5 July 2012

Magical Moments

As some of my Twitter followers will know, on Sunday I was struggling with the words.  I was trying to work on my work in progress, an adult novel, which currently stands at 57,000 words.  I’m not obsessed with my word count, but I do find it helps if I set targets for the day.  I managed a somewhat pathetic 140 words in an hour, and I’m not even sure they were good ones.  My head was full of stuff, I was distracted, felt unfocussed, just couldn’t get under the characters’ skins, something I don’t normally have a problem with.  It just wasn’t happening.  I got angry.  I had a moan on The Twit – thank you to all those who perked me up a bit – and decided a hound walk was needed!  Along with tea, cheesecake, and a variety of other beverages that shall not be named, a hound walk pretty much solves all evils as far as I’m concerned.

So, I donned my walking shoes and jacket and ventured out with the hound.  I stomped up the road, earphones in, Linkin Park blasting in my ears, arms swinging like a woman on a mission.  Anyone who saw me probably quaked in their boots!  We made our way out to the fields, my favourite place, and carved ourselves a path through the evergrowing grass and thistles.  I chopped the tops off the grass as we walked with the side of my hand (that’s how fed up I was) and kicked the thistles out of the way.  It was boggy, wet, slippy underfoot in places, but the more I stomped, the better I began to feel.

A few fields in, we passed through the kissing gate and into a field of very long grass.  Then, all at once, my stomping stopped.  Something quite amazing was happening.  Above my head, six or seven house martins appeared from nowhere.  I stood rigid, eyes to the skies, jaw dropped, and watched as they dove above me, swooping at shoulder height alongside me, dancing four or five feet above my head.  I stood like this, knee deep in long grass, watching, for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably a few minutes.  By the time I moved, my cheeks were wet through with tears, my heart full of joy.

Somebody up there, the big fella in the sky… whoever… saw fit to give me five minutes of magic.  I shall never forget it.  Those few minutes are up there with the invisible singing skylarks in a clear blue sky at Magpie Mine, up there with the day in rural France when they had the most amazing storm – the first rain for four years – and all the people who lived and worked on the free range turkey farm I was staying on (yes, really!) danced and sang in the rain… and yes, I joined in!  And yes, his magical moment cleared my head.  I came home, and I wrote this blog post and this poem, inspired by the whole thing.  Wonders will never cease eh?

Send in the birds

Head barbed and spinning
I seek out peace beyond house walls
that wraps their hands around my throat,
beyond the absence of words

pound out pain in fierce footsteps,
crush thorns beneath my feet.

And the wind in my face
tells me stories.
The rain on my skin says hello.

Spaces wrap around me
and pull me ever forwards,
beating out the rhythm
of my tangled heart.

Then I stop,
stand still in grass knee high,
no twitch no twist
just a tilt of the head

as birds swoop like stars
dividing and cutting the light
around my eyes,
almost brush my shoulder

as tears brush my cheeks,
a welcome release

and those absent words begin
to form again.

Have you ever had any truly magical moments that have helped your writing?

About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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16 Responses to 5 July 2012

  1. Jo Carroll says:

    This is lovely, Abi.

    The task – to be open to those moments. I wonder if, were we to be open to them all the time, there would be more of them? Some days feel so full of stuff there’s no time for magic. (Note to self – stop and smell the roses, etc!)

  2. I think that’s exactly it, Jo. We really do have to let these moments happen. Be out, be spontaneous, take time just to ‘be’ and to look… and yes, smell those flipping roses eh? 😉

  3. Jenny Alexander says:

    I walk every day, and have experienced so many of these. Sometimes, if my mind won’t get off it’s treadmill, I distract it by switching to actually watching out for the ‘miracle moment.’ Then, it might come unmistakable and clear like your house martins, or small and perfect, like a thrush eyeing me steadily from a branch in the hedge… but whatever it is, my mind is soft and pliable again, and then the words or ideas I’ve been striving for arrive all on their own. Nice post!

  4. Ahhhh! That’s a lovely way of putting it Jenny. Thank you 😉

  5. Malaika says:

    Off to the hospital for treatment – but will keep my eyes open for the magical miracle moment. You, girl, are an inspiration!

  6. Awww!!! Malaika, what a lovely thing to say. Have filled up now 😉 Thank you xx

  7. Oh those magical moments! I wrote about this on someone else’s comments recently…My most magical moment was one of my first dates with hubby…
    We wandered off into a forest with a romantic picnic, it was lightly raining, but only enough to leave glistening dewdrops in our hair. On our way back we paused when we came face to face with a deer. We stood and stared, only a few feet apart, for about five full minutes, until a far-off noise frightened the deer and it turned and galloped into the trees.
    Amazing…one of those moments that is burned into your memory forever!
    Like Jo said at the beginning, we just need to keep our eyes open and actually notice those moments! I don’t see deer every day, but I do see tiny little things that make me marvel if I look closely enough!
    Love the poem!

    • What a gorgeous story Lisa. Made me go goosebumpy! I wonder, maybe we should collect these magical moments and make little hand-made magical books of them – would be special wouldn’t it? Glad you like the poem too – was a quick 5 minute one written when I got home!

  8. Emma Pass says:

    How wonderful! Nature always seems to come up with these moments just when we need them, doesn’t it? We live in a truly amazing world, and I love it when it tiptoes up behind us and taps us on the shoulder to remind us!

  9. You’re spot on, Em. We really do, and a lovely metaphor for it too… you’re rather good with the words aren’t you? 😉

  10. Martin Day says:

    Love your story, Abi – and an echo of some of my experiences. I have always revelled in the wonders of nature and can remember a number of times when I have unexpectedly been an audience to a magical display that I seemed to have just stumbled into. I once had an extraordinary experience. It was on Saturday 14, April, 2007. I know the date because I wrote about it in my journal. So I thought you might like to see that extract, unguarded and unedited, in full – via the miracle of cut& paste! (NB. Sam is my son)

    “I had taken Sam and Josh to Football training and as I parked I noticed a small chaffinch on the ground near the car. The boys got out and I made myself comfortable to do some reading. I then kept hearing little taps on the rear side window. It was the chaffinch trying to fly in through the window. It kept doing it 10 or 15 times. So reached over and wound down the window to see if it would fly in with me. It carried on still tapping on what was still showing of the window. And then it landed on the top, but it didn’t come in. It looked around and then flew off again. But over the next half hour it kept coming back doing the same thing and also tapping on the back window. Then it started tapping on the front quarter-light next to me and got into a cycle of tapping the window, landing on the door frame seeing it’s reflection in the side mirror and flying at that. Then resting on the top of the side mirror and then doing the whole thing again. I watched this little bird as it did this 40 then 60 times. I studied all the colours in its feathers, its delicate feet, and the shape of its beak. I tried to understand why it was behaving like this, using so much energy. Enchanted, I thought to myself, “I would have driven all the way to Guildford just to see this.” By now the bird must have repeated this routine over a hundred times and I was asking God if he was telling me something through this. At first I could see nothing in it. But I thought of how I would love to keep the bird, I wanted it to come into the car with me. My imagination considered how I could keep it. The first thought was in a cage, but that was unattractive, its wildness and choice to be near me were what made this bird desirable. Then I thought how wonderful it would be to have a bird that would fly onto my finger and fly free and away but who would always come back to me. And then I realised that God wanted the same for me and all those created in his image. He desires us but not to cage and control us but to see us in beautiful freedom always wanting to return to him and desiring to be around him, in his presence sharing his world.

    Thank you, Lord for a beautiful living picture of your heart for me.”

  11. I love it when I have those magical moments… so inspirational and encouraging. I’ve found that the less “screen time” I have, the more open to those moments I am — I just feel more tuned in to the natural world. Makes me want to become a wild child and live off the land (no, seriously!).

  12. Aww! Love that idea, Julia! Think you’re right about having more of those moments away from the screen too. I think that’s why I have to get away from it. It can sap your energy and zest for life if you’re not careful can’t it? Here’s to many more magical moments!

  13. Nadine says:

    That’s why I love Nature. It teaches us so many lessons, and presents us with precious gifts, just when we need them most. A truly inspiring post, Abi.

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