The Edge | Pushing the Wave

The Edge

Reflections, 21 July 2023
by L.A. Davenport
Shadow of me by LA Davenport
Shadow of me, by L.A. Davenport, 2008, from The Marching Band Emporium.
The past few weeks have been all about connecting and reconnecting with people, spending time with friends, and enjoying moments, especially through the power of music to bring people together.

It has been wonderful, but I have to confess that I am, naturally, a loner. Instinctively, I prefer to be on the sidelines, observing, rather than in the middle of whatever is going on.

I can make exceptions for gigs and concerts, but even then I prefer generally to be further back from the stage and closer to the sides, able to enjoy the spectacle on the stage, but also to take in the audience all around me and their reaction.

This sense of wanting to be at one remove from life’s events drew me, I think, to becoming a writer.

Or perhaps it could be said that, underneath the broad term of a ‘writer’, I truly want to be a chronicler, writing stories about events going on around me and my perceptions of them, and reporting on events as a journalist.

In some ways, all art is a comment on life and society, and the human condition. As such painters, sculptors, photographers, composers, songwriters, choreographers and dancers, indeed all artists and performers, are as much scribes, reporting on our lives both in the quotidian and the abstract, as any journalist or writer.
But this sense of being a loner, of being at one remove and observing life in the round, had its dark side for me.

From an early age, I was, and was made to feel, an outsider.

I was from a foreign country (Ireland), arriving in England when The Troubles were at their height and the hate directed towards anyone from The South was at its worst. I had an Irish name, and I knew nothing about many of the cultural touchstones that the country kids around me took for granted, which only made things worse.

My parents were also loners, preferring the solitude of the family home to socialising, and so I never went around to anyone’s house for tea, or had friends, should I have made any, round at ours.

Consequently, I was shoved to the periphery, and came to accept my place as being present but never included in anything. I was the boy with no friends, who was first to be picked on by the older boys and last to be picked for any team, long after less capable but better integrated boys.

This sense of isolation and otherness was compounded by frequent family moves, and the resultant changes in school meant I never had time to settle and establish myself as an individual within a larger collective.

That changed to a certain extent when we stopped finally moving and I went to secondary school. There, everyone was, to a greater or lesser extent, new, but the isolation I felt was now hard-wired, and I continually struggled to understand how to make and keep friends.

The teenage years twisted that around and down into a spiral of depression.

It could be briefly and kindly said that, over the next couple of decades, I became increasingly isolated within my own mind, even when I was with people, and the barrier between ‘me’ and ‘them’ became insurmountable, as if I was trapped inside an airtight, perspex prison.

That only lifted when I learned to accept myself as a person, and how to open up, not merely by exchanging inconsequential facts with whoever would listen but by bearing my soul, little by little, and listening to others do the same.

I realised that to do so was not to place oneself at jeopardy of being burned, but instead offered the opportunity to share a light with another.
Around three years ago, I tried to capture the intensity of how I felt about being an outsider and a loner in a free verse poem.

I think I thought I was attempting to pin down something that was receding from my mind, before it disappeared all together.

But I have realised since that I was not getting rid of the entire idea of being a loner and an observer but rather jettisoning the awful, isolating aspects of it, which had damaged me for so long and aided my descent into depression.

Now I still see myself on the periphery, as a loner, and an observer, but in a more positive sense, with the acceptance that that is just who I am, and I can use that to my advantage. It makes me see things that others do not, it helps me to put things in context, and makes me a better journalist and, I think, a better writer.

Over the past few months I have rewritten and recast the poem, stripping it down, making it more about the essentials of the sentiment, and hopefully expressing a little more of what I feel about my relationship with the world.

The edge

I live on the edge,
Safe in the shadows.
There but not there.

An observer,
A chronicler.
A vagrant eye.

The centre is fleeting;
The treacherous eye
Of a storm.

Others drag me there,
Imagining happiness
Awaits me.

But I soon slip back,
Unnoticed, alone,
To the edge.
This week I added a recipe on here—my Roasted Seed Mix.

I have honed this over the years, adjusting the quantities and the technique, to create a delicious salad sprinkle that can be used on any dish that needs a bit of texture and a certain je ne sais quoi.

Work also continues on the follow-up to My Life as a Dog, enough now that I can see the end, and the overarching themes and structure. I hope to refine it over the coming weeks, and begin the process of putting it together and getting it out there into the world.

A new short story is also now reaching completion, with a fabulous cover from the brilliant Dissect Designs. This will be published, initially exclusively on Amazon, in the coming weeks.

Sunlight is a story that has been percolating through my mind for around 20 years, but it is only in the past few months that it has finally taken shape in such a way that I wanted to share it.

To whet your appetite, the cover was revealed on Twitter yesterday. I hope you like it as much as I do!

There is also some movement on a music project that I started earlier this year, with it potentially moving from a solo effort to a collaboration with a multi-instrumentalist friend. To say I am excited about where that could head would be an understatement.
© L.A. Davenport 2017-2024.

0 ratings
The Edge | Pushing the Wave