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Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The New Existence (Continued)

“Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.” (David Whyte)

Why did the narcissist cross the road?

They thought it was a boundary.


In Hong Kong I had a friend I’ll refer to as Lilian.

Lilian was originally from the UK but had recreated herself as a Canadian. She had a Chinese-Canadian husband and had recently become a mother.

‘’Anne, it was only when I walked into the maternity ward and I saw all those cribs that I got it.’’

She pointed to her (recently flat) stomach and then to her nether regions.

‘’I realized that this had to come out there and I was about to give birth!!’’

Several years later my young British friend (and colleague) Claire flew from Hong Kong to the UK for the funeral of her grandmother.

‘’It was only when I saw the coffin (in the church) that I got it. Until then I was too busy to understand that I’d lost a grandmother.’’

I have similar experiences. We all do. We are protected by denial. We don’t have the capacity to absorb too much reality.

For now, the most urgent reality for me to absorb is income.

I need an income and there are several ways for me to earn it.

And the most frequent message I’m getting, in my night dreams, on Instagram, in the folders copied and pasted onto my laptop, and in nature?

Detach from outcome.

Nature will have its way with you.

Declutter your home and the next step will reveal itself.

There is nothing to fear from others. Ask for assistance.

Nature beckons to us at every turn. Nature is communicating.

The tree shedding its dead branches? It’s a metaphor.

The birds sipping water out of the plastic bucket?

It’s a metaphor.

Decode it. Decode whatever is calling for your attention.

The most urgent task I recommend?

Declutter your life. Declutter the naysayers, the narcissists, declutter the addicts, declutter the boundary pushers.

Declutter the stale boxes of junk in the double garage.

Streamline life to the bare bones and you will wake up.

One morning you will sit up in bed and you will know the next step. Not the next next next step, but the one, clumsy, (tentative) next step.

That’s enough for now. The next step will reveal itself.


Images by Anne Townsend



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