[REVIEW] The Art of Living + Loving //Here at Dawn by Beau Taplin//

I awoke – a bit sleepy, a bit dreamy. Darkness still enveloped everything – inside and out. But I could hear the birds chirping excitedly. I got up from my bed, put the duvet aside, and went to open the window. Ah, the rush of air filled me just as it filled the room. I felt renewed. Sleep went away. I was filled with a certain energy. I had to get out, out of this room, out of this house. Just go outside and marvel at the soft hours before sunrise; watch the stars rushing back to their heavenly abode.

Everything felt so remarkably new, and yet nostalgic. I have been here before, I thought, picking up a twig – twisting it about my finger. 

The grass felt damp beneath my bare feet. I could feel the droplets compressing under every step I took. There was music all around. In the sky, on the earth, on every branch of every tree. There was still an hour before sunrise and I wanted to soak in every moment of this delicious dawn before light exposed the beauty and the magic disappeared. 

I have often walked alone – in the wee hours of morning – and imagined fairies whispering to each other about how the big folk don’t know how full of magic the world really is! I agree with them. I look at the delicate bud, cusp it in my hand with a gentle stroke lest it falls before ever blooming. So beautiful. The leaves dance with the gentle air, as if mocking me, making sure I know that they revel in this magic every day while I, I am just an occasional visitor. I know. *sigh* I know.

This is what Beau Taplin’s Here at Dawn is all about.

Have you ever taken a walk in the garden at 3 am in the morning? Breathing in the magic that hangs densely about you at that time of the day? If you have then you’ll know; you’ll know EXACTLY what he is talking about.

This whole vast world in which we live our tiny, tiny lives – is brimming with miracles. You just have to be able to look for them. 

Look, there it is – in the chirping of the birds.



And there – in the smile of the little girl dancing in the garden.

And wait, WHAT IS THAT? A squirrel. Look at its tiny hands. Isn’t it adorable? Such magnificent detail. Such craftsmanship.

And the couple over there? So lost in each other’s eyes they’d hardly notice if a bomb exploded by their side. Must be such a heavenly feeling – not caring about anything else in the world other than the person in front of you.

Oh my! Look! A bookshop. Let’s go together and browse for hours and hours, lose ourselves in the countless stories. And never come out. Not so soon anyway.

Surely, surely the ability to enjoy these little things – these seemingly mundane and routine things – must be magic at its supreme? 

When you walk down the road – going to the class, grocery shopping, meeting someone, taking a bite – you pass strangers, people of all backgrounds. They don’t know you. You don’t know them. And yet a single kind smile to someone struggling to shush their crying child is a like the wave of a magic wand. If you think you don’t matter to people around you, then think again. You, dear reader, are full of life, of love, or kindness – YOU MATTER. 

Listen to me, “Here at Dawn”, we don’t take people seriously. We regard them magically.

You are a miracle. A force of nature – gentle, loving, caring. You give to others JUST BY BEING, don’t you understand that? Taplin is asking you to take a look in the mirror and see – take a hard look at the person smiling back at you.

THAT person is nature.
Nature IS that person.
YOU are nature.
So mingle with it.
Take pride in it.
Lose yourself in it – in this feeling of belonging.

Taplin’s words sent a rush of creativity through me. I felt – serene – the kind of feeling that you experience watching a sunrise. Fresh. Renewed. He made me see that the world is just waiting for me to wave the magic wand of my attention. If I could just look closely, listen attentively, close my eyes and feel keenly – it’d be plain as day to me that this whole vast universe is a reflection of me, of my inner feelings.

Here at Dawn, sitting alone with my thoughts and the poet’s, I realized how true happiness arises from deep within, knowing YOU ARE ENOUGH. I read his words and they resonated with me like a chord longing to be struck. Until you realize that everything springs from your own self, you will remain unhappy, forever. And it’s this beautiful realization that made my heart swell and jump for joy.

Taplin’s poems made me feel complete again, as I am sure they will have a same effect on you – for these are little truths wrapped inside a handful of words. The medium may change but the core message? Never. 

Sitting there, with this beautiful book in my hand, I felt a surge of gratitude rise and rise and rise within my whole body and stop – suddenly – in my heart. Why did I feel that way though? It’s just the way Taplin talks about goodbyes – the beauty they contain, the lessons. And their necessity. It’s funny really, how we forget to embrace such an inevitable thing, to cherish those last few memories forever, to make the most of them. Well, no more. Because I cannot help but take his words to heart, lock them within until they make a firm impression on it. Never to forget. Never again.

I have sown flowers
deep into the earth of your memory
to remind me that,
even in the most lightless
of places, beautiful things do grow.

The way this whole book vibrates with gentle notes of hope makes for a beautiful experience. Never a page goes by that doesn’t make you feel glad that you are reading it, that fills you with gratitude that you are here – here in this gorgeous world – alive and free and much too childlike – just as you SHOULD BE. 

When the clouds of uncertainty and bad actions reflect upon your sunny dreams, Taplin, encourages you to take responsibility where it is required. You cannot run from it. You cannot hide from it. He wants you to understand that it’s YOU – you who is cause of it all and by accepting that responsibility, you create yet another miracle – of freedom. Freedom from ignorance, from failure.

Here at Dawn, you will understand the beauty of a helping hand – given or received. As Taplin says, 

We only flourish when we lean on each other.
This is how all great things
are grown.

This collection of poetry reinstated the need of companionship, of friendship – of the importance of surrounding yourself with genuine people and giving thanks to those who accept you without any judgement. I never knew it was possible to pack such – non romantic – thoughts into lovable poetry and yet, the poet has achieved this. And I am glad that he did because it is a delight to read, to own, to cherish.

Taplin’s poems are also wise with experience. They contain a knowledge that can’t be faked. They want you to understand them, understand the meaning in between – and as you’ll do so, you will find yourself liberated from every thought and feeling that has been weighing you down.

As I said before, reading these left my heart overfilling with gratitudefor the ghosts of the past, for the candles of the present, and for the dreams of the future. It’s been such a lovely, lovely experience reading these – one that I emerged wiser from, kinder to myself and the world around.

So come, dear reader, dance with the poet in the rain. And forget all your worries. Lose yourself in the magic all around you. You are beautiful. You are your own. You are the world. 

Let him teach you the art of living and loving and living lovingly.
Rise.
Reborn.
Here – in the arms of the beautiful dawn.

[REVIEW] Childhood. Innocence – lost & Found. Friendships. Secrets. And above all – LOVE //When God was a Rabbit – Sarah Winman//

It all started with a need to fill the hole that the last story had left it my heart. I wanted desperately to find something just as engrossing to fill my mind, to distract me once more.

The need was strong and so was the pull that led me to shift aside all of the things on my shelf that crowded this long-forgotten book, hiding away from sight, as if lost in its own story – quite happily too, it seemed. I picked it out, not quite knowing why I had felt the urgency to seek this one out in particular and embossed in light blue halo were words written in white – WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT, almost as if written by a little child, too excited to pay attention. With that thought, I opened it.

And I never closed it, not willingly anyway.

The promise of a journey deep into innocent, magical hearts and their brave lives. That’s all this book has to offer. As if it isn’t enough?

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Such is the nature of children that a mere flicker of magic, of the great unknown, is enough to draw them to it like a moth to a flame.
They don’t care about the consequences, they just want to make sense of the world around them, they just want to belong. And when none of that comes from the usual corners, they start to seek the same elsewhere. That’s what Elly did in the beginning. The world’s God, it seemed, loved everyone but her. So she decided to find another one. A better one. And she found it in Mr. Golan, their Jewish neighbor. With this new acquaintance started her journey of dreams and disappointments, too early for a child her age. Not to mention that soon Mr. Golan would do something that although Elly won’t be able to understand it then, it would change something in her. Something that she will confide, unwillingly, only with her brother. Something that would come out years later. And it would be okay. But that’s just the beginning of a long, long story.

Elly’s inquisitiveness and her relationship with the new girl Jenny Penny are so, so innocent that my heart went out. For both of them.

A strong relationship between a brother and a sister that became their rock against life’s many blows that were yet to come, witnessing a friend’s dysfunctional family that struck feelings that a young heart should never have been made to feel, forever escaping the truths of their identity and finally made to look them in the eye, beautiful friends found in the most unexpected places  – When God was a Rabbit isn’t just a story where a child’s innocent love and faith makes her pet talk and do things that can only ever happen in dreams, it’s about LOVE and all the different forms that it comes in our lives.

It’s about those sweet and magical years and experiences that have the power to transform our whole lives. And even in the later years when everything just seems so devoid of hope, the flickering memories of those delicious moments lived long ago can be redemptive, therapeutic, to say the least.

”I am here but I am not yours”

When God Was a Rabbit reminds us of the colossal significance of relationships, and their effects on us, on our whole lives – no matter what age they are formed in.

I could tell you all about how Joe dealt with the loss of his lover, how Alfie made peace with his lack of faith and how he regained it. I could tell you about the most unusual relationship between a brother, his sister. Yeah, I could tell you all of that and even more but all I really want you to understand about this novel is that the more you advance through this beautiful story of friendship and relationships and love and betrayal, the more you come to realize that this one of those stories that you have to live to really understand it.

Yes, reading it was like living it. Living through Joe’s ordeals, laughing with Elly and Jenny Penny, getting awestruck by Arthur’s ability to defy even death.

Some stories have so much going on in them owing to their exciting and racy plot that you hardly have enough time to REALLY examine the characters. But When God was a Rabbit is a purely character-driven story.  They will rise, they will fall, they will make you laugh, they will make you cry and by the end, you will leave with a fragment of them quietly tucked inside your hearts.

I have lived through a plethora of different emotions while reading this warm and, if I am being honest, at times shocking novel (in terms of the events that later transpire in the lives of them all) and all I can say is that –

When God Was a Rabbit is not just a novel. It’s an experience.

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And what about you? Have you read When God Was a Rabbit? Do you agree with me? How was your experience of the novel? Who was your favorite character?