Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Opening the heart


When the heart 
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind 
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
a simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

Michael Leunig

I have let the 'good old sea blow in' to my heart over the past few days.  It's been extraordinarily cathartic and creative.  But it's true.  It does sting.  

Thank you Michael Leunig for your beautiful writing and thank you all the people who shared the poem along the social media path to find me.  It arrived on the third anniversary of my sister's death.   
I am a passionate believer in the power that is unleashed by opening your heart, - wounded or not - and letting it be true and vulnerable.  That is when I am at my honest and creative best.  That is when magic happens in my life because I stop getting in the way of myself.  It's when I'm happiest and most alive.  And if there isn't a sea wind available, then a brisk one will at least blow out the cobwebs.  Oddly, it's one of the hardest things to do, especially perhaps if you've been brought up with a stiff upper lip!  My yoga practice is powerful therapy against this apparently British trait.  It encourages me to open heart and spirit to life in an extraordinary way.     

How does opening your heart inspire creativity?  I don't have a scientific, foolproof answer for that question.  I believe simply that if I am in touch with myself, I am also much more intuitively in touch with the world 'out there', with other people, and with characters in books and stories, those created by others and those I am creating in my own writing.  We spend a lot of life thinking rather than feeling and creativity is sparked from feeling; that requires some letting go and, sometimes, a willingness to let in the salty wind.

Anniversaries gnaw at wounds, there is no denying it.  My desire was to embrace the emotions and channel them into an affirmation of life.  This is the path I feel is right for me.  It may not be for everyone.  Yet I so nearly kept my upper lip stiff and ignored the unique quality of the day.  Michael Leunig's poem was an inspiration to throw open how I was feeling, not to wallow but to embrace.  It is, after all, a privilege to be who you are each and every day and to create as much beauty and happiness as you can with what you've got.

By connecting with how I truly felt, a lot of things shifted for me creatively and personally, and in a rather effortless way.  A story for children came to me in its entirety and I sketched out the bones feverishly from start to finish so that it wouldn't fade like a rainbow.  I finally saw a way through the stalemate on another piece of work which I know has legs but which has been sitting waiting to run for a while.  I saw exactly the kind of poet I am aspiring to be although I declared a week or so ago that I wasn't looking for a role model!  I began to see how two of my big dreams might be possible if I simply open to their possibility ...

I let the bird lean in the hole and sing.


After reading Michael Leunig's poem, I shared my thoughts about the anniversary of losing my sister on social media.  I'd had no intention of doing so .  The loving kindness I received back was humbling and overwhelming.     





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