First Date

Restating what I said in my last post, I have some catching up to do here. Despite my good intentions to blog regularly, the busy-ness of May threw an interesting conflict onto my Path. I wanted to blog, but I also felt committed to being fully present with our houseguests and the things we were experiencing together, internally and externally. While I love my extended online community, I know that it can also serve as a distraction. So, for the past few weeks, I participated in the gift of unplugging and attending. Not only have I enjoyed every minute of it, but I’m also enjoying my return to the regular rhythm and routine of my life, feeling renewed and recommitted. More posts, photos and poetry are on their way…

Before I launch into my travelogue, however,  I want to share the unexpected delight of a First Date. No, I’m not stepping out on Jeff, but rather I’m reaching into a long-neglected part of my own soul. As a California-trained psychologist, I have long admired Julia Cameron’s work, and have adopted bits and pieces of her Artist’s Way program into my life. I value my practice of writing Morning Pages, but I have always resisted the whole idea of Artist Dates, especially since moving to England where I’ve struggled to maintain my independence. I had promised myself that I would make a serious commitment to the practice as my houseguests departed and my life settled down a bit. And on Monday, it happened. I hugged my friend goodbye in the Green Park tube station and headed towards the British Library. I had seen an advertisement for a Writing Britain exhibit at the British Library, and my newly empowered Inner Writer suddenly felt an irresistible urge to spend time with her Tribe. Bemused, I went along for the ride.

The exhibit was amazing and, for me, transformative. An ambitious visual display of Britain’s literature through the centuries, it was organized by Setting and Place, rather than the usual structuring by chronology and genre, and therein lay its brilliance. Having travelled from one end of Britain to the other these past 13 years, I can understand this structuring, can feel it in my body as well as see it in my mind’s eye. Stepping through the portal, I was swept into British landscape, from its Magical Realms to the Dark Satanic Mills to the Wild Places, Waterlands, and Cockney Visions, meeting new faces and familiar authors, on their own terrain with their friends and characters.  JK Rowling was there, her handwritten manuscript looking plain, ordinary, and infinitely accessible as well as magical. Chaucer, Dickens, Austen, Burns, Woolf, du Maurier and a host of others made appearances and contributions, each drawing on their visions of the landscapes around them. Their greatness, I realized, lay in their willingness to put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard) in order to tell their stories. Just that, combined (of course) with amazing talent and perseverance.

Two things happened for me… first, I felt these authors take on a new realness, encouraging me to follow their lead in writing for writing’s sake, in writing to give expression to my own vision and voice, without holding back. Second, I felt welcomed into some invisible Literary Circle, invited to step beyond the curtain of mystique that I had previously experienced as impenetrable and forbidding. I could hardly wait to sit down with my Kindle and my keyboard. I left feeling in love and on fire.

I am reading. I am writing. I am home.

3 thoughts on “First Date

  1. I too went to this exhibition, just this last Sunday. I too was struck by the Tolkien quote (‘Not all those who wander are lost’), and a kind member of staff recited the poem in full for me. I don’t know how much can be quoted online without breach of copyright, so suffice to say it is Gandalf’s poem in his letter to Frodo, in chapter 10 of Lord of the Rings. I only got round half of the exhibition as it was so overwhelming but hope to get back to the second half before it closes! it brought back so many memories of childhood (Wind in the Willows; the Arthur Ransome adventures; The House at Pooh Corner) and gave me a powerful sense of connection to the way in which the landscape is so important in my own life and writing. Thank you for sharing this, Kimberly, and glad we connect in this way! xx

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