1934-2017 – a legacy

I’ve been in a reflective mood of late – reflecting on the edges and the realm of my own creativity. I’m incredibly reflective anyway, but when something happens or someone leaves your life, it provides a critical moment to reflect on their impact. And it makes you realise that whilst they may no longer be there, they remain a part of it deep down, because you are part of them and they are part of you. They had in hand in shaping who I was to grow into.

People are fascinatingly complicated creatures.

I remember from a very early age, struggling to fit in – to fit into the mould I was supposed to. I didn’t seem to operate quite like everyone else and for a time, I was blissfully ignorant of this fact. My mum talks of a period in primary school where I didn’t really play with others, I was happy on my own in my own little make believe world, climbing trees and getting into practical troubles. I have always at heart been an introvert; I like my own company, my own head space…..I need it for my own sanity.

I have stark memories playing with woodlice, covered in mud, talking away to myself and whoever else, I’d make up in my head that day. Forever summers and I’d get excited when it was just me for an afternoon – I posed myself questions, put myself in situations, adventures, I framed and then reframed what could happen, what things might look like, what someone might say and what that might feel like……

I wondered what I might be like if I had a different family, lived in a different country, if I was famous, what I wanted to be when I grew up, different jobs, different everything…..imaging different scenarios and situations, replaying them, re-framing them and making them into brilliant stories.

I could spend hours lost in my head, having adventures in silence and make believe. I didn’t need toys or things and I was never bored – my head was a wonderful place to be. Whilst my parents worried, my school at points worried too, my G never did – he positively encouraged it. He indulged me in those fantasies and moments – he asked questions, got me to talk about the people in my head, the visual images I thought about, the world I had made up that felt both so far away and so close. He believed that being able to escape into the make believe was not only a good thing – but an essential tool of the mind.

He would interview me often and record it on to tape – sometimes asking about my adventures and other times, just asking me about me. It was a fun and self-indulgent process – but he made me think about things, make sense of what was going on around me in my own way, to challenge it, question it and how to construct an opinion. I love listening back to those tapes – a young primary school me, who was so naïve, so uncertain, so aware that she was little bit different and so happy in her own company. My favourite word was always “why?” and I would ask it endlessly as I really wanted to understand everything, everything around me, had to somehow make sense….

My G, he wrote a long diary every day and in that desire to please, I began to write as he did – I began writing down. At first it was just writing about what I’d done and things that had happened but gradually some of the writing was about the stories and adventures in my head, sometimes I drew pictures, stuck in images and things I liked…..my hopes, wishes, ideas and dreams. Those notebooks became my version of the world and an insight into how I thought and was developing…..

He told me that all the best people, the cleverest people, wrote every single day…..it was an exercise of the mind and if you continued to think deeply and to write, then your learning, knowledge seeking, appetite for the world and creative without bounds became endless – the only limit was yourself.

This writing habit continues – I have written every day for as long as I can remember and those who know me know I carry endless notebooks – full of lists, scribbles, developing ideas, thoughts and things that are important to me. I revisit them often – and they form an essential part of my creative mind set. I’m a very visual thinker- I have to draw things out, in order to work them up.

The questioning continues – like G, I am that annoying person who sticks their hand up to ask “that” question, the challenger, the questioner – questioning is another means of constructive creativity, challenging how something is and proposing a new way…..I never sit back and accept, I always ask “why?”.

So G, your impact on my life of course has been endless and it’s hard to sum it up. But the past few days of reflection have reminded me of three things…..

You enabled my creative mind.

You triggered my appetite for knowledge seeking and questioning.

You facilitated my love of writing.

Peace and love. x

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