Hello WallBy Emma Pearson
September 22, 2023
Shirley Valentine Images from various Internet sites
4th February 2021
One of my favourite ever films is Shirley Valentine.
It came out in 1989 when I was 22 and had already been in relationship with Mike for two years. I remember feeling so sure that I would not while my life away, or stick around in an unsatisfactory relationship being unappreciated and taken advantage of. Most of the story is about Shirley taking the bold step of leaving her unfulfilling life and relationship and heading to Greece where she falls in love with… herself. It’s a truly lovely, heart-warming, woman-power film.
There are many scenes that stick with me vividly, despite watching it over 30 years ago. The “Vegetarian bloodhound”. “Thursday means steak for dinner”. Or “Dinner is at 6 o’clock”.
But the bit that stays with me most is where Shirley talks to the walls in her house.
“Hello Wall…” she says, and on she goes to have a conversation with someone-something that makes her feel validated. Seen. Heard. Witnessed.
I have felt like that today. I talked to the dog, which felt a little healthier than talking to the wall. But I also talked to the kettle while I made myself a cuppa, which I admit sounds more dubious. And now I am essentially talking to my computer, putting some of my day out into the world. To be validated. Seen. Heard. Witnessed.
For this deafening silence, this lack of an “echo” to my life, to my daily living, feels deafening at times. If I see Medjool once a week for the weekend, and on top of that we talk live perhaps once in the days in between, then not 10%, perhaps not even 5%, of my life gets shared. Not 10% of frustrations, happenings, learnings, insights, delights, quandaries, questions or challenges is expressed. That is a lot of lost life. Lost learning. Lost sharing. Lost building. Lost tapestry-making.
And this is not about any inadequacies in our relationship. It’s difficult to have much more when you’re not living together. It’s the contrast of living and being with someone in a committed relationship, vs. living alone and having a relationship. The difference between living and being, and having and doing.
Today I have had such a very rich day, but no-one gets to hear about it. And, as with all good extroverts, I need to express it out loud for it to be able to settle, for it to become truly real and really true. It’s not that I have not had “contact” (virtual, of course) with people today. In fact, most of the day I was engaged with one or many others.
But it’s the going over afterwards, the reflecting, the noodling, the retelling, recounting, reliving that is missing.
And I miss that so much.
Today, as well as walking the dog twice (which is one of my versions of “Hello Wall”), I:
* coached a fellow coach on language she is using on her new website
* was coached by the same fellow coach on some new thoughts I am noodling on where I might take my business
* prepared and recorded two short learning videos on change leadership and resistance to change (and for that I really did talk to my screen/wall – I set up a zoom meeting just for myself and talked while I recorded)
* participated in a wildly wonderful, wise and warm session with Kate Cowie’s Wicked Company gathering, where we were inspired to reflect on and commit to how we want to be different as we emerge into whatever is next. How we can resource ourselves in “going on being” when the world is so complex, messy, unfathomable. One of the invitations was to “Look into the mirror and out of the window” as a guide for ensuring we take time to do the difficult inner work before taking ourselves back out into the world. A note I jotted down was: When I don’t know what to do, or how to contribute, I can be, intentionally. I can be, on purpose.
* and immediately on the back of that, participated in the monthly Human Systems Dynamics webinar on the topic of “Thriving in these times” – which, along with Cultivating Resilience, is about as close to my heart as anything can be.
That’s a lot (for me) in a day. A good bit of learning, reflecting, creating, contributing, and now writing. I even played piano for a while.
And just the wall gets to hear about it. And the dog. Though it transpires my walls don’t echo.
I so miss my echo. The sensation of feeling the reverberation of my life. Having someone, (someones), to witness and validate my day to day actions, learnings, insights, trials and tribulations. My day to day being.
So you get to be my echo instead.