They loiter in my study, intrinsically antisocial. Some gang together on the window-sill; others, in exile, are jammed in crevices around real books. The real books travel, they have beginnings, middles and endings; they are catalogued. But these are my journals and they are going nowhere.
Superficially diverse; leaf patterns, feathers, birds, spiraled flowers, batiks, reds, greens, blues, khadi, cotton, linen, vellum, A5, A6, A4. Inwardly, all scraps of match-flare scribblings, all written by tea-light during wasted hours and wakeful nights.
They span at least a decade and a half and I guess in a court of law they might be used as evidence of a distracted, unfocussed life. Unfinished paragraphs, unfinished sentences, thoughts that trail out, notes from books half read, fragments of poetry and blank pages. But they contain forgotten beacons and they will continue to litter my life as long as I continue to need to absorb their truths.
For example, whilst de-cluttering my study this week I came across an attractive and solitary Paperblanks journal I bought in 2005 (whose cover is entitled ‘Clouds’ and depicts exhuberant 1970’s paintings from the Tibetan Buddhist Lamayura monastery) half full of foraged morsels gathered over several years. Here I have jotted down extracts from Paul Tillichs ‘The Boundaries of Our Being’ (1973). They are food for me today as they were then:
Only those who have an impenetrable centre in themselves are free. Only s/he who is alone can claim to be human….
And here’s something that flies in the face of Facebook:
Today, more intensely than in preceding periods, (wo)man is so lonely that s/he cannot bear solitude….. And s/he tries desperately to become a part of the crowd. Everything in our world supports her/him. It is a symptom of our disease that teachers and parents and the managers of public communication do everything possible to deprive us of the external conditions for solitude, the simplest aids to privacy. Even our houses, instead of protecting the solitude of each member of the family or group, are constructed to exclude privacy almost completely. The same holds true of the forms of communal life, the school, college, office and factory. An unceasing pressure attempts to destroy even our desire for solitude.
But this next bit is the bit I’ve surrounded with lots of stars and frenetic underlinings:
There may be some among you who long to become creative in some realm of life. But you cannot become or remain creative without solitude. One hour of conscious solitude will enrich your creativity far more than hours of trying to learn the creative process……. In the poverty of solitude all riches are present.
It is still the beacon I need to heed and a core value of Breathing Space.
So here on this blog, and hopefully not altogether in solitude, I will post more fragments from these borderless books.
Meanwhile, there’s more on solitude in the next blog in this letter and invitation from Simon Parke (see www.simonparke.com ) feel free to post, tweet, facebook or even whisper the message on.