Time to Dream

Time to dream
Pausing in the midst
Of the compulsive unleashing
Coal furnaces burning through the night, relentless
Into centuries-old production, ceaseless
We, liberated from feudal shackles
Exchanged freedom’s potential
For collective exhaustion
Lined faces, eyes dulled
Scanning the trees for signs of life
In the vast expanse of a Royal Park
A green parakeet
Red beaked in winter arbor
Nature channeled into sinewy cords
Wrapped tight around my hands
I require
A deeper wildness
An unexpected sleep
A powerful dream
Carved into an arc of time, traced across the bedroom wall
A sigh of recognition
In the still afternoon


When Work is Resistance

I’ve thought a lot about resistance over the past year.  Read Stephen Pressfield’s book, been inspired and shaken by the rallying cry to recognise the insidious forms resistance takes.  For me this meant getting on with my work; with writing; no matter what it took.  The results were powerful, and productive.  I realised I did have it in me to do this thing.  To finish the thesis I have been working on for years.  To move on.  To use other forms of writing to take the pressure off the dissertation, to allow it to be what it is (an academic training exercise) rather than the bearer of all my memories and experience.

I’m handing it in in two weeks.  And the pressure is on to keep working.  To keep up the momentum and get it done.  And I’ve been there at the coal face.  Everyday, writing, editing, crafting.  Releasing the need for it to be perfect (it isn’t).  Releasing the need to know everything (I don’t).

So what’s gone wrong?

I got an inkling of it when my daughter fractured her arm in the playground last week and the first thought that flashed into my head was , “But what about my work?”

Then a dear friend extended an invitation to come to a surprise birthday celebration for her husband.  First response?  “But what about my work?”

Well, what about my work?  In pursuing it so single mindedly I have begun to exclude other daily practices that give my work life and purpose.  In the aftermath of the resistance to engage with what is happening elsewhere in my life, my work has begun to congeal.  I find that though I turn up everyday, progress is slow, the creative spark that was transforming the text vanished.  Resistance came in by the back door.  Not because I wasn’t turning up for work, but because I wasn’t turning off the work.

I see that Resistance is also about not participating fully in my own life.  That the single minded pursuit of work, when it is at the cost of a balanced Wheel, drains the life blood of what sustains the work in the first place.

The Love that keeps you turning up.

The Love that lets you leave when it’s time to.

Untangling the threads of these final weeks, I see that my challenge is not to simply turn up for work.  It is also to blur the boundary of work and play, to make work a long term satisfying practice that I return to, restoring the meaningfulness of work as part of my Life, rather than a crash diet I go on every now and again.

Pause to keep going.  Funny that.

Lighting the Fire

Sometimes its possible to merge work and life. The times when you type one handed with the baby on your lap. Other times, you have to bide your time. Wait for the right conditions to light the fire. Merging work and life means to dance between the things that sustain you, that need to be done, the work you do not because you have to, but because you have to. Writing, politicking, serving, parenting, cooking, cleaning, talking, reading, sowing seeds, cutting grass, homework, housework, presentations, dissertations. These are the things we dance between. And there is also the necessity to pause, take a breath. Without that, the complexity of the dances we attempt to sustain is well and truly screwed. Right about now, I have to pause. Chapter 3 has been slaying me, emotional rollercoaster and the disturbing of so many demanding ancestors.  The baby wants to crawl. My daughter falls over and needs to be held. This is my work, no great shakes. In order to do it, be present enough to muddle through, I have to pause. Look at these logs. Feel the fire contained in the wood, not yet released. Then I finish chapter 3, laugh through bedtime, cheer the first crawl, hang out the washing, hell, maybe even wash my hair. But first, I pause and return to my breath for just a minute. At the end of this sentence. Stop.