9th April 2023

Legacy Of A Heart

The older I get the more I think about a legacy of my heart. As age winds is desperate hands around my body, it’s difficult not to think of mortality, not only my own but also that of those who surround me. I want people to see my heart, my sentimentality and my sense of nostalgia. I want them to see my creative whimsy but also my deeply impassioned and sometimes blackened art .

I have long yearned for a time when I don’t think about others when I create. Not my parents, my husband, or my children, or even in fact any kind of audience. I don’t want to go, whenever that may be, not having shared some of myself, most of myself, that deep repressed soul, heart and fire that lies within this shell. I want to create as an artist, like the young photographer I once was, who saw things and made images of them, a dripping tap, flowers, deconstructed dolls. They were not only her ideas but, I tend to forget, also mine. She didn’t care what others would think.

At stages throughout my life I have felt an affinity with my star sign. I am a Cancer. More recently I deeply feel this body, and mind, of mine has created its own hard shell. It keeps the outside from entering and the inside from escaping. It does its job almost too well.

One of the words that comes to me when I think about a shell is protection. The other, is repression. A turtle can suck its head in and become a shell. You can push me and hurt me and shove a stick in there and I will remain a shell. It’s only recently that I imagine a shell to be so much more. What if you use it as a place from which to attack, to stick your head out and bite that fucker on the finger. What if you grab that finger with that big fucking crab claw and squeeze that finger until the entire hand drops you back to the earth or into the ocean. It might be a shock, it may hurt, it may even kill you, but won’t you then be free?

It's easy to say in a night time swirl of reflection but to do it, the thought petrifies me. One word “embarrassment” surrounds me like one of those big clear bouncy balls that you roll down a hill inside. I feel that that’s been me, my whole life, inside a cover. You can’t quite let anyone get to you, to see you clearly. Be the good girl, perform, do your best so others will see what a good job we have done to raise such a dutiful daughter. Play-the-game. Do Not Embarrass Me.

As my mother dwindles and shrivels before my eyes I see her judgement in everything. Her life is still a play. I know her first thought for everything is “ what will they think?”. The they she speaks of, don’t care. She, her, that nagging voice inside is the true ‘they’ she fears. Maybe she was brought up too with some kind of expectation. Maybe she never felt good enough. She does not talk, she does not speak of it, or of anything of any importance. She is inside some shell she too has built and it has never once cracked. The difference is, I know mine is there and I want to take a fucking hack saw to it. I want to tear it apart. I want my skin to breathe, to bleed, to feel the air upon it. Like a band aid that takes the hair beneath it by the root. I want to feel that pain, that release, when my shell falls. I want my children to see the raw skin that lies beneath it.

In these times when life becomes busy and work takes over my every waking thought, art is the first thing I discard. It’s not important. It is indulgent. Keep those people happy, don’t do anything to embarrass yourself by making art that shows too much of who you are. If you keep your head down they won't dislike you. Don't make a scene. Protect yourself. Smile. Work your arse off, finish those photos. Rinse. Repeat. I feel myself on this merry go round. This deep sense of swirling within me. Maybe that’s where the vertigo stems from, this whirlpool in my heart and my brain, both going in opposite directions. How do I get off.

I feel like I need one of those scream sessions where you just run up in a field and take turns screaming your heart out. Then together you scream in a cacophony of angst and despair but mostly to claim your own freedom. You scream until your lungs empty, your heart hurts and your body slumps over itself. I see your hair fall over your face in Uttanasana. You draw your breath in and refill your lungs. You do this several times. They swell deeper than they ever have. You rise with some weird sense of sage wisdom and power and you feel strong. You believe in yourself and you know what you must do.