If you have never read the book ‘the woman who went to bed for a year’ by Sue Townsend, then look away now.
This book appealed to me initially because I was fascinated about how a woman could go to bed for a year, albeit fictionally. The thought of doing such a thing quite often goes through my mind I must admit. Sometimes it feels far safer for myself and others for me to stay in bed and keep my mouth shut but sadly, I am not a kept woman. My man needs feeding and dog needs walking.
The book is humourous in many parts but after a while the seriousness of the mental decline of Eva becomes apparent as she barricaded herself in her bedroom and minimised contact with her family and friends.
Towards the end of the book she asks someone to board the inside of her window after her view of a beautiful tree was destroyed when it was cut down. Her contact with the outside world then became so minimal that she relied on people to feed her through a small hole in the door and she lived in darkness.
Eventually strangers became that concerned for her welfare that the door was eventually kicked in, her mother bathed her and she was sat in front of a fire. It wasn’t until the end when she said ‘It’s kindness, isn’t it? Simple kindness’ that I truly felt so sad.
Call me ridiculous, but isn’t that what we all want people to be? Kind? It costs nothing. I often said to my students that manners cost nothing and treat others like you would want to be treated. Not because I’m a saint, but because I would expect to be treated with decency.
Why do I write about this today? Well it has nothing to do with my work but more to do with me and the journey I’ve been on. Today I met with someone. A prearranged get together. I sat, bought tea and cakes and watched my ‘friend’ crochet. Just simple kindness would have been to just give me 30 mins of time. Not to listen to a monologue (which I can do when I’m in self) but to share in the experience of being together.
When I first read the last line in this book I looked back on my expectations of people closest to me. I realised that many of my disappointments have been because I expected kindness from them. Did I expect too much?
When the tree was cut down in the book, Eva gave up hope. My interpretation was that the tree symbolised to Eva the beauty around her despite her life’s experiences. When this had gone, so had Eva.
Eventually she allowed herself to be rescued as ‘Life was too difficult to travel alone’.
Thankfully I have met friends who are kind, together we give our time to each other. After periods of darkness and isolation (usually when some of my best artwork comes about) I have been rescued by their kindness and concern for my well being. I have been carried through difficult times and bathed in love when all I wanted was simple kindness.
A lot of my work is a combination of metaphors and representations of periods of my life. I have a very small circle of trust and quite often I find it easier to explain my art and the messages within than to explain my feelings. Art is a remarkable tool in which to speak. It gives me a voice when I need it most and more importantly it is always kind and generous. For that I am truly grateful.
Life is too difficult to travel alone and I am grateful to be travelling it with others who feel the same. Welcome to all who read. Keep with me!