An artistic legacy doing good things
Life is a series of unshakeable forevers, unbreakable eras, eternal day-to-days.
When I was young, life was waking up to morning light dappling on the purple walls of my bedroom. Uniform laid out carefully on the chair ready for school. Cereal. Radio in the car on the way to school. Busy, noisy, familiar faces running around busy, noisy familiar buildings. New shoes. Everyone had Kickers, I had PODs. Important, it seemed at the time.
When I was young, life was sitting in assembly singing with all the other people. Waiting for someone to add “said he” on the last line of “I am the Lord of the Dance” and laughing with everyone else. Life was the Christmas play and everything leading up to it - the audition, the casting, the rehearsals, the costume fitting, the delicious excitement of opening night and the gentle murmur that runs through the audience of adults sitting on metal-legged chairs, holding their bags in their laps and looking for their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren waving just from out behind the curtain. The lights burning your exhilaration as you deliver your lines like the ringleader of your own imagination. Recorded on video. So young.
When I was young, life was everybody telling you your whole life was ahead of you as you left the exam hall for the last time and knowing that this wasn’t your school anymore. It was was the sun carrying breezes over the grass where you sat down and ate your sandwiches with him that time, and your heart still swims in a distant echo of when it thrashed in your chest as you caught each other’s eye. It was the calm inbetween belonging and longing to belong in a new world. For the first time, it was you emerging from endless fields of memory and casting yourself headfirst into a new beginning.
When I was young, life was hard and unusual as I experienced not only power and responsibility, but the passing over of both. The breath catching in your throat as you contemplate the endless possibilities and the destructive blanket of passivity that can smother each light in that vast ocean when you realise you’d somewhere along the way chosen to choose nothing at all.
When I was young, I was everything I had been up until each moment but tried to be everything I could be from moments that hadn’t happened yet or would never happen at all. I was a writer, though I never wrote. I was a painter, though I didn’t paint. I was a poet, though the words only echoed through my head and never touched paper. I was everything I could be, and yet became none of them.
When I was young, I treasured everything inside as though each possibility was an end. Life had stopped, and my best memories were precious, glowing, aborted possibilities.
When I was young, life started leaving people behind.
When I was young, I realised life would leave me behind too.
Now that I am young, life has taught me that it is not glowing embers but fireworks. Bright, shooting gleams of stars that colour the skies and smoke in their wake, bangs and shouts of multicoloured joy in the black peace before light after light sings and dances over upturned faces huddled together in big woolly hats and wellington boots and smiles.
Now that I am young, life is no longer waiting for me and my treasured possibilities.
Now that I am young, the only thing that I treasure is life.