Monday, 30 September 2013

Picking up the Rhythm

 It’s amazing what a plastic barrel, rusting table frame, metal and plastic pipes, odd shaped pieces of metal and a few bits of wire can produce when seen in a new context. Discarded objects can become ‘found’ objects, and many such items have worked their way into installation art pieces over the years, sometimes to the bemusement of onlookers, but also with great appreciation by others.
 This assortment of unrelated objects, fashioned at one time or another for a specific purpose, had since outlived their usefulness, but instead of heading for landfill were given the chance to become something entirely different in a fifteen minute pop up performance just before sunset in the centre of our village.

Assembled in a few minutes, and looking nothing like a musical instrument, that’s what it became. Brandishing a collection of sticks picked up off the ground the construction came to life as percussionists aplenty let loose. From toddlers to sixty somethings, inhibitions were quickly set aside as the tapping, banging, and scraping gathered momentum and a syncopated rhythm took hold from what started as a seemingly meaningless noise.

The inevitable foot tapping, jigging, dancing and running couldn’t be denied as the somewhat primal activity built to a crescendo and ended with a cheer. It really doesn’t take much to create a moment which has the possibility to build community within a group of people, no matter how diverse. Too often we forget how to have fun and simply enjoy each other’s company.

The experience got me thinking about breathing new life into the old, not in terms of recycling man made materials, but in terms of my own purpose. My interpretation of the purpose for my existence on this planet has determined the direction I’ve taken, and the decisions I’ve made as to how to care for my body, soul and spirit, and how to use the things within my control to achieve that purpose.

As the decades pass you can tend to spend more time looking back than looking forward, assessing your life and whether you’ve done the best with whatever you had at your disposal. We all go through many stages where we fulfil different roles. In my adult life I’ve been a teacher, a wife and mother, as well as taken on several different jobs, and as those roles have changed I’ve learned to put aside parts of who I am as a new me has evolved.

Not that those things have lost their usefulness, they’ve simply become part of the fabric of who I am, to be drawn on when needed, maybe not in the way they once were, but in new ways in new situations, making room for new possibilities. The years might be passing, too quickly it feels at times, but to consider there is still much to look forward to if I apply my life experiences creatively to the next lot of changes or challenges in store, gives me hope.

The future doesn’t have to be constantly reinvented, no matter how much what we once did has been replaced or superceded by the newer, better, brighter. Even if no one else likes the fact I prefer writing things down with a pen on paper instead of an ipad, doesn’t mean I’m past my use by date. And despite the fact I’m part of the technologically challenged generation which was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, bamboozled by electronic gizmos, believe it or not, I can still be useful.

I might not be fulfilling the purpose I had in the past, but my life still has purpose. It might be at a slower pace, but hey, if the tune and the rhythm are unfamiliar, it could just be the start of something new.