{soul food}


The other night I came home with a need for a certain kind of book, although I didn't really know what kind of book that was. I knew how the book would make me feel, I felt it already, and I knew what sort of writing I wanted it to contain (intelligent, thoughtful, witty, ironic, and yet still poetic); I knew that I wanted a book that would fill some sort of void in me, even though I wasn't sure what that void was; I wanted it to confirm something, but I didn't know what. All I knew was that it would make me feel excited and inspired, that it would lift my spirits and stir something within me that needed stirring- I knew this and that I desperately wanted to find this book, but nothing more.

I spent that night searching my shelves, tea in hand, pulling down volumes, some thick and some thin, reading a page here, and a page there, looking for this book, this strange tome that seemed to be calling out and whispering to me, filling some part of my subconscious. I turned mystic and closed my eyes, running my fingers gingerly along spines waiting for some sort of electric shock, some definite sign of recognition, but none came. In the end, I sat down frustrated, finished my tea and went to bed.

The next morning when I woke, I made my coffee and walked directly to my largest bookshelf and pulled down three volumes: The Voyage Out, A Room of One's Own, and Moments of Being. Perhaps something had worked on me in the night, coming through in my dreams and stirring the fabric of my mind. I took the volumes, without much thought settled in, and began to read.

I had not read Virginia Woolf in a very long time. Having done most of my academic work on her, there was a part of me that just felt petrified when it came to her, as if something between us had become disconnected so that instead of opening the pages to find the same magic that had stirred me to admiration of her in the first place, I found that unmistakable chill of academia staring back at me, freezing me to the core and draining the life out of the page. So, I stopped reading Virginia Woolf and because I had forgotten why I liked her in the first place.

Having been quite disconnected from academics for sometime now, I find that something in me has stirred and changed, grown older and slightly wiser, and perhaps it is in this that I find myself when, confronted with Woolf again, seized by admiration and a recollection of magic, as well as a deeper understanding. It's hard for me to shape the words for what is stirring in my mind and breast at the moment, but it's something having to do with this process of growing older, of understanding more, of careers and academics, of being a woman and of all of the things that I'd like to see myself do with my life. It's something to do with the magic I felt ten years ago when I opened Woolf for the first time, something to do with what she writes in A Room of One's Own which is, more than any of the others, the one I now recognize as having called to me from the shelves when I wandered among my stacks of books, tea in hand, the other night. So, this week's {soul food} belongs to Woolf and to A Room of One's Own for calling to me from the shelves and stirring those pools of my conscious and unconscious mind and giving me the lift that I needed to keep getting up early during the week and working on my projects, even when I'd rather stay in bed, warm and dreaming- for reminding me that dreams are wonderful, but that for a woman, it always takes a prodigious amount of work for the dream to live and breathe.

{Soul food} is my term for the things that keep me moving in life, that inspire me and refill the "spring of my soul," so to speak. Sometimes soul food is an image, sometimes it's in the form of a book, a single poem, or even a film. At other times, soul food is that cup of tea had at just the right moment, or that homemade bread you decided to make even though you'd rather lay like a puddle of goo on the floor. The point is, soul food is anything that lifts you up, that makes you feel inspired or whole, anything that makes you stop and breathe, anything that gives you the strength to keep marching on.

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