What a start to the New Year. At home, land hidden under sudden lakes or at the very least sodden fields, and sadly many people put out of their houses by flooding from beneath the floorboards or by saturation from the never ending rain. Abroad, a new unleashing of inhumane behaviour as regimes execute revolutionaries, and terrorists use social media to taunt and threaten .
When I was a student, quite a while ago, I remember how it felt to be involved in ‘activism’;sleeping outside the City Hall in Belfast calling for an end to the war in Biafra ; occupying the Senate Rooms in Queen’s University, Belfast in protest against the University’s investments in a South Africa which still used apartheid to curtail human rights; protesting against the formation of a branch of the Monday club on campus. Though there are still plenty of issues around to discuss and debate it all seems to be about matters much closer to home and to our own pockets nowadays…or am I just , as I suspect is the case, turning into a grump ?
During my recent hibernation period- what we call in our house, ‘the dog days’ between Christmas and New Year- a slightly blue fog descended. Energy levels were low, even reading seemed to take longer than usual and was less enjoyable. Simple tasks were subjected to prolonged procrastination so that they turned into avalanches of effort. However, with the arrival of New Year, greeted with a glass of champagne, things started to look up.
New energy, new year, new effort required. It’s about re-evaluating what talents, skills and gifts I have that I can put to better use in the world, and appreciate the many gifts, from Santa and others, that I have been given. It’s about being truly present in my own life, and in those of others who may invite me into theirs. Feeling as they say as they say in the language of emoticons, blessed- and yes, excited about what the year may bring and in what I can achieve.
So last week I wandered over to the drawing class at Quay Arts a wonderful learning and creative space in Ballina run by Rosaleen Folan. I had got the time wrong so I was already an hour late -‘Ah no’, I said, ‘I really don’t think I’ll be any good at this, I don’t think I’ll go in and disturb them Rosaleen.’
‘Would you just go in and sit down in the class and if you don’t like it sure you needn’t come back. ‘ So it was that I joined the small class, was given a couple of pencils and started to work on tone in drawing . I could do it , got the hang of it quite quickly in fact, and emerged an hour and a half later wondering where time had gone and clutching my own first oeuvre under my uckster, delighted with myself. Not only that my companion ‘at the bench’ runs retreats, something else that may be interesting to investigate.
My point in writing this if of course to show the importance of encouragement -if Rosaleen hadn’t made it so easy for me, if the teacher hadn’t been so facilitative ( a very clumsy word for a very genuine sharing of knowledge and enthusiasm ) and if I hadn’t been able finally to overcome my own ‘first day at school ‘ feelings, wow, would I have missed out.
Last week someone I know gave me an unexpected gift of some coaching using the Louise L Hay exercises one of which involves remembering key points in your life. I could actually see myself as a little girl looking things up in the ‘Golden Pathway’ encyclopaedia with my Dad, who was teaching me how to so this. I could r emember the excitement of find things out and being able to read. It was a really poignant memory. However what I realised was that I still have that curiosity, still want to find things out, which is exciting. I still want the thrill of the new -from meeting new people, to travel, to finding things out through, with and sometimes in spite of my trials with, technology. So much still to know, enjoy and experience with just occasionally the feeling that the sand is running through the timer .