I've been on a travel whirlwind over the last few days. Planes, trains, tubes and buses that have taken me all around the country. I've been recorded, read plays, visited galleries, eaten and drunk. I've seen uptown, downtown, revamped and recycled. Now I'm on my last leg and I'm kinda dizzy.
I miss painting - something tomorrow should sort out, and I've seen some inspiring art that urges me to get my shit together. Charcoal drawings of landscapes that worked with light and depth so that you felt drawn into the scene, and also a sense of the activity within. Even with something that should be static - like a broken branch, you felt the presence of the wind, and the life teeming in the hedgerows. The light was chiaroscuro, giving a noir feel to the country scenes and hinting at a darkness in the beauty.
I love the idea of the life within the life. I'm sitting at an airport, my plane is delayed - possibly cancelled. People around are pretty phlegmatic - you'd expect more angst, but the weather outside is pretty awful, and I guess you'd rather wait than be stuck up in a plane in it.
An airport is supposed to be soulless - you know: mass capitalism, corporate, everything homogenised and running to routine; but there are little moments here. The bar woman who worries about whether we'll get back okay, the waitress moaning about who gets Christmas Eve off this year, and about how lazy another waitress is (incidentally the waitress does seem to be standing around drinking through a straw - yet it is she who is there for the bill. Lazy or blessed with exquisite timing?), and the departure crew who can't believe they've only left two bus drivers on for the last plane (mine). All these moments capture the life beneath the veneer; the moments of concern, frustration and excitement that carry on.
And then there's me; this delay has given me the chance to read - properly read, and get into the book, without worrying about the other things I should or need to do. I love reading, but I'm greedy and see it as an indulgence. This is bizarre as I have for many years studied literature - but when I study the depth I seek for is more akin to mining. When I indulge, however, I like to lose myself almost completely and selfishly in the world - so much so that I have a mini tantrum (in my mind obviously) if I have to stop to, y'know, work, or wash-up (Oh! The dishwashers fixed now, so you can all relax), or sleep. The chance to read and see art and people leaves me refreshed, like my mind has the compost to grow again.
Flying home I get a window seat. I look out into the darkness and there I see the urban sprawl. Yet in this light I see a school of jellyfish, their luminescence rippling along from their bodies through tentacles that wrap around each other. For a minute the nature of the urban is plucked from its own depths and revealed. Then there is some turbulence and I return furiously to my book. This is the life within the life.