Tuesday, 23 August 2016

It's Time...

I just want to mark this moment. 

I've written a few attempts and deleted them all. I don't think it needs lots of words. I just want it to be noted that I recognise this gift of time.

The past. The gift of feeling rooted in memory: driving through London, walking the streets of my hometown - in love with them both for different reasons. The feeling of being full up of everything that has happened until now: the good, the bad, the extraordinary and the mundane - immeasurably enriched by all those experiences, most of which I didn't see coming.

The future. The gift of hopes and expectations - feeling so full of ideas and options and avenues. Things I want to write about, think about, know... Things I want to explore, accumulate, prepare for, release...

The present. The gift of right now. I so rarely recognise it. But I do today. I do. I feel intensely aware of the being and becoming. All that carpe diem stuff that people harp on about until it stops resonating - I suddenly, obsessively feel the impetus of that whole philosophy bearing down on me: I do need to seize the day!

Maybe it's because finishing my last day in the office before maternity leave makes me feel like I'm standing on the edge of unutterable freedom. I've never understood the working week and the joy of leaving it behind for a while literally woke me up in the middle of the nights leading up to this. I am beyond excited.

Maybe it's also because I feel like this baby could come early. Just to catch us out. Just to emphasise how not in control of this whole thing I really am. Even if they don't, there's something of a ticking bomb about these last few weeks of pregnancy. I cannot wrap my mind around this almighty change on the horizon. Surely it shouldn't still be this surreal?!

Or maybe it's because I became militant about making to-do lists to get the house move under control and I haven't quite managed to feel like I can break away from that yet - there's still just so much to do that maximising every minute feels essential, not optional.

On a practical level. But also just in general. In life.

Honestly, sometimes I'm afraid that I'll miss it. I won't be able to catch the wave. I'll run out of time. Or even worse, waste it. 

I've always known that feeling. It's useful. It makes me productive and proactive. And, probably on balance, happy. I love feeling like I've accomplished things - the satisfaction of something done and done well.

But I don't want to be driven. I want to be led.

"I trust in you, LORD. 
I say, 'You are my God. My times are in your hands...'"
Psalm 31v14-15

So I'm acknowledging this moment and reminding myself that I don't have to rush. I'm not racing anyone. And things will happen when they happen. And I will do what I do, and be what I'll be, being confident that the same God who began all these good works in me will carry them on to completion.

And "all shall be well. All shall be well. 
All manner of things shall be well".
(Julian of Norwich) 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Marmite of Vivienne Westwood

I can't remember exactly when I bought this authorised biography, but I finished reading it about three months ago - ending up even more confused about the enigma of its subject than before I started.

Vivienne Westwood first filtered to the forefront of my consciousness via a 2012 article about her save the rainforest campaign. Sheltered, I know. Obviously, I had heard of her before then, but I hadn't fully appreciated the weight of her fashion gravitas, her pivotal role in shaping the cultural landscape, her on-going activism. I bookmarked her in my mind as someone to come back to and learn from at a later date. 

So this biography, co-authored by the great lady herself, was always going to be on my reading list. I began it with a deferential, rose-tinted appreciation for her aura. Her age made her an especially appealing icon to read a biography about - I assumed I would be exposed to all kinds of life-lessons: little tidbits of wisdom, neatly packaged within anecdotes and bite-sized observations. What I got was an assault of unapologetic brilliance, lurching around an impossibly vibrant and passionate personal landscape - eccentric, inspiring, maybe even egotistical.

There is something wildly unaccountable and contradictory about Dame Vivienne Westwood: anti-establishment, yet embraced by the British honours system; anti-capitalist eco-warrior, yet founder and face of a lucrative global fashion empire; wife and philosopher; movement-maker and Grandmother. And all with a level of confidence and conviction in the right-ness of her views and causes that is both awe-inspiring and a little... irritating...? Even the way she stares out from the cover is challenging to me. Her gaze seems utterly unflinching - self-contained, slightly confrontational, kind.

I read this book cover to cover and I still don't know quite what Vivienne Westwood stands for.

But this week I've had a revelation. For reasons I won't go into, I've felt a little on the outside of 'how I'm supposed to be' - that I don't quite fit the mould, that I'm not quite the right sort of woman. I, too, feel like a contradiction. And I've realised why, for me, Vivienne Westwood is - in fact - a legend.

Dame Vivienne Westwood comes across as someone who has made an art-form of being entirely herself. It seems like she has explored her interests, her beliefs, her abilities and put them all to work, without reference to anyone else's agenda. She has learnt from others, but she stands for herself: as is. She is the common denominator, tying together those disparate attributes, achievements and ideas. 

Take it or leave it. Like it or lump it.

"The challenge is to be yourself 
in a world that is trying to make you like 
everyone else."

E.E Cummings

Vivienne Westwood appears to have mastered that challenge, intuitively, throughout her long and varied life. There is so much to be said for that.
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