It’s been a quiet and fruitful autumn. I last posted in September, feeling a need to harvest the many crops of the past year of writing, Writing Circles, running and reading.
And in that time of quiet, a time of gaining perspective on what matters and what I hope for next in this journey of exploration and slowly gained understanding, I’ve found myself growing in two opposite directions. Maybe this is what makes trees grow so tall – reaching upwards and outwards towards the sky and horizon while at the same time stretching roots deep into the earth.
My reaching upwards and outwards has taken the form of a heeding a call to go back to the classroom, back to teaching physics. Starting in January, I’ll be teaching in a local independent school here in Cambridge that I’ve long admired. An opening for a maternity cover came up. After much consideration, I applied, interviewed, was offered the position and accepted. I’m looking forward to the challenge: from the rigour of teaching the year 13s who are preparing for final exams to the fun of teaching the year 7s who are just beginning to build a physics framework and all the mixtures of year groups and abilities/interest levels in between. It will be ‘full-on’, as they say here in the UK, but it feels like the time is right.
My stretching of roots deep into the earth has taken the form of more writing, and finding spaces for writing in all corners of the day and city. I don’t necessarily need a room of my own, but I do need to ring fence times of my own where I open the notebook and move the pen, or open the notebook and stare out the window in silence, or open a previously-filled notebook and extract some ramblings into the beginnings of a poem. The writing keeps me rooted.
Having times of calm or at least quiet reflection, which for me takes the form of writing, is a way of letting all the different strands of my life settle. During the day, I’m happy for those banners to fly gaily in the wind, twisting and tangling, waving their stripes. But I believe we also need times when the winds diminish and all these streamers come to rest. My own personal mandate, as I go forward with teaching this January, is to frequent the blank page, returning often to a centre of stillness.
So what does this mean for the Writing Circles and the posts here at One Tree Bohemia? A hiatus, but not an ending. If my experiences in and out of the classroom, in and out of physics, in and out of writing and teaching English have taught me anything, they have taught me that there is no such thing as an ending. There are chapters, there are pauses, there are long breaks, but the things that make us the individual creatures we are, our gifts, skills and passions, never desert us. They always come around again, and nothing is ever lost or wasted. Sometimes (usually) they find expression in unexpected and different forms from before, but they always take the form they need to take at that moment.
This post waves ‘goodbye’ in the sense that I don’t know when I’ll next be here, writing in the forest. I am so grateful for the many visitors, both vocal and silent, who have stopped awhile under my tree over the past few years.
As a closing and a blessing, I’d like to share a painting by my friend, Lynne Cameron. I have loved this painting since I first saw it when I ran a writing workshop, Empathy and Creativity, as part of Lynne’s exhibition, The Living Impulse. And over the years, as I have grown as a writer and watched Lynne grow as a painter, I have come to love it even more. Last autumn, I had the opportunity to purchase it, and taking all the hard-earned money from my accumulated rejections, I bought the painting. (And in a funny kind of poetic justice, I’ve since had 6 pieces of writing accepted for publication!)
What I love about this painting is that I don’t know if I am looking at something very large or very small, I don’t know if I’m looking at a beginning or an ending. It is possible I am seeing all of these at once. When I first held the painting, I oriented it differently from how Lynne imagined. My son then pointed out that I could hang it from different angles, from different sides. It’s many many paintings in one. The title is ‘Where to start from?’ It asks a question and opens a world.