Readjusting to life back home...I arrived back in Brisbane 24 hours ago, after nearly 4 months away. Sitting on my verandah with my dogs around me, a hot cup of black coffee, and choral music playing, I fall into a reflective state of mind. Not dark as in bad, but dark as in mysterious. One of the books that sticks out from the others on the shelf is "Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process" edited by Joe Fassler (2017). I reach for it. A miracle of a book. I am particularly drawn to a chapter by Kathryn Harrison. She talks about the dream, and how, quoting Joseph Brodsky, it is through the dream that we can be restored to our loves from the past.
While on retreat I read a lot about dreaming and the power of conscious dreaming. Robert Moss has written many books about this. See his website at https://mossdreams.com where he writes: "You are embarking on a path of limitless adventure. Every night, your sleep dreams bring you keys to self-healing and self- understanding, glimpses of challenges that lie around the corner in waking life and direct access to your deeper Self. As you become an active dreamer, you will learn how to step outside time and embark on conscious dream journeys to places of initiation and adventure..."
What attracts me here is the reference to stepping outside time. We used the expression "time out of time" when we described our experience at Arteles Creative Center (https://www.arteles.org), a place where the normal rules do not apply. We endeavoured to step away from the relentlessness of time, always pushing us forward, and experience a way of being that embraced freedom and a lightness of touch when it came to achievement and productivity.
I don't want to lose this sense of lightness and one way I am endeavouring to nurture it is by reading books such as "Light the Dark", books that invigorate and enrich my morning. Books that change me. Like the late Eduardo Galeano's work. He wrote in "Hunter of Stories" (also sitting within arms reach of my couch) about meeting up with Gandhi's granddaughter "Recalling her childhood, she told me about her grandfather's word-fasts: for one day a week Gandhi neither listened nor spoke. not at all. the next day, words sounded different. Silence, which speaks without a sound, teaches us to speak" (2017, p. 238). And perhaps that is exactly what we are all doing as we re-adjust and re-calibrate our lives, something we can do every day. We can open up to the experience of silent days, embracing them in order to learn, once again, how to speak with compassion, empathy and joy.