Monday, July 29, 2013


Earlier this evening, in replying to a thought-provoking letter from a friend (thanks Tom), I wrote that "creative activity is my raison d'être". On further reflection, after sending the email, I felt that my statement was not really true and that I should clarify it. So, for the sake of honesty, and maybe also as a way of breaking this prolonged Blogger's Block, that's what I'll try to do here. 
First of all, before I could have a raison d'être, my parents had to have their raisons d'être and their parents before them and so on as far back as genetically possible and when that retrospective reaches the point where there's no further back to go to, then perhaps that is where my real raison d'être is hidden. 

What I understand raison d'être to mean is a sense that my life specifically, and life in general, has a purpose - a reason for being. And yes, I do believe this. You might say that there is no rational reason for being at all but that we can still live purposefully. Or you might say that in order to live purposefully one must believe in an ultimate reason for life. The pros and cons of these and other views could be endlessly argued but if I were to join that argument I'd be evading what I set out to answer: is creative activity truly my raison d'être

The truth is: I don't know. The truth is: I wish it were more so. The truth is: I'm always uncertain about my raison d'être, always feeling that it's on the tip of my tongue, just out of reach. The truth is: time goes by and creative activity ebbs and flows and I still think I have all the time in the world to discover my raison d'être. The truth is: deep down I know that I have much less than all the time in the world. The truth is: more than anything else in the world I would like to feel that I am fulfilling my raison d'être

Don't misunderstand: I'm not gloomy, not dejected, not lacking in self-confidence. On the contrary. I enjoy life. I can do Mindfulness, I can do Here-and-Nowness, I can do Serenity, I can do Let It All Hang Out. Yeah, really, I can do all that, no sweat. And I can do creative activity by the dozen. But it's not true that it's my raison d'être

So I haven't answered anything. But at least I've written a blog post. Now a picture to go with it.


Thursday, July 18, 2013


What I've learned about resolutions is that as soon as you write them down, it's almost guaranteed that you are going to ditch them. I say "you" in that generic way which denies responsibility but what I really mean is me: I am the one who usually and predictably ditches resolutions. Eleven days have passed since I said I was going to take up the autobiography...maybe even every day! Ha ha ha and ha. So now you know that you shouldn't take any notice whenever I say I am going to do something. Hot air is what it is. 

And hot air is one of the reasons I am lying prone in the nation of Procrasti. It's just too damn hot. Wherever you are right now it's probably too hot unless it's winter where you are. And if you are able to do anything creative and/or constructive under the blanket of a heat wave  then I would salute you if I could manage the energy to raise my arm or my eyebrows in a salute. 

So instead of the promised autobio episode which I'm delaying, here is something which may be useful for those of us whose spirit is willing but whose flesh is easily immobilised by outrageous heat and other natural and unnatural  obstacles. I first saw it quite a while ago on the studio wall of a friend, a French artisan-printer, and asked him to photocopy it for me. I don't know where it comes from or who wrote it but I've translated it from the French and it's a prayer. But if you prefer a secular version, just remove "Lord" and substitute any source of encouragement you prefer. 

The Artisan's Prayer 

Teach me, Lord, to make good use of the time you give me for my work, to use it well without wasting it. Teach me to learn from past mistakes without sinking into recrimination. Teach me to plan ahead without tormenting myself, and to imagine the work without despairing if it turns out differently. Teach me to combine speed with slowness, serenity with fervor, zeal with peace. Help me at the beginning of a work, there where I am weakest. 

Help me when I'm in the heart of a work to hold tight the thread of attention. And most of all, fill the gaps in my work with your own inspiration.

Lord, in each work made by my hands let there be a virtue of yours so that it will speak to others and a fault of mine so that it will speak to me. Keep in me the hope of perfection without which I would lose heart. Keep me in the impossibility of perfection so that I don't get lost in pride. Purify my perception: what I do badly is not necessarily bad, and what I do well is not necessarily good.

Let me never forget that all knowledge is vain unless there is work, and all work is empty unless there is love. And that all love is hollow unless it links me to myself, to others and to you.


Sunday, July 07, 2013


A kind of blog paralysis has set in, mirrored by a cramp in my left shoulder and extreme reluctance to approach the computer. Why? I really really want to keep this blog running and I really really want to continue the autobiography and...and...and... It's as if there is a rebellious, sulky, jealous troll living inside me who is determined to prevent or delay anything I really want to do. I've sampled enough psychotherapeutic theories, processes and techniques to know that there may well be some buried childhood blocks which can still make me stumble and that ignoring them does not mean they disappear. But: an urgent need to distract, disrupt, delay. 

Between writing the last sentence and this one I went in the kitchen, washed the dishes, made a cup of tea, read a couple of friends' blogs, checked my stats. I am definitely afflicted with Creatorius Interruptus. Talking of buried blocks, a buried Mickey Mouse was how I started the autobiography. I know I've left a lot of gaps, moved on too fast and interrupted too often but let's see if I can begin to fill in some of the blanks before taking up the thread that was left hanging when I stopped the story. Yes, maybe I can now continue in small chunks. Maybe even every day. Maybe twice a day. Let's see. 
* * *
Looking at my life from a distance as if it were a map, it seems like a vast ocean with a scattering of small islands.The name of that ocean is Love and it is dominant, possessive, demanding, jealous, altruistic, egotistic, ecstatic, carnal, spiritual, all of these in constant tidal motion, wave after wave furiously or gently shaping the waiting shorelines.