Thursday, July 28, 2016

Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter

Terri Windling remembers writer, illustrator and naturalist Beatrix Potter in a blog post this morning. I woke to read the birthday post, drank my first cup of rich dark decaf MUK Coffee and ate breakfast in the company of one of my all-time favorite heroines. It was Beatrix Potter portrayed in film who inspired me as Pete and I lived in a basement kitchenette and applied our imagines to the creation of a new home. While I researched and tested dozens, maybe hundreds of different materials to create a safe for me tiny home, I watched Renee Zellweger slip into the character of Beatrix Potter. There is one particular scene in the opening of this film that has a place in my imagination. The hands of the young woman, Beatrix (Renee Zellweger) is choosing just the brush she needs for a watercolor. A hesitation before deciding; then a choice, then the color -- blue. Which blue? It is the dip of the paint brush into a clear glass of water that swims into the viewer. I become that blue every time.

Beatrix was born into a wealthy Unitarian family during the high period of Victorian England. She was ill-fit for the values suitable for a young woman yet found her calling in the writing and drawings that were her obsession. Nature and animals were her (and her brother 'Bertram's') friends. Her early call by the pencils and paper led to the writing of picture letters to friends and family. One of those letters was the acorn of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866 in Kensington, London. The photo I've included with this brief post touches me, reminding me of my own Beatrix Potter character. A real-life woman of endearing character who was the first to see the writer as my call. She too walked her pet rabbit on a string, or walked beside rabbit with a big net around our Kuli'ou'ou neighborhood on the island of O'ahu.

I believe as never before how essential it is to have mentors, heroes and fantasy figures to expand the vistas of a child, an adolescent, and an adult in elderhood. The imagination is the essential space for growing into and down to the destiny fathomed for each of us. In the Hawaiian view of 'destiny' we each are born with kuleana, a slice of the whole pie. Our slice is connected to everything, yet, is unique with a memory of what is our genius. Embedded in our kuleana, or in the acorn as James Hillman has described it in his work, is a calling.

How wonderful to remember Beatrix Potter on her 150th birthday. Acknowledging her life, and her calling as it continues to inspire. She inspired me to believe it was possible to recreate a life from the one I was already living. We built a tiny wheeled home and I listened to the small voice who knew, "You write!" On this great lady's birthday, I am re-inspired to fold her into my stories and give credit to the magic and remedy of imagining an expansive definition of names, nature, and growing into one's call.

Hauoli la hanau, Beatrix, and thank you!

Link here to read the birthday post and see the beautiful collection of Beatrix Potter photos, as well as recommended reading about the artist, from Terri Windling. 

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