Words

I found this on my bookshelf yesterday.

Bought last year for 50p from a second-hand book-swap shop in West Sussex. Published in Germany almost 100 years ago. This edition printed in an office literally around the corner from where I worked as we entered this new century.

Its readers may have changed considerably during that time, but the journey these words have made is as fascinating to me as what they have to say.

What words inspire you today, lovelies? In their existence as well as their voices.

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Sherwood

I love this land.

Today, we visited Sherwood Forest. Not far from home, but somewhere I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing since I was small. Now I bring others.

The stories held in the earth and the trees, the creatures and (yes) the tourist attraction all entice people, and will continue to do so. We carry our myths on in the telling, but it’s so wonderful to see the young and young-at-heart enjoying the physical experience of visiting a place that’s in those stories.

Just wandering in the woods – always a pleasure, and such an important part of my life.

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The Major Oak – around a thousand years old (apparently), now supported by manmade struts. But still standing between earth and sky, with the trunk a gateway to another world…

Stories to Remember

As I’ve mentioned often in various places, my main passion in life has always been reading. I always have several books on the go, and tend to get fidgety and unhappy if I don’t have an engrossing tome to hand.

Recently (amongst other things, as always), it’s been the stories of others. This started a while ago with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Borgias, and Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor). Rather an eclectic mix, but probably familiar. A more diverse selection was to come.

Caterina Sforza. The Mancini Sisters. Various lady mystics. Princess Alice of Greece. And today, Freya Stark – who has taken up most of my afternoon.

I’m not trying to be elitist or snobby; I’ve deliberately included links to all of these books, as they’re readily available. But none of those names are as well known as the first selection, which is a true shame – because they’re wonderful.

I’m not getting into a debate about feminism and history/herstory today. Instead, I’m being inspired by these stories, simply glad that they’re being told at all. I’ve no doubt that as many male as female lives have been subsumed to time by the more glamorous (or simply louder) ‘stars’.

I hear many personal tales each day – from those in my Inbox each morning, to words from miles away via Facebook friends… and then the printed page. Some of these will go no further than me. Others deserve to be remembered. They are our history, our ancestors, after all.

As well as reading books, I love to share their wealth. So here you go. Investigate these, if they sound interesting. Or rummage in a charity shop, look at online review pages, talk to friends… explore and discover some stories of those you’ve never heard of before. Feel free to share in the comments here as well, of course!

I feel lucky to have found these, and am excited as to what – and who – I’ll discover next. I honour those who lived those adventurous lives, and those tale-tellers who help us remember, as they inspire our lives in turn.

The Words of Others

It’s sometimes difficult to prepare yourself for work in the morning. Perhaps more so when you work from home. There’s no ‘ritual’ as such to the day, no special clothes to wear, washing routine or journey to slog through. You just have to get on and start.

When I sit down to work, though, I tend to find that a curious thing happens. I either end up in awe, or in tears. Sometimes both.

Today was both. I was reading through the work sent to me by a student, telling of her adventures over the last month in the wild woods near her home, her exploration of the elements, family difficulties…

And I was left humbled. Reading her words, beautifully handwritten and sent to me in the post, together with some equally lovely hand-drawn art, I was honoured to share in her story. The content might have seemed relatively simple, but this was a verbal snapshot of a life, there, on the page.

The reason for the handwritten letter? She’s not on the internet at all, and likely will never read this. She won’t know how I gently touched the pencil sketches, imagining them being drawn so carefully. I hope to tell her, if we ever meet. But the power of her words, in this way, was breathtaking.

By the way, it’s not just those without the technology, either. A short while ago, a parcel arrived at the door – another student had sent me a package of books, recommendations that she’d decided to flippin’ well ensure that I read! Now she may well be reading this, but I don’t intend to hold back because of that.

Stories are such an intrinsic part of my life – day-to-day, physically, mentally and spiritually – and the lives of others have the power to change my own through their words. The passion of something felt strongly enough to share is something that I will always have time for. This is never ‘work’ as it’s come to be known. Someone has taken the time and effort to send me a tale.

The tears in my eyes today are genuine, and the love for those I meet in this strange ‘job/vocation/life’ is profound. For that, I will always be grateful, and never feel that I express it adequately enough.

Those of you who share with me – this is my love letter of thanks to each and every one of you.

Oh and PS – before anyone says anything, I had a huge box of books arrive today as well. My own. That still flabbergasts me… but I’ve learned not to hug the delivery driver, as it confuses him.

Doesn’t stop me squeeing happily every time I open the package, though. 🙂