Saturday, July 30, 2011

A lesson via Coleridge

My mother is ambitiously sorting through all the STUFF in her house. I was informed that I needed to come over and go through various old boxes of mine to decide what I intended to keep. (She is graciously still storing some of them for me. Thanks, Ma!) In one of the boxes was a selection of old books that I had chosen from my grandparents' collection when we cleared out their house, years ago. To my surprise, I discovered an ancient artifact among the pile...

(The title on the spine, Coleridge's Poems, fell off just this morning...)

This leather-bound collection was awarded to my great-grandfather for his academic accomplishments at St. John's College in Toledo, Ohio in 1906! The cover feels silky soft, and the book smells like an old, antique library.

I was introduced to Coleridge and "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in high school senior English. We did "Kubla Kahn" too, which always childishly made me think of Olivia Newton John's cult classic - "In Xanadu did Kubla Kahn..."
We read a lot of romantic poetry that year, and I was completely entranced by the fanciful odes to nature and the faery realm. I've found myself re-creating a relationship with poetry this week, and I felt the power of this volume not just in my hands, but deep in my soul. An affirmation, if you will. 
I'd love to be invited to this party...

Delicious! It makes we want to sit amongst the trees all day weaving words about mossy banks and stream-soaked pebbles. Am I allowed to do that? Well, I am on vacation. 

Isn't this the kind of question that plagues so many of us? If this is what I love, why am I not doing it all the time? That doesn't mean I have to quit the job that pays my bills (and fortunately also feeds my soul.) It is possible to keep our passions present using smaller chunks of time. I know a successful business man who travels abroad several times a month who is also a gifted portrait artist. He uses his time on the plane to sketch, and it's amazing how much he accomplishes.

I've heard this message before. Nothing new. It really comes down to choice. Art, while seemingly thriving in dreamy freedom, needs structure. It needs regular time set aside to perform, develop, grow. The question really becomes...when will I give my art the structure it deserves?

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