Friday, 29 January 2021

 Another long gap between blogs. Well, i guess it doesn't matter, i blog for me & sometimes i might think "oh i should blog that idea or i'll forget it" but then i don't quite seem to be able to string my words (or ideas) together & whilst it might be that writing will move things along sometimes i just hit up against dead end after dead end and it doesn't seem worth the trying.

This seems to have been my being for a while now. I'm not sure quite what its about but a couple of days ago i decided i had to stop fighting it and let myself be still with what i'm thinking & feeling & how life is. "How life is" is the hardest bit i think. Lockdown is weird. I feel glad to have a roof over my head, & food in the fridge etc & to date my family is still intact. Please god may it stay that way. But psychologically the situation is a brain-fuck. 

I am not an essential worker. And that is odd. It feels in some ways a little shameful. Who am I ? I am not essential. I can, mostly, find occupation. I work as an artist but i don't make money doing what i do & at the moment most of the work i am making is weak, most of the work i am making is weak & is only notes & scribbles & isn't anything carried to an end. This sucks.

I think there is an element of unravelling happening. Having failed the MA that I started my confidence is a bit shot & i respond to that drop in confidence in different ways, sometimes i become arrogant & play out the narcissistic side of myself, & other times my imposter complex kicks in & i feel like a waste of space. Those parts of me are real but they are not the whole of me.  

Recently i watched dance therapist Katy Dunne in conversation with a colleague on you tube & she spoke about the idea that each of us has a garden inside us. I am really drawn to that notion. She went on to talk about how everyone's garden is different, that there are beautiful flowers, & spiky ones, & grim shady parts, that some gardens are kept under lock & key & others may have no boundaries. It has got me wondering about my own internal garden. 

If my arrogant narcissist was part of my garden what part would it be, something that made me feel grand i guess ... a peacock perhaps. And what about my self loathing imposter ? A rat on the bird feeder, unwanted, unloved. Do rats know they are unwanted, unloved ? Why do we like, love or admire some creatures & hate, fear or abhor others ? Poor rats. 

Back in the 1980's when i was a teenager & had just finished my o'levels (age 16) i went with two school friends to the south of France to stay in a caravan for two weeks. Things that happen that far back in life have a dreamlike quality. I was a very innocent 16 but desperate to seem worldly, sophisticated & grown up. I can remember the bikinis i took with me two of those 4-triangle & string bikinis (one yellow, one red) and a blue & white stripy bandeau bikini. We mostly just sunbathed & swam. The beach was a topless beach but i was too shy to be topless. One night there was a camp gathering (it was a package tour camp site not a hippy camp), we got too drunk & ended up skinny dipping & two of us were sick. The next day the camp peacocks were eating the sick, it was part of what they did, one of their roles in the camp infrastructure. 

It is interesting to me to bring up a symbol, the peacock, and find that it takes me back to a long ago memory. As life gets longer that happens more & more, memories map the time my body has spent on earth. Perhaps that is why this past year of being locked down has felt hard. Today is friday, where did the past week go ? Time seems to be simultaneously standing still & running away with itself & it is not a comfortable feeling. 

And this, this is a boring blog, a blithering on about nothing. I'll post it because maybe it's of note to note down the nothingness of now. Or the feeling of nothingness. Its a tricky number. We are living through a great historical event but who knew that living history would be like this. The films & novels always make it seem more exciting. 

I think maybe that some of that may be the problem. If any of us could go back a year I imagine that many would say they were discontent about this that or the other but that then was easier than now and the discontent of yesteryear feels foolish now we are in a so much worse place. But here is where we are & maybe that is the lesson I am trying to draw to myself, to count my blessings, the good in my life rather than always looking over the hedge at the field on the other side & wondering if the grass is greener.

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For anyone wanting to work with Katy Dunne this is her facebook page ... from personal experience i would highly recommend her ... the video conversation mentioned in my blog brightened my week & shifted something in me that i had got a bit stuck with ... thank you Katy https://www.facebook.com/katydunnedancetherapy



Friday, 13 November 2020

Coming back to my blog after a while spent thinking. The format has changed while i have been pondering which is a little disconcerting. This happens on social media platforms too & i know i am not alone in hauling up sharp with a jolt when the change is effected. These things are meant to stay the same. My creature response is similar to my creature response to the aisles in my local supermarket being changed. I mention this because its really not a big deal but it is something that paused me before i started to write and that moments pause has altered the path of my thought thread. 
If my thoughts are like water running in a stream a stop will hold the water back until the stop is overwhelmed, crashed over or else slid round. Thought is a constant, an ongoing movement. The body of us, us being that which is alive maybe, is a mass of thought, a sea, an ocean, a forest or jungle being a sea of green holding, containing the thought of time now, time passed & the seeds of time that will be. This seems like a big thing to make out of a small change to my blog platform changing but its the butterfly in Kyoto effect what i say next is not what i would have said if my blog platform had not been altered. 
This year has been shocking & we have each adapted to the changes imposed on us by Covid-19 differently. Our bubble lives are now shockingly visible. Bubble lives are not a new thing, a workplace is a bubble, a family, a nation lives within a bubble, we have class/wealth separated bubbles, skill bubbles, the sporty, the arty, the musical, the dreamy, the logical, the mathematically minded, the feelings focused. Passing through life our journey takes us towards those we are most like, have most affinity with & as we connect to those the opportunity to meet minds less like ours diminishes.
What had i hoped to begin my blog with was an update of my thoughts, a posting that lets me look back at the past year and i guess that is how i will continue now. The slight alteration in platform format really being no more than a hop over a puddle really. One of the things i have noticed happens to me now is finding myself lost in memories. I don't recall this happening when i was younger but now i find myself in times & places that are my long ago. I wonder if this is a collecting of that which has formed me, a reconciliation with what i cannot change but may now see with eyes & being that is different to the person that experienced the moment even tho the person was me & is me or part of me. I am like a boro garment holding the past, patched up & threadbare in places, still whole in others, a work in progress. Is this how a soul evolves ? 
Looking back at old photographs is a peculiar game, fresh faced we gaze out of the images, a snapshot of a moment that may or may not tell the truth about that time. I have spent a lot of my life longing for another life, i know that is a bad thing, i look back at my life & wish that i had revelled more in the intimacy of bringing up babies but being a single parent i was often lonely, craving adult company & struggling to get by, i smoked too much hash & was lost in a vapid unsatisfying external wannabe lifestyle. I also learned in that time to be content with the small things, began to know my body through yoga, dance & shiatsu, became softer in essence through meditation & have learned (& am still learning) how to express myself through my creative practice & i hope that i mothered my children adequately if not perfectly. 
I wonder if one of the things i struggled with on my MA was how inconsistent it felt with my truth. It may only have been me that felt like this. I struggled with the pushiness, the get yourself seen, put yourself out there, make connections for connections sake, display for displays sake, it felt gross & quite alien to my practice. That is my experience. It is a relief to no longer be swimming in that sea but also my failure to rise to the challenge has knocked my confidence. I had hoped i think to be seen but ended up feeling unseen maybe because i was unable to engage with the modus operandi we were being taught to follow & hold my integrity as a person & artist. 
If i feel like a misfit maybe it is because i am a misfit. Being a misfit doesn't make me a bad person but perhaps makes a solitary life more likely because not fitting i am not a comfort zone. I am quite a lot not comfortable myself, i don't mean i am physically uncomfortable but i am prone to question & doubt. The comfort of certainty is not often mine.
But of some things i am certain. These things are most commonly feelings. I trust my feelings. Trust is i guess a key player when it comes to certainty. One of the things that help me to trust is my movement practice. This lockdown i have given myself an hour each evening to move. I have given myself an hour each evening to move, i have also made it an appointment, a thing i don't change. I did something similar for some months when Jon died & my grief was so vast i needed a holding space. Then, i marked out a square (about 1metre by 1metre) with masking tape & tho my body could go out of the square in space that which was tied to the ground could not. It gave me a safe boundary in a most peculiar time that allowed me to reconnect with life. Similar to now i also fixed a time boundary. There is much to be said for creating self determined boundaries when large parts of life feel (or are) out of one's control. 
Walking is part of my creative practice but i have been lazy about it this year. This is daft, walking would help me stay sane but i can't seem to motivate myself to get walking. I am not sure what the block is but i am giving myself room to meet it in the hope that meeting it i will overcome it. I have found that forcing through blocks does not work well for me. My encounter with my body in my given hour each day lets me come to myself like a sea meeting shore. There are no wrongs or rights in that hour & giving my body control lets my mind free flow in a way that is similar tho not the same as walking and maybe will see me past my block. Yesterday i hit up against some ancient rage, i suspect that will keep surfacing until whatever pain has caused it has been healed. The day before my mind/body working together gave me this: 

step by step, one step after another, and another, and another. step by step, can be fast, slow, sideways, backwards,
forwards, one step after another. the destination is death. the way, life, is the path chosen.

I guess it is a poem tho i am not a poet so i feel shy calling it that. I guess it is just because of how the words link & because they are in a slightly odd shape it feels like a poem & not just notes jotted down tho in fact it is just that. I guess that is what i wanted to blog about today, the comfort that step following step gives me, the uncomplicated ease that the thought of putting one "foot" in front of another without mind for the step after, or step after the step after. This sequence is i think how we lead life, knowingly or not. Who would have thought this time last year that our lives would be being lived as they are now but step by step this is where we have come to. And the course that our steps take now, into the future, will determine the shape of our lives to come. It may seem like all is lost but each one of us has within us that butterfly in Kyoto & our being, our movement may alter the course of the world history whether that being is as an individual or a collective. We are maybe more in control than we really want to acknowledge.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

It would be a strange diary if i didn't write about the death of my little cat Comfrey. On thursday October 8th i had to take him to the vets to be put to sleep. He was a brilliant cat and i loved him. They say its the final act of kindness we do for our pets, and maybe it is or maybe it isn't, but it never feels good and the memory of it never feels good. But seeing him in pain and knowing that death comes to only a few of us easily i made the call. Archie took me there because i don't have a car and i didn't want to carry his poor tired little body in a cage in the rain to his final moments and i wanted to be able to cuddle him home. Amis came over before and we cried and he said goodbye, and Rich video called him on wednesday and Jessamy saw him on sunday which was the day when it became clear that he wasn't going to get well again. I spoke to the vet, Tom, on tuesday in a phone consultation he had seen him a couple of times over the summer so he knew his condition and he had been his vet for the past four years. i made the decision that evening knowing it was the best course, it hurt. It feels like betrayal not mercy, but not doing it also feels like betrayal not mercy. 

Comfrey had been ill in January and it didn't seem like he had long to go then but he made a recovery. From then i knew really that i was on borrowed time with him counting each day as a blessing but also wondering if in the morning i'd wake to find him dead, everyday my heart would leap with joy when i came downstairs and was greeted by a little mew or if he came upstairs to wake me. 

The thing with animal friendships is that they are so innocent. I guess being different creatures we are not part of their politics and they are not part of ours. The connection is special if you love them. Watching him go downhill i was struck by the courage of old things which is different to the courage of youth. To be in a body that is letting you down and to keep going, keeping letting good in is no mean feat. 

I don't know how much of this is diary, how much blog, how much me thinking out loud but Comfrey was my Covid companion so it seems right he should have special mention in my Covid Diary. Rest in Peace little one. You were brilliant.  

Dedicated to Comfrey died October 8th 2020

October 10th 2020

Covid19 Diaries - part 3

Also thanks to Archie & Amis for helping me bury him.

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And in response to stained glass artist Sophie Hussain's kind comments on his facebook obituary

"Sophie Hussain xx he runs past me in the garden when i go out in the dark to check for foxes so he knows it is safe ... is on the wall coming back from a roam ... is in his tiny old poor sad body on his bed in the hall ... is lithe and young and re-meeting his mummy who i had to have put to sleep in summer 2016 ... i hope she is looking after him ... he is a kitten in my son Richard's base drum bashing the skin with his paws ... and snubbing Amis on his way home from a night shift in the small hours ... he is exploring the house and the garden we used to stay in on holiday ... he'll always be my boy xxx"



Thursday, 1 October 2020

Here we are in October already and it feels like this year disappeared while i was away. Away where ? No where. At home mostly. Lucky to have a home but home alone is lonely. Sometimes when i am lonely my best cure is deeper solitude, connecting to the place and space i occupy. But the yearning for understanding and witness by another being like me, for exchange of thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams, feels like a trapped flame. Will i ever meet a like companion again ? Has the virus made the lack of such a companion more painful or is it just another environmental circumstance, a convenient excuse for my discontent. Here i am in my life, like a fish in the sea, a bird in the air, a flower in the field, excuse the tired language, but just that, here i am a being in a body within a body like any other living thing and it is life that is the purpose rather than the arbitrary goals i or other people set. My MA fail is a wound that has not healed yet. A flesh wound perhaps but still sore, still hurting. And it is on and on and on with covid and it isn't just the lack of physical liberty that troubles me but that my mind is also feeling trapped. I do not know what to do with these thoughts so i thought i would write them as part of my covid diaries to give them some release and so i have them to look back on later.

Oct 1st 2020

Covid19 diaries - part 3

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Rain falling, soft & luscious, i feel the plants drinking it in, bathing in it, bodies meeting, water on leaf, branch, bare root. Last night the prime minister made another speech about covid, i didn't watch or listen, he sickens me. As we enter a new phase of dealing with the virus i hope that me & mine get through it without death or mishap but uncertainty is this year's guest. He/she/they have outstayed their welcome, it doesn't feel good to be permanently anxious. My way of coping is to take each day as it comes & make things as simple & gentle as it is possible to make them. Step by step, breath by breath, & taking time to pause & be still as & when pausing & being still is needed. 

Covid Diaries - part 3

23rd September 2020

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Coming out of lockdown. Yesterday afternoon, junkies shouting down the street, fast paced walking in the middle of the road, a small dog at heel.

July 10th

Covid19 Diaries - part 2

...

Because we are still in the thick of a killer pandemic aren't we. And its hard to say "this is the new normal" but this is the new normal: masks in shops and a slight fear when doing something that isn't safely done within my own house boundaries: a bus ride or train trip is risk assessed, a meet-up with a friend or member of my family is weighed and measured to make sure all parties understand that guarantees of clean contact are only as sure as the guarantor's word and integrity. 
The birds still sing tho' not with quite the same great loveliness as when we, man, were briefly silenced. The flowers still flower but Spring has become Summer has become Late Summer will presently be Fall/Autumn. Car traffic has resumed and with it its choking fumes that stifle breath. 
And because the virus is still here, not under control, and in the UK our government is uncaring and unwise, the edge of uncertainty, the knowing how little my life is worth, makes , each day a little odd and sad, and also precious because it could be anyone's last.

July 29th 
Covid19 Diaries - part 2

Today is also my youngest's birthday.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Feels like the season has changed. Not autumn but summer's middle to end. Blowing out wind in the trees, and light coming from a falling sun. I can't think about covid but i will wear a mask in enclosed spaces, for my sake and other peoples, because the virus scares me.

July 4th 

Covid19 diaries - part 2