Its summer. Damp humid smells fill my senses, shapes and delicate colours absorb my eye.
Sometimes having nothing particular to say means that I do something else instead, like this.
After convincing myself that I was, after all, OK with failing; that going through the motions was enough, I found my self slam-dunked into the dark. The frenetic activity of spring gave way to steady but unrelenting summer growth that I couldn’t keep up with. Too much expectation, too much activity, to many shoulds. So I gave in, surrendered, and let the darkness in.
Going through the motions took me to a wall that I couldn’t climb. Numbness, silence and inertia. I had been doing stuff that I love, but not doing love itself; not doing stuff just for love, just for me. I hit a wall and was left with simply fulfilling a need. So I did something frivolous, something soul-food-ish and unwittingly knocked the wall down.
Frivolity feeds the soul. Drawings that aren’t on the list, books that provoke questions that long to be answered, mindless acts of creativity that open the heart and let the love back in. Time without plans or lists, time to listen to what is needed over what is required. Empty time to be filled by whim. That’s what was missing, that led to the darkness of having nothing left to give.
And joy returns. How simple, and how easy to forget. I’m back in the room, phew. I wondered when I would get to see myself again. So, so simple; do something for love.
Failing to stay motivated, failing to eschew my bad habits, failing to get up early 3 days a week, failing to get it all done, failing to make 1000 words a day a profitable achievement, failing to live up to the bar I have set myself, failing to feel myself fly rather than free falling. Failing not to listen to the failure stories I’m telling myself. I’m failing to do anything but go throught the motions. I’m failing all the time, a poor general state of affairs.
But, there are minor successes. 1000 words of tripe, but 1000 words none the less. Not 6am starts but 7 which is better than 8, 9, or even 10. I’m aware that my stories are stories and that I’m choosing to listen. Failing to get it all done, but still doing stuff. Going through the motions. Minor successes, baby steps.
I’m not stuck, just stumbling. Sometimes things are shit, pocked by failure, but this is not an end point, not a destination. Failing to achieve everything on my list perhaps, but not a failure. I’m still going through the motions, and today, that in itself is success.
Failing is current, present tense, which means that I’m still moving forward, however slowly; step by step up my own personal learning curve. When I stop failing, I’ve stopped trying and that really would be shit. As long as I’m still failing, I’m still in the game. Hell, I can still look on the bright side.
Flora, my print-master-general, came home at Christmas time with a little toy mangle, her eyes brimming with possibilities. On Saturday she stood breathless in my doorway waving a little tiny piece of paper with inky lines and shapes, and my eyes brimmed with possibilities. She had turned a child’s toy into a press for little tiny things. Context was turned on its head; gone was the need to go large and elaborate, and out came something small, immediate and oh so very exciting. Thanks Flora; as the world offered endless possibilities that daunted and confused, you presented a constraint, a (5 cm by 6.75 cm plate) that in its turn offered freedom.
On Monday I printed an edition of 6 on vintage postcards which will turn up on my shop as soon as the ink dries.
Visit Flora’s magical world here.
In my mind, overwhelm is a common complaint. So I carved a little sign to help remind me of my choices. Yes or No. It’s just a case of strategy.
Overwhelm means that I’ve said yes too often; as a stock reaction, out of excitement, to people please or simply out of gratitude for being asked. I have forgotten the sanctuary of no. No isn’t a missed opportunity or a personal let down, just a space in the day to do something bigger, better, brighter. No means I can say ‘hell yes’ with confidence.
If I’m going to say yes to this (event, project, new committment) what do I have to say no to in order to make it happen? In order to make it happen I have to be wholehearted about it; I have to be committed, to remain focussed, to give it time. Saying no to something else means you give yourself space. Wholehearted deserves space.
So I carved this little sign to remind me of the flip side of my choices. Yes without no leads to overwhelm, no means the yesses actually happen. After all, we can do anything, but not everything.
I turned my back and it all turned green.
Last time I looked, the bracken fronds were just beginning to show; determined and pale lime green prodding up through the brown, unfurling slowly at the tips. Man, spring is quick.
I turned my back and for a short while and got lost in down days, a shit-storm of uncomfortable thoughts buffeting me on their way by. I got attached to achievement – the lack of, to progress – which was backwards, and to patience – of which I was totally devoid: All thoughts that I had created, felt and let go of – but not before they had taken their toll. The heat of the sun was on my shoulders and I felt heavy. I didn’t run, I didn’t walk, I didn’t look up. Shitty.
This evening I went out in the rain which fell vertically, persistently. It hung ripe and heavy from the hawthorn flower buds and along the fence wire between fields. It had washed elm seeds down to pepper freshly mulched veg beds, and tassels of larch needles, newly sprouted and fragile onto last years carpet. The bracken fronds, last time I looked were 2 inches tall and sparse. Now, they are everywhere, almost as tall as my small fat dog casting a haze of soft electric green over the moor. Man, spring is quick. From not there to everywhere in just a couple of bum days.
Damn, I blinked and missed it.
I was made up of a thousand conflicting stories and even more limiting beliefs that held me back from my best self. I knew that I was responsible, knew that thought created form, that what I put out into the world came back to me. I even knew that the world I experienced was created from my perception.
I had methods and strategies for making changes; I knew how to put things into context, I knew how to remove my blocks, to lift my limitations, to move closer everyday to my best self, my highest potential, to God. I just had to see my thoughts and change them.I just had to do the work.
Recently, I’ve been asking myself whether I need to keep changing the content of my thoughts or simply accept that I think. One tiny shift in perspective that would change everything.
I think. Endlessly, continually, even without thinking about it.
Thoughts come and go, they are transitory, ephemeral. Find a place of inner stillness and you can even watch them. This is the nature of thought. Through thoughts we translate our sensory perceptions, we understand our reality, we form opinions and beliefs. Thoughts inform how we feel and behave, how we experience life. Most importantly they come from the inside, from our minds. They are ours. Our experiences are mind made.
It is not the content of our thoughts that cause us trouble, that need to be fixed. It is where we believe our thoughts come from that trips us. Believing that responsibility for our experience lies elsewhere means there is nothing we can do. We are helpless.
Once we can see that we own our thoughts, and we are singularly responsible for what we experience, we are lead to the realisation that here is nothing to do. Life simply is what it is, there is nothing to fix. And I am not broken after all.
There I’d be, just before the finish line, all smug and excited by the prospect of completion – then doubt would step in whispering “who are you trying to kid??” Imagined success would sour in my mouth before I could even get a decent bite. My marching band would pack up the fanfare and go home. No triumphant unveiling, no grand reception. I would slip things quietly into the light of day and hope that no one would notice. Or leave it on the ‘not good enough’ pile that toppled in the corner.
But we are getting on better these days. I am no longer crushed by doubt. Given a voice, doubts whisperings are less potent. In listening to its fearfulness, I’m making sure that I’m sure, and finding confidence in the checking.
Aberglasney Gardens, SA32 8QH
www.sacredart.space for further imformation
After losing most of the day to gardening, an unexpected distraction, I was glad for my Sunday-running-on-the-beach-date to come round. It was hellish windy and a bit nippy, but beautiful. I hadn’t seen the beach so big, so long for ages. It was as big as it could be, sand from one headland to the other. We only had to run up and back once.
It wasn’t a hard hard run, but there was enough challenge going on to cut out the mind chatter – I was there, then.
A seagull stood watching us run past from the waters edge and I noticed that it’s legs really did look like strings dangling from its body, all straight and perpendicular. A boxer dog was chasing two balls blown by the wind; It would pick up red, see yellow, drop red, pick up yellow. Red, blown by the wind would catch his eye, yellow would be dropped, red scooped up triumphantly… Endlessly diverting. I watched the wind blow spray from the crests of the waves in a flat arc back out to sea; it blew sand stinging into my shins and created an alien moonscape from some sci-fi movie right there in Newport for only the brave and curious to experience. Breath heaved in and out, I pushed against the wind, one foot down soft in front of the other with nothing but the here and now to notice.
Excercise, it appears, is good for quieting the mind. Multi tasking becomes difficult. The body, surprised by the demand, demands attention and the mind is emptied of past or future. And there I was, running in the present, emptied of chatter and complete.