small moments

it’s 10am and which day of the week it is i can’t be sure. it might be saturday. it’s definitely still the pandemic.

my typical morning goes like this:

*wake up without an alarm. it could be 5am or 8am, but rarely past 8. my body likes to be up early.

*stand, brush teeth, pull hair back into wild knot unbrushed.

*put the kettle on, cut a bagel in half and toss it in the toaster oven, then make a cup of yorkshire gold. stand in the kitchen and take some deep breaths.

*eat breakfast. sometimes i put on something to watch. lately i like youtube tarot readers. i am infinitely interested in everything esoteric lately.

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*take half-finished cup of tea out to my little sliver of my landlord’s back garden, which he’s said i can use. he put some pot plants and a small shed up to box my area in. when the pandemic hit, i asked to borrow one of their patio chairs. it’s my favourite thing.

*read and watch the sun crawl across the grass toward me. the shadow creeps ever backward and the sunlight creeps ever toward my feet, the sun gently scaling the rooftops of southeast london, popping its head up over tottering chimneys and brick walls.

for my morning read, i like to ingest something a little bit philosophical or spiritual. it makes my soul feel nourished. for a couple of weeks, that was falling upward: a spirituality for the two halves of life by richard rohr. once i finished that, i went back to screenplay: the foundations of screenwriting by syd field. yes it happens to be a spiritual book that nourishes my soul. read it, you’ll see why.

during this time i also get distracted and end up watching the gaggle of garden spiders that live in the wooden planks of the terraced part of the garden. they scurry around or sometimes stand near each other waving their pincers and legs around. i’m not sure if this is spider arguing, conversing or getting ready for sex. but then there isn’t that much difference between those three things anyway is there.

*at some point, the sun crests my house and starts to fall on my face. this feels warm. i usually close the book and bask in this for a few minutes.

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*at this point, every other day, i shower, towel dry my hair and spend an extra luxurious few minutes slathering lotion all over my shins and calves and toes and heels.

*then, i stand in front of the mirror topless and spread sunscreen all over my face, shoulders, neck and chest. i’ve been wearing almost the same thing every day – a spaghetti tank top – and my desert-girl skin does very well if i use a low SPF sunscreen and let it get a little bit brown each day. my skin really hates the long, dark, wet british winters and seems to even out to a glowing health with just a touch of sunshine on it regularly.

*meditate. i mix my meditations up, often going to the calm app’s daily meditation, or a simple timed meditation there. sometimes i pick an energy clearing meditation from youtube. some days i just sit in the garden and stare at nature as meditation. this is perhaps the most important part of my day, and has been since i started a meditation practice two januarys ago. this is the time of day where i regulate my nervous system. check in with what might be happening in my body, and therefore my emotions, and this is also a time when i often get nuggets of creative inspiration, particularly writing in my head which comes out kind of like channelling from another realm.

*by this stage in the day, it’s past 10 or sometimes past 11. i’ve managed to eek out 2-3 hours of time just by lingering over small moments. usually from here on out i’ll incorporate a mix of editing my aunt’s book, writing or researching for my own writing projects – such as this essay series i’m writing, ‘china as i have known it’ – and reading other books in the sun. sometimes i crack open a can of locally brewed beer from my fridge and really let the sun hit me.

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i’m working my way through no less than seven books right now and love the freedom to dip in and out of different stories and ideas throughout the day. these books include:

  • theodora, empress of byzantium, paolo cesaretti
  • flux, stephen baxter
  • our universe, jo dunkley
  • a field guide to getting lost, rebecca solnit
  • homer’s iliad
  • the universe, john gribbin
  • screenplay: the foundations of screenwriting, syd field

*in the evenings, i make a simple meal. i am not a creative or advanced cook, but i can make a few simple and tasty things that i enjoy eating. this is generally accompanied by one or more glasses of red wine and an episode of the x-files, which i am re-watching in its entirety.

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*then, i tidy, put the kettle on again, make a cup of herbal tea (or sometimes take another glass of wine) and go outside to sit and look at the stars, or watch the moon rise, or catch the streaming lights of elon musk’s horrendous but eye-candyish new starlink satellites as they pass over the uk like a string of tiny pearls.

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as i was sunscreening up this morning, looking at myself in the mirror, i felt that familiar tug of the ego mind chiding me that i should be doing moredoing something. making the most of this time. i call my ego mind “brian”, a misspelling of brain (maybe i’ve mentioned that here before). naming my fragile ego has helped me get a handle on it, and talking to it really keeps my soul in the driver’s seat and my mind relegated to an in-case-of-emergency suggestion. brian never fully shuts up, but through practice i am able to ignore his panicked pleas most of the time.

it’s a voice maybe we are all battling. the need to be productive. in actual fact, i have gotten more writing, more reading and more important soul work done these past two months than i have in years prior. it’s not earning me any money (yet) but i feel purposeful and whole and deeply satisfied and happy. fuck productive, i say.

so, how can we sort our world out in a way that gives equal income for everyone and lets people put the beauty and purpose and usefulness in where they are most passionate?

going forward, i’ll be writing books. and helping to protect the natural night, and offering people a doorway to the universe and stars. i have no interest in a ‘real job’. and i’m not sure how these passions will come together to keep me fed and sheltered. but i am trusting future me and the universe to make it happen.

let me know if you know any literary agents who might resonate with my writing.

I write for free. If you enjoy my writing and have the means, you may toss some coins into my tip jar (via Paypal), or buy me a coffee on Ko-fi.

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