Anyone who regularly reads my blog will be aware of how important home is for me.
When I was studying for my Masters at the University of Western Sydney I did a subject called Sense of Place. I had to select a place I’d never been to and spend at least 24 hours there; preferably a ‘natural’ place. I chose the Brisbane Ranges, a couple of hours west of Melbourne, and decided to go camping there one weekend. Pete said he wanted to do a Masters that included camping (typical comment from a scientist), so I took him along as well. It’s amazing to slow down and spend time just being in a place – smelling the eucalypts, listening to the wind and the insects, hearing the birds. It become a sensory smorgasbord, an antidote to rushing here and there with barely time to see, let alone experience what’s there.
Whenever I land in a new city or country I look for maps. I love maps. And I really love the map function on my new iPhone. It tells me where I am (in case I get lost) and shows me my favourite view of the world – from the air. But back to the maps. I have a wonderful selection of maps – most from places I’ve been, as well as many from places I’m yet to visit. But the maps alone are not enough. After all a map is just a mere representation.
When I was recently in Lusaka, the capitol of Zambia, I asked the hotel for a map, and my friend Keren and I headed off into the morning heat to explore the city. With my appalling sense of direction, maps are essential. Once I know which direction I’m going. So I ask the man behind the desk which way I should go outside of the hotel. Even so, I get lost, and only after studying the map for a while do I discover where we should be. Mistake corrected we walked for quite a few kilometres, chatting and soaking up the public holiday atmosphere. We walked a full circle bringing us back to the hotel. Now I can relax. Not only do I know where I am, I have a sense of place too.
This is all preamble to introduce you to my latest book purchase – Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb. I’ve only just started reading it. It’s a lovely book to hold, even more so because I’ve been waiting so long for it to arrive. Less than 12 months ago I’d never heard of Patti. I was fortunate to meet her at an Improv conference in Banff, Canada, and started following her blog, 37 days. The book, the reason behind the name 37 days and her incredible writing are all good reasons to visit Patti’s blog.
While blogging is allowing the world access to the writing and thinking of so many people, and really democratising publishing, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hand. It’s like holding on to a piece of the person. So when Patti’s book arrived I made myself a cup of peppermint tea and took myself, tea and book into the garden. Perched on the edge of the deck, looking across the yellow and purple flowering shrubs, through the trees to the nesting box where the Eastern Rosellas are staking a claim, I was able to experience her book. I could hear the ocean in the background and the wind in the trees as I leafed through the book, landing on a page that caught my attention, reading a few lines or tracing an image with my fingertip.
This was the ideal place for me to immerse myself in Life is a Verb. It made it hard to put the book down and get on with some more mundane, yet necessary, tasks. I’ve been dipping in to the book for a few day now, and I’ll be taking it with me on my trip to Taiwan and Chicago – I’ll have many hours on the plane in which to explore the stories and the actions.
I now own a few books where I’m privileged to know the author. And while I may never have an opportunity to show Patti the wonderful place where I live (although there’s always an open invitation – and for you too) I can share some of my favourite places with my current favourite book. There’s a feeling of connection that is nearly palpable. An amazing thing – something to be savoured and wondered at – in this fast, crazy world we inhabit.