Saturday, August 11, 2012

Last Sunday i went on a peace walk. It was prganised by the Wild Goose Sangha ( and part of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace ( and I went, not really knowing why, except maybe aware that everything that is happening in my life just now is way beyond the control of my conscious mind. And that therefore I need to connect with whatever wisdom there is beneath our awareness.

We gather in the drizzle by the basement of St. John’s Church.

The sangha follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh ( and two of their members remind us of his instructions for walking.

To walk without trying to walk anywhere. Walk for the pleasure of walking. Walking in the beauty of the present moment.

They remind us of one of his poems:

“I have arrived. I am home.
In the here and the now.
I am solid, I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell”

And that we can coincide our breathing with our walking with the lines of the poem.

Which I don’t, of course. My mind wanders, of course.

I am brought back by discomfort in my knees. As I often am.

Thank you knees. For reminding me.

We are taught to take our minds off unpleasant things. As if somehow they will go away. Which they don’t. of course.

I try to remember. I try to think good thoughts to my knees. Which weirdly seems to work a while.

And then my heart starts.

Thank you heart. Thank you for reminding that I’ve been on the wrong track and need to live differently.

Thank you for reminding me that I will die.

(Only not just yet. Please)

But sooner or later it will happen. And somehow I need to live in full acceptance of this.

And I son enjoy the pattern of the rain on the fallen leaves. 

The sensation of walking in my companion’s footsteps. the sensation of belonging: to this moment, to this group of people, to this amazing beautiful city.

And then it’s over and I’m lying in the bath preparing for the event I’m chairing the next day.

It’s part of the Talkfest at the Traverse theatre ( and my event is called “Home is Where the Heart Is” .

So I begin to think about home.

My three brothers were all much bigger than me and formed a very tightly linked unit with my mum and dad which I somehow felt I never belonged to.

And then at the age of eight I was sent to boarding school.

And then at the age of 12 y mother died and in a way I no longer had a home to go back to.

And then as I became aware of my secret female identity I became aware that my own body was not even my home.
In other words a disaster area. And I understand for the first time that maybe something crucial behind all my work is the need to find a home.

Usually I hate these discussion events, so I try to organise them differently when I can.

I think this one works. I know I feel a great affection towards the panel by the end:

Mark Thomas (whose very beautiful Brave Figaro! has won a Fringe First (

Gerry Mulgrew (who was so wonderful in my Tree of Life (which, if they had any sense, the Traverse would be doing at this Festival too)  and who is directing is irreverent and joyous Tam O’Shanter at the Assembly Hall (

Rupert Thomson of Summerhall (

and Alan Wilkins, who plugged his play in the Traverse’s Scenes from a Play I’ll never Write ( in the loveliest way you could possibly imagine.

And then we;’re home again. Home where we mostly brought up our children, and where my partner cursed me because she wanted to die there, and could not.

The beautiful home I suddenly know I have to leave.

Today I have a rehearsal. My mother-in-law finally has a place in a care home, and we have to begin the process of clearing her old home.

I spend a while clearing her papers. There’s the case notes kept by the carers who kept her going as she struggled through intense breathlessness to hang on to the house she loved. Her suffering at that stage was intense, and her torture constant.

She told me she did her best not think about the things that disturbed her: but they simply became more intense until she had no choice.

My lovely daughter comes, with her lovely man.

Any day now, she is expecting her child.

We bask in the joy of the new life to come; and we giggle over the silliest things. As we do.

And leave her house gutted of so much of what gave it meaning, so tomorrow we can place it ready for her in her new home.

And then I’m home again. trying to prepare for Leave To Remain, which we perform at St. John’s on Monday. Which is about finding the way in all truth to leave the pain of bereavement behind: and finding a way to start a new life.

In a new present. A new home.

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