100 Books Project :: Adventure, Disappointment and Revelation

[Book #34 :: Deposited in Banff, Alberta, Canada November 16, 2009]

"So... I tried to give away the second book.  I found the perfect location for it in Banff, Alberta... but things didn't turn out quite as I expected."  ~Book Fairy Heather Plett, in an email to me about what happened with Book #34.

I knew immediately this was going to be a good story, and I wasn't disappointed.  After Heather left the book on an old stone bridge in Banff, this is what happened:

"Fantasizing about the person who'd find it (and even imagining I might see her later walking through downtown with the book tucked under her arm), I crossed the river and killed some time in a Native arts centre. When I was sure I'd left enough time (quite a few people had crossed the bridge by then), I headed back into town.

The book was still there. Someone had torn open the tape on the paper packaging, peeked inside, and left it all behind. I was heartbroken. How could someone see such a beautiful book free for the taking and not whisk it away to a private little hideaway for some quality soul time?

I did my best to re-seal the package, propped the book back up, and walked away again.

About half an hour later, standing in a gallery staring at paintings and photographs that I was suddenly aware were no better than what I could produce, a thought flashed through my mind. Maybe I was meant to take the book. Maybe this was MY ordinary sparkling moment.

I didn't think the book would still be there, but I decided that if it were, it was meant to be mine. Pretending for a moment I was my nineteen-year-old self crossing the bridge to my forty-three-year-old self, I returned to where I'd left the book. It was still there, lying on its side again, like someone else had rejected it and assumed it was meant for someone else.

I took it, but not without HUGE reservations and a whole lot of arguing with myself. (Aren't you cheating? Maybe Christine will be angry. Shouldn't you fulfill your duties like you promised? You're failing again!)

Steeling my resolve, I marched back into town with the book tucked under my arm. The arguments didn't fully stop (I considered dropping the book on a bench, or giving it to a lovely woman in an art gallery or to one of the owners of the "Three Wild Women" boutique), but in the end, I chose to make it mine.

In a flash of inspiration, I walked into a jewelery store and bought myself a promissary ring. (I later learned that the blue chalcedony is meant to strengthen the body and mind and give the wearer a sense of clarity about what they like and don't like.)


In the Wild Flour café, I wrote myself a promise note.

I promise: - I will take more chances. - I will believe that I am an artist. - I will trust my ability. - I will look for opportunities to paint and make art as often as I can. - I will sign up for another class or workshop that stretches me. - I will honour the muse.

It's never too late to learn the things I should have known that summer I turned 19.

I drove back to Calgary wearing my new ring. I am rather fond of the way it looks on my weathered 43 year old hand.

On the flight home, I read my new book. Perhaps, on my next trip, I'll pass it on to someone else who needs it, but for now, it sits on a shelf in my lovely little studio reminding me that I AM AN ARTIST!"

I love this story for so many reasons, most of all because of the way Heather turned a disappointment into a an opportunity to follow her intuition and create, as she said, her own ordinary sparkling moment.  I am so happy that Heather knew deep down that this project isn't about following a specific formula or adhering to rigid rules.  This is a project about generosity - not only to strangers, but to ourselves.

Thank you Heather!

{The entire story is here, and all photos were taken by Heather.}