The Happy Cartographer June 1994

Girl models one of Capability's hats; I am wearing Girl's hat, and writing something like a diary

This is a series of extracts from my real diary, not fiction, which I am revisiting to find out how I came to be here (hence the cartography of the title) and why I am so clever at being happy. The main points so far are that I actively choose to be happy; to find what is genuinely positive about a situation rather than grimace and bear it; that I notice and therefore appreciate my surroundings, that I do ask myself questions to be sure that the path I follow is the right one for me. None of our internal maps are likely to be identical but there may be something in the drafting process that can help in the discovery of happy places.
Here I am, aged 24- lugging my youthful notebook around college.

“5th June 1994
Capability F Sequin’s 21st birthday.
The question I want to ask myself every day is: Is this my life? I use writing to be sure of my path, to sound myself out. At SF’s party last night we played musical statues and half the people needed pushing to join in. No festival spirit=dead people.  IQ does not equate a life well lived. I was going to write something wittier but I’ve been interrupted and it doesn’t matter.  However the children may irritate with these interruptions, I realise that their unfolding perceptions of the world can teach me enough to reassess everything I think and write, so eventually they improve my work.

6th June 1994
Back Garden.
Following my bliss- lying in the sun, absorbing the moment, every physical detail. The sun always warms one part of your body more than the rest; the wind engulfs you in stops and starts of variant temperature. You get shivers but wait for the sun, you wait a certain length of time before pulling a t-shirt on. A steady breeze is often warm, sudden air colder though it moves faster. You feel your body press into the ground, notice your alignment. Your eyes are shut but you see patterns of red and pale, intense yellow and the shadows of close passers-by. You hear the wind but all the other noise seems far away, like a distant fairground. You are so aware of yourself connected to the place that other lives seem merely dreamt. Worries are evaporated, you are escaped and healed.

12th June 1994
Kitchen Table.
DUALISM: think of this not as a mind/body split, not good/evil, male/female, but more of the endless dialectic of structure and anti-structure, in themselves part of the circle of continuous being.

17th June 1994
The Caff, Dean Clough, Halifax
Walked around a lot of confusing buildings and stairways. I’ve cut my finger and it’s too hot under the plaster. The coffee tastes like a cheap powder brand, more chicory than coffee flavoured. One of our group has a mug that reads ‘Barry Controls: VIBRATION SHOCK NOISE.’

22nd June 1994
484 Bus
Mass media culture often cause anxiety; more crime brought to our attention, but can be used in a positive way, to show, like Maya Angelou said, ‘We are more alike than we are different.’ Common humanity: different aspects appealing to different people; intellectual for the privileged [NB: privileged to have a smart brain is what I meant here] and emotional for the rest. There are plenty of cross over points. From reading Brecht I’m beginning to see that to use emotion in the delivery of a message often fails- it is the plain delivery that strikes deepest.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Sat downwind of a rosebush, overlooking trees that are bigger than houses and would be fun to live in. I’m saying to myself I am a writer! I am a writer! The blue sky is an optimistic shade, the white and steely grey clouds could promise anything- rain, shade, sun, an interesting horizon.

[25th June: Daughter’s 5th birthday]

26th June 1994
Third Year Fine Art Show
Sat inside an instalment, a little house with a blue hall, a yellow, mirrored front room with a fur floor and a pink swirly bedroom. It’s a very physical phenomenon because of the awareness of space, colour and touch. The impact is amazing because you have no other distraction. If you look at a picture you are still aware of other things around you and that intrudes on your concentration and experience of the picture, you’re on the outside looking in. Here I’m on the inside, looking at myself.

27th June 1994
Kitchen Table
The house is in a state of flux, half sorted for packing away. Change is often messy. And it’s a weird idea, because much that changes stays the same. It all happens in a context, all part of some universal pattern.”

What I don’t describe here is; envisioning a delightful piece of life theatre; I arranged for a mock kidnap of my friend, Miss Capability F Sequin, in order that she arrive at her surprise party entirely surprised. She was duly pounced on, blindfolded, folded into the bootspace of a car, driven around many tumbling West Yorkshire lanes before her dramatic release into a crowd of cheering family and friends, a little shaken and relieved to discover it was just us after all. Not a mention of this extraordinary act, yet I do record the slogan on a mug? 

But not always unexpectedly in the trunk of a car


Suze said…
12 June 1994 -- pondering.
Lisa Southard said…
Coffee was strong that day I think! But it's much pleasanter to think of a world in flow, than to think of a world divided :-)

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