The soft girl drifted away from the ballet and felt the air fall around her like silk. It was a wonderful twenty-four hours, one of the rare occasions that my husband and I leave our children in the capable hands of adults other than us, and go on an adventure. How lovely it was to feel ourselves again.
I could tell you about the day, but the day itself was unremarkable. What was remarkable was the silk air, though, and so I’ll tell you about that part because it was all the lovely things.
The soft girl, for those of you who are wondering, is me— the deeper version of me that holds my intuition, my connection to nature, and most importantly…my ability to feel life and love at a level I’ve never known before. The soft girl is the part of me I choose.
Last night we went to see the dark version of the ballet Swan Lake, where the White Swan meets her Black Swan rival, and all sorts of horrible shenanigans ensue. I smiled as it occurred to me: the White Swan feels so much like the soft girl. I cried a little, too, as I watched—for all the grace, all the joy, all love she brought to the stage.
But as I watched the darkness ooze from the black swan as she danced, her shoulders undulating with sexuality and sass…I realised that she lives within me, too. I wondered about the dark swan that lives inside of all of us, the one who does not have permissionto exist in polite and proper society. I thought of that repression of ‘darkness’ within, and what it means to be human and functioning within certain limits, and somehow the ballet became a little deeper and more wonderful than it already was.
For a moment, last night, I was a little girl again, at the ballet for the very first time and feeling every bit the elegant lady I’d always dreamed I might be one day. I was a woman with silk air floating about her. And I really do think I could use a bit more of that sort of wonderful in my life.
Song Writing. It’s the mash-up of my two great loves: music and writing. In fact, to be truly romantic about it, I really must confess that songwriting is also a mash-up of my heart and my soul.
I’ve written about my love of music before but the fact of the matter is— I’ve not written about it enough, and shame on me.
Because music is life.
It’s one of the most powerful universal tools we have available to us, and it should be celebrated with all the pom poms held high. Or, at least, I think it should be celebrated, and I dearly hope you’ll agree.
I know I’ve been banging on about that word lately: humanity, but I’ve come to think that it’s the sharing of our most human moments that brings meaning to these lives of ours. And here’s where music comes into it. Music lifts us, doesn’t it, it connects us? It’s our chance to link broken hearts and say, ‘You too? Doesn’t matter. We’ve got this.’
Song Writing—as with many of the creative arts disciplines— is cathartic. For me, sitting in front of that lovely little electric piano of mine, putting my inner world to music… it’s like writing a journal. It’s therapy. And it is the only energy I’ve ever felt that so closely resembles the feeling of ‘home’.
But ‘my baby’ (yes, that’s what I named my electric piano, lol) is getting old. What happens when she finally says, ‘No. I will not play for you, today, Brooke. I will not play for you ever again.’ Gosh. I can’t even think about it.
So, I’ve decided to write all the heartbreak out of me before it happens, turn my impending pain into a heartache that others can relate to: the demise of a great love. So! Let my therapy be yours. Let’s do this broken heart together, shall we?
My Forgotten Love Song
Music and Lyrics by Brooke Cutler
I know that I can live without you
But do I want to try?
My everything is breaking
And you’re the reason why.
I took your song for granted
I made you play my life
Now every minute’s burning
With every twist of the knife
But I know life will go on
And to me, you’ll just become…
My forgotten love song.
(I have posted a video of me playing this song on youtube for you to have a listen to, just for a bit of something different, a bit of an interactive blog post of sorts! Please, feel free to check it out!)
It was time to tackle a difficult read—a bold move, on my behalf. I’d grown up reading only for pleasure and, up until that point in my life, I’d not felt the need to be challenged by books. Reality could be a bitter pill to swallow as it was; did I really want it shoved in my face? Did I want to be huffing and puffing at the dictionary every ten words? No. I didn’t.
But I would do it anyway.
I decided on an Australian literary fiction novel that had a shiny gold sticker on it: an award winner. Surely this would challenge me. I lasted fifty pages before I turned to my husband—who was lounging on the couch opposite me with his own book— and made the big announcement.
‘The struggle is real,’ I said, and it was. Oh, my goodness it was.
Wordy passages of profound thought. Dull family portraits, the monotony of everyday life. A bit of love. A bit of hate. A bit of everything and nothing all at once. I raised my eyebrow and decorated the google search bar on my phone with the words I’d come to know way too well over the past few days, ‘Define (insert word here).’
‘It’s okay to stop reading,’ my husband said, smiling up at me from his book—which he was loving, by the way. And so, it seemed I had a choice. I could go on, allow myself the potential to expand as a reader (and, perhaps, as a human) or I could give up and go find another book. A lovely, lovely book!
Oh, man. I knew what the answer had to be. I needed to read on, I’d kick myself if I didn’t.
The dominoes fell about a quarter of the way through when I had the uncanny sense that the book was becoming more. I frowned into it, gently rocking back and forth on our beloved flower armchair (the same one that’s rocked both our precious babes to sleep, on countless occasions) when I realised what had happened. For the very first time, I had seen me within the pages of a book. Not just the outer crust of me. The inner creaks, the bones, the blood; and all the horrendous aches and pains life had thrown my way.
It felt awful. It felt so bloody awful that I just did not know how I could possibly last through another moment of such soul-scraping reality. Surely, I’d have to put the book down. But I didn’t. I kept reading. And then the book was finished. Just like that, I’d been changed because I dared to go to a place, within the world of literature, that frightened me.
There lies the beauty and the beast that is literary fiction—the grace of the art, the rawness of humanity; these are books coloured by the real-lives of writers who dare to expose life’s simple truths so that us readers might come to know ourselves, and our world, differently.
Michelle De Kretser is one of Australia’s best when it comes to finding the truth and telling it in the form of a novel. As I sat in the audience of her Q and A session on Saturday—only days after she won her second Miles Franklin Award—I was taken right back to the book that changed me. My burst into the world of literary fiction and the humanity that connected me to it, and it to me.
Michelle’s characters are ordinary, flawed people—at least, the ones I’ve met so far— and they are so alive with the human traits we all share. It was fascinating to hear her explain the way she draws the lives of these imperfect individuals, crafts them into little gems that reflect the lives of us, the readers.
It was very easy to be inspired by Michelle and her cheeky confidence. She spoke about all the crap of life as though the fixes were obvious, that underneath the complications of modern living, lies simplicity. People. Just trying to be.
All the beautiful textures and colours of the world, and there they are— in the minds of our most cherished writers, on the pages of our most precious books. Surely, to be human is to share our lives and hearts with others. To take a chance. To show each other our scars and to help each other heal from them. Because life hurts so much better when we roll with the punches, together, don’t you think? To me, that’s the beauty of literature. And I get the feeling that Michelle De Kretser just might feel the same way.
Isn’t the world of creativity fascinating? For so many reasons, really. But I’ve always been fascinated by the unconscious aspects of the way we create, particularly how the unconscious feeds the creative mind, almost as if it is a direct channel from the soul.
What makes the whole thing even more fascinating to me is this: no matter how many times I am dragged away from my creative world—by the hustle and bustle of life, by lack of time, lack of resources—it seems that I always come back to it. Always. Like something bigger than me is in charge of this whole crazy shindig.
Over the years I’ve struggled with finding focus within my creative world, and I suspect that many creative artists might feel the same way. Because the thing is this: creative energy doesn’t seem to care how it gets out. All it seems to care about is that it gets out.
I feel an affinity to many of the disciplines within the arts—music, acting, writing, painting, the list goes on. And the choice as to which discipline to use in order to create (to tell that story of my soul, you might say) really doesn’t feel like a conscious choice at all. To me, the urge to create is exactly that. An urge. A push. A tug. It’s the magnetic pull to the piano, or the computer, or the scrapbook—and I get the impression that my only job is just to go with the flow and get swept along in the breeze of it all.
In my experience, this is such a hard concept for the rational mind to reconcile. Because the rational mind, the one I use to bring sense to everything, seems to crave control. It seems to be at odds with all the wonder that explodes so organically within my creative universe. It seems to want to make sense of something that simply cannot be explained. The imagination. I mean. How can such a wondrous, wondrous world ever be explained?
There are not too many things I am totally sure of in this world. But what I am sure of is this: every single person in this whole wide world has a unique imagination. And every single creative artist sets their imagination free like nobody else in this world. We all see the world differently. We all live in the world differently.
What a lovely creative mess that’s all bound to make.
And, right now—like Forest and his many park-bench dwellers—you (the reader) and me (the writer) just never know what we’re going to get from this place, do we?
But Brooke, I hear you say. You are the writer. Hold the wheel. Steer.
Just take us to a place we know, a place we love.
A place we choose.
You may have already met the many versions of writerly me—especially if you’ve followed along on my Sunny Mummy journey—and if so, you may be wondering which me will be the captain of this particular ship, at any given blog post.
Will it be the very serious me; the scholar and the thinker, the champion of all things books and arts and creativity?
Will it be the dreamer, the romantic, the philosopher? The Mum?
Or will it be me of the adorably nuts kind; me who wishes the world was made of chocolate, and cherry-red wine, me who thinks she’s way funnier than she actually is. (And yes. The latter is the captain of this particular blog post. Sorry about that.)
What will the next post be? A photo blog: short, sweet and poignant? Or will it be wordy and slow, important and true?
This is my confession.
I don’t know.
All I can say about this little land of words is that it is, and always will be, a place for anyone who finds it, a place for anyone who needs it. A place that changes and moves, because life changes.
And that’s what I want for this space.
With this confession lies an apology of the sincerest kind. Sometimes you will be lost here, wishing for direction, wishing for routine wrapped in a neatly labeled box.
This place will give you all of the things, sometimes. And none of them sometimes, too. What exactly it will give you, I can’t be sure.