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I’m a ‘girl with messy hair and a thirsty heart’ ( quote from Jodi Lynn Anderson).

Usually there will be a thread loose, a crease somewhere, a stray hair billowing in the wind and light crease of black eyeliner under my eye which has smudged during the day. Somewhat chaotic and always puzzled (and slightly in awe) by those girls who manage to look seamlessly perfect at any time of the day. Perhaps we live in different ways.

In other areas, I exude this notion of chaos in motion. Eating is one of them; a trail of food debris is always left on the table, with an avocado smear here and a pile of crumbs there. When I did art in my younger years at school, my art teacher was always slightly appalled by the presentation of my work; the page would be crumpled, dog-eared, and there would be an equal ratio of smudged finger prints in whatever art material I was using, to the picture I was actually trying to depict. Yet, she regarded my art as entirely unique because of these ahem ‘stylistic’ additions, she could always tell which was mine without looking at the name.

I think this ‘messiness’ is an intricate part of my creativity. Whenever I compose, there is a flurry of papers, manuscripts and pencils hemmed in every imaginable space around the piano and I don’t think anybody else could follow the ideas scrawled haphazardly in my moleskin, to look at it, is a maze of inky trails. I have no practical skills, ask me to fold an ironing board I’ve not used before and it will remain standing, my ability to wrap presents is laughable and learning to drive has taken me on and off a good five years. I try to become more refined in my maturity but I accept we are who we are.

And yet, out of these outward displays of chaos I am tirelessly organised in other ways, I have several diaries which hold hundreds of lists and I get things (which are not creative) done almost straight away. When I did my master’s degree, my essays were usually handed in several weeks before the deadline. I like my home and possessions to be in order and clean. Inefficiency frustrates me more than most things.

Like all human beings then, I am a set of contradictions with many sides. One day I feel strongly opinionated about a matter and will show that, in another situation that matter will seem less relevant and I will quietly think my thoughts about it to myself. I lurch from a clam confidence in what I can achieve, and that the future will unfold just so, to supposing that ‘everything’ will go wrong.

Amongst all this that is me; I’m always in wonder at how many things there are in the world, that one place can contain so much. So many objects- so many skies and seas- so many concepts- so many emotions and so many lives. All of these leave their trace in this one world, alongside each other, beside each other and entwined with each other.

A multitude of possibilities, a plethora of combinations and patterns are held in one life, so much of what the world holds can be encountered or missed in one life. My question which quietly binds together the moments I live – how can I encounter the most of what this world holds? Each day holds so much sense and at the same time so much nonsense, I want to understand how that can be. I remember being in a talk and being told, ‘If you understand something then you will value it, once you value it you will take ownership of it’. Perhaps our lives are something we should try to understand and then we can truly value and take ownership of them. I want to have the mindset that notices it all; the small and vast things, the seemingly unimportant things, the ugly, the beautiful, the simple and the complex, the patterns of this world. At the end, I want to know, I truly encountered my life and didn’t miss it, not passing through moments but being entirely in them. That is one reason I write to help me notice and understand. That is one reason why I read, so I can know how others have felt and encountered the world.

The paths that lives take, fascinate me, how one event in a life can lead to another, how there can be an unexpected shift that turns a life upside down, how people come in and out of lives and yet however brief their presence, they impress upon that life whether lightly or heavily and they never know. How a life can be planned but that it will never quite go to plan, that the single moments in one life are threads bound together weaving people into who they are. Perhaps this explains why I love….

History (the great study of lives that have been, tracing patterns in human behaviour, questioning the cause and effects of lives lived together.)

Nature and being outside (when I die, if I have a choice in it I would like to be taken outside to die, give me the sky as my last sight. Nature is the constant and beautiful backdrop that reminds me that my life is but brief and a small part of a much greater whole).

Books (see above…the most direct insight into other people’s lives and how they live)

Music ( For making me feel life and soothing my soul like nothing else).

I inwardly cringe at the end of writing any kind of ‘about me’ exposé, always feeling I have inadequately managed to impart some kind sense of who I am or had too much of an agenda in trying to present the best possible version of myself and somehow lacking sincerity. And so to draw these musings about who I am to a close, I finish with three quotes that leapt off the page and hit me deep in the heart when I first read them and where they have stayed ever since…breathing their wisdom through my being.

‘Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer’. (Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Letters to a Young Poet’, 1903)

‘Our hearts are not pure: our hearts are filled with need and greed as much as with love and grace, and we wrestle with our hearts all the time. The wrestling is who we are. How we wrestle is who we are. What we want to be is never what we are. Not yet. Maybe that’s why we have these relentless engines in our chests, driving us forward toward what we might be.’ (Brian Doyle, ‘Orion’, Jan/Feb 2005)
‘In the past, I would live chaotically in the future, because I refused to live in the here and now…Sometimes I had the certain if rather undefined feeling that I would ‘make it’ one day, that I had the capacity to do something ‘extraordinary’, and at other times the wild fear that I would ‘go to the dogs’ after all…I refused to climb into the future one step at a time. And now, now that every minute is so full, so chock full of life and experience and struggle and victory and defeat and more struggle and sometimes peace, now I no longer think of the future, that is, I no longer care if I ‘make it’ because I now have inner certainty that everything will be taken care of. Before I lived in anticipation, I had the feeling that nothing I did was the ‘real thing’; that it was all a preparation for something else, something ‘greater’, more ‘genuine’…But that feeling has dropped away from me completely. I live here and now, this minute, this day to the full and live is worth living…and we know life, don’t we? We have experienced everything if only in the mind, and there’s no need any longer to hang on for dear life.’ (Etty Hillesum, ‘An Interrupted Life: : The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943) .

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