Rambling thoughts..Day 6

Today I noticed…as usual around this time just after Christmas, I want to clear up, sort out and begin getting ready for the New Year. At the same time though, I want to keep warm and comforted and hide a little. We stayed indoors today and did all of these things.

I made space on my shelves by clearing away some books. I thought that how sometimes my book collections can read a little like a journal. It seems that each year I want to learn about something new, and last years things that seemed so urgently interesting often start to make way for, or become a part of, something else.. I also sell books (in a small way) and so there are some piles of these waiting about with a sort of puppy-like expectation for their new owners.

I like the peace and focus of the information in comparison to trawling online, and so I usually have a few books on the things I’m into…it seems I’ve been into a lot…:

  • flower growing
  • gardening
  • embroidery
  • paper cutting
  • writing
  • poetry
  • children’s literature
  • adult fiction
  • self improvement
  • piano, flute and vocal music
  • jazz backing tracks for vocals
  • jewellery making
  • flower arranging
  • photography
  • landscape architecture
  • drawing
  • watercolour painting
  • printmaking
  • collage
  • biographies
  • botany
  • history
  • design…………

Many of these are the beginnings of things I thought would be my next big thing, FOREVER. “M, I’ve finally cracked it! I know who I am! I like embroidery!!”

I’ve always managed to make a living by scattering myself about between things, but there’s always something else, (or a few something else’s) hanging around begging me to take a try at. Making music, writing, visual art, and more recently gardening seem to be things that always make it back up above the water, but there are many more things within them, and new things outside that come and go. Over the years I’ve realised though that each new direction you try seems to help the other in some way – gardening helps my creative pursuits, taking a break from writing to sing and play piano relieves the pressure on the writing…sitting and writing is a real break from being outside digging in the cold air…the differences all compliment each other..so I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be always exploring.

The last place that I lived was a small city, surrounded by hills, fields and coastline, if you travelled out a little. I bought maps, got on buses, rode my bike and generally spent years exploring in my free time.

Just before I moved away, I met up with a friend and said I wanted to do a visit of my favourite places before I left, and I took her to a few. She went along with me and at one point she said, “How do you know about all these places?!”

“I just looked about!” I said, and she said it had never occurred to her to do that.  When we travel, we often make a point of seeing everything we can in and around that place, but it’s easy to forget to do this in the place where we live. I think my approach to life has always been a little like a curious cat. I don’t go that far, but I cover a lot of ground.

I realised that my friend and I were quite different in some regards. We both love to learn new things, but I’ve always really admired how she can set herself a long-term goal, learning jazz piano to a high standard for instance, and tenaciously stick to that goal for years, until she is, now as hoped, a very good jazz pianist. She always slightly despaired in me that I couldn’t stick to any idea for long. I slightly despaired in myself too. Her way seemed somehow “better” than mine. But now I see that I have always been this way, and most probably always will be. When I was a child I always had about ten books on the go at once, when I’m writing I tend to have several different things lying about waiting to be dipped into. As with drawing, music, as with nearly all of my life, I’ll always be curious and intrigued by the things I don’t know, and always keen for that fresh new view round the corner.

I like this quote by Doris Lessing,

“The world is only tolerable because of the empty places in it – millions of people all crowded together, fighting and struggling, but behind them, somewhere, enormous empty places. I tell you what I think”, he said, ” when the world’s filled up, we’ll have to get hold of a star. Any star. Venus, or Mars. Get hold of it and keep it empty. Man needs an empty space somewhere for his spirit to rest in.”

A different context perhaps, but I read it today as the intrigue of the “not-yet-known”. Once there is none of that left for me, when I have no desire left to hunt it out, that will probably be the day that I hang up my hat..

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