I have not written anything apart from work bits and pieces for so long, it half (let’s be honest, more than half) feels as though I’ve forgotten the rhythm of anything outside the Red Tape of Courage - the everyday, humdrum language making up our lives. The ‘thank yous’ and ‘kind regards’; words binding our best selves into relationships of professional politeness, even as we try to make them individual and real.
I feel almost as if I’ve forgotten what it is to write.
Don’t get me wrong. As someone who, over the last fifteen years or so, has struggled to make work prosaic, rather than proving a point, I relish the normalcy of the rote. Being given the opportunity to see my disability as a plus rather than a minus in the workplace - as proof of experience rather than failure - is golden. To be valued for what I’ve learned, as well as what I’ve been taught… it’s impossible to overestimate what this means to a woman of my age, with a chronic illness. I love what I do.
This is sincere.
At the same time I freely admit I’ve had little to no room in my head for less orthodox doctrine than The Gospel According to Function. As a result, now, when it comes to more, rather than less, I am struggling to recall the beat of my own creative drum. And in disremembering what I love most - scrawling intricate patterns of love and survival onto paper, or rather, as has been the case for some years now, onto a screen - I am doing myself (if nobody else) a disservice.
We live short furious lives. If we’re lucky, within our sparrow-flying spans will come those who not only guide us, but inspire us. Amazing, talented individuals who look into the deepest, darkest chamber of our hearts and understand the kick galvanic - those extraordinary beats of individual energy we too often don’t recognise as gifts.
Whatever discipline these guides embrace, whether it be music, art, writing… they provide the beat for all who strive to make something outside the ordinary. For all who, even when miserable, stay happy in that misery because doing - clicking heels together, wishing on a star, starting again the once upon a time.
Occasionally, frequently, the doing may stutter to a stop.
There’s hesitation. Straying.
Sometimes there’s not the physical or mental ability to go on.
But even at the darkest hour, if only we can remember that inspiration, the warmth of genius - we’ll strive to stay in the electric moment. This, to me, is the miracle of humanity. Where anyone, everyone, who is willing to accept and understand the blessing and the curse of being inspired, reaches out to the sun. To embrace everything it offers, furiously hugging its warmth to ourselves through words, in pictures, as music.
I love the word perihelion. It sums up so much of what we could be, want to be, what we are. Its antonym, aphelion, is what comes on us every time we shrug or feel complacent in the everyday. Being far from the sun; this is what happens if we say, believe, take as acceptance, the theory that man wasn’t meant to fly.
By fly I mean express who we are literately and freely. To give permission to our impulse to create; to allow it to become (and stay) the driving force of humanity. I’d say it’s what separates us, not from the beasts, but the bestial. Creating the future, renewing a learned past - these are reasons to strive. Writing for and with love, taking and framing an image, stretching new melodic skins onto old skeletons of song… it’s how we manage to fly. It’s how we stay you and me, not us and them. Expression, perspective, awaking rather than simply crawling out of bed - it’s everything. It’s the soaring force of Daedalus and Icarus; the drive to be more than we are, before we inevitably fall away.
Art - in whatever form that takes for you, for me, for any person - is a warm wax. It moulds and melts in each moment the temporary wings of our lives, even as we approach that ultimate fall from grace.
We risk the trickiness of being too close to the sun when we step outside our own heads, and allow what we do or say to be open to scrutiny. Every person who puts their head up above the parapet of fake news, of humdrum, of blah, is an Icarus.
But as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I am attempting, always, to keep this in mind now. To not waste the electric moment. I want to stay in the reach of perihelic brilliance, and allow it to warm me to flame, even as I feel the drip-drip of feathers and my inevitable move away from the heart of the fire.
In the words of Peggy Lee, what a lovely way to burn.
Because just as those, like Ms Lee, with far greater and brighter talents, with broad and beautiful wings, came before me, others will come after me. But they will only know to fix their bindings closer, and stay soaring, if I am willing to risk the heat of rejection, of writer’s block, of being seen as probably just restating and reshaping the ordinary. Only if I beat, like Gatsby, like Nick Carraway, onwards against the tide, accepting that alongside the heights come the lows of that dripping wax -
Will they fly.