While often it has been said that the year 2020 changed everything, I believe that each year does this.
We felt the changes more last year, and perhaps more acutely, because the effects and consequences of this particular change affected all of us more directly, and quickly. How our world is constructed, how we live, and how we maintain ourselves in it, were challenged radically.
Feeling at ease one day, life was about to change the next
Now, even the lions were masked.
And so these changes have been thrust right before our eyes. Felt viscerally in our guts.
However, change is nothing new. It happens all the time. To every person, organism, atom, planet, sun, galaxy and so on...we have just become more aware of it. More conscious of it. And perhaps this will continue to be the case as time unfolds further.
Personally, I struggled last year. As we will all have done. My struggles revolved around anxiety. Or to use it's simpler term, fear. Fear of the future; fear for my health, for my partner, my job, my art...so on, and so forth. What would life be like? Would my partner Dave get back to Australia, and if so, would he have any work, or support? Would I be able to reunite with him? And if so, when, and what would happen next?
I realised that I had felt all this before. A wave of it. Over four years ago. At the start of my new phase in life, giving up my job, selling my house, and launching myself off in a motor home. That's what started this blog.
I felt huge anxiety at the time. What will the future be like? Will I be OK? Will I ever get a job again? Where will I live in the end? Where on earth will I end up? What the hell was I doing?
At that time and this, after everything had fallen away from me, except the few possessions I had left, I returned to repeated pattern. Go somewhere new. Learn something new. Create something new. It really doesn't matter what. Move. Instead of just feeling that emotion. Remember what the word actually means. To emote - to move. Fueling my emotions with worry ain't gonna help David, and you've made your decision now, so regret is useless. So don't keep feeling the emotion - channel it.
And this was doubly important now. Because there was another feeling that was growing and felt more frequently during all this. Anger. Or when I say anger, what I really mean is rage. A lot of rage. And I know, after many years, that this emotion is linked very closely to loss. It covers it. Loss of loved ones, loss of face, loss of control, loss of possession, loss of freedom. When I feel it, it's like I become gripped by a fire breathing serpent, or dragon. It is quite debilitating, and can be a bit scary for me and others. So time to deal with it.
When Anger Strikes
Easier said than done. I'd been getting help using a 6 week course called 'mental fitness during times of uncertainty', with help from my friend and coach Anita Sauvage, and it had helped kick start me again. Totally shifting my view, and really helping me. There have been huge challenges of course, and I now go back and try my best to give myself a break, show myself some compassion, and not worry that I am still learning. That I, and everything around me, is imperfect. And that is alright. After the course, I had felt a deep shift in perspective; that after reflecting, has very much stuck with me.
If change is everywhere, and always, why not benefit from it? Can we, instead of sitting still with it, not use the movement of anxiety and fear and rub at Aladdin's lamp, to call the genie?
Calling the re-use and re-cycle Genie to deal with change
And of course, when change happens, it isn't always what you might expect. This time, lock down was repeatedly happening. Lock down?!? Sorry, what? So going anywhere now more constricted than previous years. What next? The world was getting so much smaller. OK, to go somewhere meant local, and during exercise only. Perfect.
Yes, perfect. Spring meant elderflowers. Summer meant left over, going to waste, citrus fruit. Autumn meant local berries, hips, haws, and fruits. Winter meant sloes! Those lovely berry gifts given as preparation for the long sleep over and quietness of the cold time, whilst we wait for spring.
My Dave in spring
I looked and remembered things were brief. Fleeting, and apt to change.
That other sign of spring, and my latest art commission, which I ended up naming 'The impermanence of the cherry', was teaching me that.
'The impermanence of the cherry', oil on board by David Dalzell
Better grasp the nettle now, before you can't make tea from it, and time to develop my foraging skills to make more use of the plentiful harvest.
The list grew. Cordial, jellies, chutneys, pickles, stewed fruit, pies and oh yes, alcohol! I'm currently drinking a glass of the 2020 sloe gin, and you know what? That year did produce some good things. Some terrifying, anxiety producing, grief inflicting things. A great deal of them. There were also some good things too. I will not be the same again because of that year. But then, I will not be the same tomorrow either.
Taking time is important. The more time I take to look, the more I see. The more I move, the more I create. The more I learn. The more things change around me, the more I change what I am doing.
Going through the last year, I grew conscious of that fact we tend to forget. Seasons come and go. Change happens. All the time. The good, the bad...everything.
Spring gives way to summer
We live in a time where we're more dissociated from seasonal change, and natural rhythms.
We're convinced that there are now foods we need all of the time; we've lost a certain amount of appreciation, and anticipation in our lives.
More importantly, we are now more disconnected from change. It is a huge shock, as we try to control our world more and more, to find out we can't and that we are not in control at all, and change will happen whether we like it or not.
Whatever life changes into, we can always move, create, and learn.
Go where the breeze takes you, and build with what you find
Personally, I think my goal is to learn how to deal with this change. Live with it.
And reach for a glass of sloe gin!
All images by the artist (except the school photo, and I have no idea who they were).