From the Bush

Oh, they’re probably from the bush, he said after I’d told him at breakfast about the Welsh-speaking kids I’d seen play-fighting in the Castle grounds earlier that morning. It was still in the gloom of darkness. A disparate mass of bodies, thin and wiry hanging around the public toilets. Then two started pushing and shoving each other. They sprawled across my path. Keeping to the side, I did my best to avoid them. It unsettled me. You’d gone for peace, he said. It’s not right. But they’re just kids having a good time. Though so young. They spilled out of the Why Not? and The Angel. The pavement was strewn with broken plastic forks, food cartons and cigarette ends. Two police cars were parked up by the clock. A chaos.

I am low. I try my best to defeat it. Cajoling, talking myself through it but it has set in. What is it? What brings it on? A sense of self. A low sense of self. I’ve spent the morning cleaning – floors, surfaces, clothes. I’ve ironed and changed the sheets. I’ve hung the Christmas decorations. I’ve kept busy. So come on lets unravel this. When did it begin. Oh, this morning out walking, as it always does. I’d decided to listen to my iPad as a means of distracting myself. But then a voice comes in telling me that I’m not appreciating the sounds of nature when I do that. I’m abstracting, absenting myself from creation. And yet, there is some joy to be had when a song that I love comes on shuffle. So what next? Then it was thoughts about my memoir. My mind had replayed my failure to secure funding and began to revisit all my uncertainty about my worth as a writer. And whether the book has any merit. Does everyone feel this way? Does every artist, writer, musician, actor feel this low about themselves. It has always been so. Through every creative process. I remember it from childhood. That sense of inner ugliness. The darkness of knowing my lack of skill, understanding and of being found wanting, found fraudulent. Where has it come from? What is it about?

Perhaps the questioning is counterproductive. Perhaps I should not try so hard to understand but defeat it by other therapies. I just don’t know. It is an uncomfortable place. It’s the ugliness. And the feeling of worthlessness. And I’d been feeling so high. It was so good to be amongst them. My loves. To belong. I felt such warm belonging. They wanted me there. I just don’t know what it is, where it has come from. Is it their deaths? Is it the menopause? Or is it just something that is in me. A deep, deep gloominess. I want the end. I want my rest. My release. Is it wrong to ask for it? When life, my life is so rich. I know this, I know the seams of potential joy but I cannot access them. I am held in, trapped.

Two days and then it will be over. We shall be quiet. Nothing special. No big hullabaloo. The lights look pretty. Tiny little things. So precious. Will that do? Will that pleasure do? No, for it isn’t about being distracted by pleasurable things. It’s a deeper need than that. A falling. A falling into peace where I am beyond what I do, what I create. Can it be soon? Eh?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.