The New Year has brought with it a sense of renewal, a feeling that this year could pan out much better than last. There is even the sense of relief that I'll be avoiding last year's mistakes - how could I not! There is basically an overriding sense that I can accomplish anything. It doesn't last long, however, not much further than January 2nd, and yet those moments have at least resulted in a plan, goals trailing behind my plan like tin cans attached to a wedding car. If nothing else there will be new experiences, new places to visit and novel ways of stepping outside the straight jacket of routine and it's a sensation that sits in my chest like a lit sparkler. Newness. Perhaps, a second chance.
I'm reminded of a short poem my grandfather would often quote me: Your life lies before you like a path of driven snow; be careful how you tread it, because every mark will show. It has now, as it did then, the habit of immobilising me. So I hover for a while in the world of possibilities, a world that remains a close cousin to make-believe, and for a time just stare at the white vista. Taking that first step is both a blessing and a curse. Perhaps it could, in fact, go as badly wrong as last year. Have I really learnt anything after all? Maybe it's better just to stay here, at the start, and dream long, happy dreams. But time waits for no woman and so I take, tentatively at first, a small step followed by a more purposeful step in a slightly new, slightly different direction, a personal mantra lightening my steps as they crunch through the untainted snow: just believe. That's it for this year. Just believe.
All our paths are virgin paths, the journey never quite the same with each passing year.. And yet as a writer the path is well-trodden, other writers having trudged it countless times with their own troublesome, perhaps equal burdens. The important part is to start, to walk fearlessly and with faith, to know that if nothing else paths end somewhere. All paths. So just begin and just believe and in time you might just build something out of that snow, a crystal palace comprised of ice perhaps. Indeed, the snow could be just the beginning...
This week has been a week of computer glitches, of visiting the computer repair shop not just once but three times because my problem seemed to be reserved for my eyes only. It was part way through, however, that I decided to see an otherwise irritating experience in a fortuitious light. Prior to the interruption, my writing days had been quietly ordered and predictable, enmeshed - as our lives so often are - in routine. Yet, our creative brains thrive on novel situations and new landscapes, situations that take us away from the norm. This provides fodder for our creative souls and it doesn't have to be a trek through the Andes, or anywhere particular glamorous so long as its set apart from our usual habits.
And so, part way through my week the thirty minute drive through south London stopped being a battle against reckless van drivers and became instead a chance to observe and appreciate the different cultures that lay beyond my windshield; the way one road might epitomise middle class England, whilst another might well be a street in Iran or Turkey or even urban Jamaica. I saw the metropolis of London for what it was: a delightful melange of cultures, of different fashions and foods and religions and no longer a great swath of land between my house and the computer shop. I delighted too in the characters I met in the computer repair shop, the stories they had to tell so that any archetypal myths were rapidly laid to rest.
I soon realised how other irritating interruptions could be viewed in a similar way so that one's creative mindfulness, rather than one's frustration, could be immediately brought into play. Perhaps you all do this anyway, maybe I'm just a bit slow to catch on here. All I know, is that my internal notepad won't be coming out only when I'm floating through the canals of Venice (which of course happens often) but when I'm tempted to otherwise pull out my hair!
Albert Einstein once said, 'Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom.' The idea of group creativity is almost an oxymoron. But perhaps it is unhelpful to separate the creativity of individual minds from the communities within which they flourish. People, after all, understand themselves not only as individuals but also as members of the groups to which they belong.