HIGHLIGHTS from my Blog Posts

CHOOSING EARTH - March 2017

Imagine if you will a rather different take on ‘standing at the gates of Heaven’. In this scenario - which is more of an interview - you are deciding whether to live on Earth as a Human.

Let’s build on the idea. The interviewer – let’s call him/her ‘The Manager’ is a cross between a travel agent, an overworked corporate boss and a psychiatrist. You both run through a basic description of the planet, its geography and features, the locations you might choose – and then more serious matters are discussed. You have decided to be born in the United Kingdom.

The Manager: You have chosen quite a tough planet. You may not find it easy to settle down. You’ll be vulnerable right from the word go if your physical appearance doesn’t meet certain standards.

You: What standards?

The Manager: They make them up as they go along. Then there’s intelligence.  You need to be bright, but at times you’d be wise to hide it if you are.

You: So far so good, I’ll play along. Any other difficulties?

 

The Manager: I would say one of the problems is the frailty of their bodies. They are very poorly designed. Humans haven’t evolved very well, and they are not good at looking after themselves. Even when they do, they can be struck down by physical and mental illnesses which they tackle in all manner of ways, none of which are particularly effective. It won’t be possible to choose a design, I’m afraid.

You: I’m well aware of that.

The Manager: Explain to me why you think you would be suited to this planet?

You: I’m passionate about some of its beautiful features and the way in which Humans interpret them through art, music and other forms of communication.

The Manager: Huh! If you think your lifetime there will enable you to devote yourself entirely to philosophical matters, you really haven’t investigated it properly at all! The odds of you being born into – or, for that matter, working to achieve such a life are far too long.

A pause ensues.

The Manager: You may find yourself emotionally ill-equipped to cope. You understand that you may form attachments to people; that those people may let you down or die. You may produce children:  burdens of responsibility and emotional ties. Could you handle this?

You: I’m prepared to try, willing to learn, keen to contribute. Will these qualities be sufficient?

The Manager (with a sigh): I think you may be in for a rather rough time. Go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh, and try to remember not to take sides.

You: Which side shouldn’t I take?

The Manager: Heaven only knows…

EARTH...

A DOOR OUT OF DEPRESSION - November 2015

 

I’m trying to help three people at the moment. Let’s call them A, B and C. At the same time I have been working on my second novel ‘Stopping Time’. I say working, but in fact it is thinking which takes up much of a writer’s time. A recent visit to a timeless and uplifting place on Dartmoor called Brentor, led me to want to post a photograph on this blog. So the photo which you see here is the view from the doorway of the small church which is perched on top of Brentor.

 
If you have read my first novel, ‘Losing Time’, you will know that doors are important to me. In the book doors can be portals across time and sometimes across dimensions.  I often look at doors and wonder where they lead to, whether they might in some strange way prove a physical entrance to a life-changing experience, or instead a mental change in crossing the threshold of a memory or thought. So the minute I saw this doorway into – and out from – such an unusual place, I knew that it might be somewhere I could use in my writing.
 
When I started thinking along these lines, I was worried about B. B is suffering from depression and going through a very bad patch at the moment. Many members of our family suffer and have suffered from this terrible illness, and I am well aware of the dark-induced chemical change which the brain suffers. An attack of depression is almost like the onset of a cold, because the minute you recognise it, you know that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It will creep insidiously upon you, whispering softly into your mind: I’m back…
 
November is a bad month for depression. The low autumn light and the dying trees, together with the acrid smell of bonfires all conspire against the greatest of optimists. I am drawn, in the late afternoon, to make tea and hot toast, draw the curtains against the failing light and switch on cheerful lamps. B is not so lucky. B is probably still at work, struggling to maintain the status quo and the everlasting pretence which accompanies this condition. B won’t be able to leave the desk and make a quick mug of some hot beverage, without being observed by everyone else. B, in a sudden onset of paranoia, daren’t go home until everyone else has gone. By then it will be dark and the glare of streetlamps  and flashing car lights will have replaced natural light.
 
I don’t have any wonderful remedy for depression. I can only listen on the end of a phone and tentatively suggest optimistic things: daylight lamps, good food, and plans to look forward to. I must include visits to – or if this is impossible, pictures and memories of – some of the best places where someone depressed has felt happy and uplifted. Brentor is certainly one of these for me. There are a few others, usually high places where the sun shines and the air is like champagne.
 
In the current book, I have a character in a very dark place indeed. I hope to rescue him before long. Perhaps a door will open into his miserable world and invite him back on to the top of a moor, in Summer, when all is green.

 

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© P R Ford