This is one of the gifts of being ever so tired….. it seems to go well with allowing those less available feelings to surface.
Why, you ask, am I crying? Oh I don’t know… I’ve just done a thorough dust and sweep and it all looks so beautiful with the light on the orange felt of the rug I brought back from Kyrgyzstan…. and I have been wondering how to make a map for the exhibition that shows all the wonderful places I have been and that’s when I started to cry. I didn’t want to stop after the Beethoven and I don’t really want to stop the discovery and adventure of traveling and the freedom and peace of those times on the bike…. and then I’m crying because today I am just so tired that I can’t imagine how I could possibly get going again on a bike for more than a short slog to the shops and back! And because recalling the bits I’d love to share in the exhibition sets me off.
This is SO much like practicing for a huge, emotionally stretching piece of music. In order to prepare and reach into the depths and truly communicate the riches and darkness/light, whatever, the nature of practice is not to leave a stone unturned, or shrink from the range of feelings that are aroused. Any actor, musician, artist will have their own recognisable version of this. We reserve the intensity of personal feeling in private, so that in performance, we can discipline our nerve in the storms and offer you, the participant the experience without the worry that there might be a ‘break down on stage’.
This brings back another performance/practice memory. One of my hugely talented piano pupils (she is now a conservatoire graduate cellist) was taking a singing exam and we were practicing a song by Britten in which the handsome young love dies. It was at a time when I had recently lost the man I loved, and my pupil had similarly, experienced the loss of a little disabled nephew. We ended up breaking off and weeping into the piano…. To be avoided in the exam hall if possible!
In the actual performance, time stood still and you could have heard a pin drop. The examiners usually have their heads down busily trying to keep up with the enormous task of writing and marking. This examiner put his hands in his lap and leant back in the chair, and was totally captivated.
The text books call it ‘a musical encounter’ when all the senses are engaged like this. I call it a truthful life encounter. The sort that I was having so regularly while I met strangers and friends throughout the journey.
Back to the forthcoming exhibition.
On a very hot morning in Fiomochori (a little stone tower village perched a long way up on a Greek hill) I had a thought as you do! I had just been sitting in a lovely new and unfinished Ecclesia (roadside chapel with Byzantine-style frescoes) and painted a particularly sweet angel: came the idea “wish I could have an exhibition of my paintings in Birdwood house” followed by ” oh but that means planning months and months ahead” OUT OF THE QUESTION!! I had only just about decided to come home and who knows where I would be or when…..
Within about half an hour I had a phone call (oh dear more tears… I must be very tired) “Jenny, would you like an exhibition in Birdwood?” Jane is an inspiring pioneer and founder of ‘Green Fuse’, which assists people to hold alternative funerals and she was looking to create an exhibition of art that has emerged as a consequence of loss/bereavement. She has known me through the years and felt that my journey and paintings could fit the bill, so to speak.
Not long before he died, Martin said “you know Jenny, if you weren’t playing, and I’m not saying you should stop, there might be all sorts of other things you would love to do”. It took nearly 12 years for this ‘wake up call’ to evolve into ‘Beethoven by Bike’ but I would say that this love and loss had a huge impact and it is the transformative journey that we are hoping to communicate in the exhibition. The inner journey so wonderfully told within Beethoven’s music is in many ways, a natural parallel to my personal life journey so it is hardly surprising that I have felt such a resonance with it.
So there it is. The exhibition will have at it’s epicenter, the explosion into love and connectedness with life that was brought about by Martin’s death and will hopefully, share the journey through love and loss into the creative richness of life, as well as featuring the various paintings, photos and stories of ‘ Beethoven by Bike ‘
There are so many of you, friends of many years and recently made friends whose lives have been touched by death and with whom, in wonderful conversation, I have been profoundly touched.
Death…. that word….. so often, substituted with something a little more oblique to soften it’s edges. Another conversation with beautiful young Greek women, student teachers ” we have death as our friend, sitting over the shoulder prompting us to love and to live”
We hope that the exhibition will stir thoughts and bring about the possibility of a renewed relationship with life, with courage to truthfully meet the feelings that accompany loss of any kind.
I believe that I have been very fortunate. For one thing, my mother was perfectly comfortable with tears of any kind. As a happy four year old I was baffled by bursting into tears when my much loved Grandfather came to visit. “Tears of Joy, darling ….. ” was her easy explanation.
Further, major loss in the last 20 or so years has almost always been accompanied by an exquisite wash of love, and beauty intensified. I am well aware that this is not everyone’s path.
I am thankful that it has been mine so far.