Yesterday was one of those dark dark winter days…the kind where it never quite seems to get light and today (at first glance towards the window) promises to be even more so as I can hear, even before I open shutters, that there is wind-pelted rain hitting glass at a near horizontal angle. With less than a week to go until the winter solstice, we are at the very heart of shortest, darkest days in the northern hemisphere.
But then yesterday also stands out, in my minds eye, like a very bright jewel of light and colour because I spent its extraordinary self-indulgence propped up in cushions, surrounded by Christmas tree and other somewhat ethereal pinpoints of light, going through previously unexplored photographs of a day spent at Giverney in August. Lost in the high-summer radiance of Monet’s garden, it occurred to me (more than once) that there was divine perfection to be found in the “accident” that I hadn’t got around to these particular photographs until the darkest days of the the year; they seemed to shine all the more brightly for the contrast they provided with the winter view of hungry birds on bare branches against grey skies outside my window.
In fact, this whole time of year has become culturally hinged upon the very darkness we so often lament as we step out into blustery winds and cars that need scraping down before we can see out of their windscreen. From firework displays to the lights of our Christmas markets, what part of this would work (really) against summers skies – and yes, I know half the world spend Christmas in the sun but where these traditions began was in a world so dark that celebrating light was the most playful choice; was where the opportunity to create against a canvas of opposing hue was most inviting us to do so.
And choice feels like a pivotal word here because it emphases what is so very central and so often missed about a world that presents all extremes of experience across a full-spectrum of shades and tones. We often spend so much time lamenting a world that is as dark as it is light, as tragic as it is glorious and yet what this tells us – over and over and over again – is that there is a range, that we have the freedom to create such variety of experience that there can be no narrowness about it; such narrowness of experience, without the peaks and troughs, would suggest a lack of choice and only one limited path we could walk before hitting its boundaries. And this experience is so not about limitation, even that presenting as some sort of shared consensus of “better than”.
What I’m trying to convey here is that this world of ours is, at heart, an adventure-workshop in unlimited creative exploration; if there was a brochure advertising its appeals to a cosmic readership considering a sojourn here, that is what it would be headlining. Contrast and freedom is what makes the earth experience, it’s why we chose it, it’s what allows for so much creativity, such playfulness. Even when we get it “wrong”, it’s possible to see that, at a higher level, that was just playfulness in action…our higher aspect trying out what that experience feels like, and once you start to see things from that broadened perspective, everything changes.
As I’ve written about so many times now, the ability to dip my brush in any colour across the palette and right across the whole spectrum, necessarily including both light and dark, is what makes my paintings work; and it’s allowed me to come to see that life is no different. It’s even something that I’ve played with where my frames are concerned; either near white or near black, it is often the black ones that allow the colour and light to shine out most jewel-like from their dark surround. Without even seeing it fully until now, I realise suddenly that my frames have been like the very solstices of a spinning world; like anchors providing the maximum point of either light or dark, they allow the images to play out their own particular story of colour and contrast, to reach whatever heights of expression they choose and then to shine out against the nearest expression of neutrality that we have in a visual sense – the blacks and whites of our palette. Experientially, that is what we have been forging towards as we expand in consciousness…a place of neutrality from which we can really sit back and relish all the range of experience that life has to offer, without engaging in all the drama, the pain and the feeling that we are here to fight anything, to change anything for everyone else (or that we are somehow too inadequate to make a difference and don’t even know where to begin…) that has been such a dead-weight burden to us for so long. When we start to see the picture of our own experience from the place of intrinsic neutrality that (quantum fashion) actually lies at its core but could be said to frame our life here, we start to understand that the whole of the picture lies “within” us; that if we create that inner space the way we really want it to be it will shine right off the wall and everything else will fall into place around it, be somehow the better for it just hanging there doing its thing. That’s when we start to really get just how important our own picture is, and how we are the creator of it. Let each life-artist tend to their own picture, focus on getting that the way they want it to look, and the rest takes care of itself.
We all know this intrinsically, deep down; we just forgot how very key it is to everything we experience and so we play it out in ways that are relatively trivial whilst overlooking opportunities to apply it to the really meaningful stuff that would impact upon our whole world. This dark time of year allows us all to stage-dive into the creation of its very foil made out of lights, tinsel and sparkle; a veritable oasis of light forged from colour, light, and music plus the very glow of human interaction. It makes me smile that even those who declare themselves to be without creative ability seem to throw themselves into the creation of a particular kind of experience at this time of the year, just as at the height of summer we love to sit around for hours under the late-darkening sky around flickering candles and barbecues – for all intents and purposes, setting the scene of its opposite season just because we can. We relish the contrast and play with it all – all of the time – in all aspects of our lives and often without noticing the ways.
That’s why we are here; to play. To PLAY – I find I want to cheer about that more and more; to declare that we’ve made it far too serious, far too survival based and not enough joy but then we’ll all get to that realisation in our own time. Once we get back the joy in our personal lives, the rest will follow suit; the world will steadily iron out the darkest crevices of its experience – the dog-eat-dog mentality – once we remember what we are really here for which is to experience joy, embodied into a physical form that acts as an interface with the experience of joy in a way that simply isn’t available to the non-embodied spiritual aspect of ourselves and so we came here to have that experience – we wanted to feel what joy was like, with the volume turned up and turned down and all the whole range in between because how could we know how it felt like without also knowing the feeling of the absence of it!
When we regard ourselves as the spiritual aspect that has chosen to drive a physical vehicle in order to experience itself (not as some sort of less-than state of being, like time-out in the naughty corner for some sort of cosmic misdemeanor, but rather as an experience very dearly wanted, like a holiday longed for) everything changes. Ironically, across thousands of years, so many have then convinced themselves that to connect with that spiritual aspect within life, to keep the lines open as it were, they must limit their experience, take holy orders, make life narrow and conformed, withdraw into silent meditation, extricate themselves from the choices and range of experience and yet isn’t that missing the point entirely? To experience one’s infinite self within the full range of human choices on offer is to experience the exuberance of a soul-self let loose in a playground of possibility, consciously igniting opportunities that shine jewel-like against the background of all the considerable contrast that is made available in our world, manifested by a myriad other choices made by a zillion other beings. We bring our unique preferences into play and that is being the creator within our own life story; its what we came here to experience!
So, what is happening when life’s hurdles and fears seem to get in the way of our playfulness; where is choice then, you may ask. Yet seeing life through the prism of, for instance, abundance issues is a perspective (one of many) that we choose to take on when we come into these lives; it distorts what we think is possible and is yet another choice being played out. Often these limitations to experience are inherited through our belief systems and, like a factory setting that “stops” us exploring all that is possible, these can be reset or removed entirely once the internal wiring has been identified. We can overwrite that lock; break free of it. Without the invisible glass ceiling that results from such inherited core-programming, the whole of possibility is allowed to open up like a blossoming flower to a summer sky – a flower that never looks more beautiful, more in its zenith, than when it glows incandescent amidst the contrast of the deep and lengthening shadows of a midsummer eve.
Enjoy the winter solstice; light some candles, burn a log and revel in the flicker of radiant light against darkness while you can…for the days will be getting light again soon!