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Pick a mountain

“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” — Anatoli Boukreev

Pick a mountain. Any mountain.

Life’s a beach. When tsunamis roll in there’s no option but to seek the rarefied air of higher ground.

At the moment I have bloggers block so bad I can’t even blog about why I can’t blog. So I’ve picked my mountain.

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It’s one that takes a bit of preparation — an exercise regime, some attention to diet, that kind of thing. The idea is to keep focused on something bigger than the tsunamis. The actual climb is the easy bit. I’m no mountaineer. I never go further than base camp. This time there’s not even a base camp. I’m taking the scenic route.

So pick your mountain. Any mountain. And when you’ve climbed it, sit back and let go. That’s the hard part.

... one that takes a bit of preparation ...

… one that takes a bit of preparation …

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Let it be

Daily Prompt: A Bird, a Plane, You!

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice:
•the ability to speak and understand any language
•the ability to travel through time
•the ability to make any two people agree with each other

Photographers, artists, poets: show us POWER.
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Communication is the key:
one super power that unlocks three.
By shedding light it would show me
future and past, and possibly
help individuals to agree
and travel through time collision-free.
Then East and West might let it be.

Tolling belles

Daily Prompt: Perspective

Think about something that drives you crazy. Now, think about something that makes you happy. Does it change your perspective on the former?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us a PERSPECTIVE.

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Does mood change perspective? Or is it perspective that changes mood? I’m inclined to go with the second.

Stick me in a room with nothing else but my worries and they engulf me and gobble me up for breakfast. Pull me out of there and surround me with other people and their problems and I soon start counting my blessings.

Other people’s perspectives also help. A curt “Yes, but” or a (more delicately phrased) “Get over yourself” is like a glass of water flung in the face. It leaves you gasping, but sober.

So yes, a fellow motorist letting me into the stream of traffic might cheer me up a little on a Monday morning, but it won’t change my attitude to toll roads. Whereas, if I were elected to parliament and told that five per cent of every toll paid would go into my back pocket … well then, that would be a totally different story, wouldn’t it?

Best friends

Daily Prompt: Love to Love You

What do you love most about yourself? What do you love most about your favorite person? Are the two connected?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOVE.

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I love that I am little
because you lift me up
I love that you are wiser
because you show me the way
Perhaps one day you’ll need me
as I now depend on you
to keep shadows at bay

Witchery

Daily Prompt: Wicked Witch

Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us EVIL.

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Sometimes her shadow falls on me, Witch Nyll, black beast of Eneri.
And then I fight to rid my mind of desperate thoughts of every kind,
the lonely, maimed, the lost, the sick, neglected, aged, dead or quick.
I mourn the past and fear the future, blind to goodness, fail to nurture
all my blessings, which abound, seeing only tragedy around.
She tries to keep me from my God, beating me with heaviest rod
that sadness ever could supply, and breaking down my will to try.
She takes all pleasure out of good, removes the taste from any food.
She drains the colour from the sky so that I see with jaundiced eye,
Knows how to keep me from my sleep, makes all I love look stale and cheap.
But worst of all she banishes hope, giving me a gallows rope
to end it all. “Why carry on? Once you are dead the pain is gone.”
That’s when I look her in the eye and say “Oh yes? Then tell me why
there’s purpose found in everything, the smallest flower, the tiniest wing.
Each little life means quite as much as galaxies seen through Hubble and such.
We’re not just washed up on life’s beach, but always, ever within reach
of being the best that we can be.” I push my boat back out to sea
upon a course that’s straight and true, for only God can pull me through.

Friendly ghosts

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It started off as a very solemn occasion. On a visit home I decided to look up the family graves. My children were just old enough to be a little apprehensive about visiting a cemetery. My mother wasn’t keen, but humoured me, adamant that she knew exactly where to find the family “plot”. She didn’t.

At the first cemetery we were a little awed by so much emptiness. The fresh wreaths were sad, the dead flowers depressing. We spoke in hushed tones and tiptoed round the sacred mounds.

By the time we got to the third cemetery things had changed. Gravestones held no more terrors. The children leapfrogged over railings, chasing each other round the more ancient monuments. We began to enjoy our meanderings under the cypresses. Instead of a sad search, the outing became a kind of family romp as the chances of finding the family graves became ever more remote.

Each cemetery had a tale of its own, reflecting floods, subsidence, the changes in funeral fashions over the decades. I began to study the headstones, marvelling at the stories they revealed: the flu epidemic of the early 1900s, the different wars, nurses, soldiers, sweethearts, children, parents, fresh flowers at old graves, old flowers at new ones, the rich, the poor, the pillars of the community. It was no longer sad, just a reflection of society much as you’d find in any museum. I suspect the dead were glad to have us around.

It made me wonder how we could popularise cemeteries, encourage people to “use” them rather than avoiding them. There is something beautiful about old and weathered stone and trees, yet we relegate these special places and their memories to caretakers and hobos.

Isn’t collective memory important? When I finally gave up looking for my “own” graves and “found” all those others, I vicariously “remembered” people I never knew. Rather than leave bunches of flowers that wither and die, we could plant bulbs and corms to introduce a little colour, and turn the graveyard into some kind of community garden rather than an arid impersonal wilderness.

If I’d brought flowers with me on that day so long ago, I like to think I would have left them on the oldest most “unloved” grave that I could find.

Cake and circuses

Daily Prompt: About Page of the Future

Write the About page for your blog in 10 years.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us FUTURE.

my birthday cake

My lavender is leggy and my birdbaths are half full.
I’m now blogger by exception and reader by the rule.
With no more ties to bind me, no deadlines to fulfil,
My mind is free to wander as I chill beside the pool.
I’m living in the present ’cause it gives me peace of mind;
no worrying ’bout pension payments or stuff that I can’t find.
I’m eating what I want to: steak, potatoes, soup and greens,
cut out all fruit (‘cept apples), chickpeas, lentils and mung beans.
The library books I’m reading are the ones I’ve read before
not because they are the good ones, just the closest to the door.
I don’t care what I’ve accomplished (leave that laptop there to rest!)
as long as I have friends to call and get things off my chest.
I’ll know that I am done for, that my time is finished when
I’ve got no-one left to live for, NOT at three-score-years and ten.