In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. – Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Most folks when first hearing about the A to Z Challenge reach for their dictionaries minding their Qs and Zs. But it’s this little letter X that’s the real toughy. I think if I blogged for long enough I would run out of X words to write about and would simply have to mark the spot. This year the Challenge road has led me to Xanadu.
If you’re my vintage, when you hear the word Xanadu you probably think of a roller skating rink, flowing blond hair, wind machines and disco music and Olivia Newton John. If you’re too young to know what I’m talking about check out this midriff covered video:
Now that I’ve shot the beauty and gravitas of Coleridge’s words to pieces by using the words “Coleridge” and “disco music” in the one post, I can ditch perfection and let you know that the first two lines of this poem are about my only take-aways from high school poetry. Although as I remember it Kubla Khan had an erection where his pleasure dome was concerned rather than a decree. Kubla Khan erecting a pleasure dome seems far more tangible than a decree. Maybe we learned the Australian version of the poem, or maybe Mr Khan’s dome actually got lost in a whole lot of red tape at the rezoning stage and never made it beyond a decree.
As a parent I certainly know that just because you decree something, it certainly doesn’t make it so.
But I digress. Back to the topic at hand of Xanadu.
So, if you had to design a Xanadu, what would it look like? What would your idealized place of magnificence and beauty look like?
This has a lot of potential. Serenity, shade, water and a wrap around balcony would almost be ideal. Perhaps white sand and blue water is more your style or rainforest and running water.
The fact is we can surround ourselves with magnificence and beauty but we will never reach Xanadu with just tangibles. Because magnificence and beauty ultimately require acceptance, gratitude and a willingness to look beyond the outwardly magnificent and the beautiful. You could live in the most beautiful paradise but if you are not grateful or at peace it could still be the worst nightmare. In short, Xanadu comes from inside, it is where we are settled, it is where we can truly be ourselves.
Xanadu can therefore be several different places in our lifetime or at any one time, because each place may bring out a different facet of our personality. One day you might be contemplative and seek serenity, the next you might be playful and seek colour and sound.
A little bit of idealism is not a bad thing. It’s a pity as adults we tend to limit our idealism to the point where our imagination is used to create barriers or make assumptions and therefore as a weapon. Instead we should be creating our own Xanadu, that little piece of paradise in our otherwise cluttered days.
Here some more mouth watering pics of ideal locations to get you started thinking about your Xanadu: