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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Inspiration does not come in the form of theme parks

In seventh grade, I chose ""Oliver Twist"" for a book report. As I came across words like ""dilapidated,"" I thought to myself, ""Dear God, it's me, Carrie. Why didn't I just choose Judy Blume like everybody else?"" 


But I read it. Then I read ""Jane Eyre."" Then ""Wuthering Heights."" And when I read them again in college, I realized I didn't remember a damn thing, and that I prefer modern literature. But, the point is, it led to a pilgrimage to London. 


In a few weeks, I'll be leaving London and I can't help but think how appropriate it will be that Spring will be going on beneath my plane. Blooming. Melting. Exploding.  


Literary London wasn't quite the symmetrical, perfect palace my imagination constructed, but then again, I've admitted to myself that I was chasing around ghosts. Virginia Woolf's house is just bricks and a blue door. Someone hauls groceries into T.S. Eliot's apartment.  


Right in neighborhood of Kent, England, there are plans to build an amusement park called (yield to oncoming marketing creativity) Dickens World. I'm not sure how they are going to swing that. Yogi Bear looks pretty first-rate on those commemorative cups, good enough to pay $6. The irony of making stuffed Victorian starving children into prizes is almost too much to bear.  


Truth be told, there is a lot of silliness in the world. Some of it makes me laugh and some of it keeps me, and Charles Dickens, from sleeping soundly. But after visiting all those graveyards and scouring all those dusty documents, I've realized I just wanted to see what inspiration might look like. Inspiration, yes, from the Latin root inspirer, which means breath—the breath of life to enter you, fill you and spur you to greatness.  


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It's a rough lesson to learn—to walk all that way only to find no one there to talk to me about how all those characters and that writing made my pale, Midwestern self so full of electricity and wonder, like I was looking at a freaking star and all that crackling plasma up close.  


However, writing is where an author drops you off. You have to walk or figure out the rest of the way. You have to do something about it. I have been here and I have done all these things, and it is bliss to remember. 


My column is coming to a close, and I'm going to say that inspiration is not just a book. It's merely where I have felt it and thought you might, too. And it's better that way, as a gas, a shape shifter and not a solid.  


It's an endless hunt in a chaotic, flea market of a world. It requires a lot of discipline to do something around here, a lot of rooting around to find out what you need. The future isn't a spider we can trap under a cup and that is scary as hell sometimes. (But then again, I am an English major and I may have dug my own grave). 


But I do hope you feel inspired, if not by books, then by baking bread, doing science experiments, making conversation or by some other kind of adventure.  


Thanks for letting me fill up some blank pages, for reading and for sometimes e-mailing. If you see me around, I always want to talk books. Or, you could buy me a stiff drink, and tell me to lighten up.

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