Reaching Out

reaching out, oak trees, living in the woods,

It’s been ages.

I’ve been bumping along on the bottom, hitting rocks and curling up into a ball like a beetle, afraid of getting stamped on. I’ve been a cold day in November. I’ve been leaves falling like snow. I’ve been an angry crow. I’ve been living in the woods, making friends with trees.

The woods are good for me right now. I’ve got no energy for pretending to be normal. My stories are too fractured for facebook. The ground beneath my feet is slipping. I don’t know where I stand. I think some of this is good.

Some of you will know that I had a lot of precious things stolen from my shed last April. Many of you donated money to help me replace them. I am typing this on a second-hand laptop that you bought. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You didn’t just buy this laptop (and many other things essential to my life and work). You proved (in the nick of time) that humans are as kind as they are selfish and as generous as they are mean. I had insurance, after all. It was called friends. Rock bottom is lost and lonely and paranoid, and friends are the antidote.

Some of you will know that I exorcised some of my rage and frustration and sadness in various Spanish mountain ranges. This was humbling in a different way: enlightening, terrifying, exhausting. It was a real adventure, and one day I will tell you all about it. For now, though, I am concerned with survival. Reaching out to catch those falling leaves, lighting fires, oscillating madly between hope and despair. Living on turnips and scrumped apples, cracking jokes and waiting five years to see if anyone laughs (otherwise known as trying to make a living as an author).

I am thirty-nine on Monday. Getting older seems to be the systematic dismantling of all beliefs and expectations. But in the space where beliefs and expectations used to be there is new knowledge, mostly gathered from silence and the non-human world: a constant thorough understanding of impermanence, the fact that oak trees can live for a thousand years (and many do), the mystery of mycelium, squirrels.

‘For there is nothing in creation that does not have some radiance’ wrote a twelfth century German abbess called Hildegard.

And that’s the truth.

I have a piece in the Winter 2017 edition of The Stinging Fly magazine.

4 thoughts on “Reaching Out

  1. Robert Schick, rogue composer

    “I burned too bright for this world.” — Emily Bronte

    “Without passion, what’s the fucking point?” — ‘Leeagh’, opening line to Sphere (The Most Passionate Love Triangle Never Imagined) rc

    “Surround yourself with beauty, the other option sucks.” rc

    “Against the ruin of the World there is only one defense: the creative act.” — Kenneth Rexroth

    “If Ye can’t say ‘Fuck you!’ then Ye are fucked.” James Kelman, Scottish writer

  2. Thor

    Words of a true artist, I can’t believe someone took your things, these people are low, so low, stealing, and all I can say is karma. I hope the new year works out great for you Catrina x

  3. Jem

    Whenever I read your posts, I suddenly remember who I am again. Because I always seem to have forgotten. I also remember how to breathe – because I always seem to have forgotten that too, but I only realise that I have when I come upon something you have written. And I also notice how much nervous energy I have been using up, indeed running on and burning up, for months – somehow confusing it with oxygen. Thank you so much for being you and for the filters you don’t use. Sending more love here too xx


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