Deliver Us (inspired by Old Dirty Brasstards’ ‘Shake It Off’)

I don’t want to build things back the same. It feels as if what we had has been razed to the ground, ripe and ready for rebirth. I’m taking a break from moving as this body wants to move. Listening on loop to the delightful Old Dirty Brasstards’ joyful, though bittersweet, instrumental rendition of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it off’. Which seems like sound advice, still, all these years later.

My body releases heaving sobs, pulled back, as I am, to a different lifetime ago when our family still festivalled together. Gathering with groups of fellow home educators. Piled up in a huge field, just off the beach in Wales. A windy camp, at times. Our bell tent pole, the only pole those cream cotton canvas tents have, bent in a raging gale that rushed in straight off the coast with nothing to stop it. My husband had to drive back over the bridge to Bristol to borrow a pole from a friend. We spent the night in a 2-man tent which felt much smaller.

I remember the feeling of belonging. Of being in a community that understood what it is to raise children, wild and free from the constraints of an institution. One that millions, millenia, of our ancestors did not have. Learning and life were not a separate thing. Living is learning. If only we are brave enough to remember, recognise and reclaim our once departed, denied.

… So, I stopped the flow. I’m in a different space now, so I’m stopping. Putting down the pen to get back in the body flow …

That is where my story lies. In these cells. In these arms that held babies for years. In this heart that is scared to give in to the beat of this soul. In this breath, held, too often, in fear and shame and dread and worry. This breath that catches in this throat as it remembers.

It is scared to give in. It doesn’t want to surrender, but knows it must. Diving into the underworld, the unknown world, the only world that is an escape. A soul-voice liberation. A reckless homecoming.

“The time will come”, says Derek Walcott. You will, one day, be greeting yourself “arriving at your own door, in your own mirror”. And how that breaks you. Breath easy, but my own salt water drips on the ink of this page, smudging it slightly.

This is the only way to arrive home. Through the beauty of the mess of it all. Life. This wild and free we disallowed ourselves to be, given as our culture decries our creative self. The beat of us and only ever of us. So these are not tears of sadness, as such. They are a remembrance. A willingness.

Maybe the first fifty years of a life we get to make the mess, but feel overwhelmed through it. And then the monthly blood-bringing leaves you forever. A zest for life returns, slowly, slowly.  Building back from the ground up. And how that story moved through me. And how we can only ever finally come home when we let our stories live. The ones we hold in so often our throats close over a little, over time. We learn not to speak free because we know people would find us disgusting. Repellent. They wouldn’t like us and to not be seen and not be heard is a kind of slow soul-death and how no-one can live like that.

The only way through is by daring to show ourselves. Our stories are our medicine. And what is medicine for us is medicine for those who need it.

So I remember the girl wearing her dad’s French flag (ish) striped jumper. Star denim, cropped-shorts dungarees, one arm strap off-shoulder. Singing back-up with a bunch of others. Three each at a mike. Shake it off. Mostly kids who didn’t know each other before this weekend. Home educators. Free-range learners. Accidental activists for walking away from mainstream to a vision of a different world. Uncaged. One based on trust that children, like all creatures, are built with an instinctual knowing. Are built to learn in playful ways. Untethered. Untamed. Wild and free.

And isn’t it this. This. A desire to be seen and heard and held for who we truly are once all the layers, the coats we wear to shield ourselves from the mess of life, not realising that what we really yearn for is to be naked. To bare our raw human souls and be loved. Unconditionally. 

The coats harden our soft. Hide our gold inside their dark, deep pockets. The way home is through the dark. It is through peeking through the curtains of your past. You know, those stories that were too hard to bear when you were immersed in raising the family. The daily gripes and grinds. And you thank the you who thought to take pictures of some of those small moments that caught you. Caught your throat. Squeezed it with life. That is why the throat tightens and the tears fall. They are untold tales lodged in our larynx. Ready to be washed away. Released. I shall be released. Any day now, any way now. I shall be released.

And so the music is my gateway to flow. I can’t see stories in my mind’s eye. But my body? My wild creature body? The one that responds to life? It is all about being penetrated by life. By letting life surge through us, unhindered. Through our bodily pleasure and through feeling our pain. Our joy. Our love, loss, learnings, leanings.

This song today gifted by my bone-playing friend, Maylan. Cool as f*** skateboarding queen. Facebook feed. Thanks to Spotify. I’m probably about twenty listens in by now, but it helps me to connect to my body of knowledge.

I remember HESFES. And before. And after. And I want to tell the stories, slice by slice. In a generous way. Kind to my people but just naming the things instead of burying them down deep. There’s gold in them there oceans.

And in between, the puppy pads over to lie with his master on the marital bed whilst the youngest passes me the bread. Screeches disapproval at me when I don’t make his customary tuna-mayo-avo sandwich as soon as he’d like because I feel the music. And these songs want to be told. After moving as the body wants to, the song becomes releasing the inner wild and free. Just for a moment. Feeling its rush of pleasure-power like the wind that blew through howling and hard, urging change.

He’s in his sky blue sweatshirt and burnt orange joggers. He picked the clothes himself in the semi-dark some hours ago now. Gnomeo and Juliet … ”oohoo, nobody knows it” playing …

Always the beat of this life. The pulse. The rhythms. The cycles. The seasons. Outside, pink and white bonnet hellebores still bow their heads as if in prayer to the earth that birthed them. The magnolia’s sprouting soft sage-greenish furry buds. And you just know that the season of pink is coming. As it always does.

And the tuna sandwich gets made. The bread gets sliced and buttered. Mark’s Bread’s gorgeous 7-seed. A sneaky way to get a bit of goodness into our son’s body.

So, no. I don’t want to build things back the same.

This Harvest Queen has a vision. A knowing that time left is time less. And you better start living this one wild and precious life. It’s time to deep-dive for the pearls and the treasures stuffed away in those dark pockets of your past. Life is these small things. The tiny moments that catch us awake. Enliven us. Inspire us. Drown us. Deliver us, freshly birthed out of the waters of our own healing.

And still, amongst all this divine wild. The clothes are folded. The bellies are fed. The floor is swept. This holy work of tending makes us whole. Shake it off. Those cloaks and veils. Get naked. They try to cage our wild and tame our free. No wonder we are sick.

Meet yourself at your own door, in your own mirror and welcome home your splintered selves with love after love after love. For you bring each other gold. Spun in the darkness, delivered in the light of the hallway of your heart. Can you let it in? Ayla Nereo’s clarion call. Can you let it in, ‘til it is both prayer and offering.

And the misty rain spits over the land, quenching the Earth’s thirst. Brizzle mizzle. Washed out sky. No blue. No definition.

And the boy eats his sandwich, whips the computer cord around by his left side. Right leg tucked under his bottom, left knee up. Missing his glasses, since the puppy ate them. The husband and the puppy in our room. The girl and her friend in hers. They went for a late-night “car drive” last night which lasted for hours. The older boy in his bed. My mother, probably awaiting her Happy Birthday call. I have no gift yet. It’s in the post—unless I’ve been scammed by a Facebook ad.

The wind blows. The world spins. Life keeps living. Our job is to pay attention. To play. Attention. A tension. Gather up our tender selves and tell stories of our real wounds around the campfire of our own hearts.

What wants voicing? How do we let it in? How do we let it through? Out? What will it release into the wild for us? 

Playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/00FF5wOxmjqVqaAegVkjoO

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