To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an Hour
William Blake (1757-1827) (English poet, painter and engraver) is one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism. He emphasized individual, imaginative, visionary and emotional creativity. He privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. He declared in one poem, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.”
When I was a teenager my father gave me the talk. Not the one on sex, the one on being an individual. I remember his words like he spoke them yesterday and I am sure I might have dared to roll my eyes like my daughters did when I gave them the same speech. “If your friends jumped off the roof, would follow them? Be an individual, be unique and do what you think is best for you.” I’m not sure he didn’t regret these words at some time in his life because I took them literally and have never followed the crowd.
What I get from Blake’s thoughts is that you should create what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing a story, picking up a paint brush, taking photos, creating quilts, putting together culinary delights, etc. Creativity is the key. Learn who you are. Do something that makes you unique. Don’t mindlessly follow the crowd. After you are gone, it will be your legacy - an inheritance for your children and friends.
I grew up in a home where artistic talent was everywhere. My mother was not only an award-winning oil painter, but taught herself to play the organ and also sewed and did needle work. My daughter Kellie inherited her painting talent. Having their artwork proves Blake’s theory. They are no longer with us, but their essence is. I take great comfort in that.
When I make a personalized quilt each one grows from my own creativity. I can’t explain the joy I receive in making them and then hearing the squeal, feel the hug, or see the happy tears when they are received. My stories aren’t published yet. When they are, I’ll have a second contribution to romanticism. I love that word now that I know what it means. I’m searching for more ways to use it now.
Have you thought about how unique you are and what you are leaving as your legacy?