Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 552 – Day 557)
I have not been writing much lately. I have been completely immersed in the other end of feature writing – research and interviews. I have been struggling with my health and Addila suggested that it could be worse with too much time sat at a desk – and not enough time doing things just for the love of them.
This week, I went out for an afternoon with my camera. It was freezing out. Having my fingers exposed to the elements made shooting a little less attractive, but I managed. I took a break and drank tea in a quiet pub on the canal before going out again in the fading light.
I didn’t get the greatest photos, but do you know something? I felt better. I felt physically better. My gait, which had slowed to that of an old person was a little more easy – not exactly the gait of a person my age- but not a nearly-dead person either. My health didn’t really improve, but my energy lifted a little.
Last night I went to a gig in Old Street starring one of my favourite Troubadours – Josh Savage. He has a beautiful voice and plays the guitar, keyboards, and if I remember correctly, the trumpet as well. He composes and writes all of his own songs and whilst I appreciate the range of his music from sweeping and filmic scores to quiet ballads, it is his lyrics that really move me. They are modern poetry – and I don’t write poetry.
I had worked on research and interviews during the day so when evening came, I was a little worn out. It took a long time to walk from the tube to the venue. A long time. Again, I felt I had slowed way down.
After the show, I wanted to introduce myself to Josh. We have had a correspondence over the past few months and I’m not sure when life is going to take me away from here. As I was about to introduce myself, he gave me a big hug and said “Hi, Tania!” How wonderful that made me feel!
I remember the moment about 18 months before, when Dan Shears was setting up for his show and turned to me, sitting near the stage and said – “are you Tania?” I was surprised and delighted and then a little worried that he knew who I was. I mentally went through the posts on Facebook and my blog where I had tagged him and hoped I hadn’t revealed anything embarrassing.
And, I felt the same last night – sans the embarrassment. Recognising me from my website, my Facebook profile picture or my Twitter picture was a delight. It made me feel special and instantly broke down any weirdness of meeting someone whose lyrics you mouth while they play. Ok, that might still be weird for him…but it was a delight to be so warmly greeted.
Walking back to the tube, I noticed something. My heart was light and my gait was lighter than it had been.
I have been averaging 3 interviews a week for the past few weeks. It takes at least 2-3 days to prepare for an interview, depending on how much press the person has already had. And so, it seems that I have been spending all my available energy focussed on my work. I may not be working the whole day but I am pushing myself to the limits of my physical capability every day. It is no wonder that I am not feeling well. It is no wonder that my energy is low and I am slowing down.
I feel pressure to get this work done because time is short and there is so much to do. And yet, there is a need not just to rest but to replenish. If we don’t feed our heart and our soul, we start to feed on that little bit of gas left in the tank when the needle reads “E”. And feeding on ourselves like a cannibal, we die a whole lot quicker.
I realised when my mother died that we must make the most of our NOW, because tomorrow is not guaranteed. However, the platitude that we don’t get – which we should get as a couplet – is that TODAY is not guaranteed if we don’t make the most of what makes our hearts and souls sing.
Let’s pay attention to our gait. Where are we walking slower? When is our gait light and free? Let’s do more of the things we did just before we felt like skipping. Yes, it may not pay the bills. Yes, we might be too old for it. (Do you think it hasn’t crossed my mind that these young men must find it amusing that someone so much older than they are travels around London to all manner of god forsaken pubs as well as some pretty hip venues to hear them play? Or that hanging out with 20 something artists might not be as cool for them as it feels for me? But then again, how do I know that, for certain?). Yes, we might not be great at doing the things that makes our hearts and souls sing. But we don’t have to be. We come for the love.
Last night a friend who is a visual artist (painter) posted on Facebook that she was finding it hard, as a self employed artist, not to work 7 days a week (Ahem. Guilty, here). It occurred to me that the very thing that makes my heart sing (visual arts and being around painters) might drain someone who is actually a painter and spending all day at it. This is the reason I really don’t hang out with other writers. I can’t think of anything worse than sitting around talking shop – or the niggling competitiveness and insecurities that surface. So, I suggested all the things I do in my work as a writer, to do on her weekends. Maybe a painter needs to feed the well with thoughts and ideas just the same way as a writer needs to feed the well with images and music.
Life is short.
Writers, painters, dancers, singer-songwriters, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, architects, sculptors, actors, directors, filmmakers, mothers, fathers – we all have a body of work that we want to complete in this lifetime.
We will never complete it.
So we do our best to get enough done that we can say ‘I did my best’. I have a lot of time to make up. I spent many years not writing anything more creative than academic papers, consulting reports and a blog; There were a couple of years where I did not write at all. Writing school should have set me up to continue in a life of writing but I grew sick of it. I was writing dark things and couldn’t find my way out of the darkness and into the light. I had fed on my own soul. I was so busy meeting deadlines, towards the end, that I forgot that writing is about walks along the beach, listening to music, standing in the rain, drinking tea, watching storms, reading and going to the cinema, theatre and art galleries and it is about travelling and meeting interesting people and disrupting our own thought patterns as much as it is about setting the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and facing the tyranny of the blank screen.
A writing teacher who had been a champion of mine told me this, when I returned from New York for a visit, and confessed that I hadn’t been writing any more plays, features or fiction: “Sometimes we write and sometimes we gather.”
I spent a long time gathering. I thought perhaps it was now time I get on with the business of writing, again. But we can never stop gathering. It is like breath. If we only exhale, eventually, we die.
I am grateful for the wisdom of my insightful friend, Addila, and for her gentle suggestion that I do more of what I love. It was a joy to attend the concert with Josh Savage last night and to finally meet him and know that he recognised me. I am grateful for my camera and I am grateful for my pencils. Sometimes I can’t see anything interesting to shoot but I am going to carry her with me everywhere, again. She is heavy with her big lens, and she hurts my back, but maybe that will encourage me to make sure I take her out of my bag, more. I haven’t carried my pencils with me, and I am going to start doing that again too. I can’t draw, but I can really look, and that is what it is about, for me – both in photography and drawing. It is in the looking that we really do gain a Zen moment of Oneness. If we are in flow, we lose sense of subject and viewer, immersed in one another and in the moment.
My service this week was to share my insight with the painter whose work I enjoy. I tell all single parents that they must take care of themselves so that they can take care of their children and that their own health comes first. They often reject my advice without considering the meaning of that choice.
We are all single parents of our creations. Our life is short. If our creations really matter to us, we must live life with passion…as though we are dying…because we are! And living in such a heightened state can only be maintained, death only kept at bay, if we continually feed the well that is our heart and soul and our very life force.
For what are you most grateful?