Monthly update – Shadows on the Wall [July 2014]

10535761_10152543515146259_5783653041199092863_oYes, this is an July update being sent at the beginning of August. It was either that or skip a month. That was entirely on the cards, but then for three nights in a row I dreamed I was in one of the various workplaces I’m in at the moment, and I was not delivering on something I said I would.

I had no feeling of anxiety and I don’t believe in prophetic dreaming. What it brought to mind how easy it is to get swept up in the things that we’re doing and lose track of things that get started, especially long-term projects and commitments.

July was intense. It began with a bang – a short short story I wrote, Shadows on the Wall, being published by online literary journal Seizure. At 200 words it’s VERY short. But it’s my first published fiction, so yeah.

I went to Japan for 12 fabulous days, hanging out with my little sister among other things – more images and words from there soon. (The picture is from Atsuta Shima, a Shinto shrine and one of the many very peaceful places I visited).

Before and after the trip I worked like crazy – one disadvantage of working for yourself is there are no paid holidays: I either do the work at other times or I don’t get paid.

Filtering through the whole month, casting a surreal glow over everything I did, was news coming in from Gaza, particularly the hundreds of Palestinian children who have been killed in Israeli airstrikes that targeted schools, mosques and hospitals.

Say what you like about the causes of this conflict, and who is right or wrong, but targeting children is just plain barbaric.

For me this crisis crystalised the importance focusing on the bigger picture. It’s so easy to lose sight of. Sometimes the problem is new shiny things, sometimes I can’t let go of my pride, a lot of the time it’s easier just to turn away and throw myself into one of the infinite distractions available to me than to make tough choices and do what I know needs to be done.

The title of my short short story, Shadows on the Wall, is a reference to one of my favourite pieces of philosophy, Plato’s analogy of ‘the cave.’ Basically, the idea is that the world we think is real is actually just shadows on the wall of a cave, created by the light and movements of the real world behind us. It’s an idea which was taken up in the Matrix.

I think about this idea a lot. I ask myself ‘once I’ve seen what’s happening in the world, how can I go back to the chains in front of the wall and pretend those flickering shadows are what is real?’ For me the answer is I can’t.     

Anyway, that’s about all from me for now. Hope you’re well.

Mark

PS: At time of writing a ceasefire in Gaza holds. One way you can help Palestinians is by donating to Union Aid Abroad: APHEDA – the organisation I travelled to the Middle East with in early 2012 – which fund projects on the ground in Gaza, empowering people and communities to become self-sufficient. Their work will be even more important now, so please give if you can.

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