Chesterfield of Dreams

AfricanvioletIt’s been a month of soaring temperatures and oppressive heat.  Even with the blinds closed and several fans running, my apartment is sweltering.  The only solution is to head outside in search of shade and the faint hope of catching a breeze.

My apartment opens onto a covered patio so finding shade wasn’t a problem but the available seating left a great deal to be desired. But that’s where my sister, the Garage Sale Guru, the Diva of Dumpster Diving came to my rescue.

She’d recently plucked a rather sad-looking bamboo and wicker sofa from someone’s front lawn.  Don’t worry, she didn’t steal it, the owners had stuck a free sign on it before my sister scooped it up and shoved it in the back of her truck.

Its coat of glossy black paint was peeling off, there were no cushions and a few of the wicker wraps on the back and arms had started to unravel. I gave it a good cleaning and fixed the broken pieces.  As for cushions, we snagged them for under forty dollars, sixty percent off, as the store was already putting out its back to school merchandise (this was in July).

At first I labeled this wonderful piece of furniture the Couch of Procrastination because as soon as I’d settle into it, time would disappear and I would find myself daydreaming while watching the bees dance with the flowers in the back yard.

Couch

 

But the word procrastination conjured up feeling of guilt; that in sitting in this wonderful space I was somehow being lazy.  I was wasting time when there were more important things that needed my attention; laundry, housecleaning, this month’s blog, hitting my daily word count on my current novel.

Then I remembered a quote from Socrates, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”  Somehow I’d forgotten the value of being instead of constantly doing. Its only when you are really clear on what is important in your life, what fulfills you, can you lead a meaningful life.  And the only way to figure that out is to be.  Be with yourself, and your thoughts and your fears. When you dig deeper that is when the real richness of your life can come forward.

Now more than ever, we need to disconnect with the digital world and step out of the rush of modern society.  When you aren’t distracting yourself with tweets, Facebook updates and pinning images on Pinterest or rushing about to-and-from work or dashing out to do some retail therapy, something wondrous creeps in. Silence.

And once the silence has established itself it allows you to finally hear that still quiet voice of your authentic self.

There is a reason why even cloistered monks and nuns set time aside for silent prayer and meditation.  Only in quiet contemplation can one begin to know God, or Buddha or the intelligent consciousness of the Universe.  Without that sacred space of silence, we who live in the secular world can lose our centre and get way off track in our quick-fix, instant gratification society.  Our purpose for being gets lost under the barrage of advertising, consumerism and distraction.

If you build it he will come.

Or in my case if you arrange some second-hand furniture unexpected magic may happen.  And to ensure that this little corner of the patio nurtures the alchemy of the soul I’ve imposed a few rules; no iPods, portable DVD players or cellphones allowed and the laptop comes out only when I need it for writing.

What is allowed are books, journals, sketch books, cold drinks, fresh flowers, something delicious to eat, and a soft pillow in case the urge to have a nap overtakes me.

It really is an adult play space were daydreaming, reading, lounging, napping and reconnecting with family and friends are fostered.

Couch Collage

So I encourage you, while we still have a few weeks of lazy summer days left, to find an outdoor spot and install your own Chesterfield of Dreams. It doesn’t even have to be a sofa, perhaps a hammock is more your style or a chaise lounge.  And if you don’t have the furniture already and dumpster diving isn’t your thing even a blanket and some pillows arranged under the spreading arms of a tree would be just fine.  Whatever appeals to you.  If you set up your spot for reflection without delay, I promise you, you too will begin to experience the magic of being.

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The Perfect Writer’s Chair

The other day, I dropped in to Masterpiece Pools and Spa to get my hot tub water  tested when I spotted  something in the store’s backroom that made me stop in my tracks. It was a solid oak swivel chair. It looked completely out-of-place amidst the pool hoses and hot tub accessories. I let out a sigh of longing catching Al, the owner’s, attention.

I asked him where he got the chair. He said it was his father’s from when he was promoted to an office job for BC tel in 1958. The chair dates from the same year as it’s marked on the bottom of the seat. The solid oak chair and its companion desk were  brand new office furniture for a man’s new position and office. Al’s dad used that chair until a few decades later when the company was updating all the office furniture; out with the solid wood, handcrafted furniture in with the new prefab grey metal desks and fabric covered chairs.

When the company was getting rid of the old furniture they asked the employees if the wanted to take any of it home because if they didn’t it was all going in the trash. So Al’s dad rescued the desk and chair, so at least a few pieces of history and a testament to craftsmanship were saved.

Like all  writers I spend a great deal of time with my butt parked in a chair for hours at a time and the right type of chair is essential. It’s like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; the perfect chair should be neither too hard nor too soft but just right.

Chair03

This vintage chair is not too ergonomically correct; not so soft that you can write for too long without getting up to stretch and get the blood flowing. It’s not too hard like the cast-off kitchen chair I’m currently using which is so uncomfortable I have to force myself to use it.  It is just right; solid and substantial. It has a weightiness that keeps one grounded in front of the desk. The swivel mechanism  allows you to tilt back ever so slightly which is the perfect position when your mind needs to wander and explore plot twists and character motives. One day perhaps I’ll buy one myself but for now the old kitchen chair will have to do.