Julian has his siret number at last from the Maison des Artistes and so he can order packing boxes. We spent yesterday and today saying goodbye to oysters and blue tins, blood oranges, lavender fileds and lemons, shutting their colour up momentarily in four drab card corners until it is released like an aroma in its new home.
To celebrate (again!) we went to the cinema in Avignon to see Terrence Malik’s ‘New World’. Julian had to persuade me, reminding me of ‘Badlands’ and ‘Days of Heaven’, because I didn’t really fancy boats and spears and face paint. What I saw was an extraordinary prayer to the earth and a film, in a way, about boxes.
Settlers arrive in Virginia to make a New World. They make boxes and put a box around their box just to be extra safe. They are so eager to make their boxes they do not realise there is a world which already exists here, a vibrant, nourishing and peaceful world which their boxes are shutting out. Their world turns the colour of drab card. There is famine, cold, jealousy and hatred. Hatred turns, of course, to war.
Meanwhile, in the forest, the Princess, Pocahontes choreographs her dialogue with her God – ‘Mother’, whom we presume to be Mother Earth – and to the hunky Colonel Smith through a dance. In this dance, I noticed that all her movements communicate opening – to the moon, the stars, the sun, her lover. They are the anti-box.
Waiting for a table after the film in the camp brasserie with distressed walls à côté, it felt to me like Julian and I had no walls, not even skin between us. It was delicious. The waiters there are used to the two of us coming in crying so that was fine.
This morning I noticed Julian went out to do his own version of saluting the mountain (thinly disguised as emptying the ‘poubelle’) BEFORE sitting down at the computer. I, meanwhile, tried out some of the movements on my run: I brought my palms flat against my waist and moved them outwards in front of me, the space between them increasing as they moved away and what was ‘I’ momentarily became Mountain. The peasants pruning their olive trees didn’t seem to mind much – nothing new to them, I suppose - and I have to admit it felt wonderful. I did it again and again.
We have all been put into many boxes, and of course we make them for ourselves all the time, or try to fit into ones we made years ago when we were a size 10. I remember being told one year at Glyndebourne that I could not play the Mozart opera because I was a ‘big romantic cellist’. The next year, having been the only person who dared to audition for the continuo in the Mozart and then doing a good job, I found myself being put in the opposite box (and you can’t be in two boxes at once) by the same person. I could not protest.
What interests me now, however, are the subtler boxes, the every day barriers we put up between ourselves and Other or indeed Mother. If meditation practice is about anything for me, it is about not being in a bloody box for 15 minutes a day.
(I remember, as I often do, our sixteen year old guide in Nepal who always talked about the mind as ‘Empty Box’. How, then about No Box?)
Julian’s paintings are packed up and at the post office. His recent success could give him the possibility to crawl out of other people’s boxes and be, quite simply, here.