Advice for anxious times from the FT’s management columnist, a French children’s newspaper, and a former commander of the Israeli Defense Force. On a practical level, they all boil down to the same thing: carry on as normal. I must remember to do this.
A character in Jonathan Letham’s Motherless Brooklyn describes mediation as sitting and thinking about nothing without falling asleep. Awake is a higher form of consciousness than asleep, but thinking about nothing is a challenge. I have attempted it on the metro and each time ended in failure; like an infant in a car or an elevator, I soon fall asleep. Beyond public transit, boredom, self-consciousness, and my cat assail me. I did for a period succeed by viewing unwanted thoughts as alien craft in a video game, but, like thoughts themselves, good video games lead to obsessiveness and the bad ones are merely tedious.
Better then to approach mediation obliquely and, as I discovered in New York, eliminate either the sitting or the thinking about nothing. Eliminating both will end in failure for the novice. Only for the advanced practitioner will it bring total enlightenment.
In my last post I said I was keeping a deliberate eye on spring, it being so crazy here that it can induce that feeling that one may have blacked-out for the duration. Then the view was rather grim: no snow and no leaves. At the time, I suspected that the tree outside my window was dead. A month later, I am proved wrong. It’s just a late starter, and soon I shall lose my view of the mountain. Spring has definitely arrived. I’ve also included the some earlier pictures so you can see just how fast it got here.
Following a frisbee related injury, I have received intimations of my own fragility and, at least for today, am unable to walk. Appropriate then that I am reading Moby Dick, and while my condition renders the mad, one-legged captain Ahab unusually sympathetic, the narrator, Ishmael reminds me that this fragility is a more usual condition than I normally admit.Continue reading ““A Hobbling Wight” and Details from the Rijksmuseum”
A good day’s work done, marking and preparing lessons. After lunch, I found time for a walk, but it’s my day off so after dinner a glass of wine is in order. To the piano bar at the Glenmoriston, taking in the islands and the birch trees with another short walk.
It’s quiet when I arrive, the only other customers are two Polish girls dressed up for … for what? This is Inverness. For the hell of it, I guess.
An older couple arrive and book a table for dinner. They talk about children; it sounds like they’re on a date. Pre-dinner drinks are considered. He is actually stroking his chin as he contemplates the wine list. A decision is made and he asks the barman, who is French, “Do you serve red chardonnay?”
The world, such as it is, comprising two over-dressed Polish girls, a French barman, and the older man’s companion, stops. Everyone becomes conscious that the Wallpaper* music continues to play the cover of a New Order song but there is no escaping that everyone wishes it was playing just a little louder. I think of birch trees, not so much those on the islands as those at Yekatrinburg.
The barman prevents the deluge and reboots the world, but even he is unable to suggest if it should continue on red or white lines.
“We do not serve red chardonnay”. Just a statement, no apology. Perfect.
On a recent trip to Paris, my phone was stolen, depriving me not only of my photographs but also my pruneaux en armangac at Louis-Phillipe. They were exchanged for a trip to the Commissariat de la Police in the cinquiéme. As consolation my old phone yielded up this delightful proof of the enduring French art of window dressing, here alerting the passerby to the services of the local rat-catcher.Continue reading “Parisian Elegance, or How To Sell With Rats”
14th July 2009: On this day, of all days, I burn my boats and storm the Bastille. When there’s nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire so, sans appartement, sans emploi, I am moving to Paris.
14th August 2009: I am dispossessed. My worldly goods are variously at my mother’s, with friends, and with strangers, courtesy of Oxfam. I think of Marcus Aurelius, Erasmus and Vladimir Nabokov. I have two suitcases and a wedding in Ireland to attend.
18th August 2009: I am in Paris. Just. I have slept for two hours and have dragged myself and two suitcases to Dublin airport. On the plane I try to die. I succeed. It is 35 degrees and I am sweating champagne. I am in a youth hostel. I am not in Paris. I am in hell.