The point of philosophy is not to find out what happens in the world, but what it means to us, what affect the events that occur have on us. Philosophy is looking for the truth, not the truth of what is, but the truth of what “what is” means. Leave science to look for what is, we shall look at what is behind the veneer of reality.
Deep in the grey of the winter city, a ray of sunshine falls.
Gently it caresses the stones of buildings long-weathered.
Light brightens the faces of the people who turn, momentarily, to see if they can catch sight of an arc of colour dancing in a shower of rain.
The clouds part and the rain clears and the warmth of a spring like moment graces the streets, kissing the stones with colours hidden by the shadows.
A smile secretly twitches at the corner of each mouth as children giggle, splashing through the puddles.
We are warmed by the sun, and the flowers grow through the cracks in the stones.
Drifting down the streets in a daze of your own thoughts past the people equally insensitive to the bustle inside everyone else’s head. Completely mystified and absorbed inside your brain. Brushing past the people lining the pavement, passing you one way or the other, unaware even of the fact that you are a human being.
You dodge a smiling person, bedecked in charity blazoned, brightly coloured banner. Will you recognise, shaken from your continual humdrum of thoughts, that here is a person who wishes to connect with you?
Yes, yes, I know, they are doing a job, they will connect to ask if you wish to give.
Why does this scare you? You can always say no. There is always a choice. Why do you despise them? Better that they talk you into buying something that will sit beneath your stairs for years before you chuck it away? Or that they reveal to you the wonderful works people are performing and offer you a chance to join in? Is it that you despise yourself for not choosing to take a step towards making the world a little better, for a little while?
Or do you meet their eyes, share a smile, sure in your knowledge that you are in control of your choices? Do you listen knowing it is your choice, and then decide? Or do you already do something, however large or small, that helps? Do you reach out to those that need help? Do you touch, and allow yourself to be touched, by the world outside your head? Do you listen to what happens and make a choice to change?
If you do, I salute you.
So many people walk past, afraid to listen, taught to ignore.
What do you walk past?
What do I walk past?
He stretches, reaching high, on tiptoes with his arms outstretched, and plucks the sun from the sky. Feet planted back on the ground he looks at the glowing globe and wonders, “what now?”
Tossing the golden ball from hand to hand he wanders across the garden, passing a wistful frog. It is warm in his hands as he drifts into the courtroom. When he enters, to his surprise, every person standing in the room turns toward him and covers their eyes, falling to their knees.
A puzzled expression clouds his features for a moment and then his face clears and he smiles as he strides to the long-empty throne and takes his seat. He places the sun upon his head and it rests there for a moment before rising gracefully and soaring through the open door back into the sky, leaving a gorgeous golden glow around the new emperor.
The sky hangs low, grey and heavy with rain, the sharp-edged concrete buildings dull in the dim light.
In this rundown area the streets are cracked and broken, even the scrawls of graffiti lend no colour to the place, smothered in grime as it is.
The people, few as they are, walk with heads down, scurrying to their houses dreading rain or confrontation.
And the rain begins.
The hooded lads speed off on their bikes to drier places, even they are wary of natures hand.
The rain becomes a deluge and begins to wash away the filth that encrusts the street, it filters between the cracks and life stirs.
The rain passes, the weather warms, days go by and the small seed of life cracks and reaches toward the light, from the grime it gathers strength to rise and by chance it is overlooked by heavy feet and wheels.
More rain comes, the sun shines, and over time the plant grows into a beautiful yellow flower, shining like the sun it stretches towards.
A small child, following his ball out of the rocky front garden, spots the flower and a huge smile spreads across his face as he lovingly wrenches it from its home and runs inside, proudly presenting a piece of sunshine to his mother.
Her tender kiss thanks him and her smile echoes his as she promises to put it in water. He returns to his game, his duty done, dusted and forgotten, and the dandelion, knocked behind the sofa and eventually withered, is swept into the garden becoming filth itself.
The saying “like a sheet of snow” is considered clichéd when used in reference to a blank piece of paper. But like most clichés it is so close to the truth. This winter I was, for the first time, living in the countryside and when the snow came and covered my world with a crisp blanket of white, it elicited exactly the same response as a fresh page on which no mark has yet been made; a strong desire to fill it with marks and colours and shapes. So I was delayed in reaching my destination, leaving a trail of spirals and smiling faces in my wake.
A handprint atop a wall, footprints by the river, the absolute joy of making the world more beautiful, or at least making my mark upon it with the intent of beauty, is priceless. The grey faces of people huddling under woolly hats and muffled in scarves were a direct counterpoint to the smile on my face as I danced in the snow. So what if it is cold? The world is gorgeous today. So what if our hair and clothes are damp from snowflakes gracing us with their presence, they will not last long and we can always go inside and sit by a heater (no longer a roaring fire, alas) and watch them fall outside in graceful wafts or pouring sheets, catching the light as they arrive in our world. And I wonder, momentarily, about the people who cannot retreat to a warm place, about the flowers that have sprung before the late snowfall and the buds on the trees, and I admit that I shrug and enjoy the snow, saddened only for a moment by thoughts of things I cannot, at that moment, change.
Then I move on, enjoying a moment in my life where the entire world lays itself open to me, fresh and white and clean and ready for the patterns that will share my joy with the world.
And as I leave the playground of an artists dream to melt the traces of snow from my boots in the warm, I think to myself, perhaps, next year, I can use food colouring on the white, I wonder how that would turn out…
She sits, fingers caressing the time worn beads. Silence surrounds her, washing over her between waves of sound from cars passing by in the twilit evening.
Her pulse, not like a drum beat, but like waves crashing against the shore, rocks her softly in time with her heart. She hears a voice in the waves, a voice that calls her from the silence, deeper into the sound that fills her. Here she finds the sound within holds her, like an ocean inside her holds her tight in its arms. The salt sea of blood is an ocean of love cradling her in its arms.
The rocking expands into spinning, she expands into the ocean, sensing the spinning of time, of the earth. Her spirit spins and swirls, dancing in the ocean of salt, of blood, within her own veins, grown to fill her whole world.
She sits and rocks and spins and waits. Her own voice silent to those around her, joyously sings inside her head, joining the call of the ocean in a melody of beauty, a symphony of sound. Her heart opens, and the ocean responds. She reaches out and waits, patiently, for her goddess to join her.
You are running, dodging through the trees, heart in your mouth, branches catching your hair.
There is no path. You make your own path through the forest, dodging through the undergrowth, through the trees, no idea of where you’re heading, only that you’re pursued.
The dark green leaves surround you, catching at your hair, thorns claw at your skin, tearing, droplets of blood well up and mark your skin with threads of red, a pattern that reveal the shapes of your soul.
Even as you run, even as you dodge the branches overhanging your path, the path you make, that you forge in your fear from the forest, even then you realise that you are unsure of your destination.
You begin to remember that this, this is a test, that the patterns on your skin forming shapes and symbols in your blood will reveal to the priestess where your duty lies.
You hear the howling in the distance, the wolfsong calls your name and you remember, you know your heart of hearts, you know how to call the wind, to use words to reform the world. You know how the fire in your belly gives you strength, how to use this fire, how to flow like water and transform the earth of your body by changing your mind.
And you choose.
You stop and turn to face the hunters.
You feel the fire rise within you and you rewrite the language of the world, claim a new shape.
You too can walk as a wolf, you know how to wield the magic, and you do.
See the city far below, its streets darkened by the night.
See the streets, murky with grime, lit by spluttering street lamps and dim washes of warmth spilling through the windows of taverns, open late to patrons swilling drinks of their choice.
See a glimpse of motion from the corner of your eye… a young gang member slips silently from the shadows and slinks along the street as though they are perfectly within their rights to be here, nought wrong here officer.
From street to street the youth steadily travels, and certainty dawns that they are heading for something important. Momentarily you catch sight of their skin, bright colours glisten, inked onto their body. They have newly gained their gang markings, the bright colours of the Harlequins. Perhaps they lead the hunt tonight?
And see, here they slip between the houses and through a boarded window. This must be the place they were seeking.
Follow between the boards.
Behind the window is a corridor, the youth disappears around the corner to where faint light can be seen.
The light flows from a room of gorgeously garmented gang members, all with more colours than you ever realised could exist covering their skin in splashes and spirals and shapes. The walls are draped in cloths of dark red and green and gold, cloths which move gently in an unfelt breeze that causes the candles shedding their light to flicker.
You see the youth approach the room’s centre with some uncertainty, before bowing to one who appears no different from the rest, until they rise, revealing an elderly face but moving with more grace than any dancer, more certainty than any monarch.
The elder tips the youth’s face towards their own, and the young harlequin straightens up and meets their gaze. It feels as though a challenge is being issued, but what this challenge is you cannot be sure.
The youth nods. A challenge issued, a challenge accepted. The elder glides backwards and all present raise their arms, hands joined, in a circle surrounding the youth.
You sense a presence behind you and turn to look, but all you see are shadows in the corners, you turn back, and movement catches the edges of your vision, but when you focus, nothing is there.
In the centre of the circle the youth waits, their eyes closed, face raised to the ceiling, a slight smile plays at the corner of their mouth.
The presence behind you grows stronger, the sensation of something, or some-things, passing you at speed increases. But still you cannot see anything but the ripples of the phantom breeze in the cloths, the flickering of candles.
A subtle sound begins, a humming arising from the throats of those gathered here, and you realise that in the circle shapes are forming, creatures are surrounding the figure in the centre, you can see them take shape, but not quite what shape they take.
The shapes begin to buffet the youth, who stumbles sharply, the smile fading rapidly as their feet leave the ground and they tumble earthwards and are caught, suddenly, inches from the ground. Eyes open in panic, they catch the elder’s gaze, and seem reassured.
The youth holds out their hands, palm up in offering to the shapes that hold them. And the shapes place something in each palm, and the unease that has been steadily growing is replaced by joy, the unsettling humming by faint music that touches your heart and the youth is lowered gently to the ground, clutching something to their chest. The presence recedes and you feel pulled to return to the place you came from. For a moment you see the new gang member helped to their feet and welcomed by the other gang members, more colours and patterns will grace their skin after tonight, one for every choice made and challenge met.
And then… you see no more.