Casting Spells Over Water

"The more I look at you, the more you look like Frida Kahlo" - my new acquaintance Anastasiya said to me. We were sitting in a cosy wood-finished kitchen in the centre of St. Pete, Russia, as an old-style tram was turning around the corner from Marat's Street to the Lane of Candles making a loud and very atmospheric sound. She was probably referring to my dark-red hairband similar to those Frida used to wear as well as my passionate speech about painting.

We were living indeed in the street called "Lane of Candles" in the very centre of the Russian Cultural capital and our apartment had an extensive amount of candles of various colours and shapes. Over time, they melted into magnificent sculptures of wax and light.

Besides, Inna and I brought some 10 kg worth of art materials and sketchbooks to this flat, filled the walls with our schedules, precious books, dream boards, and a majestic leopard Amir that I have bought from a street artist in the North of India and framed here.

"You have created magic here" - concluded Anastasiya.

Despite her royal name, Anastasiya did not own this apartment. She rented it from someone else, then Inna rented it from her, then Inna invited me and together we invited Julia, our successful vegan blogger friend. Inna left for business to another city for a week, Anastasiya came to an apartment for a couple of days, so there were three of us, (To Say Nothing of the dog, japanese chin Hans, who was adding up to the overall magic )

Frida Kahlo or not, I was still struggling with the idea of becoming a full-time artist. I do not think it is objectively hard to be an artist. Maybe it is the most natural way one can live in harmony with nature, with Gods, and with one's fellow humans, who need art, of course. But art career has been deemed destination nowhere in the post-Soviet era and I was still in the process of embracing my true artistic identity.

I though it appropriate to relate my entire destiny to a stranger Anastasiya, who came to pick up her things with her fluffy companion Hans. She said I was clearly three feet from gold, as most people kept saying to me for the last 2,5 years, as I have taken on painting as a profession. Her blue eyes shined sincerely.

St Petersburg was in lockdown so in order to be refreshed, I went to a secret illegal party with a contemporary dance performance. My friend Katya was dancing. She was so daringly beautiful and she performed the choreography of her own invention to a room of somewhat 100 other illegal guests, who were shouting in rapture as she made a stylish pause before removing her coat, under which…well, was that daring outfit.

After the performance, she found me in low spirits in the corridor. I have explained to her that she was most gorgeous, it was just that particular period of my life that was challenging. She said it was her first dance performance with her own choreography ever.

"So I am 35 and I've allowed it to happen." - she said matter-of-factly and then looked at me. She was well-acquainted with my feelings, I did not have to explain.

"Thank you, fellow rebel-heart", she added.

I thanked her, excused myself from joining the afterparty and headed to the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island: a fascinating half-circled piece of an island cutting into the blackness of Neva River, opening up to a grand panoramic view framed with lines of majestic royal palaces, which the river refused to reflect clearly due to the strong wind.

As soon as I reached the water my heart was soothed by the Van-Gogh-like reflections of street lights and a bridge. The bridge was lit up with an impressionist primary blue and together with the yellow of the street light they've mixed a wonderful palette on black Neva waters.

I headed straight down to the very Spit of an Island, right next to the water. The lanterns, the trees, the crowd were all on the level above, so I enjoyed a dark tête-à-tête with the river and an opportunity to cast a spell out loud above her waters without being thought of as crazy ( Which I guess would be fine in this city anyway ). I had my hot wine to warm myself up to stay in the street for so long on the last day of October, ate my Chinese noodles using chopsticks, took out a piece of purple paper. I looked at those beautiful reflectios and then moved from deep within, started writing.

Essentially, I wrote a letter of forgiveness to myself. I have never done this before and I have read in a book* recently that one is heading nowhere without doing this first.

People always work to forgive someone else: parents, ex-lovers, colleagues, business partners…But really, nothing could be done to us what we did not comply with. And the core grief is for that compliance I think. That we allowed some undesirable things to happen to us and did not allow for some other things that we really wanted.

So that evening I decided to go straight to the core. I wrote it hastily, almost in the dark, benefiting slightly from a faraway yellow street light from the level above.

Then, I read it out loud to the river, framed with lit up palaces:

I forgive myself for not becoming a painter right away when I have discovered I wanted to be one when I was 18 and heeding my parents' advice. For not knowing being a painter was absolutely possible. I forgive myself because now is the perfect time to do this anyway.

I forgive myself for blaming my parents.

I forgive myself for using a lot of their help

I forgive myself for going out of may way too much for helping them

I forgive myself for my pride and my ambition and for despising anyone who does not do what they love.

I forgive myself for overworking myself almost to death in architecture, for nothing

I forgive myself for thinking I am only valuable when I make good money

I forgive myself for being harsh with my younger sister out of my own pain and for influencing her for a while in a direction she maybe did not need to take

I forgive myself for being in Russia again and breathing the cold, humid, maddening Neva air, even though I know I want to be elsewhere.

I entirely, completely and fully forgive myself, as the Peter and Paul Fortress rings its bells, and as the purple paper, filled on both sides is being torn and entrusted to Neva. I gave to the river my pain, I asked for it to be transmuted into something else. I said to pass the word to the Thames that I am coming. I know rivers of the world have their ways of talking to each other and that they would always listen to a sincere heartfelt spell. Which you now know how to cast. If you do it truly and if you feel it deeply, it might be as well the single most valuable thing you did up to that point in your life.

Try it, write a letter forgiving yourself for EVERYTHING that you ever held against yourself. Go somewhere close to the water. SPEAK TO IT. Out loud, if you can. Water is powerful for carrying grief away and for transmuting old worn-out feelings into new beginnings.

Forgive yourself and be renewed, be lit up! Sending you a few matches - in the form of words - from the Lane of Candles.

*I found this in the book "Love yourself like your life depends on it" by Kamal Ravikant. The next step he suggests is taking a Vow of loving yourself completely, truly and deeply, in your own words, writing the wow down and placing it in a visible place next to your desk or something. I will do this tomorrow as I wake up.

>To be continued >>
Subscribe to receive next sketch stories

>Previous chapter >>
Orchestrating Thunder. And Who Are You To Do That?

Press on sketchbook to see all chapters :
Subscribe to the new sketch stories. See my journey drawing its way forward. Imagine yours...
Let me tell you a story...
Subscribe to the new sketch stories.
See my journey drawing its way forward.
Imagine yours.
It's totally free