It’s Christmas eve, and nothing’s on, yet somehow everything’s on, in that, in the momentary pause between scheduled theatrical productions and deadlines for funding applications, there is time to consider why in the world I am doing what I’m doing and should I do more. There is, moreover, time to think about my first Christmas in twenty years outside the firm boundaries of marriage. My daughters and I need to create new family habits, customs, that might or might not turn into traditions but will help us look forward and give us that sense of ritual, of group unity in the face of an upheaval we didn’t consider possible last Christmas. It feels all new. And I’m not even cooking a turkey — not cooking anything, in truth. Nor have I in months, as cooking meals and creating the scene of the perfect family seemed false to one and all. And then of course who has time to cook?
The need to nest, to homemake, is one that grows upon me gradually, but the need to reach outward in a dozen directions is perhaps more powerful. So this Christmas I feel a bit stuck, looking both ways, and in both ways there seems so much to do that it’s beyond my ken to see the end of it. I have received three books as gifts from wonderful new friends. One is a book of poetry published by the giver, and I was standing in Liverpool Street Station last night reading the poems while waiting for my daughters — and loving their immediacy, their sweet touch, their sense of family history, too. One is a blank book, and its giver has urged me to set firm goals for myself and put them in the book, as he’s most concerned that I’m too at the mercy of a hundred demands and not focusing on where I need to be in a year’s time or five years’ time. And the other book is called The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. It’s about finding one’s creativity within through a kind of spiritual understanding of oneself and the world around. I’ve only read a few pages but I feel sort of hungry to keep going with this, like maybe there is some kind of needy poet or playwright within me dying to find a way to express herself.
Every poem I’ve ever written and hidden away has always seemed like a necessary indulgence — like a song I needed to sing to no audience but me. And I only write such things when I really cannot think of any other way of dealing with a tide of feeling, and that’s not very often, as tears usually seem a much easier resource than staring at a blank sheet and summoning sequential thought. There is of course NO TIME for such thoughts normally — I mean, thoughts of writing poems and plays, thoughts of being creative (there is always plenty of time for thoughts about tides of feelings, usually on bike rides). The world makes too many demands, or so I think. But maybe I’ve got that all wrong too, and maybe I’m not very good at realising how much I inflate these demands to give me a sense of purpose.
So perhaps everything really is all new, and it’s time for me to step tentatively forward and consider many more possibilities than I had ever dared. It’s time to help my daughters do the same. It’s time to let go of fears of limitations and fears of failure and find a way to let go of whatever it is that has prevented me and mine from enjoying every damn moment we are alive. Whew, I am feeling a bit dizzy with this last idea. But I like it.