Thoughts

I am no ideologue. How anyone can buy into a whole belief system, political party, religion, ideology, off-the-peg is beyond me. ‘Do I contradict myself? very well then, I contradict myself, I contain multitudes’ is something said by Walt Whitman which resonates with me. This whole covid/lockdown phenomenon has had me questioning all my allegiances since day one. Some people seemed to immediately know what they thought before there was any evidence for what was actually going on. I have always questioned whether lockdowns were effective ways to reduce transmission or death. I have always known that lockdowns create scenarios where the healthy become the vulnerable too. I remember reading about an older man in Spain who loved nothing more than to go to the bar every day and enjoy chatting to his friends, watching the football on TV, drinking a few beers. He was happy. The Spanish government imposed a lockdown where effectively no exercise was allowed. The man sat on the sofa, day in, day out and died of thrombosis. Because he had hardly moved for three months. There are countless, yet mostly unprovable ways in which these scenarios create vulnerable people where previously they had been mentally and physically healthy.

Social media, and its excessive use under lockdown is re-wiring our brains through its almost entire lack of nuance. It has created binary and polarised thinking. People seem unable to think in ways that deconstruct any narrative. Even to question the efficacy of lockdowns and ask the question as to whether they are causing more collateral damage than the virus itself, is seen by many as a heartless attitude toward the elderly. Lockdowns are far less difficult for the elderly. People in their twilight years are more likely and happy to live lives of relative hermitage. Young people are forced onto screens, forced away from each other, forced to disengage, yet are expected to somehow find motivation to study without the usual healthy and stimulating peer pressure that is their rite of passage. So much of what people say online is deeply reductive, simplistic and absolutist, whereas realistically nothing exists that is so crude and basic. Every way you look at the issues of this time holds such complexity. I can barely discuss it without delving into the minutiae of everything, and philosophical discussions about life and death.

A covid death is reported as dying “with covid”. A friend’s aunt died of a heart attack. She was a covid death statistic because they tested her body, which tested positive, even though she was asymptomatic. The daily counts on the news are endless, wearing, grinding. A total nocebo.

I remember reading a study about how religious people, especially strict ones, had brain scans alongside non-religious people or ‘spiritual’people, and their scans showed fewer new neural pathways were formed, because their thinking and physiology was almost truncated by their beliefs. This showed in the scans. People prepared to think in alternative ways or did not adhere to any particular belief system showed that their brains were effectively still growing, This has been shown in the brains of runners, dancers, walkers, cyclists, artists, drummers in studies on EMDR. Movement, both physical and psychological, grows new neural pathways in the brain. Intransigence and strict ideology curtails it. This is just something I remember reading once and I wanted to write it down, only because I believe excessive use of technology, especially social media is dangerous for the mind, and causes a certain re-wiring. With all the arrows, signs and covid semiotics surrounding us we are certainly very easy to control and corral.

On my daily walks I meet people in passing and we always stop and chat (at safe distance, because of course I believe in the virus, and I have had it, and one of my friends is an ICU nurse, and we still know so little about it.) But it is so beautiful to hear a human voice, see a face, with all its nuance and micro-movements. It makes me almost elated. I simply never want to stop questioning. I am certain I never will. And that includes questioning my own thoughts too. I pray we live to tell the tale of how we endured this time, and that it was worth it. I pray people don’t give up through social isolation, addiction, depression, homelessness, job loss, marital breakdown ad nauseum. I pray that in Spring, as the days grow longer we feel a sense of possibility and can start to make plans again and to be able to hug and kiss each other without fear or guilt. I pray we start to grow again.

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Days

Some days are harder than others. Sometimes, when motivation completely eludes me, I have to remind myself that it’s not one day at a time, its one hour at a time. So, I do that thing. I make cup of tea, then tell myself like a child to get dressed, go to the shop for food, then a walk in Panel Lane, alone in an ancient trade route that used to be a pig drove. It is sheltered from the wind, but I can hear it all around me, moving the trees. I imagine the lane in its former days. Some say it’s haunted. I like that. I can almost feel it; it’s like a portal. I touch the moss on the side of the bank and gently let nature soothe me back to life. I watch the river from the ancient brick bridge. The river is close to bursting its banks. I walk. I let the repetitive action of left and right revive me. It is not cold. The crows make their sounds of winter. I even break into a run. Suddenly I am okay. I go to St Leonards and buy a coffee from the little shop in Marine Arcade and sit in the alcove, sheltered from the wind and rain and watch the waves; huge and furious. It’s okay. I miss people, so I say hello to everyone I pass. Everyone looks so fascinating somehow. Every hour is a meditation on life. I just got through another day.

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Poetry Illustration. Always by Pablo Neruda.

I am not jealous of what came before me.

Come with a man on your shoulders,

Come with a hundred men in your hair,

Come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,

Come like a river full of drowned men which flows down to the wild sea,

To the eternal surf, to Time!

Bring them all to where I am waiting for you;

We shall always be alone, we shall always be you and I alone on earth,

To start our life.

Www.alicemason.net
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Some older paintings from the Angel, Islington.

Full of energy, movement, power, forward motion, mystery, strangeness and feminine wisdom; these are just a few of the paintings I made after art college and before moving to France and then California. I exhibited these at the Theatre Royal in Bath. I was living in the Angel, Islington at the time, right next door to the Angel tube station above a grocer’s shop with my best friend Emma. Not long after these paintings, I took off by myself to travel, live and work abroad for six years. http://www.alicemason.net

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90’s Los Angeles

Some photos of my modelling headshots from back in the 90’s in L.A.

Also a black and white one modelling in Bath while at art school.

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Hamsa art

Two hand-painted Hamsas in gold leaf, cerulean and white. Commissions welcome

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To Bless the Space Between Us.

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

― John O’Donohue

From ‘To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings’

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The Flame

In Sanskrit, the word for fire is agni. The ancient yogis saw this flame at the centre of the abdomen and believed it to be responsible for our vitality. When it is lit, we are connected to our purpose and sense that life is a sacred gift. It is said that those who cannot see the sacred around them have let their inner flame go out. Feel the call to reignite that fire, to cup your hands gently around those things you’ve forgotten and protect the flame, no matter how harshly the winds around you blow.

Kim Krans

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The Blue Notebook

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/892510222/the-blue-notebook?ref=shop_home_active_1
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Goddess Freya and her Golden Tears

I seem to have developed a cottage industry in making these Freya’s Tears paintings. This one is the most recent and measures 24 inches by 30 inches so is quite a statement piece. She is flying over to the States. I can work to commission in creating one in any size. Email: alicejulietmason@gmail.com

www.alicemason.net

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