Life the Universe and Everything.
Creativity is my lifelong passion. Writing is the medium I’ve always returned to ever since I could hold a crayon. It is the stuff of wonky thinkers and chronic daydreamers. I not only believe that everyone can write. I also think everyone should write, at least once, because it is the only way I know -without a Tardis- to defy the laws of quantum physics and mess with the time space continuum.
There are simple ways to reach into the past, stop time, and even influence your future with nothing more than a pencil.
Write Letters to your grown Kids.
My first year in Australia, I got a touch of skin cancer. I say that now in a ‘matter of fact’ way, but at the time I had a bit of a freak out. I was blissfully unaware that everyone and his dog in Australia is likely to get skin Cancer at some point in their lives, especially if they are blonde, blue eyed, and get 3rd degree burns just running to the car. In short, they chopped out various chunks of me and all was well, but it placed in my heart the feeling that before I shuffled off my mortal coil, I should write -my then small children- some Birthday letters.Then at least their future, bigger, selves would know how special they were to me, and how much I loved them. I only wrote four years worth, because I reasoned Mr ND would have probably found a half decent motherly replacement by then.
Mr ND maintains I have a morbid fascination with death. In my defense, I think death is just a part of life and realizing you have a ‘sell by date’ tends to keep you honest and immediate in the way you handle your relationships.Those letters are still the ones my kids read on ‘blue’ days.
Letter to your 16 year old self
Looking back over your shoulder at the issues that bothered you when you were sixteen, Is a fantastic way of connecting to that angst ridden, ‘my problems are the centre of the universe’ feeling that your kids might be experiencing now. It can also provide a bench mark of just how far you have come in navigating your own life. (Note to Past 16 yr old self: 1. Get your driving lenience before your second child. 2. Don’t bother blowing all your money on skin creams, you’re gonna wrinkle. 3. Use those INXS concert tickets, even if your friend does bail.
Write Something for your Last Big Day Out
Ok, so were back to death again, BUT seriously, Do you want to leave it to your family to be picking your last public appearance music? No. Sure, I hope somebody will find something partially complimentary to say about me when I’m gone, but I would love even more to leave, knowing somebody might read a nice poem about a tree, before Bohemian Rhapsody plays me out. I’d like a say in that. I might even like to misspell the words on my headstone as a nod to my real life.
Write Your Life
I think a Memoir is the most underrated style of writing. This surely is the book we were all born to write. Some people say, “Why would I bother, or my life has not been very eventful” but your story is a precious piece of an ongoing puzzle that you may never glimpse the full picture of. When I researched my family tree. What interested me most was the ordinary human stories. I come from a long line of boat gypsies. No aristocracy is going to fall out my family tree if you shake it, but I craved to know how my ancestors, a family of twelve survived living on a canal barge. Our stories are living history, something we can pass down to our children. Our memories may often be a series of snapshots rather than a full length movie, but it is a way of building bridges, back and forth in time. When we commit our memories to paper we bring back to life those who have past, our parents and grandparents, so our kids can know them too.
Suspended post box
Have you ever wished you could stop time. Create a little space just to ‘be’? I have. There seems to be a fear now of NOT making a decision. We feel the need to resolve everything quickly, to move on, move out, move up, A pressure to define ourselves instantly in terms that people can understand. Every life stage arrives with eager anticipation of the next, when are we getting engaged?, have we set a date?, do we want kids, is it a boy or a girl? Just a long hoop jumping exercise that may or may not be over by the time Freddie Mercury sings. There are times when we feel unsure. We don’t know if we can continue to DO anything, let alone the right thing. In dark places, write to the end of the tunnel. Write your blackest thoughts, your incoherent ramblings, vent all those feelings then seal it in an envelope and write on the back Not to be opened till…. Set your own date, and when the time comes, read it again. Draw through anything that isn’t valid, rewrite that whole sucker if you feel inclined and then reseal it. Eventually things will change, you, the problem, the world, and then you will be firmly in ‘the letter to my former self territory.’ Hang in there.
When my grandmother died. I went back to the house we shared, exhausted and emotionally lacking. The only thing I could manage to do in my sleep deprived, overwhelmed, state was write. Not in a deep or reflective way, not a poem or a letter of how I felt. I didn’t know how I felt, only that this numbness might last for weeks, months maybe even years. So, Instead, I wrote a list, just a list. A long catalogue of tangible things, furniture, ornaments, photographs, a road map of where they existed, in that space. So if I ever needed to remember that place, if I ever needed to return to that exact point of time, to think, to process the life of this very important woman, I could. I knew you see, that the next day I would have to begin the process of clearing out her flat. Life moves on, always. I still have that list, but I have never once looked at it since that day. I don’t need to, because just in the act of doing it, recording it, I acknowledged every detail. The sum of our lives together stayed with me. Writing is different to photography. When we write, we document not just the high points of our lives but also those moments we were challenged, and we leave a path of how we survived, something to pass on to our loved ones. The gift of hope.