It is spring in the southern hemisphere and if you haven’t been struck down by Melbourne’s annual hay fever epidemic, perhaps you’ve smelled the jasmine on the evening air.
I’ve spent so much time in rehearsal rooms lately that I’ve stopped noticing my surroundings like I used to. But the smell of jasmine is arresting.
A beer garden. An unused jacket. The first warm night. The promise of more to come.
I know there’s a strong argument that social media has ruined our enjoyment of nature. That people can no longer just enjoy a view, they must capture it. But I think that’s always been the case for writers.
Anything beautiful I see. Or anything interesting that happens to me. Or funny or painful. Anything I’ve rejoiced in or been ashamed of. It’s all material.
I’ll think, This hurts, I can use this.
Recently a friend, a writer, told me about his heartbreak and, stuck for comforting phrases, I said, It’ll make you a better writer. And he agreed.
Because we all do it. It’s perhaps a little pathological. Or vampiric. But it’s difficult to stop. I only strike up conversations with strangers so I can tell you about it. I’m not a chatty person, I just need experiences to relay.
The thing that stops me is my own distraction. When I get too busy, I have much less to say because I stop noticing. I stop looking and listening. I stop making conversation.
But the smell of jasmine is arresting. It demands that you pay attention.
It is the promise of more to come.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 22nd September 2019 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.