time jobs stacking shelves or cleaning cars and we carry on with the shows. Sometimes we’re lucky and we find somewhere to stay, a relative who doesn’t mind a few guests or, once or twice, a wealthy audience member who takes pity on us. We’re not proud enough to refuse charity. But sometimes luck is not our lady, and we stay in the back of the trucks. We huddle together and try to keep some of the warmth in but the will to stay escapes. And then spring comes round and we seem to forget how difficult it is. It’s the second winter that people leave. You can tell, then, who has somewhere to go. There’s a few of us who have seen out many winters here simply because there’s nowhere else for us to whether the weather.
We miss those who leave us. You live in these conditions for long enough and you become a family, despite many people’s best efforts to keep to themselves. So when the winter does come around, and when our numbers do deflate, we lose a little bit of ourselves every time. Sure, we build ourselves up again and grow another layer of tougher skin, but we carry the ghosts of everyone with us wherever we travel to. It’s like we’re told when we get here – the things that seem valuable at the start get replaced with broken watches and old photos and the friends that we lose to the real world.
The moon is orange tonight, the glow of the sun reflecting off the pockmarked surface and bleeding into the sky around it, a watercolour painting that hasn’t had time to dry. We sit on the roof of the main truck and breathe smoke into the cool night, making unnecessary small talk when we know we could just sit in silence. Content with just being in easy company. Three people left us today, apparently eager to beat the frost on the ground. We’re avoiding the subject. Flickering lights of planes trace patterns over head, we must be close to an airport if they’re flying this low. We don’t mention it, but we’re thinking the same thing. Each wondering whether the other will be here when the winter truly arrives, whether the temporary home we have forged will hold against the temptation of a warm bed and brick walls. And who could say for certain? The one thing we all learn passing through here, nothing is predictable when you depend on the road and the crowds under the canvas. When you put your foot on the accelerator and just pick a direction in the hope that there’ll be something at the end of the journey… You can’t second guess yourself. We carry on how we always have, simultaneously dreading and longing for that pull in the stomach that means it’s time to move on.
"We’re kindred spirits, you and I. We see the world in a different way. I mean, look at all these people. Just stand back and drink them in. All you can see is how happy they are, all drunk on tonight. Good food, good music and good company, and that’s all they need, and isn’t that beautiful? Everyone so full of themselves - not in a self-righteous way, but full in the way that you feel after a moment. These are those moments. Look at everyone dancing - it’s the people that make times like these, not the way society’s run, it’s purely the people. They’re all young and beautiful and so full of life and energy, they radiate a light that only people like this can experience. Not everyone can see that.
And of course, once the food has been eaten and the wine is flowing freely, people get emotional. People cry and people argue, but people laugh and that’s the most important thing. People laughing like they will never laugh again. And the tears and the tantrums suddenly aren’t important, because it’s moments like this that you realise the saying is true. These are the friends we will keep for the rest of our lives and more.
I mean, I’ve got friends at home who I have known for eighteen years, and yet these people in this room, dancing on this stage, feel like true home to me. I could be anywhere in the world and the knowledge of moments like these would make me feel I belonged.
That’s why we fit. That’s where we fit. In the place that nobody is the same, you don’t have to be a certain way to be one of us, you juts have to have the passion and the drive and the unbidden longing for life itself. Even if people don’t think they have it in them, it’s there. We can see it. Why else would there be nights like this, if people weren’t head over heels in love with this part of the life they were living.
It’s moments like these where you can stop for a moment and watch from the sidelines, and be so happy you can’t put it into words. You don’t quite understand why, but there’s something there that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to dance like an idiot and hug everyone who’s in the room.
And maybe it’s the alcohol - that certainly helps - but maybe, just maybe, these are the times of our lives.”
It’s been a while.
The wheels have finally stopped rolling and the curtain is ready to go up. It’s show night. And you’re nervous.
It’s understandable really. You spend months travelling with these people and you still don’t know their real names, and they don’t know yours. But does it matter? Here in this madcap world of fake faces and smoky taboos, the truth seems overrated. It’s all about what’s on the surface. What lies beneath is something best left untouched.
You seemed to slip quite easily into this rolling life. Nobody asks questions, nobody expects that much of you. It’s just one of those things. You get the sense that if you were to leave, no-one would care. Not that you’re planning on leaving. There’s nowhere else for you to go.
You lean against one of the trucks and scuff your shoe on the dirt, staring at the mismatch of tents, the fairy lights softly glowing against the ever encroaching night. You can feel it. Something in that night, something waiting. As if the whole world had taken a breath and was waiting for release. A hand touches your shoulder.
She looks at you with laughter in her eyes and you can’t help but smile back. You nod. Your mouth is dry. She grins and pushes you towards the main tent.
“Come on then, pretty boy. Time to earn your keep.”
It’s been a while.
I am lost.
I am floating through a hall of mirrors and my reflection has run away from me. What’s most disturbing is that this is normal. It happens all the time. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of it as it disappears, twisting away from the glass surface to join all the other lost things.
Like my hairbrush. My bus ticket. My bracelet. My heart, but I found that soon enough, still beating but with a little piece missing from it.
My reflection returns after a while, takes me by surprise when it does. Gives a smug little smile knowing that it has been to places I will never be able to get to, knowing that the memories it has made will forever stay buried in my unconscious mind.
I am lost.
The pieces of my frantic mind try to assemble themselves numbers one to ten but they cannot count, they’ve forgotten how. They’re good with words though. They spin lyrical fantasies that fill my waking dreams and persuade me to say things that make total sense inside my head but sound stupid to anyone else.
I am lost.
I turn down pathways that have arrows pointing in both directions, my internal compass is spinning wildly and I have to run my hand along the wall just to keep myself from drifting into the road.
I am lost.
I close my eyes and count, start with number one and then double it again and again and again until I cannot work out the numbers. I twiddle my thumbs. I press my eyelids until I can see colourful patterns against the darkness. I chew the inside of my mouth. I jiggle my leg up and down and up and down until people look at me strangely and then I smile at them and say that I’m fine, I’m just waiting for someone.
But I’m not. I am lost, and the worst thing is I don’t mind it.
I don’t mind it at all.
I want to write music. But it’s one o’clock in the morning and I have no piano. The formula is in my head, and I think that will last till tomorrow, but I cannot be sure. I want to sit at a piano with a notepad and pencil and no shoes and just write and play and play and write. I want to write about love, loss, laughter - all the cliches.
It’s been too long since I last sung. I need to sing. I miss my voice. All it seems to do nowadays is talk and discuss things about theatre and politics, all it does is order drinks over the bar and make small talk with customers at work. And underneath that is my true voice, the one that sings with soul, the one that I love and miss. I want to sing again. It makes me feel alive when I sing, it’s the one thing that I can do without feeling self conscious because although I can’t hit the high notes, I know I can do it. I have my own style, my own voice. But it’s getting lost.
I want to sing and sing with someone else. I want harmonies to send shivers down my spine, I want the lyrics to light up the air around me and I want to feel the almost unbearable lightness that comes when you close your eyes and let the music carry you away. I want to feel the room explode with emotion, and it doesn’t matter what that emotion is. Emotion is the fuel of music, emotion is what we need in our lives.
There is no better feeling for me than standing in front of people and singing, and seeing the look on their faces. That’s the thing about being backstage - people are amazed when you can perform. And I want to do it again.
Scrap that. I need to do it again.
Tomorrow, I’m going to get all my stuff done, and I’m going to take my clarinet onto campus with me, and I’m going to go into a piano room and write some music. I need to sing again. I need the music.
It could happen to anyone. You get home and walk to your room, and push open the door to find that it’s not yours anymore. Someone else is in there. There is no clutter. No mess. The books on the bookshelves replaced by DVDs, no desk to write imaginings on, no colours on the walls. It is someone else’s room now. And you stand and you stare, and there’s that feeling like you’ve missed the top step going upstairs, but you just keep falling. And then you start to think, is anything mine anymore? Your family treat you the same, but you can’t shake the feeling that you don’t belong. You’re a guest now. Your place at the table seems contrived, the bed that you sleep in is your brothers, not your own. And so you leave early from the two day visit, wait till everyone is out of the house and then pack your rucksack, walk out of the front door. Leave your keys deliberately on the sideboard. And you pause. Your hand lingers on the latch, knowing that if you close that door, you cannot get back in again without the help of someone else. You will be leaving for good this time. And you leave the door ajar as you do the compulsory check for your money, your phone, your passport. And with a final sigh, you pull the door closed. The sound seems to echo.
A dog barks. You walk. You jam your headphones over your ears, attempting to block out the sounds of the street you live - lived - on, wanting to lose yourself in the music. But every song speaks of home, speaks of belonging and it takes a great deal of effort not to run straight back again. You don’t. You flick through to music without lyrics, music that is just beats and synthesisers, hardly music at all, and you fall into step with your own heartbeat. Don’t look back. You feel like the street is disappearing behind you with every step that you take. You turn down the cobbled cut through to the train station.
It doesn’t matter what train you get on, as long as you get on. Pick a platform at the last minute, jump on a train and find a seat. Ask for a ticket to the end of the line, not a return journey of course. Your head is trying to convince you that this is the break you need, this is what will be the making of you. But you cannot ignore the fact that every fibre of your being is crying out for the train to stop, for the conductor to haul you off and send you back home, for your mother to be at the next station to hug you and tell you there’ll always be a place for you there, at home, but where is home now? You’ve grown up. Outgrown home.
There is no home for people like us. It’s not what we do.
People join us in many ways. Some just show up carrying suitcases, their faces both hopeful and resigned and thinking “Is this what we’ve ended up at?” Others we find on the wayside of the morning, in the shady time between night and sunrise, sitting with dead eyed stares and only nothingness for company. We don’t take just anyone. The skills come in time - great if you have them, doesn’t matter if you don’t - but what we look for is that need. The longing that you get in the pit of your stomach that you cannot quite explain. You have to yearn for it.
People join us in many ways, like hitting the ground from a skyscraper. You either jump, or you are pushed.
I’ve been trying to think of something to write on here for the last fifteen minutes, but everything I write is either bullshit or pretentious bullshit. The curse of the blank page. Because I am aware of my audience, the writing takes on a certain importance that it should not have, and has never had before. I want to please my followers, want to give them something new and innovative that they will take some kind of meaning from.
Nothing is new. Everything is a recycling of something else whether we like it or not, and nothing is fresh. Life is a reinvention, a sugar spun creation, a copy, a facsimile. And we mould and we create and we try our best to be innovative but the truth is, there is no such thing. Original is impossible. That is not to say that we should stop trying, though. Rather, it’s a call to carry on and to try more. Why should we be satisfied with what has gone before, when we can bring it back to life, when we can take some of our sould and breathe it into things long since departed? Why should we be content with our own lives when we can enrich the lives of others simply by thinking outside of our own bodies?
There is no reason to stop - humans are not meant to stop, we are constantly creating cells, blood, thoughts, dreams, ideas, feelings, a constant motion, an eternity machine until the last breath dances from our bodies. But even then we exist in what we leave behind. We are never ending and never beginning, part of an eternal circle of consciousness.
And I realise this is pretentious in itself, but I am just writing whatever comes into my head at this moment in time. I need to write. I need to write. I need to write down things in this blank box simply so that it will not be blank anymore. I refuse to be a blank slate, a tabula rasa. There is no such thing.
And now I will stop. I need to write, but I also need to sleep, regenerate, heal and let my mind dream for a while. I’m ready to dream.
I don’t see the point in trying to sleep when there’s a rave going on next to my flat. I’ve put my headphones on at top blast and the beat from the band still buzzes through my floor. So I’m writing.
I’ve got this funny feeling in me tonight. I’m missing home. That never happens. I feel like I just want to fast forward past the end of university right to… I don’t know. I feel like there’s a part missing and I’m not sure what it is.
I don’t like this kind of uncertainty. I just want to get away from everything at the moment, I want to be in the middle of a beautiful countryside, next to a river, with nothing to bother me except the breeze that will lightly mess up my hair. I want freedom from whatever is holding me down. The only problem is I don’t know what my captor is yet.
Just a bit of automatic writing, let’s see how it goes »»»»»»»
When you dream in technicolour and songs fill your chest with an unbidden desire for adventure. You can’t help but hope. You can’t stop smiling.
On top of a cliff, staring out over an expanse of forests, and you wonder: what is out there? You want to explore everything, you want to live more than you have lived before. This is it.
When you spin in circles in the rain accompanied only by the bemused looks of passers-by as they hurry along under black umbrellas. You want to tell them to throw away their raincoats and laugh with you, but just smile to yourself instead. They wouldn’t understand.
Tonight is yours, irrevocably and irresponsibly yours. Dream for as long as you want, the light will reach you sooner than those locked away in offices and slouched in front of television screens. Chase the shadows, trust yourself - you don’t need a torch, the monsters under the bed and in the cupboard are more afraid of you than you are of them.
Don’t just seize the day, embrace it. Hold it close to you and whisper your dreams in its ear. Live for the moment, because if you look to far into the future you will be overcome. Life is there to be consumed, it is there to inspire, to give you imagination and a reason for being. It is not there to be predicted or planned. Don’t waste your hours preparing for a future that is uncertain - be proud to be alive, be proud of each breath you take, never stop marveling at what life has to offer. Don’t be afraid. Be curious. Don’t be angry. Forgive and move on - life is too fleeting to hold grudges, and you might lose something in that moment of rage that you can never regain.
You are the day and the night and all the thoughts inbetween. You are the catalyst. You are the sculptor, the author, the poet. You are yourself, completely and unfailingly you. Surrender to the dreams in technicolour and the desire for adventure.
Dare to hope. You have nothing to lose.