Conformity and the Path to Freedom

Posted on Mar 21, 2015


St Mary's Churchyard, Hemel Hempstead, taken by the author

St Mary’s Churchyard, Hemel Hempstead, taken by the author

Well, it has been a while since I have written anything on here due to ‘normal’ life taking over and towing the line, conforming like everyone else; well mostly everyone else anyway. I have felt like a Cyberman these past few weeks; trapped without my own voice and doing as I am told. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a free spirit and am happiest by the coast or nestled amongst the mountains, or as close to them as I can get. Oh to be in Kinsale in Ireland now and half of my other dreams would be just that and not what I am trying to fit in in such a short space of time.

I sat deep in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church yesterday after work on my way home as the sun shone through the trees watching the squirrels play, one seeming to think about coming over to me or not; letting my mind drift off to all sorts of places magical and dark and all too real…

I remember long ago, back in 1996, I was faced with a decision about my future and what I wanted from it and where I was going in my life. I was in my early twenties and very unsure of myself as a person. In fact I was not a very confident person at all really and was ‘different’ from what I am now but aren’t we all at some stage in our lives. I remember that I had a weekend to think about a move to Ireland or stay put in my hometown. I had never lived anywhere else before, especially on my own but I loved Ireland dearly. I hated the fact that I had to make that decision in just two days. If I chose no then I would only have a few short weeks employment left but if I chose yes then I would be living a different life and on a new adventure.

I sat at this bench facing this tree that you see a picture of lost in deep thought (something I do a lot of) when suddenly this old tramp appeared as if out of nowhere. I neither heard nor saw him coming and it was impossible for me not to notice his approach from the position in which I sat. Anyway he asked if it was okay to sit with me and I looked at him, saw the state of him and was going to say I just needed to be alone; in fact I think I mumbled something along those lines but I said yes to him for there was something in his eyes, something kindly that said he meant no harm nor malice.

St Mary's Churchyard, Hemel Hempstead, taken by the author

St Mary’s Churchyard, Hemel Hempstead, taken by the author

So he sat down and took in the rays of the sun and the tranquillity much as I was when I took these pictures. He did not speak for a few moments. We both just sat in silence lost in out thoughts and then he asked me what is bothering me? “How did you know?” I asked him? He replied I was easy to read! Pah! I thought and smiled for many people accuse me of never talking and find it difficult to understand me or my thoughts. He said no-one as young as me should be troubled by things no matter how bad they are. I felt guilty seeing as how he was a tramp and slept rough and struggled to put food in his belly.

His dirty nose twitched and I swear his grimy grey beard had things in it but something made me stay with him, talk and listen. His long grey hair lay lank and greasy to his shoulders and his clothes were filthy. He had a bag; a holdall of sorts with his worldly belongings inside I assumed.

I told him my problems were not his and he replied it is sometimes better to talk to a stranger than it is someone you know for you will never see them again and with that I told him of my predicament. He nodded and listened without judgement or interruption and waited for me to finish when I finished with the line, “so what do I do?”

He mulled it over for a few moments as we watched the squirrel’s play and the light breeze play over us and then he answered me. “What have you got to lose by going,” he asked me? If I went he said, then I could easily come back in a few short months if I did not like it or feel comfortable or stay out there and try something else but by staying still and doing nothing but the same thing then I will never know what may have been.

I felt a great weight lift off my shoulders that afternoon then and he noticed. I thanked him and as you would expect he asked for money and my anger rose a little inside of me but he said, knew that I could not afford much and was happy with a pound to get a sandwich or something. I never give to street people because there are so many who are lying through their teeth or use it for other means and not for what it should be used for but to him I gave him my last few coins that I had in my pocket and bank account at the time I think and told him so. I remember him smiling and said that small act of kindness would be remembered or something along those lines. With that he bade me good luck with my decision and disappeared into the sunlight. I never saw him again. Within a few short days I found myself living in the outskirts of Dublin and eventually in the city itself. I shall always remember that tramp and his words and it is now that I think of him and that afternoon much.

Eclipse Picture courtesy of

Eclipse Picture courtesy of

Back to the present I had missed the earlier eclipse due to a very rude and moody grey sky; heavy clouds floating there, unmoving. I could hear them laughing maliciously as people enjoyed the eclipse all over the UK, Ireland and beyond. I was gutted. It is a natural phenomenon but I like to see something else in it, a time for change maybe?

This blog was set up to do a bit of everything but to see how my poetry/lyrics would be received and it has grown into a huge piece of work with the latter dominating the whole thing. I had intended to do everything equally so my experience would grow and my writing improve but the poetry took over for a while. Now though I have decided not to post too much of it and take a break as I want to publish it professionally and be paid for it.

At least that is one of my dreams for who wants to work the nine to five in a dead-end job for the rest of their lives? Certainly not me. I have done far too many of those and I have reached a point in my life where the dream is far greater than the reality but sadly the latter decided to kick me whilst I was on the rise recently and is giving me a good fight but I shall keep the faith and get to where I want to be within a few short months.

I have had to give up quite a lot of late, especially a brilliant volunteer job with the Dacorum Heritage Trust which I loved doing with all my heart. The people were fantastic and the job was interesting and intriguing especially for an aspiring writer like me where ideas jump out of the history of artefacts and pages in abundance. It broke my heart to leave but I had to make a tough decision at the time and I know it was for the best. It will always hold a special place within my heart as will those that worked there and still do.

So whilst I slave away in conformity and my inner voice screams for freedom, all I can do is battle on, fighting away all that tries to stop me, remain focused and ignore all doubt and uncertainty that comes my way, including the naysayers and those that it will break my heart to ‘leave’ behind.

What with an election looming and coming up fast with no hope or belief in any of them, an escape from the madness of life is not only a dream but a necessity.

For now I only have this website but at some point this year I will change it to something special I hope and will have a few more surprises in store that I have been working on for some time now, not all of it writing either although I have a lot of that to do over the weekend and oncoming week including book reviews, a review for a play I am seeing Tuesday (The Call of Cthulhu), some poems and of course my novels and short stories. Life got in the way and is still present but not for much longer.

Watch this space…