Sunday, 8 June 2014

On lying under a peony and dribbling.

I heard a review of a book on radio 4 recently where the narrator rambles on in a stream of consciousness, while obsessing about and giving endless details of trivial things.  I shall base this week's blog on that author's style.

Or not.  I shall resist but that is how it may turn out. The best thing to do this week is to ask questions, and to answer them. Let us, then, begin.  Question one.

1.  What is the matter with you that you may need to ramble and obsess?

Nothing is the matter, I am in the empty space after being very busy and full of focus. This is the down after the up, the low after the high.  Working on the A Graceful Death exhibition takes an awful lot of work and concentration, and during the actual exhibition, I do 14 hour days.  Fine.  Love it.  When it was over,  I came home, I had the house to clean and reclaim from my dear lodgers and Giant Boy.  There was a small metric ton of laundry to do, food to buy, plates to remove from under the bath and so on.  The exhibition needed to be unpacked, re-catalogued, and repacked.  All that kind of thing is a lovely buffer zone between being extremely busy in the run up to and during the exhibition, and having nothing to do at all after the whole thing is over.  And now, today, I have nothing more to do.  I am sitting here on my sofa, and what I do next, is entirely up to me.  

2. What would you like to do?

  • Warm up my own body weight in Cadbury's dairy milk chocolate and spend fourteen hours eating it.
  • Organise the next big AGD here in Chichester and make the speakers, for this event, writers and carers.
  • Paint the portrait of someone who is facing the end of life, write up their story with them, and let them keep it all.
  • Lie in bed for a day dozing and dreaming 
  • Lie on the beach in Bognor dozing and dreaming
  • Write a book (a best seller in a single afternoon with no effort at all)
  • Produce a play - or a read through - for AGD.  The late Sue Eckstein's play "The Tuesday Group" is the one I want.  Sue died recently, and I feel bad because she said I could use her play, but I felt very daunted and let it slide.  Her death recently made me understand that you just never know what is going to happen.  Now, I tell myself, is often a very good time.
  • Find a venue for the "Conversations about the End of Life, finding time to think in our busy worlds".  I am looking to do this in Bognor.  And everywhere.  If you have a venue, let me know.  I'll bring the cakes.
  • Win the lottery.
  • Spend the lottery.
  • Put Cornish clotted cream on the Dairy Milk above and lie in it.
3.  What are you going to do?

Have a bubble bath.

4.  I see.  And tomorrow?

Tomorrow, they say, is a whole other country. I do have a plan for tomorrow, it just feels as if I am going to ignore it.  I am the mistress of my own destiny, I say, probably to no avail.  It is possible that my plan for tomorrow will peter out and I will stare quietly into space and dribble. Should I be capable, here is my plan.
  • Finish a really lovely portrait of an old couple sitting in their garden.  I have done the people, it is now time to put a tabby cat on the lady's lap, and add books, newspapers, pens, pencils and some African sculptures from their life in Africa, to describe who they are.  This means sitting in my studio in the sunshine, with a pot of tea.  I think I can do that.  
  • Tomorrow is the day I have set aside too, to find a venue for the Conversations.  I have no idea where to find one.  I thought of lying on my sofa and willing someone to phone me up offering a nice central venue and waiving the fee because I am so wonderful.  As yet, that approach has never worked.  
The unfinished painting, the hard stuff is done, now it's just cats and books and African sculptures.  The normal stuff of life.
5.  What, then, is your conclusion? 

My conclusion is that I am very tired.  I am not needing to sleep, I am needing to day dream.  I am needing to give myself mental space, and to let all these ideas dance in my mind without trying to organise them. I do have more AGD events towards the end of this year, at an event in Ascot in the last weekend of September, and in Swansea at the end of October and the beginning of November, but that is a long time away, and I don't need to think about it now.  I don't need to think of anything at the moment, I just need to drift and dribble, as they say.  Oh, I have such hopes for the A Graceful Death exhibition and project.  I have so many exciting things to do, and so many projects to set up. But right now it is time to visit, as my cousin Maddy says, La La Land where the very act of lying down in the garden under the peonies is good for the soul.   It is at times of weariness when doubts creep into one's mind, when one feels as if one should do more not less, it is at times like this that one needs to step aside and be kind, very kind, to oneself.  Being in the low after the high, the down after the up, tends to make us bully ourselves a bit.  We blame ourselves for feeling empty, and for not having lots of things to do, for not continuing in the same productive and energetic way of last week.  But all things are cyclical, and all things wind down before starting up again. This time in the cycle when all that needed to be done, is done, is very precious and very prone to being misunderstood.  Standing still after moving  fast feels wrong. but it isn't.  It is just sensible before starting up again.  So that is where I am now.  Standing still.  In a precious moment.  Understanding that this part of the cycle is just as good and important as the busy one.  And on that happy note, I am going to find a peony, lie under it and eat some chocolate.


My lovely studio.  There are peonies, somewhere else in the garden, but I am not really fussy.  I can lie down under these sweet peas and eat chocolate.  I can lie down anywhere and eat chocolate.

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