Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Pen and Paper

To sit at a computer-free desk with a pen,

to pull out a sheet of your hand-printed headed notepaper,

to write those first two words "Dear Friend",

and then to pause a while before letting the ink flow onto the page with tales of your doings and your worries,

to fold up the paper,

slip it into an envelope,

write the address out,

stick on the stamp,

drop it into the letter-box,

and then imagine the pleasure that your letter will bring,

the physical pleasure of opening it and reading it at the other end.

- ah, is this not happiness?

"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart."
~~ Phyllis Theroux



An old Sculpture by the Sea photo from 2007 taken at Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia.


Sunday, 24 March 2019

Life Is Better When Unrushed

The world most of us live in is hectic, fast-paced, fractured, hurried.
What’s more, most of us are conditioned to think this is the way life should be.

Life should be lived at break-neck speed, we believe. We risk our lives in cars and we break the speed limit, rushing from one place to another. We do one thing after another, multi-tasking and switching between tasks as fast as we can blink.

All in the name of productivity, of having more, of appearing busy, to ourselves and to others.

But life doesn't have to be this way. In fact, I’d argue that it’s counterproductive.

If our goal is to create, to produce amazing things, to go for quality over quantity, then rushing is not the most effective way to work. Slowing down and focusing is always more effective.

Rushing produces errors. It’s distracting to flit from one thing to the next, with our attention never on one thing long enough to give it any thought or create anything of worth.

Hurrying produces too much noise to be able to find the quiet the mind needs for true creativity and profound thinking.

So yes, moving quickly will get more done. But it won’t get the right things done.

The most important step is a realization that life is better when you move at a slower, more relaxed pace, instead of hurrying and rushing and trying to cram too much into every day. Instead, get the most out of every moment.

Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?

Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?

Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savour every bite and really appreciate the flavour?

“Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.”
~~ Donald L. Hicks


Just outside Christchurch, New Zealand in February 2019 we encountered this large flock of sheep.  We patiently waited at the side of the road for them to pass.
 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Forgotten Pleasure

It's a forgotten pleasure in our rushed days, to leaf through a slim volume of verse, perhaps while sitting in a train or when resting by a tree in the city park.

Everyone should keep a book of poetry about their person.

Even to read four lines of Keats while waiting for a friend will enrich your day.

Here is Keats, for example, on the pleasures of red wine:

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long ago in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!


What a phrasemaker he was!

Words well chosen can fill your heart with joy.

So reject the empty clatter of the penny dreadfuls and keep a book of poetry on your person at all times.

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."
~~ Robert Frost


I visited Christchurch, New Zealand in February 2019 and my friend Marja and I ventured to Lyttelton for a lovely walk around the bay.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Live in the Present

People give us advice all day long - parents, lifestyle coaches, magazines, self-help gurus.  What a pity most of it is wrong!

Here is some food for thought:
Live in the present - This piece of advice is so often cited it has become a reason for NOT living in the present, since so much of the "present" now consists of people lecturing us about how we should live in it.

Actually the recollected past and the anticipated future are both quite nourishing places.  The present nearly always involves a soup of distractions; it contains the thing that's important, plus lots of things that get in the way.

Recollecting the moment you stood in front of a favourite painting/sculpture, for example, is often better than the moment itself, in recollection you can strip out all the things that were unimportant: your sore feet, the couple talking loudly behind you, the queue for admission.  Memory pares down the moment to its essence.

The same is true of the birth of a child, a kiss, a bushwalk.  In memory, the experience is at its most intense and pure.  After remembering these things in blissful reverie, we can then anticipate similar, or better, experiences in the future, the hoped-for experience fizzing in our mind in a way that is pure and unencumbered.

I'm not attacking the present.  It's highly useful in prompting both recollection and anticipation - the real things in life.

"Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start."
~~ Nido Qubein


Here is a picture of Joseph, 10 years ago (July 2009).  Love that boy!

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Delightful Spell Broken

After a busy day I sometimes find myself lying on the couch drifting off into a hypnagogic state in front of a monotonously TV screen.

My brain is just awake enough to inform me that at this point I should really get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, get undressed and lollop into bed.

However, if I do get up, brush my teeth, wash my face and get undressed then by the time I am ready to lollop into bed, I'll be wide awake again and the delightful spell will be broken.

So instead I revel freely in the moment that sleep threatens to envelop me.

The enchantment in nodding off and then nodding awake a few minutes later is like a gentle rollercoaster that goes slowly enough to be thrilling while managing to avoid the unpleasantness of any theme park sensations.

Next time this happens to you my friends, remain motionless, allow your mind to wander off and enjoy the thrill of sleeping in your clothes.

Leave the TV warbling to itself and luxuriate in the sensation of stalking slumber.

When you wake in the small hours with a slight chill, you can sleepwalk to your bedroom before your duvet greedily swallows you whole.

"Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night"
~~ Dave Barry

Taken in Norway in July 2010 - boat in fog