Last weekend is a classic case in point. I’d been working on a book manuscript for someone – a spiritual tale of self-discovery, just my thing – and after two hours of typing I felt a bit achy in my shoulders and needed to move. I felt a strong urge to dance to Madonna’s Ray of Light album, specifically the Nothing Really Matters song.
I went upstairs to my small mezzanine space, about 2mx2m, where I keep my crystals, incense sticks, meditation cushions, spiritual books and inspirational art, including a red Tibetan scroll I brought back from Nepal on which is printed some sage advice from the Dalai Lama about finding inner peace. There’s also my really old Sony CD player (with a tape cassette player - that’s how old it is!) and a selection of self-development CDs by the likes of Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer (RIP), and Cheryl Richardson. Madonna is my all-time favourite pop icon, and so I put on the CD and enjoyed whirling, twirling, twisting and arabesque-ing as best I could in the confines of the small room.
When I dance I feel free
The Ray of Light album came out right around the time I was heading off to university to study media and English. I think Frozen was the first single released, followed by the album’s title track. But Nothing Really Matters came out during my second year, when I was in America doing on an exchange programme. We had a TV in the apartment which played MTV – what a luxury, having just five channels back home – and two of the videos that played endlessly and became part of my summer 1999 soundtrack were Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen Song and Nothing Really Matters. Both songs moved me in a way it’s hard to describe; they spoke to a deep part of me that was much older and wiser than my body’s 20 years. And even though I knew the lyrics from Madonna’s song were about her first child Lourdes, the musical arrangement struck deep within my soul, so that whenever it came on the TV or was played in a club, I felt compelled to dance. I loved nothing more than dancing with wild abandon around the vast, light-filled living room in our second-floor apartment of what was named ‘the brick house’ (next to the blue house and the yellow house), with huge windows overlooking the tree-filled courtyard of the University of South Carolina. Though I was young and supposedly at an age to be carefree, I so often felt trapped within a cage of ‘shoulds’: I should behave this way, I shouldn’t do that or my parents/friends/boyfriend/life in general won’t approve and won’t like me. I was easily swayed by personalities stronger and bigger than my own. And I didn’t value or even listen to my own intuition, which was and still is my biggest work in progress. So, dancing to Madonna, whose videos and songs had inspired me since the age of eight, gave me sense of freedom somehow. Freedom from who I was to the outside world and a small doorway into the person I could become.
As the track drew to a close, I laid down on the soft fluffy white rug and began thinking about how incredibly long ago those university days seemed: 16 to be precise. I thought about how Madonna had transformed and grown as a person from the Material Girl years to the Earth Mother phase of the Ray of Light era, coinciding with her first child. And I thought about how many times she underwent a transformation, and continues to do so, not least during the Reinvention Tour - my first live concert of hers, in fact of anyone!
Synchronicity or just weird coincidence?
By now the album was on track 8 - the one in which she sing a Sanskrit chant - and I propped myself up against the wall with my cushions, and grabbed the nearest book, Change Me Prayers, by Tosha Silver. Tosha is a former astrologer and very down to earth in her advice and way of living. Plus she also has a lot of the same planets as me in her birth chart so I feel like we have some similarities. I devoured her first book, Outrageous Openness, on holiday earlier this summer, and loved it so much I ordered the sequel straight away. It’s made up of very short stories, 1-3 pages long. I must have started it two months ago, as I was reading a few pages at a time. So, I could have been at any point in the book. Imagine my shock and surprise when I open it to see ‘Just like Madonna’ written at the top of the page! I swear I’d not looked ahead and seen what was coming, so I had no idea. What were the chances of this happening? I’ve been reading this book on and off for months; I could have got up to any page. How did I manage to be listening to Madonna AND open a book with her name at the top of the page? The book isn’t even about her.
|Madonna on the page|
|Tosha Silver's advice to reinvent ourselves|
Maybe it's time for me to do a reinvention, just like Madonna. With the arrival of September I'm feeling the urge to have a massive clear out at home, overhaul my diet, which has once again become too sugary, and perhaps cut my hair. As they say, the only thing you can count upon to happen in life is change, whether you want it or not.