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Getting home

I’ve been living out of a suitcase or a backpack since moving to Dublin at the end of May.  And now, what was fun – a great adventure, is becoming wearisome; no matter how kind my friends’ and family are, no matter how long and hard I try to stay in the moment and enjoy the journey. I long for my own bed in my own place. Not just any old place, but ‘home’.

I stood in Sainsbury’s in Camden just before Christmas and thought, ‘It’s time to go home.’ 

I used to joke with friends that Camden Town was my spiritual home, the place I was born to belong in. And I do tend to gravitate there. So, that moment before Christmas was like standing in the epicentre of an old familiar universe.

But it’s been eleven years since I lived just off Camden Road and Camden Town has changed, gone too far downhill for me to want to live there again. I’ve changed.

As from tomorrow I will be working in a permanent managerial position, putting the writing and the possible PhD study into the space marked ‘spare time’, along with the other activities such as learning French, drumming and singing and attending spiritual workshops and talks. This job will enable me to live the life that I want – will facilitate the possibilities. It’s commitment I’m making. I’ve changed.

I have planned to buy a house in France and host Creative Writing holidays, grow my own vegetables and be self-sufficient; perhaps do some internet teaching, continue to write. I want to hold this vision whilst living in London.

And I’ve often done this – made a commitment to the future,  to avoid a commitment to the present. But this time I see clearly that the only way the vision can become reality is by giving my all to my job, to London, to my friends and family. To live fully in the present. In the NOW. And the vision may change, as I change. I can be flexible in that.

What will not change is living in the passion. The passion for wanting to live in the open, in the light.

It seems like a natural time to close this blog. I’ve moved from my state of liminality, my limbo-time, my long pilgrimage which started one dark night in Abbey Wood, to another. I’m not quite sure what to call it – it’s not the ‘real’ world that I left behind in May. It all feels different, too new and uncomfortable. I want to call it an ‘energetic’ time as I am engaging fully with a wider energy. It’s the beginning of a new journey, a flow which at the moment I believe will take me to France, but really – who know’s where. Only this bloody wonderful universe.

Drumming

For a long time now I haven’t been wild. I got scared of my wild… it takes me to uncomfortable places and makes me feel things that I would rather not. I don’t think I even tap into it in my writing – unless it is in a very controlled, detached way. I buried it, gave it a headstone marked ‘Dead passion’ and stopped dancing, having sex with unsuitable people, drinking too much and playing with fire. I was a much safer Bridget.

Then someone gave me a drum.

I’d said to my friend James, often, that drumming brings about change, it changes the energy. ‘Keep drumming’ I would say when he had a crossroads or a dilemma to work through. But I only knew about it theoretically. Had never practiced it.

Then someone gave me a drum.

And now I feel sick, I am still shaking two days later and I feel very uncomfortable. And although it might have something to do with the amount of alcohol I drank, I know that it’s mostly because I have been re-awakened by the drumming energy. I wish I hadn’t touched it, had left it alone and not become acquainted.

‘I have been mesmerised by you. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.’ said a girl after I had finished playing for a while.

‘You have such a feel for the music.’

‘Such amazing rhythm.’

‘I thought that you must have been playing for years.’

My ego was huge… And so were my wrists.

After playing for a couple of hours I happened to look down at them. They were swollen with leaked blood. I panicked and moved quickly away, thinking that I was going to die. My greatest fear as a child was that I would bleed to death from cutting my veins. And now after just one drumming session my deepest and oldest terror was surfacing. I showed the swelling to other drummers and they smiled and said ‘It happens. Don’t worry, it will soon subside. Just don’t play again until it goes.’

‘No one ever died of drumming.’ said Lucia, putting it all into perspective.

I told myself that I would never touch a drum again.

Standing in the half-light of the fire that was blazing in the front yard, watching the guitarists and other drummers, I felt a longing. Someone brought out some shakers and we shook a while, but it wasn’t the same.

A young drummer that I had earlier been playing next to and who had examined my wrists, turned and looked at me and motioned me with his head.  I walked over. ‘Do you want to? Let me show you.’

I said that it was not possible for me to drum, my wrists were in such a bad state. ‘Don’t worry.’ He took my hands over his shoulders, one-by-one to the drum and placed my body behind him. ‘I will help you.’ And he sculptured me into position and told me to just use my fingertips. He held my hands gently and guided me over the skin and we drummed together. And we drummed together.

I can’t remember how long we had been moving in rhythm before I felt him stroking my palms, running his fingers along mine when we came to rest on the skin, but it seemed a natural extension of the connection, the intimacy created. And I wasn’t surprised when later, after the drumming had finished and the fire was dying that I sensed him behind me, felt his fingers moving down my back and found him feeling for my hand to place his own in.

And now, having written this, I still feel sick and shaky. I thought that writing the energy would have moved it through my body, but it hasn’t. I have come so far outside of my comfort zone, further than 1,600kms ever took me. I have unmasked myself, made myself vulnerable and entered the shadowed garden of intimacy: my second biggest fear. I have performed and been wild again.

And I can’t go back.

Liminality 2

It’s not been like my usual coming back to London. Something has changed. I emailed a friend in New Zealand and I said that I felt like a barnacle clinging to a rock.

I’m not sure if I belong here any longer.

But if not here, then where?

Brilliant Weblog

I was very pleased to receive the award for ‘Brilliant weblog’ from my dear friend Radhika Nair who writes her blog on http://www.radhikanair.com. I don’t know how she finds time to do it, being a writer, PhD student and a mother of Athri.

‘and now, with this award, many more will walk with you -)

Brilliant Weblog is a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogsphere.

I should  now pass this award on to around 7 other blogs but I am embarrassed to say, that I don’t read that many. But I shall endeavour to name a couple that I enjoy reading – It would have been three, but Radhika has already passed this award on to me, so I shall have to omit her!

The first goes to Caroline Graty, a fantastic friend and hardworking writer who sets a good example to her other writer friends;  her blog is for Rowan Arts:  http://www.connectingconversations.org

and the second blog is written by my all-time favourite teacher: Lenise, http://wherearemyclogs.blogspot.com

The next step

The walking has finished for now, although I am already mentally planning future caminos: the camino del norte to include the route from Arles and on to Finisterre; a stroll to Jerusalem or Rome, perhaps. The walking has finished and I am in Portugal visiting my mother, on the verge of heading back to London. But the pilgrimage of life continues.

I should know what I will do and where I will stay, but I don’t. A friend asks me how long I will stay. I don’t know. I only know that I want to see my son and my friends.

I looked back over my blog and read my entry on Liminality, and that has helped a bit with the ambiguity and indeterminacy I am experiencing. I remember what Penelope said about making different choices and I will endeavour to continue to make choices based on intuition rather than on a fear of what might happen if I don’t do this, that or the other.

The paradox facing me now is that I should act, make decisions, get things moving. Time is pressing on and money needs to be made. Not so long ago I would have had all these things sorted out – have moved from one space back to another into a channel grooved by habit and familiarity.

But I don’t want to return to that rut. I want to coninue to walk on new soil with footsteps that are expansive, constantly seeking new places to imprint. I have a mind full of ideas about books and research and lecturing about pilgrimages and Celtic saints and mediaeval history. Plus, and perhaps even more importantly, I am now actively looking for a partner and a place somewhere in this beautiful world to call home.

In the meantime, until I can see the next step, I shall continue to play Euromillions.

Redemption

We are like moths. We come to flap our ponchos, hugging the statue of Santiago. We mass, we are en masse. Leaving the cathedral to book into refugios only to return to our hub.

I have been like this for two days. Wheeling the city like a lost hunch-back of Notre Dame. I have walked twice from my bed in Monte de Gozo to Santiago hoping to find closure.

Then returning last night I met up with people I thought that I would never see again, including and especially Stephan, who I had walked with from France to Burgos, and I felt enfolded. Warm with love received from all and given to all, I walked this morning again to the city from the refugio. There were four of us: Stephan, Pieter, Wolfgang and me. I knew the way so I led them into the city through the Porto do Camino and into the cathedral. I gave them order in hugging the saint, visiting the relics and then the mass began.

It was emotional for all of us and we kept holding each other. Monica, a tiny Italian who had hobbled most of the Camino Frances arrived late and exhausted. We shed a tear. Then it hit me – the length of time and distance that I had undertaken, the things that I had learnt, the people I had met, the opportunity to experience love in a universal form. I wept and in doing so I felt an immense sense of release and then absolute perfect peace.

It is what I came for.

Destination

I´ve arrived in Santiago. I have my compostela, a certificate of completion; I have been to mass; hugged the statue of St Jacques; seen the huge incense burner swing across the cathedral; been to the Pilgrim museum; had two free meals so far from the five star hotel which used to be a pilgrim hospital before it became a Parador; and seen a number of people I have walked with.

I should be excited, but I´m not. I feel empty and dejected and desolee. Life beyond the yellow way-marking arrows is not what it is made out to be.

I don´t know where I am going or what I shall do. The main object of the journey was to bring about change and I don´t want to fall back into my comfortable-but-stifling rut.

As if in tune with my mood, the weather has changed. A cold fog has descended on Galicia, maybe nothing new in general, but new for me. I have had mostly glorious weather, if not food, throughout Spain apart from one day of rain.

“Life is beautiful. Don´t worry.” says Vicente. I am reminded of that day of rain. I was freezing and had refused, like a recalcitrant child to put my poncho on properly. Me, my bag and all my things were wet through. Tamara and I entered a cafe and managed to dry ourselves out on the hand-dryer in the toilet. We ordered hot chocolate and that wonderful thick chocolate in which you can stand a spoon was handed over the bar.

We lingered over the treat, took an hour or more. We finished up around three o´clock, ready to walk another six kilometres to the next little town. We left the cafe and the sun was shining. We walked through country lanes in woods alight with late afternoon sun and came to a tiny village with a quiet albergue. Not sure if it was open, the door creaked back and the Dutchman appeared. “Come in. I am the only one here. It´s lovely.”

Later, joined by a couple of others, including a professional pilgrim from Japan, we sat in a warm bar with good Ribeiro wine and some decent food.

Life is indeed beautiful.