A few Sundays ago I had what I think of as a ‘daisy chain day’ - a chain of things led to each other and, as I’ve said before here, they probably seem like a string of little nothings, but they added up to an evolution.
I had a long sleep full of amazing landscapes, as I often do, then slumped around with coffee for an hour or two until something prodded me. Something subtle needled me: ‘Today is the day to go to the Busan Museum of Modern Art’. I’ve been putting that visit off for months, for no particular reason, even though the museum is only 4 subway stops from my home. I ignored the voice, and opened the book I was reading at the time; the first thing my eyes fell upon was a reference to Handel’s Water Music. In 1998, in Wales, a friend dragged me along to a ‘psychic’ who said that music would be important to me. It never had been. When I saw the name, without even thinking about it, I got ready and set off for the museum.
I found two major exhibits there: one by Korean artist Park Seo Bo (pictured) which was really not my thing, the other a fine collection of Henry Miller’s watercolours. Most of the museum signage and so on was in Korean, of course, but there was a TV showing a Miller documentary in English. On the bench in front of it were two teenagers, each talking loudly to a friend on their cellphone. Their voices and giggles boomed around the otherwise empty gallery. I usually try not to bother about or interfere with what others choose to do, but something told me that I needed to not only watch Henry Miller but also hear what he had to say. So I asked them if they could please talk on their phones somewhere other than in front of the only programme in the entire gallery. They scooted off without anger or embarrassment. There’s often an obliviousness in people in this country, more so than in other places I’ve lived, about what’s going on around them.
What Henry had to say affected me deeply. I have been hauling some dark, work-related, resentments and regrets around inside me for the last 8 years; when I’d finished listening to Henry, and had a little cry, I walked away feeling as light as a feather, as clear as a pane of glass, and floated outside. He laid some healing words on me, alright.
Later that day, I looked Henry Miller up to learn more about him, and discovered that he’d been a great admirer of John Cowper Powys (a wonderfully odd bod: I love this piece about him), and gone to visit him in Wales. Wales! I thought. Where in Wales? Where else, of course, but Corwen, a little town - closely linked with Owain Glyndŵr - in a little valley where my great-grandmother kept a shop selling baby things, where my great-great-grandfather kept a pub (the Bluebell Inn, Carrog) and worked as a river-keeper. The valley my heart longs for wherever I go; the valley of the Dee where my happiest childhood memories live, and to which I will return to live before long. I was back where I had started. But lighter, and now wearing an invisible daisy chain.*
*[There were another dozen so daisies in the chain that day, fitting little events along the same string that made me smile or gasp. But they wouldn’t mean anything to you. It was a good day.]