This week-end I picked up, The Artist’s Way By Julia Cameron in my box of treasured-to-read- books. It’s a book I bought and half read in 2009. It was recommended to me by a really good friend of mine. She loved architecture and loved Art and couldn’t quite find a balance that allowed her to do both. So for a while she painted paintings that looked like basic plans or models for re-designing spaces, and phases. Minimalist outlines, for where real life would happen. Then she enrolled back to University to complete a degree in Architecture. “At least finish something you know” She said in that sexy polish accent only she could manage.like. Back at University among young pubescent students, we met for coffee – she was back pushing deadlines. I asked her how she was doing. “It’s always a process you know” She said with a smile and I nodded my head, because I was still tied to a job I wasn’t sure fulfilled me. She went underground again and then re-surfaced, now living at a gallery we often used to frequent for nice veggie dishes not far from where we all used to live. I was with her brother, one of my good friends too. She was down with the flu, but much happier than she’d been in a long time she told me. I sat next to her by her bed side and watched as her sweat made cute tiny balls near her hairline, she really was beautiful, like a porcelain doll. Then she reached the for the Artist’s Way which lay next to her small side table as if it was her lifeline – like a bible. Here you should read this she said. It’s helping me, I see things very differently now, it has tasks, like going out on dates by yourself and it’s empowering, she said in that way I knew she was convinced, her lips curled sending light to the blue murky waters in her eyes. I looked at it skeptically. I may have squinted upside-down for good measure while trying to figure out why she thought I needed the Artists way. She was the Artist. I just hung out with them. This is my copy but I can lend it to you if want. No, thanks it’s fine I said after glancing at its contents. The first page speaks about God/The creator, Julia Cameron began her journey to calling herself an Artist after she stopped drinking alcohol. I didn’t want to continue. Do you want some tea? Asked my the fairest beauty. Yes, sure I replied. Wishing I could have a nice glass of red, red wine, right at that moment.
She got up to make a pot in her colourfully- eclectic kitchen. I thought then that If I were an artists and had a place of my own I would quite like a kitchen that looked and felt a little more like that , eclectic and warm and homely – an organized and colourful poetic mess ( not too much mess). All the pictures I used to paint as a child while listening to my mother’s stories recounting how lovely it was to grow up in that house in Orlando West – Phefeni. We used to have jars of candy, biscuits, fruits, vegetables, and my mother would bake and the kitchen will be warm and fragrant with sweet vanilla fumes seeping out from the oven, while red coals glittered in the silver and porcelain coal stove… someone would be telling a lyrical story, and we would sit transfixed, while waiting impatiently for the cakes to come out of the oven. As I grew up I added my own little things to my the picture as I went along. Flowers lots of them, plants…. some dried out some fresh… books for recipes books to read while waiting on something, note books, yes , pens, yes biscuits, coffee yes from different corners of the world, ground and brewed in my very own kitchen… with dollops of cinnamon. Lemons, yes, I would have a huge bowl of lemons, candy, a radio in a corner with some sultry voice reading the news, or singing a nice tune like Michelle Ndengecello’s Beautiful – a vegetable stew on the stove… bread in the oven, a nice corner couch in the large window alcove in the kitchen strewn with colourful rusty, olive, orange and green and yellow cushions, where I would snuggle up to read, write or smooch with a lover over a chocolate flavoured glass of red wine, with sweet and tangy berries or hot chocolate on cold wintry days….
So, What have you been up to ? Her question brings me back to her eclectic kitchen and as I star between the wooden cracks on the floor for an answer I see my own brown kitchen cupboards which were – Oh so uninspiring. Ah nothing, I replied feeling lost, same old same old , still at the S**C, but I’m busy applying for fellowships. I was always applying for fellowships, to somewhere, anywhere but here.
Now this week-end as I re-opened the book I closed almost three years ago. I found inside a contract I signed with myself on the 26 of August, 2009. Committing my self to a twelve week intensive course, which included twelve weeks of intensive reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artists date, and the fulfillment of each weeks tasks, with an understanding that the course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I committed myself to excellent self-care, with adequate sleep, diet, exercise and pampering for the duration of the course. Now almost three years later, I had forgotten about this contract I signed while struggling to pull myself through quick sand and yet the one I had made the contract with had not forgotten. The giver of creativity, the source , my creator had not forgotten.
Today I am producing a play based on my recent travels to Senegal, have sent off a first draft of a manuscript I wrote intensely for six months,without fail, while keeping a daily (nonpunishable journal, i.e Morning pages), and writing free-lance for news publications, I am keeping a blog, while keeping a 9-5 daily job. I stopped drinking in 2010 and this year I reduced my smoking to next to nothing, I have a fragrant vanilla chai (tea) next to me as I write this, a stainless steel coffee plunger I got as a gift from a good friend just a glance away. Even though it’s all happening in the office, instead of my dream room with a view – It’s still a room with a view for me. It occurs to me that I did the course without even knowing it. I’ve almost come to the point where if someone where to ask me, do you believe? I would reply to paraphrase Jung, I don’t believe, I know. I think I’m ready for the for the 12 week challenge.
PS: The last time I saw my friend she had decided to leave the country -South Africa – without really telling anyone including her parents. She Left a note and jetted off to where her soul would find that room with a view. This is my of way saying Thank You – Kasia.