Janey’s November Letter: Time to Build a Pyre with the Past

When I was a child I kept a diary.  I updated it religiously, although I’ve never been sure why.

My life was hardly exciting.  Living in the country with primarily just animals for company, it never made for fascinating reading.  I think that maybe being a very correct and slightly lonely Virgoan ‘only child’ I had to make sure to record my days just to assure myself that I was doing something – although understandably I never bothered to go back and read it!

Naturally, I felt guilty about this lack of motivation, as I had a privileged life, happy marriage and three fabulous children… but it came to me loud and clear that it wasn’t enough.

I began ‘recording my day’ in a journal about 15 years ago when I was 50 at the turn of the millennium.  Such an opportunity for new beginnings – I think that many people did the same.  I was encouraged to do this by a sensible friend, who, watching me suffer a loss of direction, felt it would help.

bonfire

Diligently I began. Nervously at first;  and discovering that after years of moaning on about how tired I was, and so busy, I was actually not doing that much.  The tiredness was actually boredom and lack of interest and, as a result, fulfilment.  Naturally, I felt guilty about this lack of motivation, as I had a privileged life, happy marriage and three fabulous children… but it came to me loud and clear that it wasn’t enough.

Fifteen years passed – and although I didn’t know it at the time of my first entry in the year 2000 – they proved to be the biggest 15 years of my life!  So much happened. Dreadful loss…huge highs – unbelievable discoveries – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Had I not been recording it all – I might have – deliberately maybe – forgotten the worst bits, but despite the challenges of survival I clearly ploughed on!

In 2015 my son bought me a Chiminea (one of those things you put in the garden to burn wood when it’s getting a bit chilly) and one Sunday afternoon sitting outside, alone around the fire, I decided the time was right to go back over those years and  to read what I’d written.

I had noticed the pile of journals building up and every time I looked at them they slightly depressed me.  I knew the secrets they held and suddenly felt the time had come – I’d had enough and needed to move on.

It was properly dark by the time I’d finished. Transported back through the years I really hadn’t noticed. It was actually a magical experience. Reliving all the dark times, and happy times too – I recognised a sort of pattern had emerged, and identifying that meant that I felt I could actually let it go – it had served its purpose.

So it was a very dark last day in October evening that I sat and burned – in a sort of ritual, the last fifteen years of my life.  It felt amazing seeing all the black smoke go up the little chimney – and understanding that all the hurt was over and could, and would never have to be recalled.

I knew the secrets they held and suddenly felt the time had come – I’d had enough and needed to move on.

Three years on, and life is so good. Things happened for me and to me, so unexpectedly after my little ‘ceremony’ that had I not experienced it I would never have believed it possible.

I’m sitting in Bali at this moment – on the last day of October 2018. I’m alone as Bill is in Java for three days working, and this gives me the opportunity to sit and ruminate on the past.

I certainly am no witch!  I had no idea – HAVE no idea what was the switch that began the new (and for me) better times.  All I do believe however is that respectfully recognising all the ‘stuff’ in life;  the past and the foreseeable future, and being aware that sometimes things need to change, be released, which gives us the impetus to just have a go, and see where it lands us!

So my advice this month is to do just that.  What can you burn and what can you say goodbye to? If you can’t do it physically,  do it metaphorically in your head.

Pile up all the tough stuff, all the past moments and put it on the pyre, and then warm yourselves on the flames as you prepare for a whole new season to come.

 

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