Friday, 28 January 2011

A road less traveled...

I thought I had beaten the clock and made it out of the grocery shop in time, only for me to discover that the doors were closed and I was locked in the store for the next hour. It was prayer time in Riyadh and all I could do was walk the aisles until the hour passed and we were again let out into the blistering heat that awaited us in the early evening.
Many would have said that I chose Saudi Arabia to write my second book but the truth is it chose me. If I remember correctly it was early 2006 when I hit the worst case of writer’s block in my apartment in London. I had been racking my brain for months for ideas to steer my new novel into the world and there was nothing forthcoming. And then I got an anonymous email from a long time acquaintance and before long I was negotiating my passage to the Middle East. I had great prospects in mind for what awaited me but writing was just a mirage I could dream of in the distance. It finally came three months into my stay in the Kingdom when I realized there was very little for me to fall back on during my spare time but rely upon this desert for inspiration. It was unusual and different for a start and given the conditions of the war in the Middle East anything was possible to the suffering fugitive within that badly needed to get his second book underway.
Riyadh had this thing about it. It was as if one force of nature was pushing against another. On a good day you felt as though you were on the rich boulevards of Miami, strolling past palm trees without a care in the world. You’d weigh all the benefits of being there, no taxes, low cost fuel and high salaries. The house in the country was possible and the yacht on the shores of Monaco glimmered in the moonlight. I had lived in many places before Riyadh, one time I’d penciled the events of a night out in Shenzhen China, barely able to see what I had written as the bus driver drove madly and almost killed a cyclist. I thought this was bad until I met the other side to Riyadh. You’d have to search desperately for that elusive gag to make you smile on bad days. It was mayhem until the moment you closed your eyes at night. If you weren’t screaming at the society then you were cursing yourself for being the fool that lived there.
I guess what I loved most about writing my second novel in Riyadh was the balance of these opposing forces. They stirred the right emotions within me, feelings I would have struggled to manufacture in familiar territory. I remember traipsing through the old city one day, Old Diriyah, thinking back to the days of sheikhs and dromedaries. It was then that I wished for time to stand still and let my fingers do the talking. It was then I knew that all along I was walking to this place and to that moment to fulfill a dream and write my second book, Eli.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Look but don't touch!

Creeping so close to that precious desire but ever so far from it. I have become the ensign with one fallow sense and four fully enhanced to no avail. What is this feeling within me that wishes to break all the rules and yet I know that’s not how this game is won. Her heels scrape the sidewalk causing chaos to those who stare blindly. I am the fool that lies in the trunk peering through the opening and waiting for that moment when it would be slammed shut! When temptation came to man of old he allured to it with a weakened sense of resolve. No one watches so why don’t I take that which beckons to my senses, he thought.
Even so the consequences of every action is untold until one crosses these boundaries. The fruits of my labor are a blessing in one context and far from it in another. I am none of those things that one would dislike. I’d rather be one of them then at least I’ll understand. Advice from friends is I should head in the opposite direction once I see you. Advice from the heart is I should do no such thing. Call me an ambulance when my trumpet blows over, so that I may seek humble respite in these words of comfort, ‘For that which I do I allow not, for what I would that I do not, but what I hate that I do.’
You know that I can’t turn the clock back to where we once were and neither do I wish it to go forward to a place I’ve never heard off. I know if I hide behind the laws I have fallen from grace. I’m not kidding when I say it’s been tough through this ordeal. Brethren, I besiege thee don’t turn this into something that we can’t come back from. For even unto this day when Moses is read a veil is upon our hearts. It is for certain that the creature in me was made subject to vanity, not willingly but by reason of him who hath subjected the same to hope…

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Best of three...

What is the beginning of a good thing? Taking the form of life and walking the earth as one was meant to. I cover my ears and make my own music when the sounds of the birds are quenched by the thunder outside. The gulf between where I once was and where I am is light years between stars. Squatting and hiding behind the door I peep through the keyhole of creation. Am I ready or not? What awaits me behind those doors? Knowledge is not forbidden, however the time it takes to achieve this knowledge is a different matter. Suddenly I am claustrophobic, doing a somersault and pushing my way out to existence. My arrival is alarmingly fortuitous but unbearable by my standards. After a sharp piercing smack I awaken and shed tears for others to jubilate.
A journey, one step at a time, one place at a time and like everyone else behind the apron, a protective sheath of fig leaves I think I have it all figured out. Time has elapsed and knowledge amassed, in my disguise no one can see me and on the other hand I can’t see anyone. My first hand has been played and it is neither here nor there because I don’t know better. Then it is the hour of the night bandit and before I realize it the only way up is down. It begins with loneliness, loss of sleep as my dream has come true but at what price. The once adoring audience ferriages away and life takes its toll. The inner self becomes the answer, the profound truth that nothing I have seen is real except for the spirit of God within me. I take a recap and rid myself of sycophancy, count my blessings and notice that two of everything is still there. This is my rebirth, a new beginning and second chance to correct all wrongs and be who I was always meant to be.
My, oh my, is that the time? The canon ball run is almost at an end, still though where does my destiny lie. In the rebirth things improved, I corrected the old wrongs for what was right. The refulgent light of my epithet shone before others as my repertoire became a library collection. If memory serves well two of everything at one time was a blessing, now though this has become a strain. Age has overridden youth as my spirit sails five yachts ahead in sonorous waters while my ancient body lags in the shoal. Death is the new kid on the block. A constant reminder only in name as my new truth lies in the resurrection. This is the grand finale and placing my bets on my favorite pony brings in my worthy dues.
Dare I ask again what is the beginning of a good thing? Life. Make the most of what you have today, look behind without regret and do not be careful of tomorrow but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be known unto God.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Endangered Species...

‘Go away I’ve had enough!’ Is the blazing cry over the tannoy. ‘I tread in this place of failure because you make me feel this way. It is rainy on this dreary day and destruction can’t come any sooner.’
A child’s plea but when stray words flutter in the wind they eventually land at the doorstep of thoughtful creatures. Waiting for a way out from this derision these creatures are tongue tied in frustration. Fear is taken into consideration and despair a natural outcome when these words become judge and jury. There is no age or gender preference in this domicile and the guilty verdict is often relied upon as the sole means of escape.
I bore witness the other day to two brothers arguing endlessly as one tried to convince the other on improving himself for his forthcoming marriage. As Sibling A increased the pressure on Sibling B he got berated with pellets from bullet spray as Sibling B’s words became more hurtful and irrational. Sibling A never gave up though but pursued his course of action and eventually the argument subsided and became a discussion. The next day Sibling B was talking about his relationship with a lot more ease whilst Sibling A was left recovering from the harsh words that had been thrown in his direction.
Seeking more purpose to how our good could be repaid for bad I decided to try the kindergarten approach. I asked my six years old niece whether bad things happened to good people. Her answer was yes and then I asked her whether she had witnessed this before. She said in class, a girl scribbled in another boys book and the teacher scolded him for it. I asked her what she thought of this and she said she felt afraid and thought maybe the boy had been bad that was why the teacher scolded him. She then said sometimes when you are good you can be blamed for something you haven’t done.
Perhaps at one time or another you have represented the watch night of reason. You have told others the error of their ways and paid the price in more ways than you had anticipated. It is a steep hill to climb with many rocky edges of frustration. During these times it is injudicious to fall victim of self-pity or blame. It is wise to consider the incapacity of those you seek to aid with the knowledge that your help is not in vain. This is merely the entrée rational into a new school of thought and keeping equanimity for counsel serves better until the truth is exposed.
My niece’s words reinforced a teaching from scripture, ‘He that loveth his life will lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world will keep it unto life eternal.’
Thus, pay yourself homage good one for your species is rare in this age. Your triumph is not in the results but in keeping your end of the good deed. Do not seek appreciation when none is forthcoming. If you wish to teleport from this world to another then you have already succeeded in your endeavors, for the results of your heartfelt efforts are in the struggle rather than the results.