Saturday, June 18, 2011

Out of the Rut

I have come to the conclusion that my life is far too predictable.

Except for the times when the supermarket has a serious shelf shift about, I can almost close my eyes to do the weekly shop. I know the shelves where I have to stand on my tip toes to reach a bottle of this, or a tin of that, or start hunting about for a tall person to reach it for me. I know which products I will pick up, carefully examine and put back on the shelf because the price tag is too high and I don’t really need it. I know the contents of the trolley, and can almost have the exact money in my hand before I reach the checkout.

I live in a rut!

This morning I climbed out of my rut most reluctantly. I was in town, visiting the usual shops in the usual order, buying the usual things when I noticed a new shop. It was a gallery of arts and crafts. I am usually inclined to go in and have a peek about, but this particular gallery was up a flight of steps and would require more effort than I was willing to expend.

I had walked past the door, having glanced at the array of crafts in the display window either side of the staircase. I have learned from experience that the absence of a price ticket somewhere usually means it is out of my price range.

I stopped just outside the boarded up window of the next shop. Shops going out of business seem to be common place just about everywhere. A shop opening, one that isn’t another discount store, is rare and should not be passed by and ignored – even with a flight of stairs.

There were a number of things that I really liked. There was a single rail of clothes each item very unique and not mass produced. There was a wonderful cream shawl that looked like it was constructed from spider’s webs. The price tag was a heavy one and beyond the contents of my purse…or my bank balance, come to that.

So, yes, I climbed out of the rut…and then climbed back in!

Earlier this week I bought a book. It doesn’t claim to be a book, with the title “This is Not a Book” although it looks like a book. The opening page tells me I am about to embark on a journey. It contains a series of tasks designed to make use of your imagination. I knew what it was when I bought it, and I bought it because I knew what is was.

There are two hundred and twenty pages of challenges to do. Some of them appear rather pointless like holding the book over your head for as long as possible and recording the time on a dotted line on the page. Other tasks are perfect starters for getting the creative juices moving.

I am vaguely happy to do a lot of things as long as I can do them privately – drawing little stars on a page every time I enter a room, or picking out random page from an encyclopaedia and a random topic and doing research and becoming an expert.

Some of the challenges encourage you to involve other people, strangers even, and I find myself not really up for that. And yet, those challenges are probably the ones that I really need to do to expand my world and my thinking.

Living out of the rut is living exposed to the unfamiliar. There are no comfort zones to wrap around yourself.

It's a challenge to live out of the rut.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Body Writing

I googled the phrase “body writing” out of curiosity. I had just a snatch of a dream last night in which someone had written words all over my body. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and I got the impression that I had not been a willing participant in the process.

It would appear that all one needs to write on one’s body is something to write with – preferably something non-permanent. It’s not like a tattoo that stays forever. If one makes a mistake with the eye pencil, or the lipstick, one can simply wash it off and start all over again.

One website I checked out seemed to think that there was an erotic element about it. In the tattoo parlour, it’s a stranger writing the words, and it’s a business transaction. Body writing, however is done in the privacy of a home, a bedroom perhaps, by lovers or friends. What you write is…what you feel at the moment. I have enough surface area about me to write Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and still have room left over for footnotes.

With the right person I would not be unwilling to pen a poem or two on interesting parts of his anatomy. In my dream, however, I was not happy.

I have my moments of understanding the message in a dream. Not a certain interpretation by any means, but it speaks to me.

Some weeks earlier I had been talking with friends about the power of the spoken word – not so much about the written word, and whether it is possible that we end up cursing ourselves without really intending to. Just days earlier, a group of young people and myself had been looking at the story of creation in the book of Genesis. Everything, apart from people, was created by the spoken word – “God commanded…”

God’s words are creative. We are made in the image of God. That means that our words can also be creative. The trouble is that too often they are destructive, pulling something or someone down, rather than building them up.

I think the words in my dream were not about written words – but about spoken ones. The physical body was not my outer shell, but my inner me. The spoken words had somehow stuck themselves to my heart and soul – words that were not spoken to edify and to build up, but to pull down. They were words spoken by other people, and also perhaps, words that I had spoken to myself. Not poems written by lovers, but harsh and critical words.

The good thing is that like all good body writing, the ink is not permanent. It washes away. And once washed there is space again for more words to be written.

Best to let God fill those cleared spaces with His words.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Two Inches Off

She really didn’t know what she was doing! That’s not entirely true – she’s a hairdresser and she knows what a classic bob looks like and “two inches off” is not rocket science. The trouble is that I failed to put the haircut in the right perspective!

There are some haircuts that are just haircuts – the classic bob and “two inches off”. They don’t come with any baggage – apart from the two inches that land on the floor and get swept up with a brush and dustpan. The hair is just too long and it needs a tidy up. If things don’t quite go to plan it’s inconvenient but it’s not a tragedy. As I have said before – paper bags come in all shapes and sizes.

Other haircuts are more than the haircut. They are a self confidence boost. A new challenge is around the corner and one needs to amass all the resources possible. A new haircut is part of the strategy.

Two inches didn’t seem a lot – it has been a while since the last visit, and I have gone through two fringe chopping moments. I tried to sense where the scissors touched the back of the neck. My neck isn’t long, slender and swan-like. In fact, I challenge anyone to actually find a neck at all. My head is simply perched on my shoulders. It’s best to conceal the absence of a neck with a bit of hair.

She asked me midway through the cut if the hair was feeling lighter. We had talked about the weather, as strangers do. We agreed that yesterday had been a very warm day. She suggested that, with my hair being so thick, I must be feeling the heat. I agreed.

She asked me if I was satisfied with how much she had taken off. Had I actually put my glasses on at this point I might have been able to give an informed opinion. The reflection in the mirror was not crystal clear. I knew I was there somewhere, but I wouldn’t have been able to pick myself out of a police line-up later.

Had I put the glasses on I might have suggested that she put some of the hair back.

She chopped away, snipping here and there, cutting into the side to take away the bulk, and thinning out the fringe. She smiled with delight as the hair went where it was asked to go when she dried and styled it.

The moment of truth always ccmes when I slip the glasses back on. I see things clearly for the first time. Regardless of what I actually think inside, I smile. There have been one or two times in my hairdressing history where the smile deserved an Oscar nomination – it was acting at its best. There have been quite a few moments when the smile really doesn’t do justice to the result – I looked fabulous and felt a million dollars.

That’s the kind of haircut I needed today – the fabulous and feeling a million dollars kind.

That’s not the kind of haircut I got. We haven’t quite descended to a paper bag moment, but it’s not that far from it.

It is not the confident booster I was looking for.

Lamenting to loss of hair, and the all too absent neck left to brave the elements, I was reading Psalm 138:3.

“When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.”

Bold and stouthearted is what I am looking for – and I am glad that it doesn’t come down to a fabulous and feeling a million dollars haircut.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Grrr Inside of Me

The Grrr that lives inside me is
A nasty, horrid beast
And all it takes is anger for
The Grrr to be released

Sometimes the Grrr is sleeping
But then one day he wakes
A pushchair banged against the legs
Is sometimes all it takes

At once the Grrr is hissing
He snarls and sometimes snaps
And if he gets to close to you
He reaches out and slaps

The Grrr has such a vast array
Of words he’s dipped in rage
He daubs it on a person’s heart
Like words upon a page

He’s very rarely sorry
For anything he’s done
And if the Grrr is challenged says
T’was only harmless fun

The Grrr is always ready
Whatever time or place
To be there in an instant
And show his ugly face

I wish that someone stronger than
The Grrr would rescue me
I’ve heard that there is such a man
The man from Galilee