Everything is so much clearer now. Within the past four days I feel like the clouds have parted and the sun has reached out it's hand to me. I'm still slightly scared of taking it, but it's reassuring and that's what I need at the moment. It's also very exciting. I'm more excited about life at the moment than I have been for years.
I needed something this week to give me a bit of a hug. Between doing exams and applying for jobs and the many divergent pathways that I spoke about last week, it was all becoming a bit much and to be honest, I either needed my bed for a week, or something to say 'Tadhg, you're grand boi, everything's going to work out, stop worrying'. Saturday evening I was working hard on an exam question. I had a ticket to an event, which I actually thought was a gig, that I was unsure if I'd get to. I had a quick dinner and said I'd go. It was Maria Kelly's Postcards in Between launch.
I walked in the door late, awkwardly disturbing the silence that was respecting Sammy Copley displaying his craft. It was a small room off Capel Street with not even fifty people there. There was words on the walls and a sort of comfort in the room that I had never felt before at a gig. The exhibition featured twelve Irish artists, writing a postcard to themselves at some point in their life when they needed some compassion. It was so warm. Each postcard had a design attached to it by one of two artists. I didn't get much time to look at them yet. I found my seat and listened to Sammy finish his set. The boy's a master songwriter. He writes with an empathy that is not found in many artists. He's also very witty and has a very endearing personality. I think everyone in room wanted to be his friend.
It was what happened next that really had the effect I needed. A panel discussion hosted by Siobhán Murray, a psychotherapist, discussing self-compassion featuring Maria Kelly, Sammy Copley, Cécilia Noiraud and Tim Chadwick. Hearing other people speaking about their anxieties always makes you realise how normal yours are. Tim, who is the loveliest and most wholesome individual you could meet, spoke about his experience throughout lockdown, which was scarily similar to my own. I've always loved Tim's music, and having spent a bit of time with him one afternoon in Waterford when I was working with Beat 102 103, I got to know how genuine of a man he is. Hearing him speak with such honesty and compassion for himself was so refreshing.
The moment that stuck with me was Maria Kelly speaking about the project and the reasons for it, having no idea what I was actually walking into that night. I had heard her album, The Sum of the In-between, when it was released last year and I remember thinking how gorgeous it was and how warm it made me feel. But when Maria explained that it was born from the uncertainties of the couple of years after college it clicked with me that, bizarrely enough, what I'm experiencing at the moment is one of the most typical moments of any twenty-something year old's life.
The whole discussion that followed about self-compassion gave me an energy I didn't realise I had. It was like a hug from the progression of time. The four days since have been a whirlwind. I finished my exams today, I've applied for a number of jobs, one of which would be a bit of a dream job, I'm starting to organise music things again, and I have a gig! I'm supporting Rossa Murray & the blowin' winds in Bellobar, Portobello on May 13th. I came across Rossa's music years ago and have been a big fan since so I'm really looking forward to this one! I'll hopefully have some merch to sell on the night too. Go to the shows tab on my website there to get tickets.
An eighteen minute video was shown then that featured all twelve of the postcards. We heard the voices of Paul Noonan, Saint Sister, James Vincent McMorrow and others share their notes of compassion to a younger self. The artistry in the words was beautiful. They were poems in postcard form. But hearing nuggets of your own anxieties trickle across the screen from other artists, some of whom you have admired since you were a young teenager, was a level of comfort that is so rarely felt.
I will attach links to all the artists that were featured on the night and I have linked an interview Maria did with Minding Creative Minds about the project. Minding Creative Minds are a fantastic organisation that are there to help artists relieve their anxieties through a number of different services. I have also included their website.
I felt it only write to write my own postcard. Thanks to Maria and everyone who contributed to that evening for the hug.
For now, keep in by the wall and mind the buses,
Dear young Tadhg,
As you see it now, there are two sides to the river. One you wish you will never have to face again, and the other you consider as some sort of personal Mecca. Neither of those perceptions is correct. You're shutting one side off, refusing to see the beauty of it while you're failing to recognise the other one's flaws. You're also ignoring the river itself but will become more aware of it. All rivers lead somewhere. Once you are brave enough to take that boat, it will bring you to another place, which at first you will never see as home but will grow to love it. That place will help you realise the beauties and the flaws of the place you left behind. But you didn't leave it behind. You will go on to find your place on both sides of the river. People will love you for your contributions and admire you for your talents. You didn't need the boat to realise this, but it helped. There will come a time when once you have begun to realise this, navigating the river becomes more difficult through no fault of your own. The tide is dangerous and you'll have to keep your boat docked. But once the water settles, don't be afraid to navigate the river frequently. Dock it on either side. You'll find balance difficult, but that's okay. People don't care that much. They have enough going on. But they'll still love you.
Remember, there are more than two sides of every river once you're on the water. Get to know every side for its beauties and imperfections. Spend time in all of them. And don't be afraid to take a leap.
Love and strength to you, look forward to things,
Maria Kelly, The Sum of the In-between - https://mariakellymusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-sum-of-the-in-between
Sammy Copley - https://www.youtube.com/c/sammycopley1
Tim Chadwick - https://www.youtube.com/c/TimChadwickMusic/featured
Minding Creative Minds - https://mindingcreativeminds.ie/
MCM interview with Maria - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Eh-NGRSM2A