Updated: Oct 6
July 2021 Soul Notes
It started with a question. Doesn’t it often? Questions that many of us have been hovering around these last months. How can I live life fully in this constricted world? How can I expand? Have fun? Feel stimulated? Discover more of myself? The question led me to a book. Many books in fact, but one was a magical book that takes its reader into the forest of the soul and invites her to explore her relationship with herself and the world. I wandered there awhile and then there was a dream. A prescriptive dream that told me to go “walk the labyrinth”. So I did as I was told. I found an ancient labyrinth nearby and found that its name is the same as my family name. Too much serendipity to ignore. The Hilton Maze near Cambridge was etched into the village green in the 17th century and has been maintained beautifully since. Labyrinths are spiritual places – an invitation to wander and go deeper. What I found here was a peaceful meditative space. I walked into the centre of the labyrinth, following the manicured pathway, asking my question. It was like wandering into the labyrinth of my own being – winding and spiralling deeper and further and uncovering symbols and feelings along the way. I paused in the centre, feeling the energy of a sacred path that has been walked so many times before, and feeling an unwinding in me.
The labyrinth led me to the painting above – Still Life and the Janus Puppet by Christiane Kubrick. Janus is the Roman god with two faces, and often seen as the god of all beginnings, transitions and gateways. This feels so apposite at a time of enormous change in my life, and I feel both comfort and joy in this painting which now hangs on my kitchen wall. I love the colours, the joy, the symbolism and feel inspired to get out my own paints each time I sit by it. What’s fascinating for me on this elaborate treasure hunt, is that I can feel the pull of joyful energy in me, and the meeting of it in the world. This is just a snapshot and I could go on, but for me, the book and the painting are small but significant illustrations of me uncovering a more playful, less structured part of myself and leaning more into lesser known parts. As summer holidays approach, I feel ready to play in as many different ways as possible. The last few months of sitting in front of the zoom screen and being limited in what I can do and where I can go means that I have a cache of pent up energy, just waiting for an outlet. I’ve been finding ways to soak up the creativity of others in 3D, enjoying mini festivals and fairs. My whole body experiences have felt heightened as I join with others and begin to remember the joy of company and chatter and smiles from random strangers. I can feel how numb my body has been for a while and am so enjoying feeling it back to life through this gradual emergence. I want to move, swim, walk, dance, stay up all night, wake up early, feel new sensations. I want an all over sensate experience to affirm my live body status in this world, not just my existence behind a screen. This fresh awareness of our bodies is to be cherished. It’s like we have been living in too-small versions of ourselves for so long, and now’s a chance to grow into the real life size version and inhabit it all. Run round the rooms and check out the garden space of this body-home and feel grateful that we live right here. This is eros. Life. Audre Lourde speaks beautifully of this in her talk “Uses of the Erotic, The Erotic as Power”. She says: “We have been raised to fear the deepest yes within ourselves….our deepest cravings”….These words echo particularly loudly at this time, where we have been fearing even the most basic yes in ourselves, never mind the deepest. I was with a six month old baby this weekend, who spent the whole time communing with the overhanging branches of the massive tree that gave us shade. She danced as the tree danced, and swayed with its rhythm; she gurgled in tune with the whispering leaves and smiled at the unknown, totally in harmony with herself and the world around her. Now there’s someone who knows how to say yes. So the antidote for us all is to really listen to the longings, the dream instructions or nudgings, the hankerings, the small signals that appear every day if we attune ourselves. It’s a practice to learn what lies underfed in the basement of ourselves. In his poem above, Rilke writes: Nearby is the country they call life. You will know it by its seriousness. But if you can “Let everything happen to you” and visit the lesser known inner territories of play and joy and peace and stillness, then maybe that life can be expanded to include so much more. Will you let yourself be led in unknown directions this summer? What will your adventure start with? Wishing you many wanderings over this summer.