Today was my first full day in London! Well, almost full – considering I missed the morning by waking up at 11 am .. but I quickly shook off my jet lag with the best cure I know for most things.
In the afternoon I got up the courage to brave the damp and cold, and went exploring to a very nice museum nearby : The William Morris Gallery. Right before I made the turn to the museum, there a huge mural stood as if to welcome me to the life philosophy of this amazing artist:
So, this William Morris was sort of a jack-of-all trades sort of artist, delving into interior design, textile design and manufacturing, painting, printing. He was also a poet and novelist, and later, a political activist. This Gallery / Museum was really a celebration of his life, and his life’s work. He founded a decorating company, where along with his close friends, he manufactured (by hand) pattern designs, textiles, furniture, tapestries, stain glass windows, and more. Everything was done by hand (as much as possible). Just imagining how long it must have taken, and the discipline and focus required to make such high quality goods is incredible.
I took my time looking around the museum, and maybe because I was alone, I really stopped and read almost every plaque and marker. I loved the quotes that they had from him all over the gallery, as well as the quotes about him, by other artists. Look closely at the top of the third picture, and you’ll see a quote by Oscar Wilde. The gallery was really well done, offering insight into his life and his career, and also exhibiting some special collections. They had a mock studio in one of the rooms, and one of the things I liked best were the little videos that showed you all the techniques that were used – I loved seeing the weaving, the dyeing, and even the stain-glass making!
I was also struck by his love of beauty – it was really what spurred him on. He sought and found beauty in nearly everything he did. That is (at least) one thing that he and I share in common. I like to call it by its proper name: philocaly. Literally, love of beauty. It’s a choice to see beauty in everything – and sometimes it’s hard – but Morris made it easy.
I find that the world is often thought of in dichotomies. Good and evil, light and dark, white and black, cold and hot, ugly and beautiful, etc. But the reality is that it’s all blurred. There is beauty even in unsightly or uncomfortable situations. Tonight, it was hard to find the beauty when I’m too focused on the biting frozen wind. But the sky was bright, the air was clear, and I’m in LONDON! And I’m with great company! It’s a choice to focus on what’s good and beautiful, even in the midst of the opposite.
I’m still cold as I write this, as the dampness in England really does cut you to the core, and I feel it in my bones. But – the thought of tonight’s momentous occasion warms me: tonight I had my first ever legal drink! What better memory to have for this special moment .. beautiful!