This morning I lay sunken into my marshmallow of a bed. I felt like I’d been pressed in there by a giant thumb. Awake before six, I’d only been out of bed long enough to make coffee: a double espresso topped with steamed almond coconut milk, sweetened with maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. As I sipped the hot sweetness, I felt the rough edge of broken porcelain. My mug had a small chip right where my lips touched distracting me from fully enjoying my beverage, kind of like when someone makes you toast and they don’t bother to spread the butter all the way to the edges.
Coffee cup on the windowsill, the bedside lamp illuminating dimly through its red silk shade, plush white pillows propped against the wall, and me in the midst of it all: coffee, comfort, and peace.
I’d started reading Brenda Ueland’s book: If You Want to Write: a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, the night before and was keen to continue. My laptop in front of me, its screen open to a free pdf of the book, I sipped cinnamon-y sweet foam and I read, and the more I read the more excited I got. Ueland’s advice was engaging and I tucked away the advice that resonated most: Get outside and go for walk, she said. Walking inspires the imagination, she said, and you must do it every day. I knew she was right. It’s so simple, and yet it isn’t simple at all. Something holds me back from doing the ‘simple’. As Ueland points out, we all have the “same conviction of inner importance, fire, of the god within” yet for the past six months–since moving back to the city–I’d been sabotaging any inkling of progress.
My idleness is not necessarily laziness–although sometimes it is– it’s more of an ego thing, because not being good at something can be embarrassing when you really want to be good at it. My ego aside, as I read Ueland’s words it became clear that my imagination, or lack of one, was the real problem. I can’t sit down and expect to write without it. Where did my imagination go? The answer is simple: I’ve stopped walking for the sake of walking. At the cabin, I walked every day and after an hour or so in the forest my mind would be whirl of ideas. Back then, before I’d understood the importance of keeping a notebook and pen on me at all times, I’d rush back to the cabin to write down all I could remember. It is the act of walking, going for a stroll, taking the time to mosey and dally and do all those things your mother told you not to do before you headed off to school in the morning. The further you walk, the more mindful you become, the inner chatter is silenced because your focus turns outward on what’s happening around you.
As I walked in the grey morning drizzle, I hardly noticed the cold–my mind was keeping me warm. What’s that noise? Look at those trees? That one’s as big as seven trees! Oh my god, the sky! It’s so beautiful. And, No way! Two perfectly good coffee mugs!‘
There, sitting at the edge of someone’s backyard, were two large mint-green cups, perfect additions to my kitchen cupboard. I might also add, before happening on this find, I’d been walking through a cemetery and had taken a moment to pause by the Lest We Forget monument, As a way of showing a little respect, I chose one name and read it aloud, “Basel Rennie, died on February 11th, 1939”. It was only minutes later that I spotted the mugs.
Coincidence? I wonder.