A one-penny revolution
I went for a walk this morning and wrote this straight away when I got in, before I had chance to read anything online or become fearful or ashamed or have any second thoughts, while I was still holding onto the wonderful feeling. And now I’m going to post it unedited anyway because every single joyful moment in life is something you should hold in both hands and treasure.
This morning I went to have blood taken for another blood test.
I walked to the doctors’ surgery for my 8.30am appointment. When I came out, the sun was still rising, it was just starting to be sunny, so I kept walking. I walked past the church and through Overleigh cemetery. I was listening to Noblesse Oblige. The sun was climbing through the trees and framing the monuments and the stained-glass-green-yellow-orange foliage in silhouette with sun rays. There was still overnight frost in the air and everything was hung with raindrops and it hit me like a clock striking how beautiful everything, everything is. The colours, the way light catches things. Spiderwebs. Leaves. Your breath steaming in the air. I walked back to the road and everything smelled of rain and wet leaves. A flock of magpies flew overheard, an actual flock – I counted six but I think there was more, I hope there was because I’d rather have a wish or a kiss than gold. When I got to the road I started walking home, but then I turned and walked down a road I’d never been down before instead. I was listening to Passion Pit. The road leads to a couple of schools. A sign: stop, look, listen; this is exactly what you need to do. I stopped to look at the sign, how the weathering had made patterns between the letters. I walked further and the road started to turn into footpath. There was a field with horses. There was horsehair caught in barbed wire on the fence-posts, which were splintering into sculptural texture. There were trees which were bright red against a blue sky, and some kind of cultivated plant with bright yellow candles of flowers and everything was glittering. I switched off my music for a while to listen to the birds sing, the traffic hum, the wind round the buildings and through the trees. I stood for a long time watching a robin in a tree and waiting for him to sing again. I could feel people staring at me while they went past. Why would someone stand outside a school and stare at a tree? Nobody was going to ask though. Why wouldn’t someone?
I started for home when the robin flew away. Everything was magic. I was listening to King Charles. Suddenly everything I looked at was beautiful: the shapes of roofs against the sky, the shapes of leaves against the pavement, the stripes of colour like the bands on seashells that I never noticed before on a brick wall by my house. The Beluga flew overhead. I stopped to look at a perfect leaf on the floor. A bin lorry stopped too and cast a shadow over us. They were wondering what I was looking at. I carried on down the road, but when they moved on, I went back to take a photograph of the leaf lit by the sun. People saw me crouching down. They probably wondered. Why, though? In the past, even something as small as that, as people wondering why I’d slow down to look at something completely inconsequential, has stopped me from doing things. I have changed, this year.
I’ve talked a lot recently with my best friend who lives half a world away about how people are so cynical, everything has to mean something, everyone has to have the upper hand, how people are obsessed with success. Simplicity and naivety and faith and joy are mocked. It’s a mistake. People are making a mistake. A fortress of cynicism is not going to make you happy. We go through lives afraid of asking questions in case we look stupid, afraid to be ourselves in case we get judged, afraid to do what we love in case it’s not communally approved. I’ve been through this over and over again with my writing: nobody’s making a feature film of my work, so I must be a failure. No publishing house will touch me, so I must be doing it wrong. We need to stop living our lives as if someone’s always watching, because when we’re constantly checking ourselves we’re missing all the important things, the tiny things like leaves on pavements that will make us simply happy for no real explainable reason.
I felt happier this morning than I’ve done in weeks, because I went where my heart took me and allowed myself to just appreciate the moment and notice the world around me, instead of ‘doing work that I should be doing’. I was away from the internet, away from the artifice. I’ve read so much lately online about revolution – million masks and all that – and it’s made me nothing but miserable, watching the arguments flare. We do need a revolution. But what I read about always seems to involve one faction against another; one tearing down injustice at the expense of a wrongdoer. However it’s painted, though, somebody is always the loser. I don’t think that it’s possible for one person or one group to change the world for the better. Revolution will only work if everyone signs up for it. And huge change is unwieldy. Imagine though if every person in the world who could afford it gave just one penny to a giant pot which could then be redistributed. How much those tiny increments could mount up. Of course, someone would have to organise it though and then more problems would crop up because that’s just the nature of people. Imagine then if everyone in the world smiled at somebody else just one more time during the day, every day. Call it a love revolution if you like. A one-penny revolution. If they took just one minute a day to stop and look and listen and appreciate what was around them, even if it was just the way endless rain bounces like fleas off the shiny bonnets of traffic-jammed cars, or the patterns soot makes streaking concrete tower blocks. Or if everyone were just a tiny fraction kinder, or less cynical, or more loving. Just a tiny fraction. Imagine how much, across the whole world, all those little scraps of happiness would mount up. Do you think the whole atmosphere of the world would lift, just a little?
Really, all I wanted to do was try and share that morning with you. It’s still only 10.30am. Not every day will be like this. But I want to appreciate the ones that are.