A study of Reuben, by me.


There has been much talk of late about raising the health of the nation, following the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio, and how we’ve all become couch potatoes. Now I don’t want to bang on about the pros and cons of physical fitness because I don’t see this as the issue. What I see lacking in our society is the conviction we should follow our dreams, whatever they might be.

My life is spent being creative and I find it really difficult to relate to any client who says she can’t visualise a piece of jewellery that I’ve drawn or described. That’s really sad. To me it seems a more serious flaw than not being able to run or jump or skip (although Delilah tells me only girls can skip). Not being able to see something in your head, not being able to imagine… that’s frightening.

Writing is my outlet but it isn’t my life, I’m surrounded by family, business and an unruly garden which I vindicate by saying it’s fashionably wild. Mother tells me all the things I should be doing like trimming the lavender and pruning the roses. Once I’d have obediently dropped everything in order to keep the borders contained but I need my writing more than I need tidy hedges. Mother comes from ‘chapel’ stock, where ‘play’ of any kind is seen as frivolous and may only be undertaken when ‘work’ is diligently completed. And that’s how I grew up, believing ‘frivolous’ activities such as drawing, painting and writing were for another breed, not mine.

A recent study of the mental health of our nation produced some very damning statistics. More young people than ever before are suffering mental breakdowns, a truly worrying reflection on our culture, on the constraints that fixate society. I’m not qualified to give reasons but I believe everyone has problems and life is complicated. Surely balancing the bad and the sad with doing something creative, even if it means imagining a dream world, is one way of coping. My way of coping.

Once upon a time… isn’t that the most enigmatic beginning? But it isn’t healthy to put the past before the present. Dreams are about tomorrow. Dream Big.



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2 responses to “Balance

  1. Shelley

    The condition of not being able to picture things in your mind is known as aphantasia & it causes stress for those who suffer with it. I cannot comprehend what those people must feel, I can’t imagine life without being able to do so or at least try. Everyone needs dreams. It is very worrying the amount of mental health issues suffered today & for youngsters to have breakdowns is appalling. We have so much stress put on us nowadays & life is getting faster … not good! We all need time to simply do nothing.

  2. So true Shelley, stress is all around, and pressure to succeed (whatever that means). I’m at a point where I can sit back and watch the ‘race’ without feeling I need to compete. Oscar and Reuben, age 6 & 7, have homework because the National Curriculum decides what’s necessary. I look back at my junior school in Upchurch and realise how ‘wild’ we were allowed to be. As you say, there shouldn’t be shame in doing nothing.

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