Tending my Garden

The Imposter Syndrome was hitting hard this past week. Hard enough that I didn’t particularly want to blog anything. But I had an affirming chat with my dear friend Aly Grauer and also I have an epic-beyond-epic song for “What I’m Listening to this Week,” and so here we are.

It occurs to me that Imposter Syndrome strikes me when I’m at my most tired and stressed. It’s like all the little soldiers on my mental ramparts drop off, their guard slips, and then the Anxiety-Dragons swarm my castle walls.

“Alexander Battling Beasts and Dragons,” from the “Historia de Alejandro Magno.” (15th c.)

However, one must carry on, Imposter Syndrome or no. I’m increasingly recognizing the need to protect myself, to stop the mental guards from slipping in the first place. Sometimes, that means Getting Sufficient Sleep, or Cooking Large Batches of Food to Freeze So I Always Have Something Healthy to Hand, or Taking a Daily Constitutional.

But more, I think I need quiet right now. For me, self-protection is really about protecting the inner life. I keep thinking of a garden surrounded by castle walls.

It’s is an interesting image to play with. Cultivating, growing, but also some solitude, a respite from the chaos of the outside world. For likely related reasons, I’ve also been musing on the idea of hermits. Also, the Lady of Shalott. And monasteries. Anything withdrawn from the world, anything where the focus turns inward to process and mission.

“I am Half-Sick of Shadows, said the Lady of Shalott,” by John William Waterhouse (1916).

When certain images and preoccupations keep emerging like this, I think it’s important that we listen. The subconscious communicates its needs in peculiar ways, after all.

I think I’m a bit tired.

I think I need to focus on my work.

I think I need to return to the roots of my own practice. It feels like a lot of deadwood has sprung up around my art and craft. By tending to my own little garden, I hope to clear some of it away.

Semi-intentional echoes of Voltaire, here—let us cultivate our garden. I’m also hearing the inscription above the chapel at my church—come ye apart and rest a while.

It all sounds like terribly good advice. And so, I’m trying it. Working hard, yes, but tending my garden all the while. After all, my annual writing retreat is coming soon: I want to be as well-prepared as possible.


What I’m Listening to this Week

This song comes courtesy of my friend Fiona, who said, “Would you like to hear the Ballad of Roland in Norwegian???”

To which I responded, “HECK YES.”

So here it is. It is an incredible piece: driving and epic, with some amazing harmonies. However, my favourite part is the soaring soprano line around 1:18, and again at 1:52. As Fiona pointed out, the line essentially takes on the role of Roland’s oliphant.

I can’t get enough of it!




Posted on February 5, 2018, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: