Thursday, January 3, 2008

Peripatetic: What it Means, Why it's Important

Peripatetic: adj., walking or traveling about, itinerant. Noun, a person who walks or travels about. (Also: of or pertaining to the Aristotelian school of philosophy, but that's not the meaning we're going for here. Or perhaps it is: you decide.)

The Peripatetic Poetess - I'll admit, it was an exercise in mouth-fun, which is one of the reasons I chose it. It is also one of the descriptors in "One," the song from the Broadway hit A Chorus Line, in the section: "She's uncommonly rare, very unique, peripatetic, poetic and chic." It's also a reminder that there are underused words in our language that languish, just waiting for someone to pull them out, polish them off, and give them a good work-in to conversation.

I find that wandering is the best way to find where you really wanted to go. Oh certainly, I get lost without a map. I've been doing it for years. (It's actually a sort of specialty of mine, and gives my mother quite the fit when I tell her I made it home by following a strange truck until I reached a place I recognized.) There are overused (but still true) sayings that capture this just as well: "Life is a journey, not a destination" is one my father gave me on a plaque. "Not all who wander are lost" is a favorite Gaelic saying, available on many t-shirts, and tattooed on my arm (as I am just as apt to lose an article of clothing as to get lost). If you haven't tried it, you should: go to your local library, and instead of going to the catalog, browse the stacks and trust Serendipity to lead you to something special. Branch out from your standby authors and try something new - you may find something you like. Even better, you may find something you dislike. (Discovering why will tell you a lot about yourself and lead you in new directions for reading and writing.) Wander down new roads - you would be surprised at the amount of country you didn't know was waiting outside of your habit-formed boundaries.

You don't have to be a writer to love words. You should be a reader, if only to support those who do work with words to try to make new images from new combinations and twists, who try to capture your ear and your eye with clever prose and sublime poetry. Perhaps you'll find something that delights you. Perhaps you'll find something that enrages you, or saddens you. Whatever you find that strikes you, you really should rejoice: words still hold some power over you. What better gift than this universe of meaning, and the libraries full of eager authors that populate it for you?

This is simply a space set aside for the celebration of words. Though poetry is my preferred medium when I write, I eagerly read everything: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, autobiographies, appliance manuals, the backs of cereal boxes. I gladly label myself a bookwhore - to whom else would I give myself so freely, allow myself such liberties with, accompany to such foreign territories? Horror fiction, mysteries, political theory, econometrics, famous and obscure poets, children's books, books on faith, treatises on librarianship and new technologies, tomes on alternative health and cookbooks are all displayed with equal pride on my shelves.

For those of you who care to join my circle, I hope to share some favorite works, post some reviews, and generally use this blog as inspiration space for all of us to do our own reading and writing, as we will.

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