Eck and Timu, otherwise known as Echo and the late Tim Mileson, can be found in a book just shy of sixty glossy pages. The compact pocketbook is presented through poetry and story alike. It is conventional and yet unconventional. Interpretation is a skill you can choose to use, or just float on the muse.
Sandwiched between Tim’s personal writing, Eck explores emotions such as loss, belonging and echoes nature throughout. Cute eye-catching illustrations using a variety of sketching styles follow an imaginative route to deliver a peaceful and loving tribute in the form of a poetic manuscript.
There are lines throughout that transport the reader, catch them, hold them and bring them downward. There are uplifting words, moments of hope and flashes of light. It’s a sweet little book deserving of a wider audience. The book comes in both Chinese and English editions. My grade four students at Tungwah Wenze International School greeted that with joy. Next up they’ll interview the author…
I’m the commander of my own seas. I don’t mean to control them but I shall not let them wash over me. The waves crash beneath me, around me and by my side. They do not sweep me away in the tide.
The ship I choose to sail often changes. One day a frigate, one day a galleon. A skiff here, a galley there. On board a passenger liner with much company. A lonely kayak. A canoe floating along the river of life. Wearing a windbreaker in a windjammer. A rag boat struggling against the battling riotous rip tide. Schooner for later. Luxury aboard a catamaran or yachts heading for the high seas. Drinking tea aboard a clipper.
The undercurrent changes its spaces too. A still torrent floods in ebbs and flows. The rush and drag leaves me bobbing along. Up and down. Side to side. Over and under. Around in circles. Swirling. Staying motionless staring at stars. A whirlpool of dreamy dawns and dusks swishing directions. A flushing sound scolding my ears, drowning out yesterday’s sorrows. A puddle so smooth it reflects the sun like a giant glass mirror. Clouds visible far or vast shadows atop.
So, of you see me sailing through stormy waters, recall the saying of smooth waters not making for great sailors. A storm passes. As do I. Time claims all. I traverse a journey of my own. Will you sail with me? Now? Later? Never? All aboard.
My heartbeat is firing like a machine gun rattling out bullet after bullet, streaming out flashes upon flash of doom and fire-streaming life-ending hot metal. My breath is heavy, laboured and gasping in pockets of air, struggling to deliver the necessary components to my demanding heart rate. I can’t open my mouth fast enough and suck air inwardly. It burns with every gasp. It rasps as I force it down my windpipe deep into the cavity of my lungs. They heave and tussle at their over demanding master’s will. My chest throbs and I swell with redness. My temperature is rising. I shiver with fear and pain. I can’t get air quick enough. I quiver and flutter like a bird stuck in a net. My eyes water and my nose sounds dry and tight. Air filters in and out of it like a vacuum in a hurricane. I grasp my hands tightly onto my sweaty shorts. They’ve crinkled in the heat of my own body but I don’t know it. I can’t see further than my own nose. The vision around it blurs and blends. It’s coming soon. I can feel it. My mind swirls and whirls. It moves around like a dishwasher dancing on a violently shaking washing machine. I taste something metal. Little do I know that the iron taste is my own tongue shredding between my clenched teeth. I smell nothing. I feel less. Suddenly. No warning. Nothing. Light’s out.
Sat here just thinking. Thoughts rattling through my head. Should I do this? Should I do that? Maybe I can go there? Perhaps a visit to such and such a place is order? How about I do that thing? You know, that thing, the thing I always say that I should do. Or maybe learning an instrument is in order.
Maybe, I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me. No, not my words. Sorry Liam and Noel. I could listen to music or write a song, or see a band or play an old vinly record. Is it just the ideal time to dance? Alone or with a stranger? Someone familiar or someone I want? I’ll decide one day.
What if…? Oh, so many what if questions. What if I add another question? What if questions mount up? What if they become a mountain? What if I can’t climb that mountain? What if the mountain has a landslide? What if the landslide swallows me up? What if I’m buried alive? What if the burial is long and starves me of oxygen? Oh. What if?
By the time I’ve thought all of this, time has slipped away. Was it relaxing? Was it a waste? Was it time lost to history? Was it a moment of reflection or a moment of? planning? Was it worth it? Procrastination, what’s that all about? I’ll tell you later…
I’m too tired to write this. I started writing an hour ago. I can’t think how to continue the words. Did I forget something then or am I forgetting something now? I can’t shake my mind into gear. The ideas are there. I can feel them. I keep getting bits of this and that, or something and another. Nope. Gone again.
I’ll try memory techniques. I can’t remember how to do them. I’ll walk around in circles. Why am I doing this? What is it that I set out for? Left, right, left right? Look up here. No not there. Oh, there’s something I was looking for. When was that? What was I looking for it for?
I am shattered. My shoulders dropped down a life time ago. What did it to me? Why this week? Now and again it all seems to build up. Then the glass overflows. I need a rest. I need naps. I need to lay in bed. My muscles don’t just ache, they throb and they pulse. They burn. I eat right, I think but something is lacking. I rest well, usually, but what is it that I miss? I relax with books and movies and television shows and music and love and peace and quiet. I lack something.
I overslept. I barely moved today. My step count was liked by friends and colleagues but on those days I’d barely moved an inch. Are they mocking me? Even so, I don’t have the energy to ask them. I’m drained, pooped and my battery is empty. Duracell bunny? Not a chance. Time to close my eyes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be full of energy. Here’s to hope. I’ve been too tired for optimism. Pessimistic thoughts didn’t join me either. The number you have dialled has not been recognised, please hang up and try again…
My eyes sag heavily. Dry lips. My mouth tastes like yesterday. There’s a smell I recognise as the fumes of frustration. I’ve blinked and the fidgeting of my hand is twitching away. I’m stammering words and mumbling hopes. Dreams pass by. I’m fighting a battle. Just can’t sleep or stay awake. Time to rest. Rest in peace. Not that way. Just quiet. Me, my mind and no movement. Rejuvenating restful rest. I close my eyes, without concern of waking. No plans tomorrow. Just rest. Only rest.
Are they immortal? Do they feel their movements? Shaped in time, carved by ice, snow and rain, to name but a few of nature’s shaping tools. Winds blow over them, sometimes finding ways deep into the soul of the mass, but often unmoving little more than loose ground.
Rains, earthquakes, feet passing over, whether herd or bird, a plethora of life creeping and digging into it. What does a mountain sense? Does it see the land and valleys below? Can it feel the altitude changes of plants like we feel the differences between socks, shorts and a woolen jumper?
From the lowlands to the tips, diversity grows and taints every inch with colour and variety. Crags, crevices, crests, cracks, boulders, rocks, ledges and all spectacle of materials decorate the mountain. Waterfalls and streams bathe the light that shines brightly down between the gaps in the clouds.
Flowers give the wings of bees and butterflies places to compete for beauty. The banks of trees stretch from thicket to wood to forest. Some ancient. Some not. Insects occupy every level and avoid the preying spiders that jump, spin webs and roan the floor. Chasms of rock beneath overhanging shelves house fluttering sounds within. The darkness of the mountain’s belly home to frightful delightful shapes and shadows. Oh, majestic mountain, what is it that you know?
Penned, when trekking, during a break at Muse village, Nepal, 11th January, 2017.