Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Call Me Miss Potter, If You Please

I went to the dollar theater a few weeks ago with a friend and watched Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger and I fell in love. Not with Renee and not with the movie (although both are good), but with the character of Miss Beatrix Potter. A quiet, somewhat homely, refined woman who has been under the tight scrutiny of her mismanaging mother for all of her adult life, but who lives an active artistic life with her painting and writing. I want to be Miss Potter. I don't want the mother, or the strict Victorian society, but I do want the countryside of the Lake District, the constant drawing of nature, and the writing of books. If anything embodies my secret desires this is it--to live the artistic life.

In my wildest dreams, my day-to-day life would consist of writing about nature, art, beauty, food, health, life and relationships and I would be engaged in activities that would further that writing, such as painting, growing a garden, improving relationships, eating yummy foods, etc. In other words, it would be a gloriously decadent life of rich creativity. And I would make money doing it. Lots and lots of money or oodles and oodles of money. But the money would come only as a natural consequence of doing what I love every day and immersing myself in the richness and beauty of a deeply creative life.

Aaaaah to dream!

What I do each day now is drag myself to work where I have a nice job with nice people but it throws me entirely too much in the world of business and technology and sucks too much of the joy and passion out of me. I sit at a gray desk and work on a black computer in a tiny windowless office of blah-colored cinderblock, and spend my days sucking as much joy and beauty as I can out of my $12.95 calendar that is a "photographic journey through Tuscany." All that does is make me want to poke my eyes out because I'm not in a centuries-old city, walking on a cobblestone street, looking out over rolling green hills, and picking red poppies on my jaunt to the local corner market each day.

In other words I want out of here.

Just like Beatrix Potter. She wanted out of her stuffy Victorian society where a woman's marriage was the measure of her worth and to be unmarried was considered a deeply mournful state. Constrained by that society, Miss Potter made her rounds of morning calls and dreadful tea afternoons and strait-laced and dull musical evenings all under the thumb of a mother who desperately wished she could fob her off on the first semi-decent excuse of a husband she could muster up.

Well into her adulthood, Beatrix Potter had to play dutiful daughter and curtail all activity that was exciting or interesting or adventurous unless she was under the careful eye of her mama or an elderly companion. Her only escape was when society's daily demands had been fulfilled and she could run up to the old nursery and spend her waning hours with her best beloved drawings of Peter Rabbit and his friends Mrs. Tiggywinkle and Benjamin Bunny and Jemima Puddle-duck. The stories that flowed forth from those drawings (most were first imagined in her childhood) were part of Beatrix Potter's active inner life and eventually at 36 her first book was published. That book flew off the shelves and became wildly popular. And Miss Potter became an author. She would go on to publish many more books over the next few decades and within a very short time she became an independent woman with the sales of these books. Enough to buy a home in the Lake District--an area she dearly loved (and would help preserve in its natural beauty by donating vast swaths of virgin land to the NationalTrust)--and set up a life immersed in nature, its beauty and her dear stories of her furry little friends. It was a life she wanted rather than bowing to the stuffy demands of a society life.

Hurrah for Miss Potter!

May I (and all who so desire) be able to design such a creative life. Cheers!


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