Rejection is never nice but fearing or avoiding it can shrink life. About four years ago I decided that I was going to ask the universe – or its inhabitants – outright when I wanted something and that the worst that could happen to me in exchange was a rejection. I have done so, and what’s more I can’t think of any rejection that’s still smarting. Important to me, as I grow older, is that I carry on becoming rather than shrinking. Life’s not worth much to me if I’m not in a state of emotional becoming.
With regard to the topic of rejection, I must go back to the thorny question of lost friendship. The thorn in many lost bouquets is that once the friendship energy has passed it’s often impossible to get it back on track beyond an initial gossip catch up. One is lost for more thoughts and then silence descends. Times have changed; feelings too and returning to memories often turns out to be the best conclusion. But, there are exceptions.
When I agreed to have a dialogue about memory and mind with Hilary Mantel at Dartington’s festival A Way With Words, I noticed that one of the speakers scheduled on the same day happened to be a lost friend. Except, she was never lost in my mind. Yet we had lost track of each other, or maybe I got jealous that she seemed to have been over colonised by friends that had been introduced. Or, I felt rejected, or whatever. (Whenever I think of the dynamics of friendship, I always think of Hermia and Helena’s volatile argument about friendship) and how tricky it can be to turn two into three, whatever the gender.) The speaker was Patsy Rodenburg who is an international voice teacher. Except, Patsy is more than that as everybody in theatre from NY to LA and back to London knows. Patsy works with energy, breath and presence. Patsy works with the universe, Greek chorus and knows all Shakespeare’s best sonnets by heart whilst I have struggled to lock twelve into my poetry portmanteau.
My spontaneous response was to ring Patsy, whom I hadn’t seen for precisely six years and leave her a long and enthusiastic message asking if we might travel down to Dartington together. I never got a reply. I didn’t need to cringe, or want to bite into my lip because me husband did it all for me. He doesn’t like even a whiff of rejection, but then who does? It’s true that when I didn’t immediately hear back from Patsy I decided that she must be away, and that I’d hear soon enough, but I didn’t. With each day that came and went without any reply it felt like something was missing. By the time I caught the train for Dartington I was beginning to hurt enough to hope that our paths wouldn’t cross, and I could just pretend that she wasn’t there.
Ushered towards the dining room for lunch the first person, out of several hundred, to cross my path was Patsy. In an instant I knew there was still a present energy as well as a past memory and that which was lost had been found. After the event we drove back to London together: the journey took five hours but it passed in a whir of shared mythology of tales of birth, death and future life. Patsy doesn’t teach voice, she teaches life, and she doesn’t only inhabit the universe she consults it as her mentor. It is inside of her. We also discovered that we are both fascinated and excited by concepts and developments in neuroplasticity which might become the subject of my next blog. Unless I hear that my agent has sent out my book proposal in which case I might find myself writing still more about rejection.
Patsy Rodenburg PRESENCE published by Penguin