A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. … The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. In the destructive element immerse. – Joseph Conrad (Lord Jim)
This quote is one of my strongest memories of high school. I didn’t finish reading the book until after we’d finished studying it (I got by on the crib notes) but I remember studying for the exam and this quote being drummed into me. “In the destructive element immerse” was in my head all through my aikido class on Wednesday night. I’ve been in an existential crisis this past week .. feeling adrift, untethered, floating in the existential void while I tried to get a grasp on the purpose of my life.
The conditions for this existential crisis were perhaps a perfect storm of events: a phone call on Monday that had me seriously reflecting on the direction and purpose of my business/work (‘my work in the world’ is the area of life I’ve struggled with the most this lifetime) .. overlaid with hormones, a particular interaction that shook me up, and maybe even the moon.
But it is less the existential crisis than the calm after the storm I wanted to write about. Because on Thursday, after a fitful night without sleep, where my body felt like it was burning up (I’ve since changed the doona) and I was immersed in a maelstrom of intense feelings, even praying to mother Mary who kept reminding me to ‘let it be’ .. I emerged into Thursday raw and tender and had a most magical and serendipitous day.
Was it coincidence that Thursday was the new moon, and I’d done a simple ritual on the previous new moon? That ritual seems to have been really powerful because when I repeated the ritual at the end of the day and looked back on the month just gone, I was amazed by what had been achieved in that one month. Essentially, I took lots of actions I’d been thinking about for a long time that allowed for big shifts. I think the biggest shift was .. I had found a way to give myself permission.
Which brings me to Thursday. I dissolved into Thursday starting with an ‘integration’ breathwork session at the crack of dawn, followed by a writing session. The day to unfolded almost effortlessly. I drove Joey to school (which I love to do but don’t do often) and came home to work on my model. At 9.00 I sat in on a business coaching Zoom call that I thought was going to be about mindset but turned out to be on strategy. I shared that my focus had shifted to the sculpture rather than the coaching but didn’t want advice since I knew what I needed to do. On the call a friend and fellow artist based in the U.S. messaged me and we caught up straight after to plan our first mastermind meeting for next week which feels like a perfect match for both of us. Then I worked on the Cloudscape model while watching the recording of a ‘witches roundtable’ call that had happened overnight. I took the model as far as I could before setting off for a swim in the ocean. On the way I revisited the Urunga Small Sculpture Prize exhibition to see if the sculpture I’d fallen in love with was still available. If it was I figured it was meant for me. It was. The piece ‘Bateau d’ amore’ is a boat filled with hearts and wings for sails. I feel like this piece symbolises my vision for Cloudscape in it’s holding of hearts and taking people on a journey. At the gallery I had an amazing conversation with the artist on duty. Her woodcarving piece had made an impression on me when I first saw it and our conversation flowed in all sorts of directions and left me inspired to get back to woodcarving. While I was in the gallery a woman who still works at the nursing home where I used to work came in. She told me about some of the residents who had passed on which brought back some nice memories and I have been able, following that discussion, to get clarity on why it was such a toxic place for me to work.
I feel like I’m starting to ramble, though I’m cutting out some detail, but the next magical event of the day came with my trip to the beach. The ocean is the place where I feel most connected and I knew I needed to dip myself in the ocean. As I turned the corner to park my car I saw someone carrying a surfboard headed down to the beach with her dog following. It was my writer’s group friend who I’d thought about only five minutes prior as I’d gotten into my car. Turned out she was on her maiden surf to christen her new surfboard, and I was there to witness it .. low tide, huge dumpers and all. I’ve since cleaned my surfboard and am excited to have a new buddy to surf with.
Back home from the beach I got back to work on my sculpture model and had the biggest (unexpected) breakthrough. After months (or rather, years) of plugging away on the piece .. it was suddenly finished. Like magic the spheres came together and the journey through the piece finally made sense. Even better was that Joey, now home from school, was sitting near me at the time.
Joey got into a game on his computer with some friends so I decided to visit a friend and take her one of the chocolate cakes I made that Joey refused to eat (I put rock salt in it which I expected to dissolve but it didn’t .. which meant chunks of salt ..). As I arrived back at home and parked in my driveway, speaking my thoughts into my Voice Memos (as I do) I noticed .. fireflies. Fireflies are pure magic to me. Together with Joey I watched a firefly move through the bouganvilia to create an ephemeral string of fairy lights.
There is more magic to share but I don’t want to overdo it. This week seriously felt like my most intense existential crisis ever. Maybe that’s just because I’ve got better at feeling. But I am taking to heart that I AM meant to be here and that Cloudscape, which I truly feel is my gift to mankind as a place for connection, exploration and acceptance, is meant to happen.
The five and a half years since I first came up with Cloudscape has been an intense journey full of side trips, adventures and a lot of inner work. And with the model created, a new chapter begins.
Thanks for being here.