Blame it on the rain, but I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time this week thinking about the worlds we create for ourselves. Staring at rain streaking down the windows never fails to pull me into a dreamy place of muse and reverie.
I believe we create our worlds by what we value, dream about, pay attention to, are curious about. We also create them through what we curate in ourselves, our days, and our surroundings. When I say curate, I don’t necessarily mean the objects we collect in our surroundings. Yes, they’re a part of the world we create for ourselves too, but I’m mostly thinking about the influences we let in through the people, media, books, music, movies, beliefs, experiences, and places we make a part of our regular lives. All of those influences and more affect how we see ourselves, our lives, the rest of the world, and our place in it. And for creatives, those influences affect the very art we create (whatever form that might take). This is something I think about a lot.
I’ve made it a mission to curate wonder and inspiration in my days and share the results. I take all that treasure I gather and transform it into fodder for my own imagination. It helps me see new trails to explore, new perspectives, and thinking that inspire new ideas and directions in my own work.
I love nothing more than taking those sparks of new ideas that arise from the inspiration and influences I curate to craft new and marvelous adventures for myself and the company of explorers and co-conspirators that gather together for the journey. I guess I’m a bit of a curator at heart — it’s a thread running through most of my life’s work and personal life — and I love sharing the gold of my discoveries with kindred spirits who venture into my world.
One of my favorite quotes that’s guided my life and work the past few years is this beauty from Anaïs Nin:
“I was creating the world I wanted, and into this world, after it is created,
you invited others and then you attract those who have affinities and this
becomes a Universe.”
Yes, of course, we’re a part of the society in which we live and that society has a huge influence on our worldview. But we each inhabit our own world within our society. It’s at that intersection of each of us as individuals with society, our personal perception of the “world that is” and our relationship with the wonders that lie beyond it that creates unique worlds we each inhabit:
“I don’t think the world is the way we like to think it is. I don’t think it’s one solid
world, but many, thousands upon thousands of them–as many as there are
people–because each person perceives the world in his or her own way;
each lives in his or her own world.” ~ Charles de Lint, Dreams Underfoot
I spent a lot of years in my archaeological career tracking how things moved across landscapes in antiquity through trade and exchange, and how certain things carried certain meaning, ideas, status, and power. With each contact made between distant societies, it wasn’t just “things” that were exchanged or gifted, it was also ideas, beliefs, and influences. You could see how those beliefs were taken into different societies and mashed-up into their own belief systems in unique ways, and how it gave rise to new meaning and ways of seeing the world (and how the people saw themselves in relation to it). Sometimes for the good, sometimes with disastrous results.
I was musing about all of this the past few days, about the worlds we curate for ourselves intentionally and unintentionally. It’s a good reminder about the power of outside influences in how we experience the world and our days, as well as what we put back out into the world. It’s about being a savvy curator of inspiration, influence, and our perception.
I think it’s an interesting exercise to look at the things we’re especially attracted to that stand the test of time in our interests. There’s deeper meaning there that we can track and explore. For myself, I’ve long held a strong attraction to the quirky, the slightly scruffy, and the offbeat in life and art. That includes characters in stories, places, and things. Things old, handmade, well-worn with loving use, handed-down or given a second life also have long held a long-term appeal for me, as do small and tiny things crafted with exquisite care. I’m drawn to things, people, ideas, and places that are unpretentious, natural, and true. But I also love the adventurous, exploratory, and edgy. That’s also reflected in my love of the wild places, myths and archetypes, the edges and hedges, the thresholds, secret and hidden spaces, the little mysteries, and expeditions (large and small) into the unknown. All of this is my home ground. My world. It’s where I thrive and am happiest. It’s where my best work is born.
I’m realizing how when I stray too far from the things I value and love things go very sideways for me. How about you? When I let in the cynical influences from the frantic online world and superficial messages designed to make us afraid or crave things we don’t need or truly want, I lose my footing. This staying true to ourselves takes work and intentional curation (and coddling). But ah the happy sigh of belonging and bliss when we step back onto the solid ground of the world of what is true and right for us again, no?
And so, I’m embracing the role of the Curator once again and playing with new ideas for world-building (and realm crafting). More to come on that, I’m sure.
Yours in wild wonder and slow magic (and happy curating),
This section is a new addition to the Field Notes dispatches.
I’m loving Robin Sloan’s “this week” log in his Year of the Meteor newsletters, so am happily playing along with my own version.
- Once again, we’re riding out the long haul of moody, misty days that are late winter here in the Willamette Valley. Rain, rain, and more rain (with a few freezes here and there). Par for the course here. Thank goodness for the invention of hooded jackets (hell, any hooded garment). You can always tell a visitor from a resident here. Locals have hoods, visitors carry umbrellas. With rain being a constant for three-quarters of the year, an umbrella would need to become a permanent Borg-ish appendage. Gah. And who wants to walk around all the time with one arm raised holding something over your head? Makes it tough to hold your latte and open doors at the same time. So, let’s just say the hoodie fashion trend won’t be ending anytime soon here in the PNW. 😉 And BTW…ever wonder why the PNW is known for its coffee culture? Warm and cozy coffeehouses with good tunes, latte art, and insanely good espresso make soggy people happier.
- I’m having a blast prepping the private member area and materials for the spring session of Seasons of Wonder. Revisiting this treasure chest of material, updating it, and getting ready for the new season we’re stepping into on March 1st is sheer delight. Seeing all the spring explorations and wonder-missions in store for the coming months again has brought a ray of sunshine to my days (very welcome in these otherwise rainy and overcast days of late winter).
- We’re in the midst of rolling out registration for a delightful collaborative course I’m co-teaching with a fabulous cohort: Pull. Pen. Paint. This is the first class I’ve co-taught before and I am loving it. And I love the course’s fusion of topics Kiala Goodhand has curated: intuition, working with the cards, art, journaling, and bookmaking. Right up my alley. And yours?
- I’m playing around with a daily navigation page for a seasonal journal/logbook/diary/thing I’m creating. Still not sure if this project is a go or not. For now, I’m experimenting with it to see if and how it might work. I keep bumping up against my own rebel spirit who hates most fill-in-the-blank kinds of things. But I love this kind of a daily rhythm check-in via log page with a consistency in content to supplement my Field Notebook entries. It’s a piece that’s been missing from my own practice thus far and there’s definitely something there that’s worth exploring further. It’s a different kind of tool that helps keep us in tune with what’s happening around us (and with us). Maybe it wants to be a field guide to a DIY daily logbook/creativity diary instead? Or maybe a combo of DIY guide with some pre-crafted pages you could print off and use yourself if you wanted? Dunno. Still slowly playing with the daily page for now and exploring the possibilities with the Wonder Scouts in our group in the Lair.
- I’m reading A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffiths. It’s not an easy read so far, mostly because of the dense flow at the start and how the author slips sideways to many multiples of cultures and times every paragraph or two. I know from reading some of her essays though that Griffiths is deft at throwing the threads out and regathering them in the journey of her words, taking you somewhere remarkable. I trust Terri Windling‘s taste who loves this book and the author enough to know this initially fast-paced, buckshot ride Giffiths takes us on in early chapters makes sense with where she’s leading us later…to the magic of the wild time of the mythic realm. That’s a ride worth taking. Could it be in the early chapters she’s intentionally mirroring the point where we enter the book from our fast-paced world? I’m beginning to suspect as much and look forward to the unwinding of the deeper prose I imagine may lie ahead. I’ll keep you posted.
- We’re rewatching all of the Marvel Universe movies in sequence. We’ve been working our way through each one in order since just after Christmas and finished Black Panther last night (one of my favs in the series). I especially love the quirkiness of the Avenger’s characters and how they have to navigate each other’s (and their own) social oddities to work as a team. Quirky, offbeat, misfits, edge dwellers…those always tend to be my favorite characters in movies and books (and in life). This crazy web of movies, characters, and stories nest together in ways I’m only fully appreciating now in retrospect. We see the early threads being laid that are picked up several movies later then woven weave back in once again, and then converging all together again. Talk about vision and gumption. Brilliant. RIP Stan Lee.
- Looking forward to seeing the new How to Train Your Dragon movie (opens on Friday). This movie series has taken story-telling in animation to an inspiring new level. And I’ll be the first to admit that nerdy Viking non-conformist Hiccup and his buddy, the dragon Toothless, have captured my heart completely. The world and characters of HTTYD are quirky, heroic, delightfully flawed, and memorable (yep, I’m nothing if not consistent in my love for the quirky).
Stepping into Wonder
The Spring Session of Seasons of Wonder
Our spring adventures are about to begin in Seasons of Wonder. After the slower rhythm and deep dreaming of winter, spring wakes us up and invites us to explore new paths, ideas, projects, and possibilities. I’m already beginning to feel the stirrings of spring here in Oregon and can’t wait to dive into this new season of creative magic with you. We’re seeking out the extraordinary in the ordinary, grounding ourselves in the magic of the moment, and nourishing our creative spirits.
Some of the topics and themes we’re exploring this spring:
*Stepping into spring’s energies & gifts at the Equinox
*Shining up our practices & routines
*Clearing the decks for creative magic
*Playful curiosity & Creative Inspiration
*Spring Wonder Dates
*Enchanted Explorations (think aerial recon in a dirigible 😉
*Beltane & May Day
*Blooming Wild & Wise
We officially begin on March 1st (but psst…we’re kicking off on February 22nd for early-enrollers 😉
You’ll find all the details and can register right OVER HERE.
*oh, the picture above? Those are some of my “magic bean” projects, something we’re working with in Seasons of Wonder throughout the spring (and the rest of the year). Want to discover yours? Well, come on over. Adventures in wonder await.
Enchanted Links, Things, & Musings
1. This (spotted on FB by superhubby – laughed so hard, I almost snorted my coffee ;)…
2. The Edward Burne-Jones exhibit at the Tate. This is one I wish I could have crossed the pond to see.
3. From Up on Poppy Hill. I adore Miyasaki films and now this one is among my favorites. I curled up on the couch with it on a sick day and fell in love. Now I want a clubhouse like that for us. And it makes me want to learn the language of ship’s flags.
5. Hoboglyphs. As an enthusiast of secret codes and symbols, made-up languages, and all other manner of communicating on the sly, this gathering of hobo symbols is a delightful discovery. I’ve heard about hobo symbols for years, but never saw such a large collection of them before like this. I can see why they’re getting attention again and being put to new use by adventurous souls all over. Perhaps we should come up with our own set of special mojo symbols for navigating the wilds of our modern world?
6. PaperbackSwap. Superhubby and I were chatting about this old paperback book mail-swap I used to belong to and it got me curious if it was still around. Yep, and still going strong. Not only paperback books, but now you can also swap music CDs, audiobooks, hardbacks, and text books via this service. Very cool way to keep those books and CDs in circulation and for keeping you in good reading and listening material very inexpensively, especially those hard-to-find titles you can’t get through the library.
7. I’m a tiny bit obsessed with the Museum of Everything (but I could do without the annoying auto-play music track…just click it off on upper right of screen if it pops up).
8. BrainPicking’s fabulous essay on nature writer Henry Beston’s classic book The Outermost Most: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod. “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” How have I not read this yet? (The eternal question when faced with classic old books I didn’t know about before.) Now firmly on my reading list.
9. A Peek Inside Notebooks of Great Creators. Be. Still. My. Beating. Heart. Yeah, I’m a complete geek about creative’s notebooks, journals, and sketchbooks. This round-up of sources on BrainPickings turned me on to some great collections I hadn’t seen before. Just found a nice used copy of Drawn In and ordered it. *happy twirl*
10. Ah, Facebook. You do still hold some treasure. I’ve made no secret of my kinda love-kinda hate relationship with FB. After nearly two months of keeping my distance, I found myself poking around on a couple of my favorite artist’s pages there this week. Why? Because these folks don’t blog and don’t send newsletters, but I’m endlessly fascinated with their work and creative musings. Case in point: Nick Bantock. He has embraced FB as his primary means of regular communication with the world. He remains one of my favorite artists and writers (accidental writer in his case) of the modern age. Take, for example, this little snippet from a post on his FB page about the tyranny of straight lines: “We need curves, gargoyles, rose windows, serifs, coast roads, and a willingness to amble our senses through 360 degrees, so that our minds can grow more elegantly.“Yeah, that makes a trip to FB totally worthwhile. It’s all about curating the wonders and inspiration and giving a wide berth to the slime monsters.
That’s it for now.
Vic out 😉
“Wondering’s healthy. Broadens the mind.
Opens you up to all sorts of stray thoughts and possibilities.”
~ Charles de Lint
Want to get Field Notes dispatches delivered right to your inbox all handy and convenient? Go here and make the magic.