After finishing the narrative for my book, ‘The Song of Life Comes Through’ in December 2019 and after writing the theme song of the same name for that project - plus another number called ‘So-called Reasons to be Down’ - I have the sense that eight years work, writing and performing songs about ‘letting go into the present moment’ and making ‘Life in the Hedgerow’ drawings, has come to some sort of completion. I seem to have moved into a sort of transition period, trying out various ideas and setting out along all sorts of seductive and beautiful creative avenues but without having a clear picture of the way forward or a particular message I want to focus on.
Various threads have shown up; vying for attention and claiming that they are ready to be woven into new dream catchers. I had the idea of taking ‘The Song of Life Comes Through’ out and about and seeing if I could find an animation studio that would be interested in using it as the core material for an animated film, so I’ve made some contextual notes and written down some visual and filmic ideas about how that might work.
Then again, I’ve been very taken with how the theme song from the book, ‘The Song of Life Comes Through’ seemed to have jumped ship into another musical genre and landed me with the idea of writing groovy hip hop beat poems for the moment, rather than coming up with more of the acoustic singer/songwriter numbers I’ve been writing and performing these last few years. And that fits in a very timely way with a project that is ongoing and inspiring; I’m working with Ben to produce 12 new full band arrangements of my ‘Song of Life Comes Through‘ numbers! - but I can’t really get on with that until I get back to England.
Meanwhile, it turns out that the last, and the theme, song for that book is inspiring and encouraging me to go on to write numbers for a performance beat poet working with a live and grooving hip hop band.
Who’dda thought it, eh?
All this creative conjecture and stop-starting has been going on in Cambodia and Lao PDR while Harriet and I are enjoying our annual ‘Living Simply in South East Asia’ trip together. We tend to spend the afternoons ‘at home’ and getting into various solo creative activities. This year, while Harriet has been caught up in some decorative embroidery stitching and plenty of on-line networking with her Transition Friends in England, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks rote learning the words to ‘The Song of Life Comes Through’, so that I’ll eventually be able to perform it, hip hop beat poet stylee, (ha ha!) without forgetting the words. That’s how come this particular groove and style of performance is making such a big impression on me. Since I wrote it, it’s been my 24/7 earworm!
Fortunately, there is another ‘theme’ that has captured my attention and my imagination these last few weeks and months. It’s showing up in the Zen talks I listen to and every time we walk around a wat here in Luang Prabang - and it’s the quiet but clear message that, although most of us spend most of our time in man-made environments whether we’re in Luang Prabang or in Poole, it’s hugely important, for the sake of the planet as well as for our own well-being as a species, that we see through that façade of predominantly human activity and our busy, all-consuming world of man-made things, that we recognise and reconnect with our multi-species eco-environment and that we protect, care for and celebrate the beauty of the ever-changing, totally inter-connected and mysteriously co-dependently arising ‘One World of Being’ that all of life lives in.
Seeing all of that said so simply and with such innocent but profound beauty in the simple animal sculptures and in the wonderful flowers, the beautiful trees and the rainbow coloured plants that turn our local wats here into such beautiful and peaceful places to celebrate stillness and presence, is calling out to me to find some sort of creative expression and to find ways to support and protect our wonderful, so-much-more-than-human world!
There is plenty of wonderful and inspiring material in that ‘bigger vision’ for any number of beat poems and songs and, with me being a bit of an artist and a musician and meditator rather than being any sort of politician or scientist, I’ve also been imagining and even sketching out the beginnings of a collaborative project; it's to build ‘The Still Centre’, a place I imagine people would visit solely to experience and to celebrate and to remember the value of Stillness and Quiet - and where, like in the wats around here, there would be a deep built-in sense of how simple Presence is the key to human beings reconnecting with all and everything. I’d love to be part of a team, designing, building and caring for a place like that.