There’s just nothing else like music when it comes to bringing people together.
A quick trip to Cheltenham today happily coincided with a ukulele ‘meet’ / festival and it was, quite honestly, a bit of a heartwarmer. I’m well aware that can sound a little schmaltzy, but I mean it in the sincerest way.
All around me, people stopped to listen. More, encouraged by a charismatic front man, people actually joined in with the singing, even shuffling their feet! For one moment, there was a sense of something like harmony (unintended pun). Shoppers, Lunch breakers, stressed office workers, young mothers, ladies who lunch… just for a moment, stopped and smiled and sang.
In the wake of such tragedy; the brutal murder of the UK MP Jo Cox; and in
the midst of pre referendum bitching, there was a beautiful reminder that humanity can be bound and held by a simple and natural art.
Music has a power that transcends our differences, that bypasses our intellect and that touches our innocence.
Thank God for music.
This is NOT to be confused with the countless array of ‘adult’ colouring books that the magazine shelves of every supermarket have been flooded with. The ‘Mindful Market’ is booming and throughout this great nation, homes and offices (and, yes! Even restaurants!) are equipped with colouring pencils and pages of intricate, monochromatic, woodlands; underwater worlds with paisley patterned fish and mysterious mandalas. I’m not saying that this “in the moment” stuff doesn’t have therapeutic value… On the contrary, I think it’s an invaluable tool for relaxation and improved mental health… What I will say, is that I’m really, REALLY over the colouring thing! (I know… I’m sort of getting close to ranting now… ) But whilst we’re on the topic… those red signs, bearing a crown and the words “Keep Calm and Colour In”… Please ‘mindful market’! Give us a break!
Zentangle feels different. I like to be the one doing the designing… and it really does focus my mind on something other than the madness. (The word Zen puts me off and I normally refer to this sort of creative activity as ‘tangling’. I make cards and gift tags, incorporating words and pieces of map).
If you’ve never had a go, I really recommend just doing a Google search. It’s ever so slightly addictive and it really does give you a complete break from the world around you, as well as the stuff within.
Pressured to write about this tricky little character I find myself forced to think outside the box. After all, the X is probably used more than any other letter as a representative, a symbol, although I’m assured, it’s the third least common letter of the alphabet.
It’s a kiss, an algebraic term, the Christ in Christmas, a full strike, a mark of error, a multiplier, a factor, a footnote, a place for buried treasure, an unknown quantity, a selection in a box, a numeral, a crossroads, an adult content rating and a whole generation!
I wanted to write about the way that I spend hours looking at words before I put them together, and even then, unsatisfied, I pick them up again and shuffle the order. I do this so often, and probably to the detriment of anything I write.
I wanted to write about how hard I find it to even begin to write, because of the fear that I can’t do justice to my subject; how, as a perfectionist, I torture myself about how badly I’ve expressed something… how frightened I am that instead of a glittering diamond necklace, I come away with a cheap imitation, or a broken thread.
I wanted to write about the discipline of writing… writing without editing, plain, honest, raw…
… I guess he’s an obvious choice but I haven’t yet written anything which relates to my huge passion for art and so… to stumble down a road much travelled, I introduce Mr Vincent Van Gogh. Given that the road is now more a five lane motorway, most people know a rough outline of this incredible guy’s life so I’m not going to attempt to educate the teachers. I will however, take you (briefly) down the hard shoulder and onto a side road as I explain some of the things I love about Van Gogh.
A picture of Starry Night may be one of the most common images known to man, yet, whilst alive, Van Gogh only sold ONE painting. ONE! His famous impressionist style makes his work easy to recognise and yet, Van Gogh struggled to make any impact on the public at the time… and this, I think, was what he desired more than anything: to be able to have some impact on mankind; in his case, to be a Christ like figure in the lives of those who suffered.
It’s here that I feel so connected to Van Gogh. It’s within this shell of his essence that I see a kernel of goodness that I believe is an innate part of humanity. It might be warped in some of us, driven out of others, or just never nurtured. But generally, I see a desire to better the lives of others, in many of the people I talk to. It’s not all completely altruistic… It’s a part of that desire to make an impact. An impact on everyone, or someone or ANYone. It gives us meaning.
Van Gogh’s real passion was his desire to serve the world, to show kindness and compassion to those who suffered. When the church threw him out (when he worked as a missionary in Belgium and gave away all his possessions to the poor!) he decided to impact us by showing us beauty through his art. His passion was wild and consuming, his torment, indescribable.. But he ate, drank and breathed his art. All with a desire to make an impact.