I have been down to the sea a few times since my last blog post. Not to walk on the beach, but just to experience it near by. I realised I haven’t been around the sea at high tide as much as I have at low tide, so I deliberately set out one day last week to go and watch the sunrise. I took coffee. There were very few people about: the occasional dog walker and a couple of joggers. I sat on a bench facing the sea directly, and watched the sun come up like a piece of machinery, a silent, gigantic universe of movement, and beneath it, within my immediate visual space: the sea, a constant movement. Not the slow, steady movement of tide coming in and out, the rhythmic breathing of water, but the choppy, chipped waves and the white froth. It was exhausting to watch. The water was rippling off the slabs of the sea wall, rolling off the rocks and where one small wave went in one direction, another met it in a tiny collision being repeated hundreds of thousands of times, over and over, all the waves heading in different directions, clashing, moving away and clashing again. It was exhausting.
This is how life is, the constant of the sun is the bigger picture, we don’t even notice it’s moving until we mark it against something, we don’t even know that are lives are moving forward until we see a picture of ourselves, younger, thinner, different, but the same. And the sea is life, the background, the whole thing, it is that constant, busy, exhausting movement, the constant calming of things, dealing with things, the constant bad news, personal, national, world, news, the finding a way to be happy in it, the happy news and the feeling of needing to be grateful, the constant movement of life. I’m making a big deal out of this sea metaphor because it’s why art, poetry, literature is important. Poetry works on a different frequency. It works on a higher frequency which speaks to a different part of us. When we strip back all that busyness, the poetry is speaking to our emotional core, the thing that drives us, it is part of the emotional language of our lives, as is art, as is literature.
I’m not going to get all political, but when governments cut back on art subjects in schools, when governments cut arts funding, close libraries, take away funding for galleries, they are cutting off a vital communication method that we don’t even fully understand. Art, poetry, it’s not just entertainment, and even ‘just’ entertainment speaks to something else, it cuts through, it is a higher frequency. When we don’t teach our children art, when we don’t teach them art history, when we relegate the arts to ‘lesser’ we are preventing them from communicating on an emotional level. We are preventing them from accessing that part of their brains that is so, so necessary to being human, something so integral to ourselves that it has been around for hundreds of thousands of years, since cave paintings of lions communicated more than what a lion looked like, since they communicated the beauty of a lion, the strength of a lion, the importance of a lion. Our need to communicate on this level is as old as we are, and as important as language itself. When we take language away, when we take the means to communicate emotionally away, we get angry, frustrated individuals who look to express strong feelings in other ways.
I wrote a poem this week about how poetry works, it’s an old idea about poetry being a receptacle that is filled with the readers own images, a poem is really a scaffolding that you hang your own interpretation on. It’s important to recognise that, because even though all the images created inside our own heads, when we hear a poem, are different, the poem is the thing that connects us. The art is the thing that connects us, even though we can be different, we are also the same, the same skeleton, different skin.
*photo property of myself, Wendy Pratt, please contact me if you’d like to use it *