About a month ago, I attended a fair with a nice array of craftsmen and farmers selling their goodies at booths lined up on the village lawn. The tent I kept returning to was small and shared by two vendors, a photographer and a book maker. Lined up on a small bookshelf were some of the most beautiful handmade books I’ve ever seen. With covers of the softest leather, clever bindings, and thick handmade paper, I couldn’t help but touch every one of them. I wish I had a photo of the variety of colors and design she had on display. Of course, I couldn’t help but take one home for myself. On the drive home from town, I took my new journal out of it’s wrappings and placed it on the passenger seat so I could look over and touch it as I drove. I couldn’t keep my hands away from hungrily exploring every detail. At home, I brought my purchases inside, put the fresh kale and broccoli in the fridge, and sat down for an intimate ten minutes with my new little treasure.
I started from the outside. First, I examined the intricate wrapping of threads that made up the binding. Then I felt the smooth leather with each of my fingertips, traced the feather-like fraying at the edges, examined how the thin strap of leather was made to wrap around it all and hold it together securely. I smelled it and recognized the sharp odor of leather polish, how the scent of animal lingered underneath. I pressed it to my cheek, where the surface felt cool and gentle. Then I opened the front cover, turned page by thick cotton page, observing the minute differences of each white and torn-edged sheet. I sat in awe of the art of that beautiful book and longed to be able to craft something like that myself.
The problem is, I can’t write in it. I’m overwhelmed by the pressure of producing words worthy of it’s pages. I imagine how lovely words would look filling the pages, how visual and written art would complete each other so well and it would be a book full of perfectly shaped letters and perfectly well-formed sentences with perfectly clear and profound meanings. It’s all too much. How can I even begin writing in a book like this? Perhaps it was a mistake to buy it in the first place, perhaps I’m not ready for a challenge such as this. I think regretfully of how I should just keep to my under $5 notebooks to fill with nearly incoherent thoughts scribbled wildly, something I can approach with whim and recklessness, not intimidation. But NO, I tell myself, you bought this for a reason! You wanted to step up to the challenge and you believed, you KNEW it would be possible!
Sometimes I do have moments of such brilliance with words I surprise myself into tears. Sometimes I struggle to create one sentence I deem fit to be written down at all. I need to remember that a part of what I love about writing and journaling is that it’s not meant to be perfect, it’s just meant to be an expression. And, come to think of it, the process of convincing myself to go ahead and start this blog was a similar inner battle: of wanting to control and plan it all into perfection but realizing that if I did that it would never actually happen at all. And although the blog project is slow-going and imperfect, I was eventually able to move beyond my fears and blockades and just start writing!
So here’s to letting go, one step at a time, to trusting in the process instead of the result, and to being okay with whatever outcome; because everything I write is true to me, in that moment, and that is what makes it worthwhile.
Here are some images of the lovely little book, more of which can be found at www.islandboundbooks.com: