Adventure…1,2,3…

My adventure has begun, though having said that, I must tell you I spent the day cleaning windows, that most prosaic of tasks. I find it a chore that allows for reflection, as house cleaning in general does for me, and it was good to take a day to do homey things and think things over.

I am at present some 600 kilometres from where I started, having had possibly the most enjoyable drive of my life. Including ferry travel I spent about nine hours on the road, but with no deadlines or schedules it was delightful to watch the stunning geography of British Columbia unfold, and to stop whenever and wherever I liked. From the lush forests and sparkling sea of Vancouver Island, to the epic thunderstorm in the mountains, to the semi-desert of the south Okanagan, it felt like a gorgeous film unwinding. Oh, I love this province!

I have been exploring the south Okanagan for a week or so, and for various reasons will be here a while longer. Although this is a familiar place I have managed to find some new landscapes most every day. I have hiked a few mountains, explored the unique forests (mostly Ponderosa Pine with grassland between relatively sparse tree cover), and visited a few eclectic little towns – and the sense of adventure is, in fact, deepening. Likely for the aforesaid reasons: no deadlines or schedules.

The sense of liberation is deep in my spirit, though it is a complexity to describe it…In essence, though, I am liberated from my old life, not yet having got to the new, and it is delicious, exhilarating, and frightening. It is also deeply thought-provoking: I carry my me-ness with me, along with my daily habits – what, exactly am I liberating myself from? I suppose it is a sense of not being satisfied, of searching for more.

By chance I find myself reading a book about the black migration out of the southern U.S., told both in general terms and from the intimate view of three particular families. The individuals telling their stories tell of their longing for the ‘better life”, though it is different for each of them, and while the material (better pay, owning a home) is a part of the generalized longing, really they are speaking of the inchoate and amorphous. And I fear that I, too, may need a book to explain what I go in search of.

Well, my imaginary friend, it shall unfold in these virtual pages much the same as my life, messy and unpredictably. But this sense and spirit and ethos of adventure is key, I think: to be open to the possibilities. To see every vista as through a lens, and to contemplate how the most artistic picture may be captured. To be awake to the wondrous. To drive the curvy highway with a five-speed stick shift, not on automatic…

This is where my journey has taken me thus far. And the view from the clean windows is delightful!

 

Photograph by Lentilcia

Photograph by Lentilcia

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Byways and Back Roads

A BackRoad, Childe Hassam

A Back Road, Childe Hassam

I wrote of the journey I am taking a couple of posts back, and you, my imaginary friend, will be pleased, I think, to know that I leave in a few days time. My preparations are almost complete, and no doubt I shall find myself in busyness and doing very shortly, so this seems a good time to write more of my inner journey.

I find myself yearning for change, though naturally I am fearful at the same time…for who knows what change may entail? It is not change of scenery I am looking for, although I welcome new landscapes. And I do not think my essential inner nature shall change, although deeper insights and more compassion for myself might be on my list of self-improvements. While the journey is an actual physical movement, it is not a material quest I go on, but a spiritual one. ‘Spiritual’ is used advisedly: I am not searching for a real or metaphorical holy grail.

The deep nature of the journey is to write a love story, a love story on many levels. To practise a craft with skill and pleasure, rather than to conform to the mediocrity of small town. This mediocrity is rooted in getting along with one’s neighbours, perhaps – of fitting in, of not getting beyond oneself – it is a good-hearted notion at its best, but ultimately stultifying. To wander a freer landscape – less confined than even a large island, in any event! Though I believe freer in the sense, also, that there is room for different styles of living. To explore landscape and people and ethos of a culture different than my own, with openness and rejection of stereotypes and delight in the learning of new things. To kiss the boy in the tender spot behind his ear and to find joy in the sureness of living precisely as one wants to live, every day. Shall these things come to pass? You shall know of my efforts at bringing them into being, at any rate.

Both intimacy and solitude are required for the writing of a great love story, I believe, and maybe a willingness to travel the byways and lesser known roads. I look forward to sharing them with you.

The Personal

This past week has been intensely bittersweet: the bitter of making goodbyes to very dear friends; the sweet of their company reminding me of the joy of such friendships. To set off on a journey entails goodbyes, even if they are temporary, and I have always been one to be the last guest at the party…For one truth in my life is this: my friendships are cherished, and being a part of the ordinariness and dailiness of people’s lives is a gift.

Me, and my imaginary friend came into being as a way to share the unfolding of my life with friends near and far, real and imagined, old and new. We live in times where those we love don’t always reside in geographic proximity, and the nurturing of relationships at a distance takes some care. Of course we want to hear of joys and sorrows, big events, and momentous occasions, but we also want to hear of the ordinary things, thoughtful moments, a thousand little things about those we care for. It is this very thing that we seek out in social media, though it seems to be rather a fashion to deride said mediums. Cute cat videos, selfies, and pictures of dinner are scoffed at as trivialities and time wasters, though I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t think many of us pretend that what we blog or share has earth-shaking significance: that is hardly the point. The point is that we are sharing – and that act of sharing is powerful, and connects us to people. I cannot imagine anything more likely to change our lives, our communities, our world, than this connection. The very idea of a democracy, as an example, is one in which we collectively engage in the question of how we shall live, as a society, and the more we are connected to the inner truths of other’s lives, the better able we are to truly engage in the democratic process. Maybe that’s a big leap for you, my imaginary friend – from a parade of selfies to the democratic process, though the evidence of how social media is changing our politics and political process is clear and unequivocal.

I had the privilege, also this week, of speaking with six different women about “The Dress”, last week’s blog post, and I am grateful for those conversations, some with women I know well and others I am only acquainted with. Each told her particular story of her own dress and its significance, and these were moving and deeply profound stories. The sharing of my simple story inspired much deeper sharing from others, and I can only be inspired in turn by beautiful insight into six different lives.

There is much more I could write, I once wrote a thesis on this theme, in fact, but I think I will leave you with a selfie, just for fun and provocation. The Belle Jar had a great post on selfies, also this week, and you might enjoy her take on the phenomenon, linked here. Do you recollect the proudly proclaimed slogan of second-wave feminism, “the personal is political”? Yes, yes it is.

Selfie

The Dress

I have been sorting and packing, packing and sorting for what seems like a very long time now…I endeavour to be organized: winter clothes in that suitcase, summer clothes in this one, and, of course, it is the perfect opportunity to decide what must be given away and what will be kept, and most of these decisions are pretty easy. But some decisions seem – well, terribly important and oh-so-momentous, and I shall tell you about one such decision.

I do not have a lot of clothes, just the opposite, in fact. I do tend to buy the best things I can and wear them a long time. Partly this is because I dislike shopping, and assuredly I loathe some saleswoman schooling me in the latest fashion trend for which I care nothing, and definitely because I like simple and well-made. Once upon a time, however, I splurged on an exquisite dress for a special New Year’s Eve night out – well, let me tell you about the dress.

The dress is black silk, with a beaded neckline and sleeves, and the body of the dress entirely sequins, all the beads and sequins individually hand-sewn to the silk. It falls to mid-calf, with a slit to mid-thigh – a sexy, shimmery, fantasy of a dress, certainly like nothing I’d ever worn. It was created for a beauty pageant contestant, duly worn in the event, and for sale at a price I could afford – and when I tried it on, I confess I felt transformed. The dress was surprisingly heavy and fit beautifully, and so, I decided I could be Cinderella at the ball for an evening. It was one of those perfect, magical, nights – special friends, champagne, dancing to the early hours – a night that I will always remember with joy.

And the dress, oh the dress was painstakingly cleaned and hung in my closet. And then it was wrapped in tissue paper, to protect those lovely beads and sequins. And oh-so-many times I have looked at it with pleasure, and the longing to put it on and be Cinderella at the ball again – but the occasion never came about. For the dress does require an occasion and a venue and the right company to make its magic happen… I look at this dress, and decide to take it with me, on my journey – and it is a bit of a pain to pack the thing. And when and where shall I wear it? Oh, my imaginary friend, who knows? But even weighing all those things, I know I must have it with me, for it speaks to me of the magic of transformations. The magic of possibilities. The magic of never writing in stone who and what one is…

I wrap it again in fresh tissue paper and put it in the suitcase, and trust that I will find the time and place to wear it, to wrap that magic around me. For the dress tells me that we must, sometimes, break out of our self or other-imposed confines. That this is a part of the path to the joyful life…

I think my words are not adequate to the symbolism of the dress, but I leave you with a lovely piece by artist Lisa Kirk, who seems to instinctively understand the power of transformation and its symbols. You can find more of her work at http://www.lisakirk.ca/, and her dress series of paintings here.

Discovering The Freedom To fly by Lisa Kirk

Discovering The Freedom To Fly by Lisa Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is to discovering the freedom to fly!