29 Dec Ownership
This week Matt and I got to watch something on TV, in the afternoon as the kids played upstairs. In our house this is also known as a miracle. We watched an episode of the Foo Fighters documentary series ‘Sonic Highways’. In this programme, the band go to different cities in America, and at the end of a week write a song which is lyrically inspired by their time there. The episode we watched was about Seattle.
For anyone who spent their teenage years listening to Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, the importance of Seattle is huge. It is the birth place of grunge music, and the city that produced Nirvana, the band that Dave Grohl drummed for, before Kurt Cobain committed suicide at 27. So, in this episode Dave Grohl is not just looking at any old musical heritage, he is mining his own backyard for the gold. He confronts places and people who are connected with his youth; the pain and potency of that time. The song he writes in response to it all is raw and honest. He collects all the experiences, all the relationships, all the memories, and crafts something new out of it.
In my life, there have been plenty of disappointments. And things I’d rather not recall, or have used as amusing anecdotes around the dining table. Mixed in with the good, the beautiful and the note-worthy, there have been a fair few car crashes. Work I’ve done that I’d prefer was never mentioned again, relationships I have messed up, secrets I’ve told when I really knew better. It is not the moments of high drama that make me cringe, it is the moments where my confidence failed, or where i wasn’t true to myself, i pretended to be something i was not, where I was ashamed of some thing that makes me, me.
To be honest, if I was going to make a film of my life there would be a lot I’d leave on the cutting room floor.
Or at least, there would have been.
Over the last year or so something has changed.
I’ve decided to embrace it all. To embrace all the stuff that has happened, that got me to this place: the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
The happy-clappy God-squader upbringing. The community of people who lived with us as we grew up. The lonely purple-uniformed days at secondary school where I didn’t- and refused to- fit in. The teenage years, where for too many weeks the highlight was 2 for 1 drinks in the Crazy House. The bad second hand boyfriend at 15. The terrible hair cut at 16. The marriage at 20, to an excellent man, when I knew NOTHING, but acted like maybe I did. The beautiful babies. The pregnancy I lost- the gore and the heartache. The three gorgeous babes I bore. The ‘wiping years’ of my twenties, where I disappeared, felt trapped and became bitter. The few real friends who knew who I was and continued to remind me when I’d forgotten. The depression, anxiety and panic attacks. The recovery. The quilt I worked on for months and never finished. The films i should have seen. The books I shouldn’t have read. The work I’ve made, all of it. The glorious failures and the pretentious over-written stuff. The people I have hurt. The time i have wasted. The occasions when I got it right, and the many times I totally screwed it up.
I’m having it all. It’s all mine. And now I look at it, it seems like maybe it is actually something new. Unpredictable, contradictory; the sum of its parts creating something more than i was expecting. Like a Peter Blake collage, or The Royal Tenembaums*.
I’m owning it all.
And most of the time it is pretty liberating.
I think it’s all about acceptance. It isn’t always easy, but the more i acknowledge who i am and don’t judge myself – or try and create my idea of a ‘perfect’ life, the more at ease i feel, and the more honest i can be. And that feels like a good thing.
* I love the films of Wes Anderson, and The Royal Tenembaums has to be my favourite. A highly dysfunctional family. Attractive in all of its complications.