a lesson is seldom learnt only once

This evening was my second consecutive night of edgy, bored dissatisfaction. My brain has started to repair itself, and my thoughts and energy are beginning to flow again, but my body remains damaged and weak, and I am starting to chafe against its restrictions. Unable to return to my usual routines, but no longer in the torpor that enabled me to simply lie around in a daze for weeks on end, I felt unable to find anything that I wanted to do, or anything that could hold my attention. I found myself yearning for some sort of external stimulation or excitement, restlessly browsing lists of online friends for someone to chat to, yet not actually wanting to make contact with anyone; waiting for an elusive email to arrive and distract me, whilst finding myself unable to respond to any already in my inbox. I tried countless books, picked up and put down after a page or two; I considered a film, but couldn’t find any I wanted to watch. I ate delicious ice cream – my very favourite treat, and a rare one – but it did nothing more than make me colder.
The realisation slowly crystalised within me that the answer is not anywhere ‘out there’. It is not within another person or object. Surely this lesson should have been learnt many years ago, and has indeed been learnt time and again? I have no doubt it is one I will stumble across time and again in future, though perhaps with repetition I will reach both the realisation and a solution at a faster pace.
The minute I picked up a paintbrush, a wide smile began to spread across my face, and I felt nothing but excited contentment. I usually pick up a brush to externalise words or images in my head, but tonight my mind was as blank at the page in front of me – and it didn’t matter. I chose a colour – blue – and began to paint a river. I then felt a strong desire to listen to Joni Mitchell, and as the soothing first notes of ‘Night Ride Home’ slipped through the house my smile widened, and the picture morphed into a moon, then a flower. But it didn’t matter what I was painting – it mattered only that I was painting. The colours, and the flow of the brush, were enough. I thought of my mother, simple memories of the last years we lived together – cooking a meal, listening to music, lying in the sun next to the swimming pool discussing a novel, relationships, or work. Instead of missing her, I felt the warm glow of delight in all we shared. She, like everything else crucial to my happiness, resides within me, to be called upon whenever I have the need, desire, or wisdom to do so.

15 thoughts on “a lesson is seldom learnt only once

  1. So glad you’ve found this soothing creative outlet, and also the source of comfort within yourself. I hope this is an indication of another step along you path of recovery – mental and physical.
    Funny – I can so recognise myself in my children sometimes e.g. when they are restless and overtired. I find with them I need to realise what the source of the problem is and sooth them along towards that (distract, calm down and get them some rest!). So much harder to do that sort of thing for oneself! Not exactly the same, but rings some bells for me in what you describe.
    Love you.

    1. Yes, I completely see the similarity – it is harder to do for oneself, but it shouldn’t be, if we can learn our needs, and listen to our desires… I suppose we have to guide our children towards finding that for themselves too, with time.

  2. ‘I chose a colour – blue – and began to paint a river. ”

    That is one of the most beautiful lines I’ve ever read, Laurel.

    As I believe you’ve already seen, I’ve nominated you for the Soul-Song Award (http://bardessdmdenton.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/more-awards-to-acknowledge-and-pass-on/) for this post, though your reflections over time have offered so many that I could’ve chosen. Please accept, rule-free, and pass on only if you are inclined to do so. Blessings! So glad you are finally feeling better.

  3. As you enjoyed the imminent experience of painting, I’d say you have beautifully painted your feelings and your journey to follow your heart through painting. Well done! 🙂


    Subhan Zein

  4. “Instead of missing her, I felt the warm glow of delight in all we shared. She, like everything else crucial to my happiness, resides within me, to be called upon whenever I have the need, desire, or wisdom to do so.”

    I’m really happy to hear this, Laurel. When these moments come, it’s like being able to draw in a full breath of air for the first time in memory, isn’t it?

      1. It does return.

        And so far, I’m grateful when it does. I want to always feel the loss sharply, to have my love’s absence be painful. I don’t want his being gone to ever be “normal”. You’re right, it’s a balance.

  5. Hello, I have been wondering how you are. Your honesty is brave and through sharing feelings. As I read this posting I thought it is a rare gift to be able to name and share what many find hard to articulate to themselves let alone others. Carry on being gentle on yourself both body and mind that is your strength. Much love and light. xxxx

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