The blog has been quiet apart from my two little house concerts.
I’ve been getting some communication asking if we are all ok, so this is really a little catch-up post about our lives since Covid 19 arrived. I totally get if some of you are all Covided out and give this one a miss – normal service will resume soon, but I think I need to write this down to mark the time here on my blog.
I managed to play two concerts this year before it became obvious that bringing hundreds of people together was not a good idea. The Enchanted Market in Bracknell and the Pagan Phoenix South West conference in Cornwall were both wonderful events, and I’m so, so, pleased to have experienced two Pagan gatherings before the lock down came into effect. Sitting here now writing this post the memories of hugs, singing, and dancing feel like a lifetime ago.
I thought I was pretty good at not taking things for granted. I was thankful daily for my life. But in truth I never thought there could ever be a time when I couldn’t see my children and parents. That I couldn’t just get in the car and go over for a cuppa, a chat, and a hug. I honestly never thought there would be a time when I wouldn’t be able to drive the the Adur and go for a walk with Oscar by the river, or go to the Long Man of Wilmington, or walk through a bluebell-covered woodland, go for a meal at a restaurant, or just go for a pint at the local. I was thankful for all of those things but did I foresee a time when all of that was impossible? No. It’s made me even more aware how blessed and precious life and contact with the things and people we love are.
I’m aware of an underlying bubbling of fear. The surface of the water might be calm, but just underneath the currents are churning, trying to pull me in different directions. A couple of weeks ago I let those currents drag me down. For a moment I lost rational thought. I surrendered to that bubbling fear and lost control. I got angry. I took Oscar for a walk to calm down, and as I walked so the turbulence subsided and my thoughts became clear again. I’ve had asthma all my life. There were times when I was a child, before Ventolin inhalers, when I remember sitting at a window literally gasping for air. I remember not being able to stand up without getting out of breath. Because of those experiences a lack of breath is a huge trigger for me. It terrifies me. So when I see those images on the news of people on ventilators, gasping for air, I have to switch the TV off. It was those TV images and childhood memories and fear that brought that turbulence to the surface that day.
But as I walked with Oscar and my mind slowly cleared I made a decision.
Right now I have my health. Anything could happen. Do I really want these healthy days to be spend in utter anxiety and fear? NO! Right now I have my health, so I’ll spend my time making every minute, every second of my life, count. Seek out the wonder again. Celebrate the seasonal changes more deeply than I have for years. Connect with friends and family over the internet and live every moment and smile. Greet every day like it might be my last and LIVE!
So what am I doing to keep that turbulence under control?
My daily spiritual practice has returned. Some days in the past I let it go, but now it’s a habit again that connects me to the morning, the new day, and life.
I take at least 10 minutes each day to meditate. The stillness of thought that comes with regular meditation is so important to me right now. I also use the Calm app on my iPhone – and although I might not be able to physically walk out into that bluebell-covered woodland, I’ve been training in creative visualisation for decades, and that woodland lives within me. I go there every day.
I take a walk with Oscar daily to get outside. I have to say that where I live almost everyone is considerate with space. It used to be rude to cross the road to avoid people. Now it gets a “thank you” and a smile. I walk just around the housing block, or we take a walk to the local beach and walk along the sea shore.
My concert income completely dried up. That’s a little scary for a professional musician. One moment the calendar was full of gigs, the next there are none. It’s not just the income (we all still need to somehow pay the bills), I really miss the interaction with people, the voices singing along, the community, the smiles. As I was walking with Oscar that day I made another decision. I’d bring my music to anyone and do free Facebook live concerts. I’m in awe of our NHS workers, the delivery drivers, the shop workers, the bin people, everyone who is keeping things going. Maybe I could help by doing these informal concerts? I thought it was worth giving it a try. So I announced one. The next night I went live on Facebook and 1300 people were there, all over the world, watching it live, chatting to each other, singing along in their own homes. I had no idea it was possible to get that kind of atmosphere through the internet. At the end I mentioned the tradition of the house concert ‘tip jar’ – that I had one through PayPal and would be grateful for any donation received. To those that donated, thank you, thank you, it really helped. I did another house concert on Facebook a couple of weeks later. 1500 people from all over the world. Probably my biggest live audience ever. And although you were all in your homes, and I was in mine, I could feel you all like we were in one great open air festival.
There will be many more home concerts during this time my friends.
So right now I am well. I’m still not at all used to the sudden changes that life has thrown our way, but I also know that others are being affected much worse, so again I try to be thankful for the joys in my life. I’m desperate to get in the car and go to the bluebell woods, but I won’t. I so want to hug my parents, my children, my friends, but I won’t. But when we can, man, I will never again take any of those things for granted.
Wherever you are I wish you stay well and safe.
May the stillness of the waters hold you, and may the undercurrent, if you are feeling it, stay at bay.
Peace, and blessed be.