Thursday, 23 August 2012


'...also, if you tie a bull, be he ever so mad, to a Fig Tree, he will quickly become tame and gentle.' As I read this quote from a recent book, I wondered if the opposite were true. If a tame and gentle bull was forever tethered to a fig tree and was suddenly untied, would he be angry? Would he quickly become feisty? Would the abrupt freedom be too much for him to handle? Should I have tied myself to my granddad's fig tree?

I seem to have spent most of my life tethered to a tree: The Faraway Tree, as described by Enid Blyton. Clambering up its sturdy trunk and stepping off a branch into a land where I could play. The tricky bit was asking myself: what land did I wish to visit today? Did I want adventure or utopia? A land full of colour or eccentric characters? I cocooned myself in lands hidden by fluffy white clouds at the top of a tree. An only child; a dreamer, I've never been accused of lacking in imagination. My head was permanently stuck in the clouds, eyes glazed, far away some place else. Amusing myself, believing in a world no-one else seemed to be able to see. Fairies are real and toys talk to me. I still believe!

Were my parents wrong to indulge me? Other parents said as much; they didn't want their kids drawn into this foolishness. It was unnecessary. Were they right? I still think no, but perhaps so... It made childhood magical; the problem is I haven't exactly grown out of it. My life is mainly lived in my imagination. The freedom I have there, I deny myself here. I'm scared. There's a line in Strictly Ballroom that says 'A life lived in fear is a life half lived.' I can hear Fran pronounce these words in her Aussie twang. There was a time when I thought I was just like Fran: a frizzy-haired, gawky, ugly duckling that would one day turn into a swan. Except even Fran was braver than me. The 'swan' bit also eluded me.

What do you do when grabbing life scares you? Baby steps. I've taken risks that haven't always worked out for the best, but I've tried it. Gone to events where I've had to mingle, attended training courses and workshops alone, and even holidayed on my own. Well? I hated every single minute of it! Ok, so that's a lie, but most if it. The maddest thing I ever did was travel to San Francisco, but yet four years down the line, I'm still left with poignant memories. Doing excursions, meeting new people, seeing the Olympic torch, and spending my last morning in the grounds of Grace Cathedral. Would I do it again? No, because it tested me. Every day I felt on edge, all experiences were heightened. That's the problem with risks – I can't relax until it's over. My mind races, my pupils dilate and my pulse shoots up. Is she on drugs? People must wonder... Untied, I probably come across as a little manic. A natural born worrier.

Was the Faraway Tree the wrong tree for me? The opening quote has filled me with curiosity. If I'd sat under my granddad's fig tree, would I have achieved enlightenment like Buddha? Would I handle life more easily? Maybe. Or would I become more bull-like? Scuffing my feet and breathing noisily. Two fingers stuck up, exclaiming “I don't care a fig!” whenever anyone waved a rag in front of me. Does freedom come with vulgarity...?