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Sunday 30 September 2012

The maze

Stepping inside, the sun vanishes from sight and the air around instantly cools my warm skin. And so I begin my journey to find the centre of the maze. Following the hedged wall around, I find myself facing the first choice of the afternoon; Left or right? I ponder this dilemma briefly before turning off to the left and continuing on through. There is something oddly comforting about being lost in here and I have no choice but to let go and listen to the birds singing knowingly all around.
Before long, once again, I am faced with another decision. Straight ahead or veer off to the right? Both pathways look tempting in an absolutely identical way. I turn off and continue on. I have been walking now for about twenty minutes, still none the wiser as to the location of my destination. 
And as I journey onwards through the leafy maze, I begin to think about all the times I have felt lost. In life, there is no map to guide us. When we hit a wall, we have no choice but to stop, turn around and continue on a different path. Sometimes, we can put so much effort into something only to find ourselves right back where we started, we don't think we will ever have the energy to try again. 
But regardless of whether we turn left or right, go straight ahead or turn back the way we came, there will always be another corner to take, another dead end to hit and another choice to make...and that's ok; we always find our way in the end. 
And that afternoon I did, just when I least expected it.

Sunday 23 September 2012


Autumnal evening rain begins to fall. The sky was blue when I left the house this morning and now cool drops are finding their way onto my face as strangers around me begin to rush home.
I make my way up the steps towards the platform and look up at the illuminated board.
Next train: 4 minutes.
At least I'm undercover. And so I stand there at the top, sheltered from the rain, looking around.
I watch as a couple on the other platform walk slowly from one end to the other, pulling heavy cases behind them. I wonder where they have travelled from and where they are going. The only other person on my platform is a man sitting at the end, engrossed in the evening edition of a newspaper. I wonder what story he is reading and what he makes of this crazy, beautiful world we live in. My attention is pulled upwards as a plane begins to climb noisily away from City Airport. Soon it will be high above the clouds just in time to catch the last glimpse of a burning sunset, invisible to the rest of us down here.
Next train: 2 minutes.
My mind starts to wander and I think about how everything seems to be in a constant state of change. Conversations and moments flood my mind as rain continues to fall onto glistening concrete.
And then I realise something.
I will never again be standing on this platform, watching these particular people on this wet, late September evening. As soon as I leave here, this moment will be gone, forever.
As the train pulls gently in, I'm reminded that wherever we go in life and whatever we do, we only ever have this moment...And everything's perfect.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Seasonal sounds

The chandeliers dim and a hush falls over the audience. A scent of dark, solid wood hangs heavy in the air and I watch as candles flicker and dance all around. The orchestra begins to tune their instruments, creating a jumble of chaotic sound. Bows stroke strings and air blows through reed. After a few seconds, silence once again falls through the church.
And so it begins.
A melody written over 400 years ago comes back to life in an instant and as I close my eyes, I wonder how many people have heard this piece over the centuries.
Violins, cellos and oboes come to life to create the most beautiful sound which wafts up towards me and straight into my heart.
A cold police siren whizzes past, breaking my peace and I am temporarily reminded that I am surrounded by 7 billion people. And as I fall back into the music I notice that the deep blue sky which earlier spilt in through tall windows has now been replaced by a duskiness that serves only to make me feel cosier.
I suddenly realise that autumn is back. The cool nights will be drawing in and leaves will fall. A pang of sadness washes over me as I realise that I never got a chance to say goodbye to our lovely last season. Something magical happened this summer with London 2012 and I can't shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, I have been changed forever.

Sunday 9 September 2012

Desert lights

As the lift doors slide open, a wave of bright light and electronic noise smashes into me. I step out into the hotel casino and my senses are suddenly electrified. Snaking my way through the endless rows of hypnotic slot machines, I slow for a moment to watch the woman with her back to me. Mesmerised by flashing lights and spinning wheels, she reaches into her large plastic cup without looking and pulls out a handful of quarters. One by one she delicately places them into the slot and continues to push random buttons. She must be doing something right as no sooner as she does this, a handful more are spewed out the bottom. She barely cracks a smile and I can't help but wonder how long she has been sitting there; it is still only 8.30am. 
I smile for her. 
As I continue onwards past green poker tables and spinning roulette wheels, I notice that there is something very warm and cozy about being in this surreal bubble; the lack of any natural light just adds to my sense of disorientation.
Walking through the lobby and out of a revolving door, the burning sun instantly warms my face and it takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the new light.
I am suddenly struck by the peculiarity of standing in the middle of a desert, surrounded by all of this. I love the randomness of it all...and right on cue as I turn the corner, two lycra-clad superheroes walk casually past sipping their Starbucks as they make their way to work. 
In a few short days I will be back home again. But right now, I'm where I'm meant to be. 
And it's glorious.