Thursday, April 15, 2010


The strange thing about grief is that you think you are fine, you really do, you're not just saying that, when suddenly something happens to knock you completely off course.

For me, yesterday, it was finding this calendar amongst Dad's stuff. We'd given it to him for Christmas, and of course only the first few days of this year have been torn off.

And all I can do is to let go and feel the hurt once again.

But at the same time there's laughter too. And as a writer there's the nagging thought that if this was in a novel, it would make a great metaphor - the cartoon calendar as an image of someone's life.

And then the guilt hits that I'm thinking something like this in the middle of real life. Not just real life. MY real life. I have a feeling (a hope) that other writers reading this will know what I mean.

The other - better - thing I did yesterday was to go with my sister to a visioning course. As with all these courses, we agreed to keep what other participants said confidential, but I can tell you about my experience.

The course was based on the work of Lucia Capacchione, and as a fan of her Creative Journal, I was really excited.

However much I rely on words, I believe that images can tell us more.

To begin with, we flicked through a pile of magazines, newspapers and catalogues to find the photographs and images that appealed to us somehow. Not too much thinking. Just what you were drawn to.

It was FUN! So many beautiful pictures. So sensual. The colours. And no one to say 'be careful with the scissors' as they used to in kindergarten which was the last time I did anything like that.

In fact it was so much fun, I hadn't really expected my selection to tell me anything. I was just picking the prettiest pictures.

Yep, I thought, this is interesting. I'm not choosing anything to do with gardening, or garden history, or history. Perhaps I'm following a false lead with the BIG secret idea I'm currently working on.

Oh yeah? How had I not even noticed these slipping on to my collage...

So that was curiously reassuring. And then I noticed this picture right near the centre, pulling all the different threads of my life together.

But then, just as I was analysing and computing, I saw this one:

And right at the moment Ann, who led the workshop, read out this extract from Lucia's book:

Don't Just Do Something, Sit There

Visioning follows the pathways to the heart, which are neither linear, rational nor predicatable. Rather they meander through the field of dreams and turn up the most wonderful surprises. In this case, the shortest distance and the most effortless path between two points is not a straight line. It's more like water flowing around rocks in a river bed. Your heart's desire has its own momentum, rhythm and impulse. Your job is to stay true to the dream, be alert, and open the door when opportunity knocks.

So that's my lesson for the day. I'm not going to rush ahead as I normally do. Planning and goaling and strategising. Nope, if it's the time for anything at the moment, it's not to do anything. Just sit there and wait to see what might happen and know that wherever I'm going, it's on the right track.

It's curiously exciting, sewing seeds like this. Child's stuff. Real life.


Kathryn's Daily Writing Workout said...

You're not the only one who does this, Sarah. My father kept a log book of his amateur radio activities and the last words written in there were 'G6MLO logged off'. He died suddenly the next day and I often think about how this would make a great basis for a story!

I'm not an artist but I'm drawn more and more to visual images and I think that's why I like the 50 word stories. I wonder if shorter stories are more closely related to pictures than say, novels?

Susan Tomlinson said...

Hi Sarah--I am sorry to read that your father died. Mine died last year and I know how painful those sudden moments of grief can be. Still, they are also a way of remembering.


It may be, Kathryn - images certainly access something three dimensional for me. But in her latest book, Siri Hustvedt talks about how some people don't see in images but in words. Can't imagine that. (And thanks for reassurance I'm not completely hard-hearted!)


Hello Susan, thank you and nice to see you here. Sorry about your loss too. Yes, it's the remembering that's important. And incorporating those memories into present and future too.

SueG said...

A wonderful post, Sarah. Thanks for letting us into this part of your life. This sounds like an amazing workshop. I've heard of this sort of thing, but didn't know anyone who had actually done it. Sounds like something I'd love to do.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Sarah, sorry for the loss of your dad. Mine's still around, but far away from where i live. i keep some childhood momentos ~ stuffed animal, if you can believe it ~ that are from him, they seem to embody him, hold a piece of his spirit.

Collage is therapeutic. I never know how it will turn out. And it always turns our quite revealing. BTW I love 50-word stories ~ you've inspired me to write them. I love the exercise ~ it's like carving ... whittle away, leaving only the words that tell the story. And, oh such stories can be told in just 50 words!


Thanks to you both, Sue and Tinkerbell. Yes, the collage was really good - and I see something different everytime I look too!

Wendy R said...

A lovely. tentative, thoughtful post evoking memories to share. My mother died ten years ago and she seems to be getting younger and younger on her photos - but it's me, really, getting older and older. I hear her tones of approval when a book comes out or when one of my children does something interesting. My father died when I was nine, but still sometimes I feel his hand in mine, and - it being too large - his two end fingers tucked into the sleeve of my cardigan.
I think writing can be a very visual process. Collages are good for shaping up perception and looking for truth. When I start a novel there is lot of cutting and pastin involved. One year I covered a whole wall.
So very sorry for your loss, which must still be raw. w