two short tales

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me and my notebook. image by katte proberto

Rooting through my old notebooks today in preparation for moving to London, and I stumbled across these two little tales. They’re not quite stories, not quite poems – but something in the hinterland between. It seems I was thinking about death! Or endings, or something like that. Anyway I think they’re quite interesting, so I thought I’d post them…

the lost village of (h)ours

we came to the lost village of hours, with nothing more than

a bison’s whistle, a stopwatch, and the book of laughter and forgetting.

we knew our bodies were not our ours, and we looked down on them as though we were dead.

you tried to touch the shifting worlds as they passed, but i couldn’t move.

i had a belly full of knives, by the end, in the lost village of hours.

the moors (‘which seem carved out of weather, ghosts and distant music’ said the great angus balbernie)

i went to the moors to find out what my bones hold.

i had been looking for grace for a long time,

but grace isn’t really something you can grab hold of,

i began to understand – and the moors are a lonely place.

i went home windswept, understanding a little bit more

but still unsure about my bones.

absence makes the heart grow fonder

and the truth of death is a peculiar thing.

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ranting and chanting and carrying on

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Me being a scallwag at Fort Gorgast, image by Kattee Proberto

WAHHHHH. Lovelies of my life, people of the parallel blogging universe … I’M IZZABELLANECESSARY and I’ve got a lot in my head on this fine evening! I don’t usually spout off like this (not on here anyway), but I somehow feel like now’s as good a time as any. Tonight it just feels necessary to write about what I’ve been up to, how I’m feeling and all that jazz…. Like I say in one of my poems, ‘because I am you, you are me, and the whole world might seem full of fools – but sod it, at least we’re in it together’. So yeah, WHY THE FUCK NOT EH. I CAN DO WHAT I WANT TO DO (as long as I’m not giving anybody any grief, which I hope this post won’t…) For more on that, check this little gem of a short documentary out.

Somehow right now it suddenly feels quite a bit less necessary to keep up any vaguely professional – strictly arty stuff, ya – type of bullshit on this little blog o’ mine. Perhaps this willalso help to save my facebook page from total overload due to a ridiculous amount of links, rants and debatably (un)necessary expressions of emotion. I dislike all that shit as much as the next Northerner, but when I get really excited I just can’t help myself. Suddenly I morph into the same skin as every other epic-facebook-status-posting-freak.

WELL. WHERE TO BEGIN? July brought about the end of four hard years of love, dancing, and let’s be honest, a whole world of struggle and learning for me. Shortly after my 29th birthday, I found myself in the bizarre situation of graduating with a degree in Contemporary Dance. If someone had told me that a few years back, I would have cracked up laughing. And somehow, even though I’ve been fully investing myself into ‘this dancing thing’ with every inch of the soft animal of my body, I came round after those years of graft feeling like I’d been underwater. All else on hold, breath held – metaphorically of course, and maybe even a bit seasick. Whilst it was beautiful down there, I’d had enough of the shoal and was feeling fairly knackered from all that building of the boat. I wanted to bloody sail it. Mermaids and moving like seaweed is great but I needed more variety, a bit of adventure, something to feed my tired soul. It wasn’t the dancing that was the problem, it was something else. I needed some time…

For my thoughts on time, skip back to this post I wrote about The Last Knit. It’s pretty relevant. Yet this time I needed something slightly different. I needed time to just damn well enjoy myself. Stillness was on it’s way out. Stucture was coming apart at the seams. What I wanted was time to laugh like a lunatic, get silly, and to enjoy all the amazing people and places that a bit of freedom from the institution (of work, school, your own restricted head, whatever) can bring. I needed to spend time with those souls who inevitably become neglected when we are focused on something massive and all-encompassing, like a contemporary dance degree (you may well laugh, but truly, it’s not for the faint-hearted!) I needed time to focus on those other aspects of myself that also inevitably become neglected, for the same reason described above.

I knew that in September I’d be starting another year of intense training and touring as part of Transitions Dance Company, at Laban in London and roundabouts. I knew that I would combust if I didn’t cut loose. I am me, and I accept me for me. I do things my way, and my way likes lots of different stuff. Variety feeds me and I have a total aversion to anything remotely cultish. I think this is something I inherited from my Mum, who regularly recounts how she wouldn’t even go to watch E.T because she distrusted the way people were ranting and raving about it. The point is, too much of only one thing eventually spins me out, no matter how great it is. I would like to say at this point, that my commitment is not in question here – I am absolutely over the moon with my dancing life. The question I started to ask was, how do I balance this thing with other, equally valid aspects of my life? How do I do that, eh?

Life was telling me to take some time out and enjoy. So I did. This summer I did something uncharacteristic, and didn’t feel guilty about just kicking back and taking in all the good things that were coming at me. I didn’t question it, or feel it necessary to justify my actions to that thing on my shoulder that worries about shit (like only doing one dance class a morning for five consecutive days all summer! Naughty dancer!) Instead, as you might be aware, I developed a new word to guide the rest of my 2014, and that word is DISCOVERY – see my explanation here.

I started to realise that I’ve been a little bit timid my whole life. I’m 29 and only now am I getting closer to what it means to be my own woman, and to let continuity go in favour of innovation and discovery. OUCH! But of course, it’s all good… no worries 🙂 I’m sure I shall be learning that very same lesson again, in another way, in future years. Always learning Isabel, always learning…

So basically, I would just like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude. THANKS UNIVERSE AND FRIENDS!! Cheers for all the flocking, freewheeling, festivalling, sofa-lending/tent-sharing, magic-making and poetic-adventuring. Dziekuje poland! Danke berlin! Cheers for all the lovelyamazingbeautiful friend-folk (new and old) who made it all happen. It’s september and I still smell of soil, which is bloody great 🙂

This summer I got teary eyes TWICE out of pure happiness, which is mental really. Either i’m very happy, or I sent myself halfwaytotheedgeofmadness with pure exhaustion and enjoyment. It was probably a bit of both. Maybe september will save me, or perhaps I’ve just found a way to let myself enjoy life more.

From the people I met only once but you made me smile or taught me something ace, to my oldest most treasured soul sisters and anyone else I met along the road of summer 2014… Your love, laughter and lunacy has left me feeling amazing and ready to get back to dancing/ prancing aboot in a more structured fashion. I’m sorry only to my body. We’re a wee bit unfit, but with a little help from some mind over matter I have every faith that we shall prevail.

It seems I am talking to myself now. Perhaps I really have lost it. xxx

WORD OF SEPTEMBER (and the rest of 2014!!)

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Image of Gorgast railway tracks, by the lovely Kattee Proberto

If you remember rightly, you’ll remember that the word I chose to guide my 2014 was INTEGRITY. Check out the original post here for a more thorough rundown. True to it’s word, integrity has guided me well and it’s now suddenly september – where the hell did that come from?! September as a month can be seen as many things, but as my mate Simon pointed out, it can also be a sort of second chance saloon for New Year type sentiments and resolutions. Hence, I’ve decided to progress my WORD OF THE YEAR accordingly.

Recently I read somewhere; ‘Do you want continuity, or do you want innovation? Just  make a decision and go with it’. At the same time I also kept seeing and hearing another seemingly related word everywhere – in books, magazines, conversations (alright I’ll admit it – it was also in my star-sign a couple of times). I realised that living with a bit more integrity for me leads naturally to this, and so my new WORD OF SEPTEMBER (and the rest of 2014) is………….

DISCOVERY

To live with integrity opens us up to change and innovation. This means that to live with integrity offers the opportunity for the act of discovering something; something seen or learned for the first time (since every experience is different, no matter how similar). To me the transition from INTEGRITY to DISCOVERY means that my own self can be strong enough to retain my integrity when all around it, and even within it, is changing. To follow INTEGRITY into DISCOVERY means to nurture your own evolution, and the evolution of others. To not cling to integrity as a concept, but to keep discovering your own integrity each day, through inummerbale shifts, twists and moment-to-moment backpedalling or sideways-straddling manoeuvres. I think it means to be anchored and freed AT THE SAME TIME.

PHEW. That’s it for now. OVER AND OUT. Unless anybody else has got any ideas for their own WORD OF SEPTEMBER? Suggestions and thoughts welcome 🙂 XXX

Brand New Ancients

Brand New Ancients. Even the title gets you right in the gut! Because didn’t you know we’re all mythical, people? Forever trapped ‘somewhere between the heroic and the pitiful’! Damn straight Kate! Nobody puts it better. Epic is a word bandied around often to describe Kate Tempest’s performance poetry, and yes, I’ve got to concur. Kate’s work is so bloody grand in its scope that it now makes perfect sense to me that she describes herself, not as a poet, but as a human rights activist, on that good old Book of Face.

So there it is, I’ve made my point. Brand New Ancients is more than just a legendary tale. It is myth made modern and radical compassion in action (if that sounds dubious, just go see for yourself. It needs to be seen, felt and experienced – the words on the page don’t offer the same engagement of senses). This is a tale of the everyday epic, spanning generations of interconnecting lives. In Brand New Ancients, fate, choice and circumstance intertwine, and only one certainty remains; who are we to say what another man or woman might rise or fall to in a lifetime? This poem/show/masterpiece won Kate the prestigious Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry, and rightly so. Stuff like this is rare; we might all be gods in our own little lives, but we haven’t all got the ability to see it or say it quite like she does.

Beginning with a welcoming intro focused loosely on the act of radical compassion, Kate was natural and real from the start. This intro was important. It made sure that it wasn’t only her up there on the stage and us sat in the dark listening. Instead, the whole room was with her, taking part in something rather than just passively ingesting entertainment (which is basically what mainstream society teaches us to do.) So if the picture Kate paints with her poems is slightly soiled, that’s because society is, humanity is, and she’s not afraid to say so.

Thankfully though, Kate’s social conscience is anchored, or freed, depending on which way you want to see it, by her ability to see beyond the daily grind. Brand New Ancients is a work which thrives on small beauties, tiny acts of heroism and the miniature daily battles happening in every high street, backstreet, suburb, small town and city. For some reason the image of the ‘woman by the post box fighting with her brolly’ stuck with me particularly. A metaphor for life, maybe?! We all have our moments, and yet ‘we all need to love and be loved and keep going’.

You may think, as I once did, that making gods out of everyone may not be so wise. ‘The gods are in the betting shops, the gods are at the caff, the gods are smoking fags out the back’. But the point is that potential is there, and we’re all just doing our best with whatever we’ve been given. It’s a hard truth to swallow. It hurts. We all like to think that we’ve made our own life, but reality is murkier. Life makes you just as much as you make your life. It’s a rare soul who rises up in a cloud of triumphant fairy dust, with all the dead weight just dangling, gravity-less. This realisation cuts through any thoughts or feelings of superiority or privilege you might have (and we were sat in a theatre, so let’s be honest, most of us had ‘em).

It didn’t take too long before I was crying like a baby. I think it was the love story that did it. But it wasn’t only me, people all around me were crying tears of Kate-created radical compassion. Brand New Ancients chiselled deep. It broke me down and opened me up, like in the poem, ‘she’s the type of girl whose scars run deep’. It made me understand my own troubles and the troubles of others just a little bit more. Because I’ll tell you a secret; much as I loved this performance, it presented a challenge to me. It’s taken me a while to organise my thoughts and write this, not only because I wanted to do it justice, but because I was struggling with my very own everyday epic.

I’d actually heard Kate Tempest perform once before. I stood straining to catch her set from the entrance to an overflowing tent at Shambala a few years back. I couldn’t see much, but I could certainly hear her. She sounded intense. Almost like a modern-day preacher-poet, talking about ‘the end times’ and a tortured life of rum set to the complications of love. This first Kate Tempest experience left me feeling a bit cold. I had no patience for what I saw as the glorification of human suffering, and the lengths we’ll go to to escape it. I didn’t want to hear a rant of distress at a festival. I hated the old stereotype of poets being all wrapped up in their own woes, and I balked at the way that her poetry had this fatalistic tinge to it. My viewpoint was that while ‘pain is inevitable, suffering [is] optional’.  So get your shit together. We’ve all got choices, even if they’re difficult ones.

Time has told me that life is not quite so simple. Back then, pain and filth and dirt offended my fragile positive thinking sensibilities. I saw choice and free will in the lives of others, where I now realise that there was sometimes very little in reality. You’ve got to be able to see a different pathway to even think about taking it. In reality, whatever progress we make in our own life is both relative, and heroic. It’s not to be sniffed at or judged by the parameters of others. One of my favourite sayings comes from Krishnamurti, and it goes ‘I am you, you are me, and the world is us’. I’ve thrown it around for quite a while, but I suppose it’s only now that I’m realising that this does not translate to, ‘I am you, you are me, therefore we are all equal (equalling essentially the same, so why aren’t you a little bit more like me actually!)’

Obviously there’s a limit. Radical compassion doesn’t mean losing your own self and feeling ‘sorry’ for people, or blindly hoping that others will rise above their circumstances, or even worse, you trying to act the saviour or boss people around because you ‘know better’. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you might say – I know all this. Nature versus nurture… blah blah, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Still, it’s so much more complex than that when you try to put this into action in this real thing called life.

In summary, this is the story of how Kate Tempest helped me to organise my thoughts. After a difficult period in my personal life, Brand New Ancients came at just the right time – as these things often tend to do – and belatedly, I realised that ‘the stories are there if you listen’. You don’t have to love ‘em, you don’t even have to put up with ‘em if it’s not good for you, but you can always strive for a more radical compassion. Safe in your own self, you can know where you end and others begin, whilst still understanding that there is no real division. It’s a strong position from which to give and receive love and compassion in your fallible human relationships.

And like Kate says, and she’s talking to all of us, ‘a god remains a god, no matter what it does, and a god becomes a god when it has got the guts to love’.

I’ll leave you with this:

‘You were born for greatness;

believe it. Know it.

Take it from the tears of the poets.’

PS. This link is also well worth checking out. A friend sent it to me and I thought it was remarkable. It’s an article by another poet focusing on so-called ‘sink’ estates, all through the lens of his own life experiences. I think it demonstrates well another angle on many of the issues I’m thinking about in this post.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26254706