Spaces Untamed

untamed
“Make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit.” – Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

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

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2 thoughts on “Spaces Untamed

  1. Dear Caroline,

    Such a delight to encounter a kindred spirit across the miles and waters! I live on a tiny patch of land on little Vashon Island, WA, USA. I have left a swath of the front of the property to stay wild for the creatures. At the edge of the area lies a large boulder, unearthed when the house was built that is a bit of an outdoor altar, teacher and ally. Beyond that, closer to the house lies my stone circle, for prayers and spiritual work.

    Many thanks for this lovely article, I look forward to following your blog and Facebook page!

    Imbolc Blessings to you from across the sea.

    Alannah

    1. Oh my, Alannah, your little patch of land on Vashon Island sounds magical! How wonderful to leave wild space for nature, and to have a stone circle for spiritual work. My little garden is tiny, but full of love and life! Thank you for reading and for your kind words. Great to have you here x

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