more thoughts on the journey

A big thank you to all of you for your heartening and inspiring comments on my last post. It's always, always good to know you're not alone with things.

One of the people I keep going back to for a good dose of wisdom, sensitivity and honesty is Megan at The Scent of Water. Quite a while ago she posted on the subject of our muddled, squiggly lives, talking of:

'teaching myself to manage happiness, encouraging it to sit alongside the heartaches and frustrations that necessarily accompany life, rather than using it as a shield against them. It isn't that I believe there is good in every situation; it's that I believe there is good.'

This is something I have thought about over and over, especially with respect to the largely unhelpful perspective the world often takes of our 'journey' in life. It seems more and more to me that our walk is not meant to be a linear one, where we gradually move closer and closer to perfection and happiness. I'm really not helped by the concept of Nirvana: life just keeps barging in and spoiling the enlightenment, like a drunk stumbling into a yoga class. Our path feels more like a squiggle on the page: we travel great distances yet often criss-cross paths we have been on before, revisiting places, feelings, people. The great trick, and the way to keep moving forward, is to continue in the direction the squiggle is taking, not to take the wrong path and find ourselves back in the loop, like those old Beano puzzles where the fisherman catches an old boot...

Along the same lines is a remark that Nigella Lawson made in an interview I found here. I like Nigella, at least I like her writing, her thinking, and the fact that she's nice and curvy. I'm not so keen on the camped-up parody of herself and her life that she peddles on TV. She is certainly someone who has had her share of grief and pain though, and she is nothing if not honest. In the article she speaks of her experience of life, explaining that although there is a process to grief, it is not linear:

'You don't feel this on a Monday, that on a Tuesday, as though you are making steady progress from A to B while all about you are being supportive. It's as if people think you are either happy or unhappy, one or the other. As though happiness is like some kind of domestic cleaning product you spray around to get rid of those nasty, dark, dusty corners. I don't think happiness is a remedy for unhappiness, like there, that was unhappy, now this is happy! What kind of a life is it if you don't have both? You don't go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be. That John was so ill for so long is a cause of grief for as long as I remember it, and I have no wish to forget. I have room in my head. It's all right. I don't want to put my mind in order as I might with work or a store cupboard, because that wouldn't be a fair representation of the way things are. It is difficult to explain this to people. Language is more articulate than emotion, but it doesn't do the job. Emotion is messy, contradictory ... and true.'

I think this is the same for creativity, and probably much else besides. Everything lives alongside everything else. We can't compartmentalise, nor does it help us anyway. It's the mixing up of things that makes it interesting.

Images are from my concertina sketchbook that I started last year. I made a list of interesting words such as bird, garden, moon, teacup, spoon, kettle, and gave them all numbers. Then I wrote the numbers down on little pieces of paper and put them in a jar. Each time I do a page of sketchbook I pick three numbers out at random and that's what I draw...

9 comments:

Jackie said...

Sue I like the idea of life being a squiggle. Thats an excellent idea as is the three items that jump out of the jar and on to the page, Brilliantly creative.

cocoa and blankets said...

What a wonderful post, I loved the quote..I think I will cut and paste that into my journal...you have given me much to think about, I will be back when it isnt time for work...love and hugs H

Gilly said...

You are the most amazing daughter! Every time I read your blog I find out something about you I didn't know before! I think you are great!

I think after all this time my life is just a scribble - but the line is getting lighter, and less involved, is that good? I don't know.

Your post is so philosophical and creative. Where does it all come from. You amaze me, in the nicest possible way!

caireen said...

How funny, was just reading last night about the idea of the journey not necessarily being a straight line or an ascent (as we expect in career, art, life etc) but a spiral unfolding. I have often found myself revisiting the same situations, moments, thoughts, actions - until you become aware... then, hello, I'm here again, and you know that eventually it will pass and the place on the spiral you love to be will come around again. I have just spent a very frustrating afternoon getting nowhere, and I recognise this too, is not what that moment was about - but something else that will dawn on me at somepoint. Hope that makes sense! Cx

sweetmyrtle said...

hi Sue,
these last 2 posts about creativity and balancing life are so interesting. i think you are hugely creative and your blog is a real example of this. I do understand the finding it hard to create with all of life's responsibities though and despite having a creative job i still yearn for some 'me' creative time and a chance to explore and develop personally, quietly and for me. my sweetmyrtle is a kind of start in this respect and i just have to be grateful for the times i can create and persue an idea as being a mother is my main priority just now (and being wife, housewife and daughter too.
i have however been relearning many things about myself recently and am trying to adopt a gentle approach to life and creativity and to not set myself too many goals but to find a natural rhythm ..and keep an open and receptive heart. when i master this i feel great and at peace but the trick is to master it... and this is not easy as i juggle and drop many balls often!
i must tell you that we are so enjoying the hexagons i won in your giveaway... i have been taking the box with me when i go to friends and family and so the stitching and designing a 7 hex flower has been shared amongst friends, sisters and daughters.. so stories and happy days are being stitched into the quilt which feels lovely.... so thank you once again for your generosity.
warm wishes ginny xx

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Came across your blog by accident - and so glad I did. Like Cocoa and Blankets, I love the quote.

Lorenza said...

hi Sue! Your posts lately resonate with me a lot, especially this one. I too like the idea of the life being a squiggle. My mother always tells me life is a wheel sometime you're up and sometime you're down, but when it's down you know that equally it will have to be up again.

But I so understand about mixed feelings and not being able to say I feel A today or B tomorrow etc. At the moment I feel like and I wonder what I do is what I actually want to do and if it's going in the right direction, I feel like I'd like a change, do something that really makes me happy. Then I wonder what really is happiness and the fact that is so effimeral, that you have it one moment and the next is gone... ??? all a bit confusing really, but reading your blog is always so inspirational and calming too :) making me realise that the right solutions does come along by letting it do so :) thank you for your words. L x

Lorenza said...

sorry, meant to write 'ephemeral'... I created a half italian half english word there with effimeral ;) L x

janet clare said...

Just found your blog today and I'm glad I did! I love your concertina notebook idea and I think you can paint extremely well.