Gathering Apples

WORK IN PROGRESS

It may have been noticed I haven’t been writing here much of late – certainly not nearly as frequently as I once did. This is indeed the case. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything – pleasant, at least – and what I did manage to type out was a HUGE effort and more than a little forced.
Frankly the last two years have not been easy. In fact, I could truthfully say it’s been one damn thing after another. Details aren’t important but suffice to say this period was mildly put “fraught with incident” each more bizarrely awful than the last. Furthermore, the majority of this was completely unexpected, couldn’t have been predicted or prevented, and every dreadful thing that happened arrived as if shot from a cannon point blank. While I’ve endured worse periods, this past stretch was nonetheless exceptionally hard, intensely upsetting and deeply depressing.
I am not the one to paste on a false grin and claim everything’s fine when the volcano is obviously erupting right there in the room. Nor am I one to moan, wail and curse Fate – not publicly at any rate and certainly not all over the Internet. No, when life becomes exceptionally hard and I find myself exhausted and depressed, I withdraw. The more severely depressed I get, the farther I withdraw and the more difficult I find it to re-engage with the world. During the deluge of the past two years, It generally seemed far too great an effort to leave the building and I was certainly in no mood to write thoughtful essays on perfume – or anything else.
But I am tough and, as I said, I’ve survived worse. I may get knocked down and certainly have been plenty of times but I will always get up again. And with the passage of Time, I’ve come to realize I am blessed with the capacity to actually learn from history so I rarely have to repeat the hard lessons the Universe sends my way. This time it’s taken quite a bit longer than I’d have guessed to regain my footing but that has given me time to reflect. More importantly, I also made it an opportunity to refocus and reinvent. This is a talent I am very lucky indeed to possess. Looking back over the really bad parts of my life, I begin to realize it’s this capacity for reinvention that has many times not only made it possible for me to recover but, in time, to actually flourish.
I feel such a time is at hand. I’ve definitely sensed a change for several months. There is still work to be done to fully resolve certain issues of the recent past and to finally settle a few still outstanding accounts but all that’s necessary to close those chapters is underway. At least crises are no longer springing up like toadstools in a dank wood and Justice, Order and Reason seem once again present and back to work. I am a good deal more myself these days and am feeling not only capable of moving forward but confident and even excited about doing so.
Shortly after this year began, I entered an especially creative period. Not only have I gotten more done in a few weeks than I have in ages, I’ve also used a bit of that energy to reflect on what I’ve accomplished up till now and to ask myself some questions. What’s been working? What hasn’t? What would I like to change or improve? What would make it easier for me to do what I want to? What would I like to accomplish through the next twelve months or so? How can I make that happen? These are questions I usually ask myself at the start of a New Year.
But this year, my list of queries was longer and the questions perhaps a bit more in depth. Possibly it was the result of navigating such a tortuous and torturous sea as the past two years but this year it seemed wise to step back a bit further than I usually do and examine the much bigger picture. It seemed high time to really examine the whole path from the beginning and, instead of merely following a current trajectory based on recent history, to really decide where it is I want to go and then figure out how to get there. What am I really pleased with so far? Why has something seemed to be missing for such a long time and what exactly might that thing be? What would I find genuinely satisfying? What do I really want to do and how am I going to make it possible to do it? What do I want to explore? What do I want to express? I find these are the questions of Reinvention.
Finding answers, however, isn’t easy or immediate. Reimagining and reinventing is a very challenging, unsettling and sometimes very scary process yet one I’ve undergone more than a couple of times in my life. So although I know that deciding to reinvent is a daunting prospect and one must take the rough with the smooth, I know from experience that it is also exciting and exhilarating and can lead to marvelous, extraordinary experiences some of which I can’t begin to foresee or even imagine.
I also know from having gone this route several times, that I am never changed by reinvention. I may well change a good many elements, dynamics and relationships around me and I may even alter my outward appearance fairly radically yet at heart I don’t change. But I do evolve, sometimes considerably and each time I choose to reinvent, I feel I gain greater wisdom, insight and understanding. In short, I become more myself. I think this is what life’s for.
Reinvention isn’t at all about attaining a particular goal. It’s about suddenly setting off on a different journey than that which might have been planned. This isn’t the sort of journey I set out on with a carefully detailed map and meticulous itinerary. I may begin with a good idea and have a general direction in mind but I keep actual plans loose, my eye wide open and prepare myself to go where intuition leads. This may all seem extremely slapdash and devil-may-care to a good many and even horrify those who insist on a Solid Careful Plan for a Decent Career and a Respectable Life. Still this method has always served me well and it’s gotten me to where I am now (which is no small accomplishment) so I see no reason it should lead me in the wrong direction now.
Reinvention isn’t a trip I lightly decide to take. I know it won’t fix everything and there may well be some extremely rough patches to come. Life is full of the bad as well the good and I’d be foolish to expect otherwise. Besides I don’t think it’s possible to fully appreciate the good without the bad. However I set out knowing full well that I am quite capable of handling whatever hardships lie ahead and I know I always have close to hand a small but very special group who gladly give all the assistance and support I may need to see me through. However well I may plan or however thoroughly I think I’ve prepared, I have no idea exactly what the future holds. But I am absolutely certain that there will be at least a few times where unexpectedly all things coalesce, align and Universe is perfectly balance with me on the fulcrum. Suddenly life is as brilliant and serene as the noon sun shining on a calm sea. It shines all the brighter as I remember that moments like these are not the end of the journey or even a goal. They’re simply the sublime stops along the way that make all the rest – even the stretches as dreadful as the past two years have been for me – absolutely worthwhile.
I am not the kind to make a list of New Year’s Resolutions. This may work well for some but I’ve always found trying to draw up a list of often seriously radical changes to be oppressive, shortsighted and frankly a little clich√©. Therefore I have no list of Resolutions for the New Year (besides which it’s now well past Easter and therefore a little late in the day) but I do have a few answers already which have led to decisions and point in new directions.
First of all I’m going to be a good deal more diligent about writing more. Lord knows I have plenty to say. So hopefully I’ll be back to far more regular and frequent journal entries over the coming months.
I’m also looking into doing audio entries as well. I am told I have a good voice and why don’t I do radio? In the digital age “doing radio” seems to me about as relevant as the rotary dial phone or cranking the Model T. But the digital age has provided a good many other venues in which the human voice can be most effective and those are what we’re looking at. We’ll see what happens.
I’ve been working on a new collection for a few months and I’m becoming quite pleased with it. This collection is related to “perfume” but quite different to anything I’ve done here to date. We’re finalizing everything now and it should all be ready quite soon – surely within the next couple of months. I expect I’ll be writing a lot about that when the time comes.
As soon as possible, we’ll be redoing the gallery and redoing much of the place in general. Although this building was not at all what we’d planned and we took possession in an insanely short space of time, it’s working very well and it’s time to give it an upgrade. The forced feeling I’d had when we moved in is gone and I’m looking forward to a redo. It’ll be quite enjoyable, I think. And a good deal more interesting not to mention comfortable to all concerned.
I’ve been exploring a few avenues that don’t involve perfume at all but are certainly creative. I haven’t explored those quite enough yet to see where they may lead so I don’t have much to say about them. Yet.
Am I going to continue to make perfume?
Of course. I have already finished one scent and am working on several more. The first will be released this spring (meaning very soon) and the rest will follow over the course of the coming year. These are only the ones I’m at work on now. I have a long list of ideas for a great many more.
But speaking of making perfume, I’m going to be approaching that process quite differently from now on. After reflecting for quite a while on my general dissatisfaction and I turned to my original manifesto, I Hate Perfume. That crystallized a good deal that’s been going through my mind for the past two years consciously and otherwise and something quite important became clear. I’ve decided from here on I’m going to focus my work rather more specifically and step even further away from what is traditionally understood as “perfume” I.e. the fashion accessory it has always been.
I’ve long known scent has an extraordinary almost magical power to evoke profound emotion and uncanny sense of place. To me perfume is experiential and communicative. These are the aspects of olfaction that fascinate me most and those are the elements I’m going to explore as fully as I can.
The emotional, experiential and communicative power perfume can express is also that which begins to move perfume beyond the world of Fashion and into the realm of Art. That’s a line I feel I’ve been straddling rather uncomfortably for far too long and I’ve always felt most uneasy trying to fit what I do in the Fashion box. There is, God knows, plenty of perfume in the world and more is dumped out with clocklike regularity. That no longer concerns me. From here on, I’m going to turn my attention to olfactory art.
As many people have long called what I do “art”, it may seem a little odd (or maybe even crazy) to suddenly announce myself that’s what I plan to be making in future. I can see how it might seem so but for me internally it’s very much as it was when I finally decided to call myself a “perfumer” after I’d been making perfume for eight years. Accepting the title – so to speak – seemed to cause me to approach the work from a new and greatly improved perspective. Now, the change from “perfume” to “art” feels remarkably similar and, this time, much easier to assume. So from here out, I’ll be making art.
What does this mean in terms of scents I might make? Well exactly, I couldn’t say. But I do have very definite ideas. Some of these were inspired by two gallery shows I was asked to participate in last year in New York. Some I’ve had in mind for years. Some will be worn but a good many in future won’t. Some will be bottled and others may be the size of a room. Several ideas are quite new and excite me quite a bit. In fact, I find the whole idea of making “olfactory art” extremely exciting indeed. And most satisfying.
So since reflection and intuition seem quite certain this is the way go, that’s the new direction I’ll be taking. Just how it shakes out and exactly where that path leads I’m not concerned with. We’ll take it as we go along.
As one of my yoga teachers used to say, “It’s all a work in progress.”
Best Wishes,
CB