You’re a write eejit when you love to play in the mud.
It’s that time of year where I live. A few days of rain and sleet have melted the foot or so of hardened snow and ice and turned the top layer into a gelatinous, brown mess. I didn’t get out early enough for my run through the woods and the icy ridges that I can usually balance on had turned into a mushy quagmire. I came home up to my uxters in mud.
There’s always a stage in a project where it turns to mud. Each direction you look you’re wallowing in muck. How did you get here, and more to the point, how are you going to get out?
It’s all a matter of perspective, folks. Once upon a wet, misty day in Ireland—yes, that could be any day, but this one was particularly memorable—I was six and my eldest sister, eight, and our parents took us for a hike up a mountain in Connemara. (In Ireland you don’t sit around waiting for the rain to stop, otherwise you’d never go anywhere or do anything.) So there we were, the four of us, being pummeled by gale force winds on the top of a craggy peak, the car was a tiny speck far below us with acres of steep, godforsaken bog and sheep tracks between us and the chocolate bar I’d left stashed under my seat. My short legs were already aching, and my Welly boots full of sludge from falling in one too many bog holes. What’s a girl to do? As we slipped and slid our way back down the mountain, rapidly becoming more and more covered in mud and soaked to the skin, my mother gave up trying to keep us upright. “All right, girls, go for it!” That was all the encouragement we needed. My sister and I rolled down the rest of that mountain, bumping through tussocks of bog cotton and cushiony pillows of heather. By the time we reached the car we were beyond saturation point. My mother stripped us off and wrapped us in scratchy wool blankets, and we sat grinning all the way home, munching chocolate.
You see, sometimes you just have to embrace the chaos, not wallow in it. As the gardener and the potter and the writer knows, if you’ve got mud, you’ve got substance. It’s ripe for growing. But first you’ve got to play a little. Revel in the chaos, and then slowly, slowly, let it take shape.