19 Sep

“I seem to have gone through a fallow period with my writing” I shared with Susanna, a friend, the other day.

She promptly responded with a link to an article about the therapeutic power of story telling, adding:

“As to lying fallow, coping with a Pandemic, earning a living, loving and carrying on despite losing all your tools doesn’t sound very fallow to me”

My workshop was burgled recently, the tools of my trade and my livelihood taken from me.

19 Years ago I was diagnosed with BiPolar disorder. Having created an enormous amount of anxiety and stress for all my family and friends around me over one mad summer and a lifetime of unknowing.

I had lost the thread of my own narrative, my own tool box – the one between my ears – had been burgled by illness.

In the newspaper article Anne Cleaves describes her husband’s illness – also BiPolar Disorder – and the way in which she coped with the stress of helping him through the bad times and, eventually, to recover.

She discovered that reading and telling stories to him – and immersing herself in fiction – was profoundly therapeutic for both of them. She invented the detective Vera Stanhope.

Rutland Water, 1st September 2020

In the same way it was, and still is through listening to the stories of others, that I refill my old toolbox.

The photograph above was taken by a great friend at Rutland Water. On a beautiful sunny day we had agreed to meet for lunch and to tell each other stories whilst observing the antics of the birds.

My friend had just pointed out a marsh harrier coursing along the lakeside margin – this may account for my open mouthed incredulity.

This is the occasion I saw Joseph, my grandson, since the beginning of the pandemic and lockdown – 9 months. I met him and his mum, my daughter, on Wanstead Flats last weekend.

Every picture tells a story.

There was enough of a breeze for me to attach the bridle to the string of a little pocket box kite and step back. As you can see – he’s a professional at 3 and a half.

The perfect antidote to lockdown and the effects of a fallow period.

It strikes me that we are all, in a sense, works of fiction. Our best and worst traits live on in the thread of memories and narratives of our friends, loved ones and perhaps most tenaciously, our foes.

A story is like the string that tethers the kite.

We are stories that need to be told and retold, polished by love, flown if you will – in order for us to continue to be real. An idea beautifully rendered in children’s story “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams.

I urge you to kite your stories dear reader, we will listen. Hearing and sight work well over social distancing rules.

Let us cast off the constraints of infection and the theft of our treasures to viruses and burglars.

I shall give back control of my Joy to the wind.

Birds and kites know.

For Joseph & D 19/09/20

4 Responses to “Stories”

  1. Susanna Grace September 19, 2020 at 2:14 pm #

    I deeply enjoyed reading that: meaning hewn out of emptiness and space, given form and weight. I will let the wind wrestle my joy out of hiding and fly it into the blue heights today. Thank you, Henk.

  2. Richard C September 29, 2020 at 7:40 pm #

    I have enjoyed reading all your posts and was deeply upset to hear that your tools had been stolen. I hope they were insured so that you are able to go out and buy replacements and continue the work you so love. I have nothing but disdain for those that steal a man’s livelihood, but hope the perpetrator will see the error of his/her ways.

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