Books I like a.k.a Influential Literature

One of my favourite books of all time is Watership Down, a tale of adventure involving a group of rabbits.  If you’ve only watched the movie, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a children’s story but it, as with many tales involving animals as main protagonists, is so much more.

My Dad read it first then gave it to me, saying “Here. Give this a try. You might not get all of it but it’s a good story.” I’m not too sure how old I was at the time but it was probably around 14, as I do know I was in high school but only about Year 7 or 8.

And he was right. I didn’t get a lot of it until I reread it as an adult but at the heart is a great little story about a bunch of rabbits following Hazel, the First Follower of his Lone Nut brother Fiver, to find a new area to establish a rabbit colony.

As with all adventures, there’s excitement and danger along the way in most forms you would expect but some that take you by surprise.

I think I’ve read it about 4 times since that first time waayyyyy back as a burgeoning teenager and every time I’ve found a new message hidden between the lines – usually something that directly correlates to whatever’s happening in my life at the time.

So with this drawing thing, I thought for my next subject I’d do a rabbit from Watership Down. Actually, I thought I’d do a whole series of drawings from WD and plaster them all over Little Miss’s room … then I remembered the not-so-cute parts of the story and wondered if that was such a good idea.

Maybe I’ll just do one of El-ahrairah, the mythical “Prince with a thousand enemies” and leave it at that.

This one is pretty simple but at least it didn’t take me a week to put pen to paper again!

Life is what you make it

life is what you make itIt had been just over six weeks since we’d first arrived and whilst the first two weeks were fairly full-on with finding somewhere to live and reliable transportation, life had slowed down to a painful crawl. I’d applied for two jobs best described as residing at the extreme opposite ends of my work/qualification spectrum and whilst I would have been happy with either, just to feel a sense of purpose once again (and, ok let’s be honest, money), neither one looked like panning out.

The lease had started on the unit and rather than spend money on rent AND a motel room, we decided to move in despite a rather large hitch.

Furniture. We didn’t have it yet.

Not to worry though, as there are some wonderful people in the world (and more importantly, in Hamilton) and we were loaned all the blankets, sheets and towels we would need from the managers of the motel we’d been staying at. The airbed, pillows and doona plus a fold-out table and chairs came from NIH’s boss. With a communal kitchen in the complex complete with cutlery and crockery to loan, we had everything we needed to ‘glamp’ it out until the furniture arrived. Little did we know that was still over three weeks away but that’s another blog entirely!

The unit was lovely, even with next to nothing in it. Very close to everything yet quiet and peaceful – a real relief after staying next to one of the busiest roads in Hamilton. No more having to worry about finding a reason to be out so motel cleaners could access our room. Our own little courtyard with grass and trees rather than brick walls and busy highway. Very short walk to the lake and our new favourite coffee shop.

And yet …

I was feeling quite lost. NIH had a job to go to every day and was making friends at work whilst I was left to find things to occupy the great gaping hole of 10 hours between him leaving and coming home.

Every day I would take myself out for a walk. The weather was lovely and it kept the app on my phone happy, encouraging me to complete my 10,000 steps every day or at least 60 minutes of moving. Small goal indeed but enough of a ‘purpose’ until something better came along.

During these walks I would listen to a downloaded book on my phone app (Bolinda BorrowBox– if your library service doesn’t have it or something like it, ask them why. Totally brilliant and completely free.)

“Girl in the dark” by Anna Lyndsey is actually a biography. The blurb sparked my interest:

“The story of an ordinary woman with an extraordinary illness. The memoir of a life lived in darkness and a passionate love affair with light.”

Basically, Anna develops an allergy to light. Any light. Imagine that for a moment.

I didn’t have to though, as Anna described it so perfectly I felt I was there with her, huddled in a corner in the dark, as she made up word games to play in her head to pass the time. No computers. No reading. No TV. Her body could not handle the light emitted by them. All she had was her mind – and audiobooks.

Amazingly, she managed to cope and tells her story with humour and honesty. Her descriptions are rich and beautifully moving, even more so when she gains remission and can go outside again – although generally only at twilight.

I felt a kinship with her and yet so very ungrateful for my life at the same time. Sure, it was a hassle not having furniture. Yes, the future was a little uncertain with regards to work. Most definitely I missed my family and friends. I was desperately lonely. But in actual fact, I realised I was supremely lucky.

We had a nice space to live in and the furniture would arrive eventually but to be honest we were quite comfortable with what we had – amazing how little you actually need to get by.

Eventually the right job would come for me and life would get so busy I wouldn’t have time to scratch.

I’d make new friends and family are always just a Skype date or quick text away.

And I had my health. I could go walking out in the world without a care. I had each day to do with as I chose. I was not a prisoner. If Anna could find the strength to go on in her tiny dark room, then I had absolutely nothing to whinge about.