Skip to content

Posts from the ‘inspiration’ Category

Moon

This is me in your car
Looking at the moon
One of the few things we share
Her icy fullness a natural mirror of our strange familiarity
When the sparks rose from the fire
And the music played
I saw it peek through the branches
You asked me why I was laughing
It’s just that sometimes I feel happiness

Autumn Self

My autumn self is walking
Not knowing where it is going
But feeling
The outstretched arms of orange trees
The empty expanse of a damp cold field
Reaching inside to a place that is tender
An aching seed of shaky surrender that says
This is it then?
This isn’t half bad
Or half good
Don’t try and be the one you think you should
The gaps between things are trying to tell you to slow down
Stop even
Breathe in the Saturday afternoon gloom
It’s only going to get worse after all
So why not start small?
Admit that success is a tiny fire in the heart
Nothing more
Nothing to roll over and die for
And this dull absence of everything you want
Is simply the vacuum from which all is created
Even as long as you have waited
It was only ever the beginning
Of endlessness

let me explain

let me explain
i’m a warrior
non-violent
bleeding in all the right places
heart, womb, mouth
heavy and light
i like the warm days
and the cool nights
sweat on your back like daisies
smile of a dragon
don’t believe in nothing
for a reason
everything happens
or doesn’t
but i’m a warrior
still and moving
forward and back
hot train on a spiral track
can’t be found underground
but flying
open and wide
free as a moon
balancing on the dark tide
i’m a warrior
woman all over
brighter than pools
of rock faced sea
just being what it fits me to be

safe

she is falling, falling through space
in the darkness
the stars, pin points of light
she is safe
her long hair billows in waves
like a parachute
white silk wings capture the air
she is safe
faster and faster she falls and her shoes
are pulled from her feet by fairies
the moon looks on, majestic and chipper
the night sky waits, waits
for her ribcage to open
the palms of her hands to relax and receive
the love she is craving
but fall she must, and the cliffs
look on in kind sympathy
as the chilly gusts let her feet know
she is alive
and her arms slowly rise
she is dancing
the darkness holds her as she falls
into the abyss of safety
‘go deeper’
say the trees, ancient, wise, forgiving
‘fear is your friend
and the forest awaits your soft heart’
she is smiling, as the moon smiles
she is safe
the stars wink on
and the icy wind sings on her skin
as she falls through space in the darkness
the ends of her fingers outstretched
release beams of light
and the birds of the lake
take her skirts in their tiny beaks
as the cold becomes warm
and she glides weightless, a white feather
towards the downward glade
to land on the forest floor
and here she lies on a carpet of leaves
and frost and earth and moonlight
looking up at the skies
surrounded by all the creatures of darkness
although she is still
and the night is quiet
in her heart she is always falling
she is safe

Longing in Berlin

Longing in Berlin
In some strange way, belonging
to my longing
In Berlin
Ich verliere mich
auf den Strassen, am Ufer,
durch Baustelle
Hey miss, one kiss! Kennst du
was ist bisou?
Yes I know, und ich warte
auf den Kuss eines anderen
Bis dann I am
Running in Berlin
Half an hour, cross the Treptower
Into the Plantenwald
Peace, says the guru,
Cannot be found but through love
Und bei dir hatt’ich beide
Deswegen bin ich hier
Diving in Berlin
Into the deep blue green unknown
of the present moment
Dirty and profound
That’s where I make my home
just now
Thrown out of my own story
Strung out by the search for
paper glory
Suddenly am Fluss
Wide, wet, open, growing
to the sound of my overflowing
heart, I am singing in Berlin
That’s my thing after all
We are creating, he says,
This world we are living in
Breath by breath by word by step
by look by text by laugh, my love
I am dancing in Berlin
I’ve found a place
I can be myself
Broken open genuine
Living breathing laughing
Crying waking loving dying
Losing bruising
Choosing to be here
with everything that brings
The joyful sad belonging
To this endless crazy
Longing in Berlin

Meditation In Action

Being with myself completely as I am
Heart cracks open
BANG
Blood spatters the walls
Breathing in pain
Breathing out even more pain
A sick child
A tortured wild animal
Rattling the ribcage
Longing to escape the body
And what then?
The heart doesn’t have a plan
It baulks at boundaries
Wants only for its raging voice to be HEARD
The universal empty word
Bad warrior girl making poetry on the cushion
Good warrior girl noticing it
Still the heart doesn’t stop
Whether you’re aware of it or not
BROKEN warrior girl
Oozing art like a confused clam
I’m just here
Being with myself completely as I am

 

Dechen Choling, August 2015

For all my warrior friends in the place of great bliss,
You bring me boundless joy
X

Remembering Raphael Jago: Giving up on giving up

Whenever I dream of Raphael Jago, I know it’s about not giving up. In the sense of not giving up on myself. Mr Jago was one of those people that cut through my bullshit in a really healthy and jovial way. The first time I met him was my first audition at Webber Douglas. All the other auditions I had were pretty standard but this one stood out. It was about waking me up. He re-directed my piece right there in the audition. He called me out on a couple of my tricks. He got me to address the panel directly, as if it was actually happening now. Which it turned out, it was. I left that church feeling exhilarated, like I’d just been run over by a truck, creatively speaking. I loved it.

I was put on the waiting list for a place at the school. Group sizes were small, competition was fierce. I decided to pay him a visit to try and convince him so I took a train to London from Leeds where I was living at the time, and I went to the school unannounced and met him on the stairs. It was a true meeting. He seemed amused and impressed by my nerve. He gave an enigmatic answer with that mischievous smile of his. I knew we had connected.

During my time at Webber Douglas my relationship with authority was, as it very often is, somewhat rocky. Whevever I go, I seem to feel the need to shake things up, to question the way things are run, to point out injustice, to campaign against complacency. It’s not an easy path in life. There were times when we disagreed. But Mr Jago was someone in a position of authority who seemed to admire this spirit in me and in others. I felt he had a talent of really seeing the essence of each person and their potential.

I felt he saw my potential, in a way that I could not at the time. He saw what was unique about me, and he saw the challenges it presented in terms of the industry. He gave me an opportunity to try out for a big scholarship, massive panel audition, terrifying ordeal. We had extra classes together, he reflected on the unique set of qualities I had, that was nevertheless difficult to pin down in terms of casting. When it came to the crunch I crumbled under the pressure. Nerves, clinging, hope and fear – I am frequently crippled by nerves as it turns out. Perhaps this is exactly why I have chosen – or been drawn into – a life of performance. It is where I learn. It is where I burn up ego like a moth in a candle. It is where I die and am reborn in every adrenalin-fuelled moment.

Two days ago I attended a memorial service for Raphael Jago at the Actors Church in Covent Garden. A church full of former students, all with their own story to tell about this legendary man and what he had meant to their career. Music, words, contemplation and much Anthony Sher, Samantha Spiro, Julian Fellowes, Terence Stamp, Steven Berkoff, Hilary Wood, Alexa Jago and more wonderful people paid touching tribute, through performance or personal recollection. I had not up to this point known that Arthur Miller had been Mr Jago’s favourite playwright. I had always been obsessed with Miller and had written my university dissertation on his plays, which I knew backwards. Death of a Salesman, quoted so movingly by Alexa Jago, was a particular favourite. I often think of Willy Loman’s line, ‘I still feel – kind of temporary about myself’ as a heart-breakingly poetic expression of the experience of living.

What thrilled me most was realising that my experience of Mr Jago had been so similar to that of many others just like me. I felt joyful to reminisce over my time at Webber Douglas, to hear the stories of others, to be part of that blessed tribe. I saw my teachers again with renewed gratitude and love. It wasn’t always easy of course. Nothing in this profession, or indeed in this life, is without challenges. But to know that I belonged to an institution, or rather a community that fostered such a creative and anarchic spirit fills me with inspiration to go on, and never to give up on myself.

Protection

Most of the time I find it pretty hard to have an open heart and recently I found myself wondering if it’s really such a good idea. I see people with layers of protective armour and I see them finding ways to avoid feeling the sadness of the world; I see them moving on quickly from relationships that take my heart sometimes years to heal from. I can’t do the armouring thing so I wonder if I am at a disadvantage. Maybe humans were right to find all these ways to escape from reality because it’s so painful. But then I hear something like this and I am so grateful for my feeling bleeding heart because it allows me to taste this exquisite sound right to the core of my being and in some way begin to heal me from the inside.

We are not so different, you and I. Whatever wrongs you have done, I have probably done too. However you squirm and struggle to get things to go your way, I am likely doing the same. I wonder if as a species we will ever stop projecting our aggression outwards and realise that we are all simply trying to get by, to love and be loved, to make the best of this unfathomable existence. If we can forgive our own confusion about how best to do this, perhaps we could begin to forgive others’ too? It’s not easy when the confusion of others causes us pain. But perhaps one way to try is by feeling more connected to each other rather than separate. I find it hard to hold on to my anger, my rage, my disappointment, my loneliness and my fear when I hear music like this. I find it hard to hold onto anything.

January Musings

National Rail succinctly sums up the flavour of the season:

IMG_2968

I like walking on the dark windy common with its mystical pop-up lakes:

IMG_3016

Apparently a tree IS just for Christmas – heartbreaking scenes:

IMG_2998

IMG_3005

IMG_2983

Some little boys that I love, and a lion:

IMG_2954

Frosty Buddha/Icy Sky

IMG_2915

IMG_2938

If you look closely, you’ll see that this bird is actually sort of skating…

IMG_2930

Some thoughts:

1. Never underestimate how much space it takes to create anything

2. Rest is a real activity

3. Always take your warmest coat

4. Try not to get trapped underneath something, especially ice

IMG_2923

Light and Puddles

It is such a privilege to make music in this world, but please, never assume that it is easy. The challenges, disappointments, stresses and sensitivities involved in creating something I can be proud of are continually taking me ever closer to breaking point. But what I realise now is that breaking point moves a little further away each time as I progress, make mistakes, learn to forgive myself for them and carry on.

The level of sensitivity required to feel and express what I experience of this world in my own unique way can rub uncomfortably against the financial and worldly realities of making a record or a tour, of working under pressure of time, in conditions that are far from ideal, of getting on with others and keeping connection in performance despite external and internal anxieties.

I wanted to say this because I know that social networks are a place where you share all the good stuff that shows how well you’re doing so people can like it and be a part of your success. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is imbalanced and symptomatic of our culture’s insistence on denying that the painful, difficult, ugly aspects of life are inevitable and pretending that the right elixir is out there for your particular brand of suffering if you are willing to search and spend enough.

People often laugh at me for focusing on suffering or the darker side of existence, they say I’m negative or a perfectionist or perhaps I should just relax and be happy. Yes worrying is fruitless, yes we should all relax and be happy, but until you look into what’s making you miserable how are you going to let it go?

Contentment, I have found, is a live process, not an achievement.  The kind of happiness that is gained from ignoring suffering is of little interest to me, although of course I continue to be dazzled by its promising sheen on a regular basis.

For me it is laughable that the possibility of happiness could exist without acknowledging the existence of suffering, the suffering that goes on at a low level in all of us all the time. Embarking on a creative project is like turning up the heat on that suffering to maximum and watching myself burn. And yet that is what I do with my life energy and that is how I spend my time and money.

Maybe that makes me a masochist or simply an artist, but I think all I am really trying to do is get close to truth of things as they are because I believe that is how real relaxation is found, not by switching off or hoping for the best when things are clearly not going well.

Failure is such a dirty word. I’m terrified of it myself. It’s like I’m running a race, I’m the only entrant, and I’m also the judge who sets impossible obstacles and keeps moving the finish line, all the while providing a running commentary on what a disappointing performance this is and how we had hoped for better.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Tuesdays with Morrie,’ leant to me by a good friend. It was just what I needed. How would we live differently if we knew we were nearing the end of our lives? We can all roll our eyes at that old cliche or we could contemplate it every day and see what changes. Revisiting the wonderful ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ recently after the tragic death of Robin Williams, I was reminded of this great teacher’s lesson to his students, considering the students of the past, whispering ‘Carpe Diem’ as an inspiration.

As Morrie says, echoing the Buddha Dharma, death is necessary for new life to take place. Death of a dream, an idea, a fantasy, a relationship, these are all painful but inevitable stages in any journey of the life of a human being or an artistic endeavour. Do we dare to look directly at our experience in all its excruciating detail? This is where the jewels are, the lessons that soften us and keep us moving forward.

One thing I will say for myself, is that while I really know how to suffer, I also really know how to have a good time. It’s not a coincidence. Those (including myself) who think they can have sparkly magnetic liberated dancing Annalie without dark brooding volatile chaotic Annalie are gonna be disappointed in the long run.  Maybe it’s even better this way. The light reflected in the puddles has a beauty of its own.