I spent a couple weeks at the end of last year in and around New York City, the city where dreams are made of. The city was shining at its festive brightest bedecked with twinkling lights and decorated to the nines in festive “holiday” cheer. It wasn’t my first visit to the big apple, so there were several sights I sought out to return to and a great number of new things yet to discover.
When visiting destination cities such as New York, I have my own little “must”’ for what to see and do, not the obvious tourist sights but the little rituals which for me really give a place its own identity. In London, I’ll stroll around a museum and find a little café to indulge in tea and a slice of cake; Paris calls for falafel pockets in the quirky third arrondissement with a glass of wine after shopping and perusing the book stalls along the Seine, and Bangkok cries out for trying pad thai bought on a busy street corner after spiritual contemplation in a temple and relaxing in the luscious, tropical gardens. With each little ritual in a new place, I imagine what it could be like to live solely in that moment and how life might unfold. It’s fun to connect with a place in this way, even if my time there is limited, taking in each detail and feeling very je ne sais quoi, very “insert location here”.
Engaging my imagination in this way opens my heart and mind to other possibilities not just for travel but in all aspects of life; a little self reflection goes a long way. If life can be likened to the longest journey we’ll embark upon, then we need to remind ourselves not to be unsettled by uncertainty nor fear change that will inevitably occur, but to dive in and embrace it all. On a small level this might mean we make the choice to try something new, we might be pleasantly surprised and we may even like it. Perhaps we’ll meet someone new, we’ll listen and learn from them and let them make an impression on our heart and mind. It becomes a very playful way to live life.
We will undoubtedly find ourselves face to face with serious and unalterable realities on our journey through life. Surely the only way to counter balance these sometimes harsh realities is to allow our minds to wander from time to time, to simply imagine what life could be like if we allowed it to unfold in a different way, even just as a supposition. So I invite you to pause, to relax for a moment and switch your mind off from what you’re doing to muse over how things could be…
When thinking about starting a blog with my friend Suzy I mused over things that inspire me and make me happy, things which inspire happiness in my day-to-day life from various platforms no matter how insignificant they might seem. I make lists and spider diagrams for my thoughts when I need to make decisions and simplify life which extends from the running of daily errands and academic study, to going on holiday and moving abroad; the list, as they say, is indeed endless.
So in order to arrange my mind to even begin contemplating creative writing on a regular basis, I sourced myself a new notebook and etched “inspirations” inside a cloud outline on the middle of the first page. In no time at all the page began to span a monochromatic map of thoughts springing to the foreground of reflection upon my creative interests; avenues of inspiration which I would choose to share with others arranged together in a way that both makes me happy and also highlights my natural tendency towards organisation. Now I have a whole library of one word inspirations to help my mind single out simple joys to focus on when the chaos of everyday life starts to take residence and distract.
The second spider diagram in my new notebook asked me “why write/ why share?”, and a number of failed attempts have had to pass for me to reach a coherent conclusion: I want to write because I want to give time in my life to something “other”, something separate to my job, my friends, to trials and tribulations of adult life, and I have come to the realisation that writing as a creative expression brings a unique happiness to my life. Collaborating with my oldest friend to create a space where we can focus our attentions to the good, positive, and simple pleasures in the world sounds like a fun hobby, something we can share and do together despite living miles apart. The internet is an open platform, and has such a one-sided impact on our lives that we thought we should try to utilise the expansive space for something of our own.
So here we have it, a shared space for creative expression by taking a moment in the day to focus our attention on things which make us smile. We find inspiration in all aspects of life and see this as an opportunity to herald a great number of interests. To Suzy, I’m excited to start this new adventure together. To the reader, I hope you enjoy the pieces of writing which follow and that you, like us, find something amongst our writing that makes you smile.