I watched a movie the other night that inspired me to be more old fashioned and homey.
The movie (Miss Potter) is the story of British author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter. It's basically about her journey to become published; her quirks and fancies as a children’s-book writer, how she overcome all social and family obstacles and of course got engaged to the man of her dreams. (As a side note, Beatrix Potter was also a natural scientist and conservationist but for some reason the movie-makers decided to focus on her love life...go figure.)
It was a touching, warm and idyllic story and it sent me into a period-drama-frenzy. Over the last week I've watched Pride and Prejudice (new version), Persuasion and all four episodes of Wives and Daughters.
The effect of all these heart-warming stories, as I said, has been to make me long for old-fashioned, homey, romantic...things. I want to draw portraits and write letters, to pick flowers, make bread (which I did on Sunday), go for long walks in the country-side (hmmm, not much countryside here, and it will all be covered in snow in a few weeks…rats), to read and drink tea (I've had that one pretty well covered since I was seven), have thoughtful conversations with friends over coffee, take long train rides and so on.
I have the urge to quit my job (and get away from these darn computer screens), live artistically and simply, and devote my days to discovering my inner-hippie.
But. Unfortunately for my inner-hippie, we have this silly thing called money (and rent and bills and loan payments). Talk about messed up values.
As a senior in college (last year) I was special. I was told I was smart, going great places, doing great things, an amazing person. Graduation week, I felt on top of the world. Buuut, I didn’t stay there. I’m back at my college as a staff member (Administrative Assistant) and no longer feel special. I didn't go places, haven’t done great things, I’m not even an intelligent student anymore.
Ok, ok, I’m pouting and feeling sorry for myself.
But it’s made me think about societal values. We (me included) are forever looking to the future – to the next big step in life, to what we’ll do when we grow up, to who we'll be when we can say “ I've made it”. And people (me included) are disappointed when we don’t “make it” – when we aren't performing on Broadway, going to grad school, working for peace in Africa, teaching English in Korea, building planes or networking with CEOs in DC.
Do I have to be “making a difference” before my work, my daily life, my existence, can be thought of as meaningful?
I've just started the ambitious project of making a quilt by hand (I don’t have a sewing machine or know how to use one and they sort of terrify me).So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying it; each night when it takes me an hour to tack and stitch two 4”x 4” squares carefully together, I feel creative and accomplished. I feel content.
And I’m learning that this time is not wasted. Just because I take immense pleasure in making simple, beautiful things, and taking time to do it – whether it’s a loaf of cinnamon bread or a nine-block square for a quilt - doesn't mean I’m wasting time. I don't have to return home exhausted from the office or the classroom each day and work late into the night to be 'fulfilled'. And just because I’m no longer a student and don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up doesn't mean I can’t keep learning, be intellectually challenged, be bold and proud of what I do. I can be an Austen-inspired hippie and a student and a romantic all at once!
So tonight I’m going to happily, and without feelings of guilt , sew a few more patches on my quilt while I watch the 2nd round of the American Presidential Debates.
I feel excited and content just thinking about it.
Oh and in case you want to see, here's my bread and the 'progress' on my quilt :)