This Little Life

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Adam and Eve…back to the beginning…

Some days I find it hard to believe that it has been two years since I sat down on the sofa one night and started this blog. I can still remember the first time I hit the Publish button — holding my breath and then slowing exhaling as my words unfurled in cyberspace.

Since then I’ve used this space — usually aimlessly, occasionally deliberately — to make sense of it all: thoughts, feelings, marriage, kids, world events, minutiae, books, music, writing, life.

About a year ago, I wrote a post called The Wellspring, which was probably as close to a personal manifesto as I’ll ever get:

I believe there is a wellspring in each of us, the source of our creativity and our connection with humanity and the planet we are so lucky to live on.

I wrote about my First Principles and how I try to align myself with them. I wrote about living authentically and being true to myself. I wrote, also, of my gratitude for the encouragement I had received — and continue to receive — from the farflung readers of this blog.

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In Adam I recognise my tendency to overthink…

Now, another twelve months on, I decided to go right back to the beginning. To get back to basics. So I went back and read that first post I wrote, Just Getting it Out There, and was thankful that I still recognised the person I found there — even though way back then I hadn’t even figured out how to add images to what I had written, and barely knew what a tag was.

Re-reading that post also made me want to go back and revisit the movie that had inspired it, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Having recently returned from a holiday to the US, I wanted to return to the film’s nocturnal landscape, the dispossessed industrial heartland of America — partly because I’m still trying to reconcile what I witnessed only a couple of weeks ago: the carefully constructed Disney dream with all its manicured artifice that I sought to share with my children, and the haphazard existence of the homeless people I saw living in squalor beside freeways or sleeping it off outside shopping centres.

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Like The Bloke, Eve reminds me that there are so many ways to live and survive..

It was The Bloke, my steady and steadfast husband, who reminded me that there are many ways to live this life, and that not everyone finds living in a house in the suburbs (or anywhere, for that matter) fits in with them or with their preferred lifestyle. That freedom can be defined in as many ways as there are human beings. That every single one of us has a story — and that each of those tales matters, and is worth no more or less than the next person’s.

And since then I have been reminding myself, as I reminded my children countless times during that vacation, of that old adage:

It’s not wrong, it’s just different.

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Unlike vampires, we get just one, short life…

We are all the product of our choices, of the decisions we make. Some are so small we don’t even register them for what they are or for the cumulative impact they have. Others are so big they are completely and mindblowingly life-altering. And yet, regardless of their size or consequence, whether we overthink them or dwell on them in bed at night or dismiss them or even put them into the fabled ‘too hard basket’, we make them. Each and every day.

And so, ultimately, I remain convinced of the importance of knowing and aligning yourself with your First Principles, whatever they might be. I still believe in that Wellspring and of the incalculable value of connecting with it regularly and deliberately. I continue to contend that it is worth doing your best in everything you do, and in each and every decision you make, and that it is essential to be grateful — oh, so grateful — for this little life.

 

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Just Getting it Out There…

Last weekend, having a rare evening to myself, I sank into the sofa with a glass of red wine and watched Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s take on urban decay and modern life (more decay) through the eyes of a disillusioned and depressed vampire.  I had been wanting to watch the film for a while, and its languid pace and dark palette suited my mood perfectly.  Not to mention the fact that the inimitable Tom Hiddleston plays the part of the disenchanted vampire, Adam, opposite Tilda Swinton as his blood-sucking though weirdly ethereal wife of many hundred years, Eve.

“I’m sick of it—these zombies, what they’ve done to the world, their fear of their own imaginations,” Adam complains to Eve, compelling her to travel from Tangiers — all night flights, of course — to where he is living as a reclusive and very reluctant rock star in Detroit.  The suggestion that it was possible to live in fear one’s own imagination was one of three things that stayed with me long after the film was over.

The second thing that lingered for me was the film’s soundtrack, comprised mostly of moody guitar riffs in minor keys, lit up towards the movie’s climax by a mesmerising performance by Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan.  I had not thought the music would remain with me for so many days afterwards, but strangely enough there it was, the memory of it filling my ears at unexpected moments.

And then, finally, there was the idea of “getting the work out there” which posed such a problem for these long-lived vampire types.  How is it possible for a vampire to create, publish, record or (gasp!) perform, without revealing something of their identity or, shall we say, the “peculiarities” that constrain their nocturnal lives?  And what of the “delicious chaos”, as Eve puts it, that would result from owning up to authorship?  As Andrew Tracy says in his review of the film, “[t]hrough equal parts design and conceptual confusion, Jarmusch sets up his vampiric protagonists as both the secret source of some of our culture’s greatest accomplishments and admiring, discerning critics of the best that we have attained, both participants and observers.”

So why did this third idea, in particular, haunt me?

Because I am neither a vampire, not any other sort of immortal.  The problem of “getting it out there” is not one that I face.

Nor am I afraid of my own imagination.

And so, here it is: my first blog post.  It won’t be Shakespeare (or Marlowe), it won’t be Mozart (or Salieri) either.  What I write here may never be great, or even particularly good, but it will be mine.