Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting a friend’s house in London. A large, faded town house in the centre of Brixton, it seemed like it might have been rather grand in its bygone heyday, and I imagined that it had a fair few whispered stories of its own tucked away in the empty spaces between the bricks and floorboards.
These days the house is squatted by a group of young, spirited and socially conscious teachers, youth workers, activists and creatives. In the midst of a summer – and, as it turned out, a year – characterised by a mainstream narrative of fear, division and hatred, conversations revolved around taking actions to enrich and unify the community, the culture, the world. There was much laughter and a genuine feeling of inclusion; I encountered no futility or despair, only the lively exchange of ideas, hope for new beginnings, and the will to usher them into being. It was a refreshing, inspiring evening – especially for someone who doesn’t leave the country village much.
Another thing that struck me about the house was its garden. Beyond the patio and a small, overgrown lawn, a large area had been left to grow completely wild. It was thick, dark green and utterly untraversable to all but the semi-feral cat whom the house had adopted. The wild space exuded mystery, knowing and, I think, a kind of peace, as though it was somehow grateful to have just been left alone. To many it would look a mess, and of course there’s every chance that it had been left untended simply because no-one had the time or inclination to cultivate the space. But I found it beautiful and of value, especially there in the heart of this beating metropolis. Not only did it provide a habitat for the plants and creatures which lived within in, but it also lent the house a sense of reciprocity with the natural marrow of the city, as if to say: we’ve got enough; this, you can keep.
Just as our physical environments need wild areas – be they vast expanses of wilderness or corners of city gardens – it is vital for us as creative human beings to leave spaces untamed in our soul-psyches. They can be messy, imperfect, and sometimes challenging, but are always rich in treasures for those who approach them with open ears, eyes and hearts. I find them through solitude, play, movement, meditation, reading, writing, art and time spent in nature. They are where my inspiration resides, and I am learning, slowly, to trust when they are calling me to explore them, and when they want to be left alone. I am starting to believe that they grow and evolve in their own time, and that as long as I keep working and chipping away at it, they will lead me on great adventures.
I may just be starting out, but it feels good to be in relationship with the mysteries of the creative process.
My themes for this winter:
What happens when we really slow down and listen?
What happens when we let go and create/live from the heart?
What happens when we allow ourselves to hope?
… Untold possibilities!
Blessings for 2017 x