I have been here at the National University of Singapore campus for just over two weeks now. I have an apartment, a travelcard, a fridge of groceries, a bottle of citronella oil, a moist atmosphere full of cricketsong and a whole lotta time.
When I left London, I was working two part time jobs, studying part time, workshopping part time, and trying to maintain my relationships and nourish my body in some basic way. I did not give myself a spare minute, and I frequently lamented this, however much of it was of my own doing.
I have embarked on a totally different kind of life. I realised when I got here that apart from 2008-2009, I have never had a chunk of time (or the finances) to totally give myself to my writing or related work, and so equally I have never had the responsibility of engaging deeply with it, really challenging, reading closely. And on realising this, I promptly froze and went into a kind of mute pause for several days.
I knew that it wasn’t necessarily good for me to be so busy but I hadn’t clocked that the time-filling might have functioned in some way to derail me from fully leaping into my own abilities, head on. A feverish work ethic is a very virtuous mask for avoidance of oneself.
A very sobering conversation with one of the wise women in my life, in addition to many other clues from the universe, delivered the message I have stuck up on my apartment wall, yet find so difficult to integrate into my actual behaviour:
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. ‘ Marianne Williamson.
When you are someone who performs, it can be easy for others to assume that you are somehow more ‘out there’ in the world than other people, but it is not the case. I frequently vascillate between visibility and hiding, but I am tired of shying away from the best of myself. I hope that during this residency I manage to come further into the light.
Here is a clip from Laura Mvula, the lyrics of which I am finding very useful with regards to this quandery.
Wish me luck, fellow hermits.