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...