Monday 19 December 2011

How Exactly Do You Climb Every Mountain?

How exactly is it done?  You believe you can.  That is how it is done.  You read in a book or hear someone say You too can climb as far as you wish.  Say it daily, and believe! You say with feeling and passion, I can climb mountains!  You look for signs in your life for clues about climbing mountains, you see them everywhere, and you stay where you are. Feeling anxious, you think, if I know how to climb my mountain, why am I still here? Here, then, is my thought for today.  If all it took to change things were words, then we would all be changing all the time. We would find ourselves half way up our mountains in no time, relieved that all it took were instructions and a good pair of shoes; we would keep our eye on the summit as it approached thinking, with a wry smile, that all it took was someone to tell us.

I have read and re read so many books that inspired me to reach for the stars.  Do it!  They cry.  You can do it!  All you have to do is believe and the whole world is yours. I love these books, I love how simple they make it sound - you too have the right to success, to happiness and to wealth.  All you have to do is this - and the This is to tell yourself that you can.  Books with chapters on how your mind can change, how you can re train yourself, and how you deserve this thing that you crave so deeply (whatever it is).  And all through the books are little testimonies of how things are so easy if you go with the flow, ask for them, how the spirit guides you to wherever you want to go and how the still small voice within is always talking sense.  Oh oh oh, I say as I read them, I too can be just like this, my still small voice will tell me how to get the Arts Council to fund A Graceful Death, the spirit will lead me to thousands of pounds and the mountain I shall climb, is called Grants and Funds!  Now I shall train my mind to will it into being since it is mine for the taking!

Oh but I still have to make a proposal.  How long is the proposal?  Many thousands of words.  And many thousands of pertinent and detailed questions.  This is not an easy mountain, I say, but my still small voice says I can have it so on I go.  Eventually I send off a deeply complicated form, millions of pages long, and sit back with my eyes going round and round like a cartoon hypnotist, and feel that this is, if I have done the thinking right, all mine.  It isn't.  I don't get the funding and the Arts Council are very detailed in their assessment of why I don't qualify.  So I have done it wrong, I didn't believe enough.  Those words I read were right, and I didn't apply them properly. Woe, time to throw the books away.  If only I had understood what it was that I was being encouraged to believe, then what I had to say in my proposal would have thrilled the Arts Council, which would as a single body, have thumped the table with their fists and bellowed By Gum, that woman is a genius!  Write her a cheque and don't stint on the noughts.

Perhaps I need to read some more words.  My mountain is unassailable.  Time to find another book to tell me what to do.

To climb any mountain, you have to start at the bottom.  How dull.  You have to stand at the bottom with your strong boots, in all the mud and the sun beating down on your unprotected head, and work it all out.  If you think you can will yourself up towards the top, you can't.  What I am finding is that no amount of believing and thinking can make those cold calls for me.  I still have to do it.  No amount of reading and telling myself in the mirror Every day and every way it's mine all mine, will excuse me from the hard work of taking the time to learn my way through whatever it is I want to do.  I had to stand back from A Graceful Death and ask myself, what exactly am I doing and what, precisely, planet am I on?  The Arts Council were right as it happens.  My proposal was not realistic, and putting the exhibition on in Westminster Abbey with Carmina Burana sung live on a loop and real cannons as in the 1812 Overture was never going to be easy.

When I first went to University, I was astonished to find that all people didn't think as I did.  I shall just tell them, I thought.  Once they know, they will think like me, and all will be well.  All I had to do, I reasoned, was to explain myself and then we will all be able to agree.  With me.  Oh but they didn't agree, not at all.  Even though I had explained everything to whoever was listening, most people argued back and didn't change their minds at all, in fact they tried to tell me what was right!  The nerve!  When I had made it all so clear, what on earth was there to disagree with?  I remember having a strong debate with a fellow student and finding a good dozen or so others listening in with deep concentration.  At one point, they all cheered and said She's right, you know, you lost the argument, and they were talking to me!  Hold on, I thought, I have explained it all to you, she isn't right, and I where did all you lot come from? I was very sorry for the lot of them.

My first self help books said Hey, change your mind and everything will follow.  Well, yes.  But I still had to find my clients and still had to paint their portraits.  I tried changing my mind about people who didn't want a painting, and think them into wanting one, but they had no idea that I was doing it and carried on doing whatever people do when they say No thanks, toodle-oo. 

Back to these mountains that we intend to climb then.  How do we climb them?  How does anyone climb them?  Asking those who are at the top how they did it will be no help.  Well, they will say, we just did.  And what self help books did you use, we will call up to them.  Leaning over to hear us and cupping their ear, they will look surprised and say, Self help book?  I don't know what you mean.  I haven't the time.

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