Monday, March 11, 2019

Empty Pages

Well, hello again!
It's been a while, I admit.

Only two months worth of Facebook reminders that 'your friends haven't heard from The Coast of Illinois'...

And I had such big plans for writing this year...
Actually, I didn't.
Oh, I have ideas, but the motivation for putting them out into the universe has been lacking. Blame it on too many grey winter days, that pesky thing called 'work' or just plain apathy.
Can't really say.

It is such a strange feeling to stare at an empty page and have so many things swimming around in my head but no real way to get those ideas to travel the distance from grey matter along the great nerve highway to finally land via ink pen or computer at their destination, on the right....

What finally got me here?
This beautiful book.

This is a exquisite example of Yunjin brocade. This type of brocade is over 700 years old and serves as a royal tribute and is of great historical and cultural importance in China. This type of weaving is still done by hand, not with automated machinery. The information card included with the book says it best:
"The Yunjin Brocade is woven with unique ring jacquard card which adopts the silk thread and the cotton thread to record all the information of the pattern designs in the method of keeping records by tying knots in primitive times, and all these informations is passed to the hands of the thread puller on the wooden is passed down merely by the handicraftsman orally and by the heart memory..."
What a wonderful description – passing down information, through fabric and words and memories.
the inside cover. little pockets! a bookmark! a dragon! the yellow information booklet is at the top of the photo. it is written in Chinese characters with just a few paragraphs in English on the back.
I was given this journal as a thank you from two Chinese nurses who came to visit our medical facility. One of our anesthesiologist dropped the two in my hands one day, asking that I show them around so they could see how our recovery room worked. I love teaching and showing people our facility and these ladies were eager to see how our Western medicine compared to their Eastern version. Except that they spoke little English and I speak NO version of any of the multiple Chinese languages.
We did a lot of broken sentences and hand gestures. There was a lot of 'watch this', followed by discussion between the two and then the woman who spoke most English would ask for clarification.
I handed them off to one of my co-workers, who is from China, hoping at least one of the three would have a dialect in common. She faired slightly better than I did. But in the end, we managed to show them our routine, got them a tour of the ICU when we transferred a patient there, and while they learned about our work, I learned a little about theirs.
The next day they moved on to another area of the hospital but at the end of the week the ladies stopped by to thank us and gave us each one of these beautiul books.
They had no idea what the gift of a journal means to a writer. Especially such a lovely journal.

As something of a 'paper' addict, I was dying to use the journal, but didn't want to just put anything into it. I have multiple notebooks lying around the house, in purses and suitcases with random notes and ideas in each and every one.
I didn't want this particular book to become another purgatory of ideas.
So, it lay taunting me on my desk for nearly a year.

As the New Year and a random, luxurious weekend trip loomed closer, it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time to use this special book.
The bravery of these women, coming to a country so different from their own, to learn from total strangers who they could barely talk to, was not lost on me. Nor was the story of the beautiful brocade on the journal.

It seemed that this book needed to be honored in a tradition of bravery and adventure.
After all, travel is the best way to learn that we are each, hardly different from one another in ways that matter most.

2019 is rather notable for my husband and I. We are planning a return to the British Virgin Islands in May. This trip has been in the works since we left the BVI five years ago after taking sailing lessons there. Lord knows, there will be many stories.
And God willing, there will be many more stories of travels long planned and surprise trips met with a 'why not' attitude.

The first story in this Journal is our visit to The Moorings, a luxurious property in Islamorada, Florida.
It is a nice mix of planning as well as 'why not'.
I'll be sharing it with you in the coming month.