Reconnecting from the inner stillness

George Keen
George Keen
Stillness. The spacious cricket pitch is busy with movement, but it is ever so still.

Surrounding trees rustle in the cool morning breeze and groups of parents clap and cheer but there is no overall motion, not to Anthony.

Inside he is stagnant, fully detached from the lively environment around him.

The game is played with high speed and energy and, to any spectator's eye, Anthony plays like any other. To them he is just an ordinary boy, enjoying a simple game of cricket.

They are oblivious to the emptiness within, the dark abyss of nothingness that isolates him from the other players.

To Anthony, life never progresses, never changes. He is dead inside a living body.

To him, his life is like the wicket posts. Whilst the rest of the game is moving and changing, the ball spinning, the players running and changing positions, the bat swinging, it is the wickets that remain static.

They merely sit there, removed from the busy nature of the rest of the game, just waiting to be impacted by it.

Anthony is the wickets, normality is the ball.

There are always opportunities for normality to hit Anthony but there is also always the batsman to prevent this from occurring.

Unfortunately he has a very good batsman - his past. He knows he can never be normal and his life can never progress until he overcomes his past.

As his lively body effortlessly plays the physical game of cricket, his inner lifelessness hopelessly plays the endless mental version of the game.

He never used to be like this.

He was a regular boy once. Still, the memories of his horrific past playback in his otherwise empty mind, consuming any other thought or feeling within him and filling it with pain and lack of hope.

He knows that he will never move on, never progress, never leave the ever stillness that his life remains in until he somehow removes those images inside him.

Images of his deceased parents, of the love they once made him feel, of the life he once had. He can never understand how the events of one night could have such an impact on his life.

The blaze that had not only destroyed his home, but had torn from him his loving parents and with them his right to feel love, to feel happiness, to feel human.

Suddenly everything goes silent.

As if the stillness within Anthony has finally infected the outside world as well.

Nobody moves, nobody talks.

What used to be a busy cricket game has a sudden lull as if everybody is taking a breath.

Anthony does not understand.

He has been lost in his inner nothingness for so long that he is completely unaware of what is happening, of how his unconscious fingers clasp the ball in his right hand, how he stands 20 or so metres parallel to the ready batsman, how all his teammates' excited eyes rest upon him in anticipation.

Every parent, every spectator, every player, they all rely on him to make them proud but they do not know how detached he is.

The physical body of Anthony takes a painfully slow backwards step to get a decent run up.

His robotic identity begins to run forward and swing his arms in a circular bowling motion.

It is like time is slowing down as his arms seem to take forever to complete their rotation.

Like crystal balls, tiny beads of sweat line Anthony's brow as his disconnected body releases the ball and sends it like a bullet toward the wickets.

At that moment it is as if time has stopped completely.

For the first time in what has seemed an eternity, Anthony's mind is briefly distracted from his troubled past to take a glimpse at the exhilarating events of the present.

Mind and body become one for a split second and in that imperceptible space of time, everything that is happening, everything he has been oblivious to for so long, floods back to him and just in time to witness his flawless bowl outmanoeuvre the batsman and connect with the wicket posts.

It is like the same thing has happened inside him.

The stillness is over.

- By George Keen; Year 11, East Otago High School. 


This image is East Otago High School art pupil George Keen's first mixed-media work, made primarily with paint, pastel and ink. 

It is a selection of items that have significance to who he is and what he enjoys doing.

''The artwork is based around the theme of 'myself', in the form of still life mixed with a little bit of surrealism, and the arm is to show the idea of someone reaching into my personality and making that connection with the outside world, to reveal the different aspects of what makes up me.''