Update and Confessions No.1

It goes without saying that all Open Mic events for this season have been suspended. It makes me very sad to say as I was so looking forward to meeting and spectating a host of new acts, Reanna Jiggins was to join us in April and Henry and Audry (Two Bob Note) were to perform in May. I will also miss enjoying fabulous local food from Robert and Marion Macrae. But safety first. It’s a small sacrifice to make for the continued wellbeing of our community.

Instead I invite artists from near and far to contribute their recordings, videos, writing, art, photography, whatever it may be, to this OpenMic Online stage.

I have a couple of poems to offer and the first instalment of my Confessions that I will continue to write throughout isolation.

As the Crow Flies

The flight of the lonely Crow
Well mirrors
My mind in Isolation. 


Music, space and silence
Welcome comrades
In the conquest of night. 

Confession No.1

My name is Kirtsen Mackie. I am the author. I have a confession to make.

This is what I have always dreamt of. Not the end of the world bit. But the being here alone without any human contact. Just my dog and myself surrounded by books and empty pages with nothing but time to move me; isolation.

For most of my adult life I have actively sought isolation and anonymity. I cannot help but become embroiled in the goings on of the world around me. To have the space, the time and the peace to pursue my creativity is something of a luxury.

When this began I knew I would have the time to work on some personal creative projects in place of all those that have had to be put on hold in light of the circumstances. But this knowledge put a pressure on myself to complete them. With however many months we are to be locked down like this I started to worry if it would be enough. No ideas were coming to me for any of the half finished poems and stories I have stashed in my mind. No matter how hard I thought about it.

Then last night I spoke to a friend of mine over WhatsApp. We watched Boris Johnson’s speech from our respective ends of the United Kingdom Island then joined each other for a drink on video. Strange how we never thought to use this technology before the current crisis.

Her room, like mine, was filled with virgin sheafs of paper, unfinished projects and to do bits and bobs. How long before they were all completed and we were frantically climbing the walls?

She said rather than worry about what to fill our days with and how much we can get done that we should all of us take this time to rest; take a time out, meditate, contemplate, recharge and rethink the meaning of life.

Today I started slowly. That may have had something to do with the bottle of wine I drowned my fears in.

I relinquished my anxiety over approaching deadlines that will not be met, months of planning that has been thrown out the window and expectations of my own and of others that cannot be fulfilled.

I made a lazy breakfast. As I examined the contents of my fridge I accepted that I will eat only what is available for now and maybe forever.

I watched a film; The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew Maconaughey. I realised that my parents are rock stars. I realised that the default depiction of white heterosexual males as lead and authority roles with minority and female actors as supportive or subordinate was culturally dated. By the end of the film I was troubled by how racist it seemed. I could not deny my enjoyment of Maconaughey’s performance.

I busied myself with making eco bricks while the film played in the background. It was satisfying to feel the weight of the finished litre bottle, brimming with rubbish bits of plastic packaging, and begin the next one. All the while imagining what could be built with them.

I relaxed. Gradually notebooks opened up around me. Scribbles became structured thoughts, plans were pivoted; expression came freely. I could focus on a single exercise without worrying if it were a productive use of my time. I did not calculate its immediate value. I did it for the joy. It may be a building block or it may be a diversion. Whatever.

Map of an imaginary place. (Based on Applecross)

I realised that I am fortunate. I have the great outdoors to roam in and a Collie dog that needs walking. I can indulge in the sweet solitude afforded by my remote Highland home. I can take solace in the unfolding Spring, the tragic beauty of the wild landscapes around me.

It is a selfish joy. While I am employed by a school that will (I hope) continue to pay me others are stranded in a limbo of Universal credit and wagelessness. It is easy for me to advise contemplation and creative endeavour. But I hope that we can all at least achieve a sense of peace and positivity by acknowledging we are all in this together. The feelings are shared.

How many times in history has the world as a whole experienced a single event so momentous and life altering? What horrors will it hold for us yes, but what good can we make of it?

At the school we are planting food enough for the whole community, if it comes to that. We are thinking of our neighbours; extending our virtual hands and whatever help we can. We are igniting dialogue in friendships that we ordinarily neglect.

We are thinking of the future, uncertain as it may be.

We will witness some wonderful weather. Maybe that will sway our belief in the simultaneous Climate emergency. I have given up smoking and very quickly I felt the reinvigorating effect on my health. The Earth will experience the same now, will we take heed?

Isolation. Look on the bright side.

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