Having finally sat down to watch Holy Flying Circus, having read however many write-ups, having known it was going to be good but having no idea really what to expect – given the batshit-brilliant production – I’m enjoying that wonderful post-something glorious feeling, and the just as wonderful must-create-something myself urge.

Before, countless times, I’ve watched something so good, so polished, so caringly and passionately created and it’s hit me like this, left me like this. But then – just a year or more ago, say, on this blog – I’ve shattered into pieces. I’ve often been alone, but not always, like the time after (almost shameful to admit it) watching Marley & Me just weeks after meeting my wife.

Because it’s not really been about the quality of the thing, although the more inspirational the quality the higher the impact. In fact, the quality of the thing is crucial, in that although the common theme is about self-questioning or self-defence, basically about what you think and feel as a person and how you express that or find it repressed, the quality of the expression is what reaches out.

Without the quality, without the clarity and honesty, the thing is a sorrowful and harrowing wail of pain. Something that close to your heart expressed inexpertly, inexplicitly, only whines or shrills discordantly. It shrieks and lashes out. But when the thing is quality, when the creator has connected entirely with the heart, the thing is defining. It defines the reason we live at all.

If most of our lives is spent casting around looking for something that fits, then this is the ultimate goal. The meaning of life, if you like, and if I’m to be so brash and confident in expressing that. Which I am. Because what other meaning could there be to life than to explore the boundaries of what makes a life and finding the shape which matches you?

Whatever that shape is, the thing which resonates most with me is creativity – other people’s quality creations, things of such skillfully expressed honesty that, where I might have expected my own aspirations to create to feel lessened and weakened in the face of such achievement, in fact they all seem to clearly express the answers I ask myself for.

Holy Flying Circus isn’t a lot of things, but those things aren’t important becuase what it is is solid, honest quality. I guess it’s more of a film than a TV show, but just like Red Riding there is something so assured and confident about it all that I think may have been panel-beaten out of a commercial film. Or one with such high production, at least.

Regardless of what it is in terms of ‘product’, it’s the sort of film that I ache to have been a part of, that I yearn to replicate (the quality, not the content) and that I envy with deep, deep feeling the wholehearted joy you can see the production brought to the actors central to the telling of the thing. Each one is having a glorious time, and that calls out at you.

I struggle with dialogue, and it’s films like this that make me realise how upsetting that really is. Because our lives are about the things we say to others and what they say to us – people can destroy or transform or transcend all manner of things just by speaking. Or by not speaking. The spoken word is the throbbing heart of what it means to be human.

So I’m here, knowing that I want to echo the dedicated quality which this film holds. I know I want to be as searching and as dedicated to expressing as clearly and explicitly and skillfully as possible the white hot heat of the story – to not just writing but to writing only the words that have meaning.

I’m sure I’ve heard someone liken writing to sculpting, in that the most perfect writing has had all the needless pieces chipped away and everything that’s left, everything that contributes totally to the full figure, is smoothed and polished. Nothing is wasted and nothing wasted is left to sully the overall structure. This is my aim.

Of course, like this blog always draws out, I am verbose. I rattle on and yammer away and I use too many words. But that’s why I write this, why I rattle this out and use up the words which aren’t entirely necessary – in some way writing is therapy to me, but that doesn’t necessarily make good reading.

I believe the only meaning to life is that it is yours, yours to shape and make something of, something which your fibres have been created in order to do. I believe we all have something which will respond exactly to something else in the world, and that when we find that thing we won’t be able to ignore it, no matter how hard we try.

When I’ve seen that something played out in front of me before (long before now) and when it has resonated in me like the natural frequency of my being, and when I’ve resisted that, I have broken. You can’t resist your nature. And once you’ve discovered your nature you owe it to yourself to invite that resonance time and time again.

That’s not what we’re taught. That’s not how the world works. The world isn’t interested in what your natural frequency is, because there are too damn many of you and the world’s responsibility has to end somewhere – and because no one knows where that is, we often find ourselves encouraged or pressed into shapes which don’t fit us at all.

This is somewhat at the heart of my new political leaning. I’ve spent all my life desperate for someone to find my natural frequency for me, reaching out for that answer to be provided to me in a way I could cope with. Because whenever I think I’ve discovered it for myself the importance, the value, of that discovery has been challenged.

Finally, I don’t feel like I’m having to reconvince myself that I am a writer every day. Because it has been exhausting. And it’s no wonder I’ve got very little done. But today, with this sense of having seen out there something I could aim for, not to replace or to challenge but to sit beside, I have to get started. And this was step one.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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