The Wordier Explanation (because I like words almost as much as visuals)
“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”
— Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
Recently I was reminded of a galvanizing moment in my life. I was talking with Ryan about it, when he remembered this Annie Dillard quote. A quote that rang true.
Back to the galvanizing moment. We were visiting my parents who were living in London for a few years. It was September of 1999. We reveled in London’s pleasures for a few days and then drove south to Lewes, near the famous cliffs of Dover, to visit the home of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It was balmy in England and the roads were lined with inky purple elderberries. The fields were the color of caramel.
Charleston, the house Vanessa and Duncan began to occupy in the early part of the 20th century, is now a restored historic site, open to visitors. Nothing prepared me for how I’d feel upon entering Charleston. Annie Dillard’s words describe the exact feeling. Until then I had put my creative life on hold with excuses. Each surface of the house was decoratively adorned with paint or textiles or collage. Even book spines were painted. And the garden was an extension of this artful exuberance. I felt a sense of urgency that now was the time to start, not the time to wait until it was convenient. That urgency hasn’t left me, though it’s been expressed in a variety of ways. For me the act of creative expression is a very elemental thing, and when making or imagining something I feel the most alive, bell ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing.