One of my dreams is to download a copy of the amazing map Tessa at All Things Stationery created and travel the world visiting all the stationery shops it mentions. I’d buy a notebook at each one of course, and log all my travels in an adventure journal. The new Kikki K one would do nicely.
I was talking about this idea at work, perhaps unadvisedly as I’d need to take off at least two years to get everywhere, and wasn’t sure how to describe it. Holiday didn’t feel right somehow, likewise trip didn’t quite convey the epic-ness of it all. Enter The Simple Things: apparently this sort of undertaking could be called a modern pilgrimage. Who knew.
Now, The Simple Things is my favourite magazine. I buy it every month on the first day it comes out and on those occasions where I get to read it cover to cover with a cup of tea I genuinely feel like I’m winning. But back to the April issue and Clare Gogerty’s article ‘The New Seekers’.
What I’ve taken away from it, is that a simple walk or journey can be classed as a modern pilgrimage if your destination means something to you and/or you are engaged in some sort of search. If I undertook my journey I’d be searching for notebooks, and no doubt getting lost in various backstreets, but though it might sound trivial, I still think it qualifies because of what notebooks and stationers represent to me.
Stationers are a place of calm for me. I can lose hours browsing in Paperchase (I honestly spent a whole morning in the Tottenham Court Road one once – but admittedly I got coffee as well as stationery!). And I like the thought that when I come out I’ll be in some way different – maybe more organised because I bought a new planner, or more creative because I bought a notebook for my latest idea for a novel.
I see every notebook as an adventure in and of itself. A chance to connect and commit to thoughts, feelings, ideas and impressions. This is especially true of journals designed for the purpose, but also applies to notebooks used for creative writing, or budgeting, supermarket shopping lists even if you look back in years to come. Try and dig an old one out and you’ll see what I mean. Food fads, crazy diets – they’re like tattoos in that they capture the you of that specific moment in time.
The act of writing in a notebook is special too. I took a calligraphy class last year and found forming letters with nib and ink as mindful as ten minutes on Headspace. Thanks to Lucy at Quill London for teaching me. But even scribbling something in biro can be profound.
Maybe what I’d be searching for if I took that
holiday trip modern pilgrimage is what would fill the notebooks, as much as the notebooks themselves: the people I’d meet, lots of fellow stationery addicts obviously, the things I’d see, the cultures I’d experience.
In the meantime, National Stationery Week have put together some ideas for a Stationery Crawl through London’s West End. Much closer and therefore achievable if not quite pilgrimage worthy.
By the way, the May issue of The Simple Things is themed Flourish – they always have a named theme – and it’s out on 26 April. Hurrah!