This is hard to put into words. It’s about a sense of something, a feeling; hard to articulate, elusive – not easy even to identify in my thought or imagination, let alone express. But it’s gaining in strength every day.
Please excuse my self-absorption in this post; I hope you find it interesting anyway, and that it may resonate with your own life and path.
I have had difficulty for a while now whenever I have to fill in that box on a form designated OCCUPATION. ‘Crumbs,’ I think; ‘Glory! What is my occupation?’
Usually I put WRITER, because I guess I can wave ‘writing’ around as something I do. And even a year or so ago I would have said a writer is what I am. But I feel that less and less. I have a few things to say yet that will take shape in the novels I have planned – but the day I run out of things to say I shall stop writing. I write because I have something to say, where a proper professional writer searches around for something to say because they are a writer. You get writers meeting with their agents and publishers to answer the all-important question – what might you do for your next project? But I never ask that question, because it doesn’t interest me. I only ever want to write if something real arises within me that I feel a need to communicate because I can’t find someone else already saying it, or not in a way that seeds it into people’s imagination.
Lately I’ve sometimes filled in that ‘Occupation’ box in the form with WRITER & THINKER, even though it sounds a bit precious, because it seemed to be true.
But now I’m not sure. Because both writing and thinking are about output, something a person is doing, and I have become aware that this is not an accurate description of my occupation.
On the Innermost House Facebook page, a few posts have particularly caught my attention – especially Michael Lorence’s thoughts that I wrote about here, concerning the Many, the Less and the One, and his observations about the complexity of simplicity that I quoted in this blog post here. Then recently he has been advising us about the creation of boundaries – about identifying and setting aside one’s own space: here. I’ve been thinking about that. Slowly, something has begun to take shape in my mind.
Over the last few months I’ve found myself most urgently needing to dispense with any extraneous stuff (hence the 365 chuck-out and the principle of one-thing-in-two-things-out). At the same time I’ve felt a mounting frustration at the never-ending stream of . . . what should I say . . . I mean the world tugging at my sleeve. Visit this person, phone that person, attend to this paperwork, deal with this buildings problem, answer the door for this delivery man/Jehovah’s Witness / social caller.
Now, my life is pared down to a disgraceful minimum. I rarely go anywhere, I ignore my patient friends shockingly, I avoid social visits of all kinds wherever possible; and, though I am immensely grateful for the work our builders have done on our home, by Heaven I’m glad it’s all finished at last and those good men are out of our house!
Puzzled, I’ve asked myself: why are these normal occurrences driving you crazy? You don’t have to go out to a job in an office or care home or shop – why shouldn’t you do the numerous (endless) little chores and errands every homemaker does?
And at last I’ve put my finger on it. It’s because I’m concentrating. All these things drive me nuts because they break my concentration – they distract and interrupt. ‘What are you concentrating on?’ you might wonder. But I’m not concentrating on a what, I’m just concentrating – you know, like when you boil down stock, making it less and less to concentrate it. Well that’s what I’m doing, concentrating like stock. For the time being at least, that’s my occupation; concentrating. Listening, looking, not for this or that but for Life itself. Stilling and distilling, centring and paying attention, so that if at all possible I do not miss the glimmers and gleams of eternity, the quiet song the still small voice is singing, the beauty and wonder inherent in every living day.
Now then: I have one or two friends who reading this will instantly feel guilt seize them by the throat and shake them roughly, shouting accusations – “See what you’ve done! She was trying to concentrate and you went and disturbed her! How could you be so selfish as to write/visit/phone? How could you? Never do it again? You hear me? Never!!” Okay, well tell that demon to put you down and stop strangling you. I love to hear from you.
I take the view of Sherlock Holmes, that in this world people are perfectly free to write to me and I am free to not open their letters. If ever I need to go higher up the mountain, I’ll disconnect from the phone and the internet and stop answering the door.
It just interested me to finally put my finger on what is happening in my soul – that this drive to simplify, always simplify, is about more, nor about less; it’s about intensifying attention. Well, ‘concentrating’ is the only word for it; though I shall feel mighty silly writing it on a form. Perhaps ‘distiller’ would do . . .
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
I liked this skirt, but it was too short and too tight. Though very pretty.
By the way, I have an apron to give away. It's the one in this photo here.
I love it, but I rarely wear an apron and when I do, I always wear my blue one. Recently we went through the aprons hanging on the kitchen hook and it turns out nobody wears the white one. So, would anyone like it? As ever, if you'd like it just send me your address in a comment which I will not publish. Check the comments following this post first, because I'll leave a comment here to let y'all know when it's been claimed.
The apron is in used condition but clean!
The apron is in used condition but clean!