Day Zero: Timber to an Open Flame


Airplanes are amazing; humans can fly while watching movies and accessing Wi-Fi. Emphasis on the flying part, because we are literally defying the limitations of our own biology by doing that. How freaking cool. These are my ever-so-eloquent thoughts as I sit staring out the window, watching the other planes dance a spiral in the approach to Heathrow; I’ve grown up in a family associated with planes and the airlines, and regardless of how much I fly, I am still very much in awe of these flying machines. The moments at dusk when you cannot tell which direction the sky is in. The descent through layers of clouds. The curve of the earth.


Fast-forward about three cappuccinos, some blueberries from Marks & Spencer (oh, how I missed you), and a walk around the British Library, and I found myself a little writing nook at a corner cafe near my hotel. Despite only being here for a few hours, I feel like I’ve already had experiences by simply existing in this space. Funny how traveling can do that: take small moments and make them big. It opens your eyes. Grabs your shoulders fervently exclaiming that “the world is so much bigger than you perceive.” I am on the trail of my muse again here. An awakening. And I pray that means more writing for me in the future to get me out of this mental block I have been in.

Six years ago, I stood near this coffee shop in the British Library inhaling books. I was in undergrad then–studying British Literature and Technical Communications at Regent’s College. That was a time when I relished in the very idea of old books and documents. Of writing and language and the manner in which these mere symbols affected history. Influenced our understanding of the other. Catalyzed empathy. The foundations of why I fell in love with studying English: to see and understand the world through so many different eyes. No other academic study can give you that. The smell of pages allowed me to live, for a brief moment, in the time of their maker.

Those lustful feelings, however, were forgotten when I returned home. Grad school happened. Life happened. Journalism happened. Loss of time happened. I grew in a different way. I am a different person now. But something is rekindling within me here as I walk past first editions of Milton’s Paradise Lost and notebooks from Jane Austen. Hobbes Leviathan and his philosophy behind the social contract theory. The Magna Carta and its reflection on modern freedom: that government, too, is bound by law. Hardy. Shelley. Shakespeare. Beowulf. There is so much power to be found in the words of these writers and pieces. There is power in words. Orwell knew it when he wrote “Politics of the English Language,” but… I think sometimes we forget. History repeating itself… or whatever they say about that.

As I perused the archives of the library, I listened in on a small class of students learning how to use the parts of speech with Beowulf and my heart leaped with excitement. I have regained my element here. Teaching. Books. Writing. What the what.

A gentle reminder of why I am doing what I am doing. To keep going. To write and read and share a passion with your students. Show them the true purpose of learning English and what it can provide for them in a real world context. In essence, I had a fan-girl moment all over again. Like the time I drooled over W.B. Yeats’s exhibit in Dublin and had to ask for glass cleaner. They had his glasses. HIS SPECS. You would drool too, be honest.

Being here, encountering this space again, these memories… timber to an open flame.

PS: I also learned that many famous writers have awful handwriting and scribble all over pages. Perhaps there is hope. 🙂

Countdown to Wales Trek: 3 days

PSS: Is it a bad idea to go running whilst not having slept for over 24 hours? It definitely is a bad idea to write, but we’re about to find out. CAPPUCCINOS.


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