Sunday, February 12, 2017


Guilt and irritation mixed in equal parts - that's what I get when too much time passes between one post and the next one. Guilt because of a sense of failed duty, as if regular blogging and/or facebooking is a real responsibility. Irritation because I know that's a delusion: I do not have a duty to blog. Anything which must be done is always an irritant. But what happens when something you freely choose to do slides down the slippery slope to MUSTNESS? As it generally does.

Do you have a file or shelf or cupboard or trunk or shed filled with things/projects which you began some time (days?months? years?) ago, flushed with energy, zip and zoom, pencils and tools and ideas sharpened, ready, willing and perfectly able to carry on and carry out? The next question is: how many of these have morphed into Duties (therefore irritants)? And how many are ongoing daily joys? Yes yes I know I know. Nothing is entirely one thing or another, it's a mix, sometimes duty, sometimes joy, and so on and on.

But what I want is the zip and zoom without Duty poking its infuriating head in. I want a foolproof recipe (designed for fools) for avoiding Duty whilst still getting things done. So there.

One of quite a number of things waiting on the shelf to be finished is my online autobio. To get in the zip/zoom mood I started looking at old photos. I have hundreds, maybe thousands of photos - my whole life (with just a few gaps) in photos. I don't know who took many of them, somebody must have, way back then.

 Moi in Paris or Paris environs. I don't understand the feet in this photo, they're like hooves.
 Somewhere by the sea in France, maybe Royan. I still have the same hairstyle now.
 With my father in San Antonio, Paraguay.
 In Los Angeles with my parents, Sacha and Blanche, and my older sister Anne.


Should Fish More said...

You were a delightful child. I say that because my granddaughter Fiona bears a remarkable resemblance to you in these photos.

What a time we've lived in, eh? What things we've seen....


Tom said...

I am puzzled by this sense of duty whereof you speak. I am not arguing against it because that would be to rubbish your feelings. Rather it is a recognition, in a way, of my feeling [until very recently] something similar but not quite the same. It is difficult to pin down. What I do know is that all of a sudden I realised that I didn't have to write blog posts any more, and with that I am strangely comfortable.

As I said, what I felt until recently has much in common with what you describe, but whether it is genuine guilt to be addressed and then left behind, or simply ego intrusion to deflect attention from something else, is something that still lies beyond the threshold of understanding.

Nice photos!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Mike, greetings and best wishes to Fiona - I'm glad she and I are alike in some way.
Indeed what times we've lived in, and still do! Did you ever write or think of writing your autobiography? Or talk it into a tape recorder?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Tom, I recognise that feeling guilty when lots of time goes by without my posting anything online is silly, a vain delusion that I'm somehow letting people (my "audience")down by being absent from this scene. Of course that's nonsense. To blog or not to blog is entirely self-determined and it's a bonus if a few people are interested and respond. It's not like letter-writing, when you're corresponding with someone and they fail to reply to your letter, or take a very long time to do so. I think I may be confusing these two very different processes.

Davoh said...

Natalie .. as an outsider, find this whole concept of ancient memory fascinating. Do not have a wife to be secretary, no brothers, sisters; nor children to remember me. No 'massive sculptures to remind who come after - no "multimillions " worth of artworks in the Louvre.

Does that make a "lesser" person, a human being - born male?

Nah. Methinks not.

Davoh said...

However ... have a Yellow tin trunk. Matters not where i go in my travels; that yellow tin trunk follows. In it i keep my dispersed family history, They will never know (no, not true, i have one genetic son).

Will he know?

Beth said...

Dear Natalie, I'm always happy to see a new post from you, but I think the guilt you feel is misplaced. You should do what you want to do, and if that is "nothing in particular," that's OK too. After all these years of blogging and working (and driving myself) hard, I'm having a bit of a change of heart myself. Being semi-retired has meant some time to step back, and I find I want to step even further. Not away from the people I care about, not away from art or music, but from that drive to continually produce. I am asking myself anew, "Why? What or Who are you doing this for?" I think I've done far too much in the past for others, partly because people want that, and partly because (if I'm being scrupulously honest) I was probably hoping to get something out of it: love, attention, approbation, connection. In some cases (like this one!) these relationships have borne mutual fruit, and I wouldn't give them up for anything. But I no longer feel the same needs or desires, and want to focus on both the work that feels meaningful and fulfilling on a deep personal level, because it is part of my genuine path, and the relationships that are truly mutual and life-giving. I don't think I'll stop blogging, but there are other things that once seemed important that no longer do. I'm trying, slowly, to let go of the guilt I feel about them and the drive to keep so many balls in the air.

However, I'm going to publish a picture some of myself as a young artist and write something about that! You've inspired me!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Davoh, the idea that you're a "lesser person" because of not having those attachments you mention, where does that idea come from? Is it what somebody told you? If so, they're idiots. If it comes from your own view of yourself, well, no need for a psychologist to point out that self-esteem comes from within, not from "having" anything similar to anyone else. I hope you feel you're unique and however you live that uniqueness is enough for life to be amazing.

That yellow trunk: maybe you could dig around inside there and come up with some interesting stories?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Beth, always happy to hear from you. I can echo some of what you've just said.

But I'm very fortunate insofar as I pretty much do what I want to do...and also do not do what I don't want to I'm not really complaining. It's just that, as I've so often said before, I don't have much self-discipline and if I don't have real deadlines (therefore priorities) I wander. I just need to feel more 'dutiful' (in a good way)to myself.

Leah Hewittsmith said...

Thank you for the link to your memoir. I remember it from a few years back, so I was glad to find it again. It is well written, adventurous, and worth the wait. Have you not thought to have it published? It is better than many published memoirs out there today, and I would order it in a heartbeat. I like your "magical" childhood/location, the thread that seems to run through your work and into the present.
So you are guilty of an explosion of creative interests, and over here is the blog. Blogging is like a dripping faucet, each day the readers come to check the drip pan. And sometimes you get tired of being the fountain. I get it, but hey that memoir. It's much more than a blog! They don't make them like that anymore!!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Leah, thank you very much for reading (and re-reading) my unfinished autobio and for your response. There is much more to add and lots of gaps to be filled in.But I haven't wanted to think about publication (other than in this online form) because that would put constraints on my writing. At the moment it's mainly just to clarify things for myself, and for anyone out there who happens to chance upon it. When I feel this memoir is finished, it's possible that I'll consider sending it to publishers. For the moment, I really want to get on with it, maybe even in a few days!