The diary holds a surprising amount of power in this household for such an unassumingly slender volume. For once something goes in there, I feel honour bound to see it through. It's the place where holiday times are mapped out, weekends are given over to one sporting fixture or another, and nights out negotiated. Once something is 'in the diary' you can be pretty sure it is going to happen.
Flipping though the next few weeks, I find my stomach clenching in a tight knot. There's an awful lot that has to be shoehorned into the few remaining pages before the year is out. But that makes me even happier that last Thursday I had blocked out a whole day in the diary for something pleasurable.
Ardington School of Crafts opened in a former Victorian school building in a beautiful village not far from me, back in 2012. I have been meaning to attend one of their courses since then, but it has taken a while to find a pocket of time and an appealing course aligning - the stars came together on creative papercutting.
Of course, when it came to last week I was running around like a headless chicken, and if you had asked me if I had time to head off for a day of crafting, I would have laughed. Probably with a touch of manic hysteria. But the diary was in charge, so off I went.
And do you know, the world didn't come to an end because I took a day away from the usual. And I had the most wonderfully tranquil few hours just focusing on doing one thing. And focus you must, when there are wickedly sharp scalpels involved. Distractions are unhelpful when planning what bits of a design to slice into first. So the good coffee on tap and lunch thought about, provided and cleared up by somebody else were a godsend.
Have you heared of 'flow'?
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Papercutting is not inherently difficult. It doesn't need loads of fancy tools or techniques. But there is nothing like it for feeling totally in the moment. And it was one to capture and remember - hence the papercut on the doily. Because sometimes, for a short and precious few moments, truly all IS calm. Perhaps next year I need to plan for more of those moments.
Actually come to think of it, the lovely people at Ardington are thinking of having open studio time next year, when you can work on your own projects in their wonderful surroundings. And that truly would be worth putting in the diary.