Don’t Pass It By


After Edith Wharton (author of novels The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome) began publishing her work in her middle years, she struck up a correspondence with the already respected author, Henry James.  She admired him greatly.  (Insert yawn here because Henry James has that effect on me.)  The two writers communicated by letter for three years before they ever met in person.  When they finally did meet, they became good friends. (Insert image of Daniel Day-Lewis in a frock coat having a fraught with meaning but sexually repressed and whispered conversation with Michelle Pfeiffer in a fussy bonnet.)  

My joking aside–here’s my point.  Like so many people who create, Edith Wharton went through a period when she struggled to find her voice.  She wandered uncommon paths for a woman of her position.  Wharton had been born into an old New York high society family, and was thus expected to marry well and live a presentable life.  Instead, she found herself stuck in a miserable marriage and yearning for her freedom.  (Ahem…Fartbuster, with a far superior dowry.)  She questioned whether anyone would care about the inner workings of the privileged world she knew. 

Henry James encouraged Edith Wharton to stick with writing about the New York City she knew so well–even though she disliked it. He said, “Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”

This life, the one we spend every day slogging through, is the straw we spin into gold.  We pass by so much in the search for something “important” or “meaningful.”  We climb over mountains of straw in the search for gold, not realizing that it’s lying all around us, waiting for us to work our magic!  

I hope you’ll take a look today at the immediate, the real.  What’s around you that’s beautiful or interesting?  What’s inside you that’s beautiful or interesting?  

5 thoughts on “Don’t Pass It By

  1. Lisa in Athens

    And if you don’t feel like spinning that day, you can still use your straw as mulch in your flower beds. Beauty comes from all sorts of inspiration.


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