2015 has been a year of intense writing—although I've been strangely silent on this blog. I've been working on three chapters for a book about Chinese women artists - 12,000 words of Hong Kong art history. At the same time, I've been deep in the editing worlds of Art Radar Asia and the Asia Art Archive. But on the plane this summer, as I flew up into the atmosphere from the French summer fields, as we darted into plumes of white clouds, I had a revelation. It's like the clouds spoke to me. They parted the clutter of thoughts in my mind and delivered the plot.
Spring is an extraordinary season to be in New England. Blossoms are dropping off trees. The roads are covered in dazzling red and pink, petals in all directions. The sun has come out and warmed all of us, and life has leapt into this dizzying action. Nature launches it's immense season of fertility — and it affects us all. We all go crazy busy.
My most recent new development is that I have started to work with an array of New England poets, painters and visionaries. Some very artistic karma is ripening and it's occurring as naturally as the buds coming to the trees.
There is the ringing sound of possibility in the air. It's the same every Lunar New Year, whether I'm deep in the flower markets of Hong Kong or in the polar ice plains of Portland. The planet feels like it is entering a new phase. The new animal rises to meet us; a snake with a playful game.
I am told, via my friend Alison on Facebook and the person who took the photo above of a print-out from Man Mo Temple (click on it to read the marvelously wacky predictions), that this will be a "wonderful year" for the horse. You may also spot the interesting mention of my "lucky accessory" of a Kirin unicorn.
Today's blog is dedicated to my Mum. I have been thinking of her a lot lately. She's been going through some difficult times and so my mind has been moving to the rocky walls of her French farmhouse. I wish I could teleport myself to her kitchen for a cup of tea.
But even before this past week or so, I have been thinking of her. It has been dawning on me lately, how blessed I was to be born to this woman. In Buddhist teachings, we hear of karma. We hear of how we planted seeds of actions way back in the past and how these now ripen as experiences, as appearances, as the content of our lives. To have appeared in Jenny Tyrrell's life, I had extraordinary karma ripening.
A carpet was the topic of an inspired conversation this week. It lies on my living room floor (above) and sometimes visitors will pause and stare into the thing. It is a curious creation that emits a strange power. This carpet, or Gabbeh to be more precise, is of an indeterminate age and originally harks from an Iranian village. I know this because I found a little piece of material sewn onto the back of the thing that explained it so.
The carpet found me ten years ago. It materialized one rainy afternoon with a boyfriend who, soon after meeting me, decided to move back to the States. He proceeded to offload most of his possessions into my brand new flat in Soho, Hong Kong - and this delightful item was amid the second elevator-load.
We are getting close to the Year of the Black Water Dragon, and I can feel the resolutions coming upon me.
I am an East-West amalgamation, so am entirely used to having two sets of New Years. The first one was spent with candlelight and prayers to Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. It was a quiet and moving way to usher in 2012. The full focus of resolutions were aimed at my mind: this year, I will try to deepen my meditation practice, I will try to dislodge negative habits of mind, and start to sees others as supremely important.
Earlier this week, I could sense another beginning about to hit.
It was subconscious at first, the sudden need to fill the flat with fresh flowers. A desire to bring spring into my world, in the midst of tundra Maine and frigid January. The lunar new year means misty mornings in a silent city as everyone finally gets home, gets feasting, gives red packets, sets off firecrackers and smiles. It means the moisture wrapping its fingers around the bulbs of spring.
It means space, breath, pause.
I celebrate it by bringing the writer out of the closet. She was starting to get dusty in there. The move from my hermit cabin in the woods to citylife in September ushered in a lot of work, and meetings, and deadlines. And the writing screeched to a halt.
Fortunately, the scent from a newly-bought bunch of white lillies has awoken the seasonal mind-shift. The letting go of raggy old skin and pulling on new clothes. Hope and conspiring and creating.
So here's the resolution: A blog a week, at the very minimum. It's not a lot to ask, and it's a weekly reminder that the magic of writing is not in sitting around and feeling bad about not doing it, but plugging away as the music plays and the fingers take on this wonderful dance and I can just sit back and smile.
How will you celebrate the dragon?
(Photo credit: By Sky dancer 2000 via Wikimedia Commons)
After two failed attempts, I had cast the thought of a blog to the wind. Despite being a word-addict who feels compelled to turn all experiences into sentences, who sits with pen in hand and stares out of the window for many hours, on many days, musing uncontrollably; I decided that blogs were not for me. My life, I asserted, was simply too boring.
But then the wind took me traveling this summer to up-state New York, to a holy temple in the Delaware River Valley. One lunchtime, over a spectacularly colorful salad in a communal dining room, a monk called Wangden pointed out that a blog was surely in order. 'You're a writer?' he asked, fork in hand and giving me a knowing look. 'Then you need a blog.'
So here I am.
Call it divine intervention if you will, but the time has definitely come. My life has undergone an immensely schizophrenic shift in the past 18-months. I have transformed from manic arts writer for a magazine in the concrete canyons of Hong Kong, to wannabe novelist amid the pine trees of Southern Maine. An absolute 180 degree change from crazy city girl, to hermit lost in the American woods. A kind of reverse butterfly-effect, slipping back into the cocoon. I have been telling myself that I have nothing to write about (apart from that epic novel sitting in the astoundingly hard-to-access depths of my mind). But is that really true?
I think my run-in with the monk was a good jolt. Writing isn't about a buzzing social life. It doesn't require epic days filled with drama and activity. It's simply about learning to see clearly. It's about noticing the tiniest qualities that make up our lives, those countless passing moments and all the meaning that drips from them – and it's about us creating an honest reflection of it all.
So, here's to Wangden. And my (hopefully regular) attempts at being that moon.
My digital notebook in which I ponder the path to enlightenment and how it connects with daily life.