This evening I gave a talk and slide show about Beyond the Great Wall, our new book. The event was at Nicholas Hoare books on Sussex Drive, shop with loads of books that call out to be bought and read, and stacks of CD's too, all enticing. Better still is the feel in there, welcoming and comfortable. We sipped wine and chatted, then we dimmed the lights and I talked about people and places beyond the great wall to the thirty or more people who'd come. I'd recognised one old friend in the crowd before we started, but then when the lights came up there were several more. And there we were, all older, maybe wiser, but still recognisably the same people as when we'd first met. The person who went back the farthest was Flora, whom I have known since we were both ten years old. That's a long time ago!
And like the whole process of being in Ottawa for several days, visiting my Alzheimers'-afflicted aunt and being reminded of events and people long gone, seeing old friends and acquaintances was both sweet and disturbing. It's a reminder of the passage of time, of our mortality and the impossibility of stopping the rushing on of the years; it's also an affirmation that we aren't alone, that others do know us from times past and remember us, and even make the time to come to an event to reconnect. So this evening my thoughts are jumbling around: I'm thinking about my long-dead parents, and I'm remembering, in quick flashes, trips across town in the car when I was a child that I haven't thought about for years. And then my mind moves to the future, to ideas about the details of our Chiang Mai cooking classes (see the chiang mai page at our website: www.immersethrough.com). Strange to be caught up in thoughts about the past and also tangled in ideas about an imagined future.
I'm reminded that even when we can't travel in a physical sense, all we need is our imaginations to travel in our heads. And sometimes that kind of travel is the most strenuous and surprising of all.