Jessica Eve Watkins
6th February, 2015
January has delivered the trials of the mundane, bundled up with the ache of keeping still. It goes against my grain to lock myself away. At moments I’ve been bursting into tears with the frustration of all the shit the universe has been sending me to work through, at other times I’ve embraced my temporary, modest routine and the opportunity to hibernate with my dear family at home for more than a fleeting moment.
One night, sat around the kitchen table with Harper and my beautiful friend Spencer, I bring up a fraudulent seed I’ve been growing inside myself. It began with having to answer interview questions for a magazine, about how wonderful it is to be a part of Anima Rising. It’s true. It is wonderful. It’s the connection to spirit and love that keeps me ignited as a strong wild woman. Being bound creatively to Harper is one of the. most. important. parts of my life. But I found it impossible to answer the questions and, what’s more, I felt terribly guilty that I was being asked to do so. Me, living in a heated house in grey England with privileges and home comforts; idly working my way through a stack of Marilyn Monroe DVDs.
I was surprised to hear Spence and Harper reveal that they too often felt like frauds. They are two of the most inspirational people I know. It was a strong connecting moment to unearth this in each other. Another friend says, ‘I really struggle with having a conversation. Like, how long do I make eye contact for? If I look away, is that ok? Are we psychically connecting even when I’m not looking at them?’ It sounds mad, but I get it. Sometimes connection is just that hard.
In the next few days I encounter this phoney emotion in so many I chat with; the idea that – especially when we’re feeling insecure or lost – we are a series of fraudulent fronts that we click through like a slide projector, showing the world the version of us that it requires in that moment. Often it doesn’t even feel like a choice. The land on which we stand is a stage and we’re walking around, performing our expected roles.
When I am gambling around the globe with a highflying heart and freewheeling lust I don’t usually have this trouble. No-one knows me, I am the tumbleweed version of me that feels most relaxed and real. I am in love with myself and where I’m going, and life dances by brightly and full of romance. I get blinded with optimism and wonder.
But January has seen me touch fingers with the lulls of hushed winter, and the subtleness that comes with the caged nights. It feeds duality – we need all the sorrowful and compassionate tears to truly appreciate the buoyant times. It’s like a cleaning of the emotional palette, where I whittle back my idealism, ready to be bowled down by it all again in the Spring.
I travel down to Bristol one weekend to sit Shambhala Level 4, a meditation course centred around the Buddhist principle of Awakened Heart. How to lead life from the beating warmth in our chest, how to increase our inquisitiveness, and how to communicate gently and clearly. The walls drop down around perfectionist versions of ourselves, and shining gold life is revived in the group, leaving me feeling so much closer to my strange fellow humans. ‘We’re like a big dysfunctional family here,’ Richard says, and we laugh at the intricate weirdness of us all.
I arrive back home exhausted on Sunday night and the phone rings with the news that my Grandma has died. All the questions swim to the surface once more. What are we doing here? Who are we? What is this life? She did so much good with hers, devoted to giving and giving – to her family, to strangers, and to God. And then it’s just over. Her faith was so strong, so I don’t think she was scared to go like some of us are. When you’re living from an awakened, aware heart, even death is just the next chapter of the journey.
The next day, my best friend’s Grandma dies too. Someone tells me they’ve got six funerals to attend this month alone. And I feel terribly confused because the macabre of the unknown seems to be the only constant we can trust in, and it just ain’t always that easy to accept.