Thursday, 10 May 2012

On Inspiration

I wonder what inspires you? 
Yesterday I just had one of those days that left me feeling... well, great. I mean, I was invigorated, stimulated, energised... you get the picture. 
What happened? I had lunch with my former Ph.D. supervisor. 
She's the kind of person that you meet with just for a few minutes and you come away with such determination and purpose that you want to do more and be better. I don't think it's just her exceptional intellect and eloquence, or her fantastically well-observed insights, or her appreciation of my photos of Scoop, although, of course, all of these help. 
It's also her immense capacity for kindness and empathy, her desire to help at any cost, her utter selflessness and humility. 
I told you she was awesome. And I had the luck of being supervised by her for 3 years. 

After lunch I was at a loose end for a while, so I went to my favourite bookshop in town: 
Image from Walter Watson Fine Art

I go there quite a lot. In fact, I have to avoid it quite a lot because, really, how many books does one girl need? (Answer? LOTS... apparently).
As I was chatting and browsing something caught my eye... no? surely not? A First Edition? (One of my many weaknesses) Not just any first edition, but one from 1812, which I just happened to have written about in my thesis. Oh yes. With shaking hands (I kid you not, people, I really was shaking) I flicked through the poems and caught that lovely, slightly musty, old-book-smell (the smell of happiness. Ahem).
I couldn't leave without it. 
Trouble was, I also couldn't leave with it because, unless I wanted to be prosecuted for theft (FYI, that is not on my list of things to do before I'm 30), there was no way that I could justify the expense.
Now, my father is a broker - one of those hardcore 'this-is-my-final-offer-and-that's-it' sort of people - who always gets a good deal. Period. I have inherited my mother's genes, however, which pretty much means that I am TERRIBLE at striking deals. 
This is a problem if you have dealings in the second-hand book trade. 
But I thought 'what the hey' and asked in the smallest voice ever: 'will you be able to do me a deal if I pay in cash?'
And do you know what the owner replied? No, of course, how could you? You weren't there!... Would have been weird if you were...
He said: 'Well, it's from my own personal collection, you're a very good customer, and I can see that you love it and it would be going to such a good home, so how about [insert ridiculously low price here]?'
Yes, friends, the man gave me the best deal ON THE PLANET because he could see that I loved this book. 
The generosity of it makes me want to weep.
Way to restore my faith in humanity, lovely bookshop man.

Oh, and the book? 
Here it is: 
Yes, it's TWO HUNDRED years old!!!

Ok, it might not be much to you. But for me... this is what I love
This is what I live, breathe, eat, sleep, and, yes, dream
I might be poor in cash, but boy am I lucky to be given riches in other ways.

That is all.

I'd love to hear what inspires you - please feel free to leave me a comment!

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