“To me, it has always seemed that each individual has such a moment. It is a fixed point in eternity, varying with each person, which they reach, sooner or later, in their trajectory through time. It is this moment which most perfectly expresses them, and to which essentially they belong, in which they live most fully. Both before and after, some awareness of this lies within them, so that in varying degrees of consciousness, they are seeking that moment in order to be fulfilled, or to find again in that fulfillment and setting, the persons who shared it with them.”
“A lifetime or a moment is all the same; a whole cycle lived richly, or thinly, one day. Each can prove to have been the meaning of a life. We cannot know, from where we stand. But if we seek, and are aware we have missed the moment we seek, our own absolute moment in time, then we live out our lives unfulfilled. In the words of an eastern proverb: we die with our eyes open — we cannot rest; even in death we are still looking for it.”
Never mind that her longings for a lost love and mine mingled as I luxuriated in the pages of this book. Never mind that some details will raise the eyebrows of conventional social constructs. (“Overweening conventions! They have us in a stranglehold from the cradle to the coffin,” writes Lesley Blanch.) Never mind the question of whether the Traveler corrupted her life or enhanced it; I have two opinions as contrasting as East and West. What is certain is that this woman ended up living by her own rules and did not lead a lackluster life.
But to have bookshelves spilling over because of a geographic fascination and to have the books arranged by region; to have literary tastes swayed topographically; to explore entire worlds by turning pages; to spend hours on long bus rides poring over books; to have “everything I saw, or read, ate, or thought tinctured by my infatuation”; to travel and be particular about the precise lighting in which to see certain places because they look more beautiful in morning, noon, or afternoon light; to find areas of conflict irresistible and be chided for having “such violent desires”; to journey into the mind’s eye or into the heart of another; to see traveling as an act of “following a strain of fugitive music” — I’ve never felt this aspect of myself more probed and understood, that I wish I came across this book much sooner.
There are allusions to be unveiled in the captivating writing, and there are lessons to be gleaned from the interaction between cultures, but the line I’ll take to heart is, “Don’t be so finite,” said the Traveler.
Lesley Blanch lived to be a hundred and three, unapologetically, and infinitely.
2 thoughts on “Lesley Blanch: Journey Into the Mind’s Eye”
Beautiful. Definitely one for the next lot of purchasing! X
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