The art of living


With 2018 now underway, it seems I’m getting ready for a new phase. It feels like it’s time to to loosen the ties of the narrative of loss and recovery. I now know myself as a woman who can bear the loss, who has learnt to carry the fact that she is no longer with the man she loved, and because of that, space for other things to begin to flourish seems to be opening up.

I’ve described this Christmas and New Year’s Ever as the least brutal since Mark died. There were times when shadows of absence fell, twinges of mixed sadness and happiness when I thought of him, twists of longing when I remembered his presence. But I also experienced moments of deep, rich joy that came in unexpected moments – while buying chocolate in a nearby shop I love to visit at the moment, buying roses to give to my godson and seeing his expression when he saw them, sitting outside on christmas day, wrapped up and with a mug of coffee listening to the sounds of the garden, reading by the fire with my music playing.

As I relish the feeling of pleasure that life is giving me, I am aware too that the place I am in has new challenges that need to be faced. They are less to do with my inner world, more to do with how the changes that have taken place within me can take shape beyond me.

Personally, I link this to my creativity and my writing in particular, and questions about how I can give shape to new thoughts and ideas that seem to be bubbling within me.

But it also connects to questions about womanhood, about exploring femininity and identity in different contexts, looking for expressions of it that are freed from traditional constructs. My sense is that this can be most effective in political space, in spaces where women can explore their identities as people with agency and power.

This suggests more than just the demand for, or assertion of, equality, but rather the weaving in of women’s perspectives into the very frameworks that define our lives, frameworks that have been devised by men predominantly and have diminished or ignored women’s experiences.

I feel extremely challenged by this as I become increasingly aware of the ways that journalism, writing, education itself, has required me to adopt perspectives that seem far removed from the forms of knowing that I have been exploring this past year. At the same time, I feel that my thinking over the past year feels gentle, wispy, almost insubstantial in more political, activist contexts.
I’m interested in discovering ways that I can take up the threads of my thinking over the past two-three years and if there are ways that I can weave them into more external contexts. I know that I feel concerned at appearing cutesy or folksy, lacking edge or clarity, but my major questions are along the lines of ‘what the hell will that look like?’