The Lighthouse

The waves follow the swirls and movements of the brooding dark clouds. Only quicker. Looking up, I follow them with my finger. Gentle, delicate cloud formations, created by intervals of high and low pressure. It’s quite amazing, that something so far away, can create such a turbulent voyage.

It’s a place I call home. Staring into the flowing waves coming towards us as they crash against the bow, spraying the salty water over the deck, I find that there’s nothing I would want more from life. A peculiar request perhaps, to find comfort in something with such ambiguity. The ocean carries a terrifying omnipotence: unlimited power, impossible to stop and control. Yet, on a calm spring morning, the waves become reminiscent of a mil-pond, or a painting in Monet’s Water Lily Series, a calmness which brings an inner tranquillity as you look into the infinite horizon, a feeling that is only achievable out at sea.

I ring the bell as a harsh reminder to the mariners, that on days like this (far from the tranquillity we seldom see) we place life and death in the palm of our hands. It may seem an exaggeration, but it is not. The confidence the seamen place into me as their captain, in charge of ensuring their safety, in addition to their belongings, innermost secrets as their counsellor is a responsibility that I don’t carry lightly, but a burden I place upon myself nonetheless.

It is a test of character. I have a number of different jobs and functions aboard this ship (some of which, I did not sign up for) that I have been forced into doing. It is a shame, as the sailors bring it upon themselves to take from me, giving very little in return. I relish an opportunity to be selfless, and show them a love to them reserved for my family. Indeed, they are my family aboard this ship, as the people’s feelings whom I will return to in the future, may well have been extinguished.

Cooped up for months, sharing the same candlelit lit innards of the ship brings us closer together. Naturally, of course. Understanding the eyes others use, to hide their full house behind five playing cards, and the vocabulary they discover after a few drinks. The light is reminiscent of a pub in the 1980s, and so is the smell, reserved for stale smoke and a slight lingering of sweat and alcohol which makes me so unusually think to myself. ‘Yes, this is a shithole, but it’s my shithole’.

I run my hands along the side of the ship, the wooden hand rail splinters me slightly as it needs to be sanded. Having hands that have been exposed to the harshness of the elements, I can withstand a few splinters. As I look down from the bridge, I catch the mariners running around, scattered, disorganised, like an orchestra without their composer, footballers without their managers, and so on. I say nothing, and quietly observe. It’s almost funny, but brings a certain melancholy to the voyage, how I would love to confide in somebody, and talk, just as they talk to me about their problems, stray morals and absent emotion.

Looking into the distance, I can see the outline of land, a similarly omnipotent structure, submerged in darkness and shadow. Out of the darkness, comes the light. However dark it seems, there will always be light deep in the darkness, it will always be there to find you, and steer you in the right way. When anyone sees a lighthouse, they stay clear. Don’t they?


Wild Eyed

I suppose a lot can change in seven months. Potentially not so much about a town; a few more houses maybe, people coming and going, the usual. Yet, when it comes down to the linear change in that time, however quickly the days and hours go by, your perspective and the way you ultimately view things has changed the most. You’re still largely the same, your morals are still similar, your goals and ambitions perhaps too.

However, stepping off a train and entering a city which you’re more than aware will unlock vital-parts of who you are is bound to promote an almost surreal sense of ‘where the fuck am I? what the actual fuck am I doing here?’ Of course, you know that it will create some positivity and it will show itself to be the right direction for you, but the first time you step over the picturesque footbridge into the town, your need to be transported back to the place you’re most comfortable is at the forefront of your mind. Peering over the edge, forty feet down is the cold, but flowing river.

You see the river as yourself; upstream is where you’ve come from, meandering throughout your life, through towns and places, interacting with people and the environment alike. You remember all the faces of people that have made an impact upon you, and looking into the horizon, you understand how those important figures have impacted your present self, as you go to peer back down to where you are in the present. The water is unfamiliar, constantly changing, just as your mind is in a new place. Left or right? If you go left, will you go on to meet people who are entirely different to the people you may meet if you veer right? Will such a simple decision significantly impact your life? You do not know. You will never know. There’s beauty in that.

Crossing to the other side of the bridge, seeing the water travelling to its destination, an entirely different, and new sensation overcomes you. It’s like you’re over a millpond, beautifully tranquil, comforting, but not eerie. You’re standing at the edge of the jetty, the morning mist is gently hovering above the water, with the outline of the surrounding mountains peering through the gentle cloud. That’s what you imagine. Forty feet. That’s doable.

A surge of newly found confidence fulfils you, you aren’t who you used to be, this is you at your most you. There is nobody you have met yet, nobody to change you into a force of habit. Deciding to put it to the test is an extremely nerve-wracking concept. You decide to go. The forty feet dropped in a matter of milliseconds, and the thrill was second to none. The exhilarating sensation of a plane ever so gently leaving the ground is a similar feeling, a sense of adrenaline, the start of a journey looms.

You expect a splash of coldness, but water in Northern Europe when the leaves are a golden yellow will never be welcoming. What you receive is an overwhelming chill, but something you need regardless of the icy cold. If anything, it’s refreshing. Luckily, the current isn’t strong. Leisurely you can swim, but the most sensible thing is to get to the bank. You feel almost cleansed of the other side of the river, the past haunting and creeping behind you. You have delved into the new; experiences and interactions await. Letting go of the comfort, through deciding to go to a new city, a new culture and country, diving into the unknown is something completely necessary in your being, however hard it might be.

Sitting on the bank of the river, knowing you’ll slowly warm up serves as an excellent point in time to reflect on what has happened, as ever so clearly, you can see your metaphorical past, present and future in the form of a river flowing. You owe a great deal to the past, which has carried you to where you are now, through serenity and storm, challenges and success. A combination of all those things is where you need to be. Secondly, the bridge being crossed is the transition from old to knew, and a drastic decision has been made in order to accomplish that. You chose to jump. Weighed up all the options, of safety and security, of excitement with a mix of determination. The bridge reflects that, from one to the other, an image of transition and transportation, a vital element of the journey. And now, running your hands through the grass, turning your head downstream, with only the faintest glimmer of the horizon and future in your sights, you understand that drenched through and almost cleansed of everything that came before you, this is the place you need to be.

Hold Your Breath

You let the waves lap against your fingertips, enjoying the icy caress, noticing the softness of the water. Kneeling down opposite the waves, you gain a real sense of position. You’re tiny against this immovable force, yet it’s treating you so gently, like a father cradling its new born daughter. The waves are overwhelmingly consistent.

Digging your finger into the sand an inch does little to prevent the waves from overwhelming your finger, still finding its way onto the tips of your toes. It’s something mesmerising, terrifying and relaxing all at the same time.

The consistency is mesmerising. The consistency found in unconditional love is just as peculiar as the invisible force creating the placid nudge from the cold sea. It’s just there, and will never cease to be there. How can that be? It’s terrifying. When you no longer exist, to the extent where you’re physically unable to, your body surpasses the will of the mind, unconditional love will still be there, and gravity will still be the prevailing force in the universe, pushing and pulling, poking and gently nudging like a child getting their teacher’s attention. You can take comfort in that knowledge at some things are only temporary, even if you come under that category too. There are certain and beautiful things which will certainly outlive the darkness of people’s sin, their racism and prejudice, violence and hatred.

The water is cleansing, and so you wash your hands instinctively. Crouching. You’re closer to Earth than you have been for a long time. You let the temperature of the water cool your body to the same temperature. The temperature takes over every emotion, even if it is only for a split second before you realise that actually, the water is bloody freezing. Concentrating on your finger, you take it away, unaware of the slow encircling of the water around your feet. It happens too quickly, but you let it anyway. You laugh at your folly, and slowly make your way up.

Now, you’re at ease with the water rushing in between your toes, still gently caressing, seducing you, enticing you into its depth.

As you look out amongst the vastness, loneliness consumes you; miles and miles of outstretched emptiness. You feel sorry for the ocean, as if it’s a person inviting you into its life with every lap of the wave over your toes. It’s nervousness forces it back into itself, the same as a nervous man trying to say ‘I love you’ for the first time. It’s on the tip of his tongue. He can muster up a kiss, just as he can gently touch your face as if he is an ocean tickling your skin.

Of course you can see his anguish and embarrassment, it’s in his eyes. He smiles because he knows he loves you, he acts in the same way as the child poking and gently nudging. Finally, you decide to help put a stop to his embarrassment, and leap straight in.

Your clothes are on but you’re laughing. Your feet were wet to begin with, you have a towel in the car. So who really cares? You start running into the waves, the water jumping at you with happiness, his smile projects the same. A welcoming like you’ve never had before. It’s a real contrast. His eyes and smile are so warm, so loving, yet the caress of the waves so icy cold; both manage to make you feel warmth, a refreshing sense of real life.

Stretching out your arms is the only thing you can do in order to embrace such a meaningful offering. You keep running until you are chest deep, slowly bobbing around. This is where you decide to take the plunge.

‘I love you’.