Jasmine scents the still-crisp air while wisteria flings purple rain at our feet.
It’s the time of beginnings.
I have two bags packed behind me. One contains a collection of grey, black, white and blue clothing – all of it soft. Desk-wear! The other holds books, papers, postcards, notebooks and my laptop. When I look at them, they represent hope and fear in equal parts…
I’m off on retreat. Amazingly, it has been just over a year since I went to Bundanon to immerse, and I look back and see how much has been achieved as a result of that three weeks. A book took final shape and is in the last stages of pre-publication flurry. I’ve written articles and re-shaped a monologue. I’ve read audiobooks and conducted interviews. I’ve given speeches and chaired sessions. A little silence went a very long way.
It’s time to hunker down and return to another silence; time to let the messy stuff of my mind have free rein so that perhaps, with luck and that old fair wind and an even bigger dollop of silence, something can begin to be shaped.
If I had to imagine what the process looks like, it would be akin to peering into a bale of tangled and knotted knitting wool, before plunging my hand in to grab a strand, and then hooking it onto a needle and beginning to knit, without a pattern, or an idea of what colour I had chosen – and hoping for a Fairisle sweater to emerge!
It’s why we have to love hope. It’s the best of the qualities that make us human, don’t you think?
The voice that says I will probably stab myself with that knitting needle, which is likely to be septic or toxic somehow anyway, and cause an artery to bleed, thus ruining the sweater and stopping my life!
All that will, of course, be a good thing, because then I won’t get to write the thing that would have been dreadful anyway.
Look, a day would not be complete without a little bit of catastrophising!
But the thing is, that is the dance of everything we make, if it matters to us. Every risk. Every creation. Every initiation. Every beginning…
Hope and fear. The possible and the dreadful.
But somewhere in the mix, there is also a thing called faith. I don’t know if it’s a feeling or an idea or a joke, but it’s faith that makes me put down one foot then another when I’m walking. So that is what I hope to do now.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately, as I’ve been performing my monologue at a couple of festivals, about that Antonio Machado poem I love…
Caminante, no hay camino…
Walker, there is no road. We make the road by walking.
We don’t know anything at the beginning. We don’t even know if there is a road. But we step out, and we walk, and when we look back, we can see the road we made….
I love it. And it seems the right poem for a person who is about to do some tunnelling at a desk, away from home, in silence. Fearing there is nothing; hoping there is…something…
I so hope your spring yields creativity and beauty aplenty, and that each time you take a step, you are making a good road.
PS If you are interested to read two articles that rose from my journey in France and Spain earlier this year (the previous two posts), grab a copy of the Spring issue of Slow Living magazine. It’s in newsagents now, and if it isn’t, please ask yours to get it in! Or you can order online at their website. I think it is a ripper issue – especially for travellers!