How Does It Start?

Oscar, an artist, is forced to examine elements of his past when a relative dies. He looks back on previous relationships, and how he recklessly used himself as a subject when he tried various dubious methods to drive creativity into his art. But beyond that, the reality behind some assumed truths from his history are unavoidably uncovered. A short novella about the impossibilities of art, the vagaries of history, and the perils of making bargains in relationships.

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Excerpt

How does it start? Perhaps with something inconsequential; with something that excites our emotions, or triggers a memory. Perhaps – in the way that it assaults or caresses us – it begins with our senses; is sensual in the most profound way. The sound of a bird in a tree, the rush of the breeze, or warmth on our skin. The taste of lemons that takes us back to Madeira, or the Brunello that is Tuscany, pure and simple. The reflection of the sun, sparkling and dancing on the lake near the bandstand – and is the bandstand near the tree and the bird? Is the water rippled by our breeze? Cut grass, fresh bread, pavements after rain; an alarm, a church bell, the cry of a baby deprived of milk; haze on the horizon, the magic of a rainbow, an unexpected reflection in a shop window; spices, the coldest ice-cream, coffee – the smell of, the taste of, the sound of percolation.

And then perhaps it starts with an accidental touch. Fingers brushing, momentarily. A fraction of a second that is a fraction too long; long enough to dwell for less than an instant, but in that moment is sufficient time to scribe volumes greater than anyone could ever imagine; whispers of hope and longing, foretelling of regret, sounds of crying, the most bitter taste, the indescribable tingle that sets forearm hairs to attention, hearts racing – not one, but two! – and pulses quickening, and in the eyes..! A whole lifetime. Or then again, is the trigger the absence of those things. Is it the desire for the accidental touch, or the lack of breeze, or sun, the need for rain, the silent church?

But start it does. Quickly or slowly, but inevitably. Painfully or joyously it will assail us, teach us, enliven or depress us, inspire, move, motivate, crush, destroy. And all we need is to be aware and awake, sensible to the certainty of its coming, of that moment when things freeze, the world shifts, and we must move on with a different reality. ‘All we need’…? The sensibility and intuition of a poet, the openness of a saint, the naivety of a child, a willingness to discover, an acceptance that we do not know enough – that we cannot know enough. And above all else perhaps, to embrace risk, and change, and the courage to make things different.

Is that it? The undefinable? Is that how we migrate through our lives and take our small steps towards a seemingly unending infinity of steps? If we could trace our lives, backwards through such moments, would we be surprised by what we found or lost, or by how little we knew? Would our ignorance astound us, or our lack of bravery and ambition, our absence of courage, bravado, morality – immorality! – and surrounding all of this, our inability to describe, articulate and make whole anything that has happened to us?

Now included in my collection “Secrets & Wisdom”