Saturday, 25 August 2012

Tell me why, is it hard to make arrangements with yourself?

Beautiful bedding and blankets - my tenderly made bed for the night

I love Neil Young. I absolutely never tire of his voice. This summer, car journeys have been all about listening to Neil Young. I love watching my seven year old taking in the lyrics, humming along to these now familiar tunes and with each listening, hearing him as he picks out lyrics previously unheard or not understood, followed by his interpretation of its meaning from his sometimes beautiful and innocent, sometimes burdened and angsty seven year old self. A lyric jumped out at me the other day that I have sung along to many times but previously overlooked.

'Tell me why, is it hard to make arrangements with yourself?'

This lyric stared me right in the face, looking at me longingly. Why is this so hard? Until a couple of days ago, due to technical problems our household was without internet access for about five days. This was quite a strange experience, alarming too as I quickly discovered how 'involved' (possibly obsessed, maybe pre-occupied!) I am with online communities and online relationships - pinterest, instagram, facebook, not to mention various blogs that I may visit daily if I have time, then there's my oh so favourite response to many of my children's questions - 'ok, let's google it/ ok, let's youtube it'! All of this was GONE and for five days and so this simply meant that I had to access information and inspiration the old fashioned way, yep I looked to my huge collection of books, magazines and journals. Now, whilst I often reference art books in my collection it's not that often anymore that I would spend an evening scouring my bookshelves for inspiration, so this internet purge was actually quite useful. It did however, quickly allow me to see how much I avoid making arrangements with myself, instead opting to dive deeply into my virtual communities. This is not a declaration of the perils of social networking but rather a reminder for myself to allow enough space for the mind to roam in quiet, without either the physical hum of the laptop or distraction of music or the narrative of a film ... just quiet, a date with myself where there is no obligation to make conversation or entertain. 

A couple of weeks ago I took off for one night for a sleepover at a friend's house. She is a friend very dear to me, who I often see under rushed circumstances, always flying visits with school runs to rush off to, leaving us saying farewell without the feeling that the conversation is complete. And so, for one night, we planned to have food and wine and a whole evening to calmly chat without the rushed ending to our time together. It was a delight! When I woke up in the morning, there was silence ... and then the sound of a nearby cockerel crowing which all at once took me back to memories of waking to crows as a child. 

No longer able to sleep and not wanting to disturb my friend, who was also enjoying the day off from motherhood, I pottered around. I found the week-end papers and had a read whilst sipping a hot drink, hot because I didn't leave it somewhere random like I normally do, distracted by requests from little people. I looked along her bookshelves and pulled out books that looked like an interesting read and even managed to read several chapters of one. I drank in all the beautiful details of her home, things hand made, things collected by an adult and also by a child. Items bought, gifts given, objects and furniture inherited, heirlooms, along with rich narratives and lineage. Without thinking, I began taking pictures (that's what instagram does to you, you begin to view the world in instagram stills!). It was only when I had said goodbye to my friend and sat on the train and picked my phone up that I remembered that I had taken these photos. 

It was a very peaceful thing to experience this. Time with a friend and time alone all at once. The art of doing without doing. It is hard but I must learn to make more arrangements with myself. 

The most perfect table where we wined and dined and laughed and listened 

Little things here ...

... and there

... and everywhere!

Everywhere you turned, there was something for your eyes to feast on ...

Immaculately hand stitched cushion cover hanging over a door 

Cosy corner

Stunning paintings that my friend inherited from her grandmother


  1. It is definitely a healthy thing to "pull the plug" every now and then, and listen to the sounds within. I read somewhere recently that our obsession with digital photography means that we can sometimes view life from a slightly detached way, not really being in the moment. How lovely that you got to spend some precious quality time with your friend!

  2. I totally agree about the healthiness of remembering to 'pull the plug' from time to time. It was wonderful to spend time with my friend but it was also a reminder of how much I like to spend time alone ... pottering about and doing nothing in particular! Well ok, I confess I would probably then create a small project for myself but it would come under the label of 'fun things to do when I get chance to potter'! We SO need to get a date in the diary for a meet up, much love xxx