An improvised reenactment of a court case in front of an audience of lawyer students. I was one of the characters on a panel, representing someone in real life, and I’d just done my bit – been asked how I knew the suspect or whatever. I’d been instructed how to respond to help the story along. I did alright. The rehearsal had been slightly better but I felt like I was channelling the real person somehow. And then woke up in the cabin where I’m living, and started to write this… I’m tired…
Someone wrote to me asking about the book last week and prompted this… it’s been a while. And I felt, well, I’ve had a recurring thought that I miss you, and I’ve wanted you to know that. This is an open letter to everyone – especially those people who’ve actually passed through my life. Who I’ve shared time with. How do I miss you if I’ve never met you? I miss the great embrace of everything, or perhaps I’ve never quite been there but would like to. To live brim full. I want five lifetimes – 100, and meet everything and everyone. And those of you who I’ve met along the way these last 41 years – I do miss you. I moved house, city, country – leaving trails of memories and connections. But I never felt like I was leaving, just going away. I disappeared to write, and at the beginning of this year – I joined my cousin and her feller on their permaculture farm, to build a retreat in a wood and get closer to the soil. To escape the mad economy and do something ‘real’. While Rome burns I would plant things that will grow and build a community.
Now I feel far away, but I never left you. Not in my heart.
Isn’t it strange, this time we’re in? Yeah, corse it is. This underlying confusion and helplessness. The far away big governments who ruin our world, and media, the migration of tens of millions, species extinction, plastic, Monsanto, wars, climate change – everything so slow to change. Who is China? Why is Trump? Brexit. The rise of the far right. Theresa May and all those terrible people she works with. It’s a sludgy whirlwind. I’m fighting my ego in writing this suddenly. I want to let the morning sensitivity guide me in writing rather than – my ego wants to shape the words carefully. I’m enjoying writing ‘automatically’. Even if it’s a bit shit and disjointed I’ll post it regardless…
Maybe you have the same experience – not in the detail, but the same feeling of being dragged by the background force of that whirlwind, and just trying to grasp details of living that make it ok, that seems to make it ok. Make the sixth mass extinction OK. Tweak the details. Focus on what’s in front of me to the detriment of all that goodness I’ve known. And what’s in front is all I have the energy for. Keep my head down as much as possible because all that big global stuff is exhausting. I’ve got to take the world in as I would a film. And then it’s nothing like that. I stare it dead in the eye and have the feeling of being swept away. And then I feel power for a moment and plan to face it with you. Face-off this stupidity/insensitivity in some creative way. With the growing movement. You and me and all of us. All the threads joined at last.
It’s cold. Last night the fire was going and I was creating again. I forget how much I enjoy making physical things – this time reimagining the tree prints for a Christmas market. I remembered that I’m a good artist. I’m blowing my own trumpet – not really… It really doesn’t mean much. Really – I’m so tiny. So, so tiny. But it helps to remember when trying to finish a book that many people are ‘waiting’ for – that I can at least please myself with my efforts. And I have been writing. Lost in it. It’s not writing like this here – a mess. I’m compacting and compressing ideas and thoughts. Trying to shape everything because I can’t seem to shape anything else. In the book, I talk about the world, but it’s in there on the page, on a screen, stored in the microchips, and not that real world out there, really. It’s not really real is it? It’s just an echo of that world in words. I feel like a crusher, crushing the echoes onto paper. And sometimes I let the pressure off and let them reverberate.
It’s the 3rd and a half draft. I’m getting close now to giving the stuff to an editor, and who knows what she will bring to it. That will be an adventure. Whatever I’ve been doing with this book, it’s pretty nutty. It’s the world filtered through me – as if there was a separation between me and the world. As if the echoes were not also the world.
It breathes in size. I’m trying to fit everything in. Say everything. Understand the bigger picture and the smaller one and piece it together, and lay it out which is impossible for me. I’m getting to the point where it doesn’t matter anymore. I mean, at some point it will be what it is, and that point is coming. Not quite yet. I hope I’ll get it to you. Next year.
What a luxury. I am living in Utopia, on the backdrop of hell. I squander this luxury by worrying. By not being fearless. By trying to make the words count too much. By getting depressed because I’m uncertain and lonely (sometimes), and the sludge is too much. And I’m a failure. Jeez.
What now then? I want all these different threads of my life joined up somehow. I’m remembering Richard’s face, or Liz, or Peter, or… joyfully laughing about a shared something ten years ago, or one year ago. I know you’re at the end of a phone. There are so many of you. All these threads. And yeah I can’t keep you all, all the time. Mostly almost none of you any of the time at the moment. It’s another life suddenly, here. Exciting, yes sometimes. Confusing. Uncertain. I sound a bit sad, or like a man who woke up from a fake court case in a real midlife crisis – and there is sadness, or rather melancholy in this morning drowsiness, in me… I could wake up tomorrow and write a very different post. Optimistic. Enlivened. I’d leap out of bed.
I’m still not quite sure what I should expect from this life, even after all this time, but I don’t feel content. Should I feel content with Rupert Murdoch in the world? Or Tony Blair. Or the extinctions… I want it to be a party though, or an open house all the time. I want… I want teleportation. I want the mice in the walls to stop eating the cabin. I want the face of a person who grew up in the safety of a wise and kind tribe. To feel like I am part of the land, and it is part of me. To feel comfortable in the world, neither ‘owned’ nor knowing ownership, but instead shared belonging and safety. And you will be there, in your fullness – fearless and joyful. You do appear in my mind, really, and I hope to see you soon. I hope we can clean or remake this sludge soon. And hang out in a jovial and meaningful way.
With the sun coming up, and my alarm going off I end. But my ego wins and I edit this a little bit a few days later – because sometimes my ego knows best.
Ps. My knee is mostly ok thanks – much better. I can run without falling over in agony. And this is a painting on the wall: