So the clocks have gone back and the slipping into darkness time has begun. I would like to say something about this that I haven’t said before but the lit candle expresses it. Each year, it seems, the image – the metaphor – becomes more powerful, increasingly necessary. Things need to be quiet, some inner light ignited, found or revealed in order to meet all the darkness, which keeps on coming. On the other hand, one could deal with it effectively by partying hard. At present I choose the first way, or it chooses me and I acquiesce.
I went to Ros Barber’s book launch on Thursday. She read from her new anthology, Material – a fine collection, and she always delivers, speaks her work so well. The launch was at the top of a pub in Brighton and I was driven there by ex-student who is soon to be herself launched as new author. We stayed to buy the book, hear the reading, greet a few people, but when the word Party was mentioned she turned to me and said, “I’m ready to go when you are” – and I was, so off we went.
Last week’s writing plan was scuppered by the ‘electricity’ mentioned in previous post. I would like to get stuck in again because I have a sense of where I might be heading with something – a longer-than-usual project with characters, a beginning, middle and end (though not necessarily in that order) and I want to feel grounded in it before the run up to Christmas when everything gets busy. I want to feel in the middle of something rather than on the edge. Clearly a long walk into the forest is in order. I got lost once – found myself walking along paths that I thought would lead me out and home but none of them did, the sky was getting dark and then my mobile phone battery ran out. But it was ok because just then some kids ran past and I loped off in the direction they were headed and back to familiar ground, which saved me from having to put into practice the David Whyte poem that tells you what to do when you are lost in the forest:
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here
and you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
must ask permission to know it and be known.
The Forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
if you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a branch does is lost on you,
then you are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
where you are. You must let it find you.
Now being a contrary type of sign-reader, I have always had to suppress the beginnings of a sneer at this, whenever it has been presented to me by a well-intentioned person as some kind of meaningful signpost on the meandering and sometimes obscured path that we may call life. For I do not easily suffer verse that comes with the deep prophetic boom of all-knowingness.
And things have come to a pretty pass, reader, when I dredge the words up from the recesses of my consciousness and think that perhaps yes, he may have something there. I may need to take a deep breath and have another look, damn and blast. But this is just between you and me, ok? Don’t want people thinking I’m going soft.