May 2021 Soul Notes
I’m writing this in May 2021. A few days after one of the major milestones of England’s emergence from the stringent conditions of various stages of lockdown. This is significant as many of us surface, bleary-eyed from the pandemic cave, staggering a little into the light of others’ company and closeness and wondering how to navigate this new world.
Lockdown invited us to move inwards. There has been more space to explore and discover our inner world, should we so choose. We have had a free pass from the pressure to be perpetually plugged in socially. The space to dream. To wander. To explore. I feel like I’ve been on a reclamation expedition. A guided tour of some rarely visited places within. With an extended pass to stay over and immerse in the experience. I’ve discovered my rage. My dreamer. My creator. My social conscience. My simple self. More forthright. Less concerned with presenting well for others, and more connected to a slack belly expression of what’s here. You know that feeling, when you’re not holding yourself so tightly and your belly goes loose. When I speak from this centred place, I am pure honesty. And sometimes it’s not pretty. Originally I wrote this piece just for me, not for anyone else. It takes me a while to reach this place. The place where I’m not searching out my critics, the snipers in the corner ready to disprove, laugh at, dismiss or otherwise annihilate my expression. The guards in my head are always on the lookout for them but I’m getting more practised at persuading them that the world won’t end if I write something inappropriate, silly or revealing. For now, they’re on a tea break and here I am.
Jigsaw puzzles have been popular through the pandemic. I tried to order one in the first week of lockdown. Most were already sold out but I found a resplendent 1000 piece peacock that I ordered gleefully, picturing the hours of frustration that my daughter and I might have at the kitchen table. 8 weeks later and it still hadn’t arrived. I cancelled the order. The excitement had faded and I got to work on my internal jigsaw puzzle, finding a corner here, and a centre piece there. The pieces that got lost as I was busy putting myself out in the world in a way that others could digest. The edges are quite rough if I’m honest. Raggedy. Not well put together at all. Certainly not as well as the manicured and coiffed version of me that the world is used to seeing. The grey hairs became more and more visible on the zoom screen, reflecting the fact that I was no longer so eager to cover it all up any more. Weary of packaging myself for human consumption. I got to enjoy the unwrapped version of me. Less careful and precise. Willing to unfold nascent ideas to other ears before they’re fully formed. Happy to be caught not knowing. Delighted to display indolence on the virtual quiz.
For all of the pain and discomfort of the last 15 months, I feel like I’m embracing a more whole version of me. Succulent. Rich. Earthy. If I were a wine, I’d have legs (or at least I think that’s how you describe a full bodied wine. I don’t really know and just this once, I’m not going to check it – you can tell me if I have it wrong). I want to take this version forth into the world. I don’t want to lose the raging toddler who brings so much fire to my belly. The rumbunctious spirited child who delights in the forest floor. Or the withered helpless one who has grieved the multiple losses – her own, her family’s, the world’s, over these last months. The more still, quiet one who can stare for hours at a bee’s passionate kisses of the lavender. The strong one who walks for miles, heart soaring at the treescape of Hertfordshire. The sensual one who tastes every bean of the black coffee each morning. The dreamy one who keeps company with writers from far and wide. The patient one who sits with her lost daughter trying to fathom a direction for the day. The storyteller who is emerging, reading tales to her nephews and remembering her own childhood where she wished she had an aunt who would spend time reading with her. This one is seasoned, rich, full. She wants to talk meaning and purpose and heart and soul. Not social distancing and 2m rules. Please no. Please talk to me about what’s in your heart. What loss you’re grieving. What fears have emerged. What dreams have fermented. What you have discovered about yourself in this time. That’s what I wish to hear. That’s what I wish to share.
My plea to myself is that I don’t pack this puzzle away when we all emerge once more. That I find my own way to keep it out and on display, socially appropriate or not. This is my promise to myself and my wish for all of us. That we can bring the deeper richer versions of ourselves emerging through this crisis, to the world at large to make demands, to have expectations, to express love and care and outrage at all that we are on this planet. Let us remember who we are really. Let us remember this connection. Let us be the whole of ourselves and no longer feel the need to bury our colours underground. I want to be part of a colourful, peacock strutting world of raggedy edges. I want to continue to remember who I am, not as a singular socially constructed version of myself but as the flawed, piecemeal human being that I am. And I’d like to know these parts of you too.