A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Archive for the ‘living moments’ Category

Feeling like home

It is beginning to feel a lot like home. Coming back from a day of work, and swerving into the narrow garage with the bumpy road just outside that had brought forth so many frustrated tears during those first few days after moving. The pest control guy has worked his magic and the electrician, handy man and telecommunications guy have all done their bit. It is easy to step into the place with the confidence of long standing residence.

It seems no longer to matter that it is getting dark by the time tired feet clamber up the side entrance. The security key finds its way into its lock and, click, the door opens. The friends have turned up by turn and helped fix little teething problems. The black and blue toe hurts no more, though colleagues gleefully predict that the nail will fall off soon.

The strange hot water system, which needs a little rest between showers, or washing dishes or such like no longer irks. It is just something to which the rhythvan goh bedroom in Arles sepiam of the rest of the day needs to fit in.

The old furniture has mostly been taken away and the new furniture is not here yet. Each earmarked spot seems to be quietly anticipating the advent of the bed, the dining table, the sofa. The things that are around, have settled into their new home. Everything seems to just “go there”.

The plant whose name is a mystery, which rewarded careful attention to it with half a dozen flowers only at the height of summer, has suddenly thrown out half a dozen juicy buds, even though there is a distinct chill in the air. The new geranium has taken three days to bud and flower from its baby stalks. Only the lemon tree seems to miss the hot balcony of yesteryear, and has come crashing down with every bug that can hit a citrus plant. Somehow, even though life is just as busy, there still has been time to nip up to the nursery and bring back an eco friendly pest oil to treat the plant.

The mornings are being greeted with eager anticipation as the sun shines through the camellias, lazy and satisfying, even on a work day. The evenings are relaxed and somehow seem to provide time to watch the cork float even after attending to the chores.

The quiet rustling of the trees and the trilling soft cheep of birds accompanies the drying laundry. The family of bush turkeys who come around every dusk make coming home sweet.

It is peaceful, beautiful, and welcoming. It is home. Home, it seems is not a place, but a feeling.

~Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.~

Footprints on the sky

gogh-clouds

The path to keeping the earth fresh, green and having it not implode into a gooey mass of plastic suffocating wildlife is littered with pitfalls. I arm myself with cleaning vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, lemons, jute scrubs. Okay, not jute scrubs. But I totally would, if they were easily available. I clean my floors cupboard, vanities, shower walls and door knobs. I repeat.

As I put my cleaning vinegar away, I notice that it is in a plastic bottle. I am not entirely sure where the recycled bins get taken to in Sydney, and worry that it may be just dumped somewhere and end up leaching into the ground, mix into the earth, create new hitherto unknown compounds and kill the millions (trillions ?) of very small creatures that live there, change the balance of the soil …….

If it gets taken to a recycling plant and gets re-energised into another lease of life, I worry about the form of energy used, the strong bleaches, cleaners and other ingredients used. I worry that putting all the plastic containers on a ship to a distant land where labour is cheaper defeats the purpose, with the ship guzzling fossil fuels and possibly allowing some (a lot?) to flow into the ocean.

My Sodium bi carbonate is in a paper carton. I worry that it killed trees being made. I worry that even if it is recycled, it will still need to be mixed with new paper. I worry that reducing the cutting down of trees by … now … how much does the poster claim on the wall at work …. 73% (?) is not enough.

I worry that if every one starts using lemons to clean their door knobs and interiors of fridges, we would have to start cutting down virgin forests in order to grow enough lemons.

Such considerations would keep me awake at night if I allowed them to.

I visit the houses of friends and marvel at the sparkling walls, cupboards, bathroom vanities. I come home and realise that in my possibly futile efforts to not step on my Earth or Sky, I have allowed my home to grow shabby. The environmentally friendly cleaners just do not achieve the same sparkle. I rush out to the shops and buy the strongest household bleaches and cleaners I get. I get the home looking cleaner, and then sit back worrying about how much larger I just made the hole in the ozone layer.

Perhaps Abraham (Link to some Abraham videos for those interested in woo-woo) are right, and Nature will always come aright. Does that necessarily mean that we are allowed to cease to care? Am I not a part of Nature, as well?

PS: I reckon Van Gogh’s paintings, reproduced, are copyright free. If not please advise, and I will change the lead picture

Adults: Young and Not So Young

I have recently discovered BookTubers . This YouTuber family is by no means new, it is just that I have arrived late to the party.

Since I came upon BookTubers via my guilty secret (beauty YouTubers), and since a large percentage of beauty YouTubers are in the early twenties age range, all the BookTubers I initially discovered were also similarly aged. Amazingly, or not so amazingly, this group of YouTube enthusiasts seems to review and read Young Adult Fiction overwhelmingly often. Even though not exclusively, it seems to be that much of the Book Reviews, To Be Read videos, Book Hauls etc. I have watched since discovering this genre, has involved Young Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels, etc. I know that Graphic Novel aficionados would all scream in frustration and fall in a heap, because some Graphic Novels are NOT Young Adult Fiction. E.g. “The Arrival”, by Shaun Tan. Oh dear, I have done it again. “The Arrival” is not a Graphic Novel, it is a Picture Book. Both of which are different to Comics. Sigh.

I remember back to my “freshly twenty” age, and the number of girls around me reading “Mills and Boon” or other such similar romances. I was guilty of sneaking a romance or two into my TBR (to be read, in modern parlance), myself. Most of the time, even at that age, my reading was heavily censored by my parents, which meant I read more classics than romances. Many of my friends were also reading Camus, Sartre, etc and making the atmosphere dense with their (surely half baked?) discussions of such thinkers and their work. Maybe they got those authors. I did not, which does not entitle me to cynicism. I did read a book or a half by such philosophers with no understanding whatsoever, but for the most part, satisfied my parents’ wish of my being a “serious” reader with less demanding books. Many of my compatriots at that age, though, were reading much lighter, romantic novels, which today would definitely be classified as YA. So there has been no generational “dumbing down”. People are reading as before, it is just that in today’s world of room to Internet to fame after a fashion, it is easy to get a very skewed view of what is actually happening in the world.

It has also occurred to me that I originally viewed the term Young Adult differently to what it is probably meant to be. I thought Young Adult meant the more “advanced” book for those who are too young to be called adult. The “Twilight” saga having being called YA probably added to this delusion, for I could not imagine that any adult could seriously digest these books. Amazingly, more than a few adults have, and with love. But YA fiction is aimed at those who are young adults. Who would have thought? Right?

Before I turned away from BookTubers and their vlogs, to more “intelligent” pursuits, because it is a very long time since I have been a young adult, I realised, that, Ariel Bissett, BookTuber, crazy, funny, adorable, and twenty years old, has been chosen by the Man Booker Prize people to be a “Man Booker Prize Vlogger”. OMG, right? This is her (along with four other BookTubers) official task: “This year, the Man Booker Prize will be running its own vlog book club, featuring five popular, literary vloggers in the UK and Canada. The ‘Man Booker Vloggers’ will chat about all things Man Booker from long list stage onwards, posting videos discussing the books and authors in contention for this year’s prize”.

What is the Man Booker Prize, other than being a prestigious award that can make an author’s career jump from the doldrums into the firmament? It’s aim is “to increase the reading of quality fiction, and to attract the intelligent, general audience.” I looked through the list of recent years Man Booker Prize winners, and the closest I have come to reading any of them is having the “White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga on the family bookshelf for a couple of years. I have not read it, another family member has. So, it is time I step off my high horse about BookTubers, and embrace them all.

Cute, Mad Ariel 

Very Insightful Rincey Reads       DeathtoStock_Clementine2

Sanne, whose name is as commons in The Netherlands, as Sarah is in the UK.

Only some of my new discoveries.

Photo Credit: http://deathtothestockphoto.com

Translations and trans life

There are some tasks which are so difficult that the mere thought of completing them can paralyse. I don’t know whether the difficulty of this particular task has been built up in my mind to it’s incapacitating proportions, or whether the task is indeed very, very difficult.

For as long as I can remember, it seems from Nursery Rhyme days,  I have been a worshipper of Bengali poet and philosopher, winner of The Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, the inimitable, the wizard of words and sorcerer of ideas, Rabindranath Tagore. I have long admired his poetry, even before I began to understand it, because I could recite it end to end without any idea of what the poetry meant. The words knit into each other so well, the rhythm flows so beautifully, that the poems wield themselves into memory easily and effortlessly. As a child I could, as now, recite his poetry, and more often his songs ( I have a flat line voice which does not lend itself to singing) and be lost in the rhythm and the flow paying no particular attention to the meaning. The words fit into each other in a lilting seamless jigsaw puzzle with such precision that if one was to be removed, a substitute is not possible. This is as true of his poetry as of his prose.

This is not to say that the works themselves were superficial or meaningless. In fact much the opposite. Tagore, above all, was a philosopher. His works major and minor, are all artistic philosophy at its best. This is why translating him is such a behemoth task.

It is a great pity, there is no translation of Tagore into English that I have read that brings me to within a hoi of the original. Dare I say it? Even Tagore’s own English translations fall woefully short of the magic his Bengali works invoke. Even the philosophy behind his works gets only partial justice, let alone the raw poetry and imagery of his Bengali words. There are many who do translate his works, and very skilfully so, but …. but….

As a person who can grow emotional over skilful use of words, and as a person who has always admired the power words have in creating images, I have long wanted to translate Tagore’s “Geetabeetan”, his collection of songs. First I had to mature much to even begin to do justice to the philosophy, and I do not believe I have the depth of understanding even now. I also feel that I do not have the power to create that poetry in English.

I feel, that in order to convey the songs of Tagore to a twenty first century world, I need to be able to transcend the century that has passed since his writing, and yet show the timeless beauty of his poetry. Many songs that he wrote seem to be written specifically for today, and yet there is no way I am able to bring this this to the world. I just don’t have the words. Nor the oomph. I have tried.

I often say to myself that if reincarnation is really a thing, I do not want to be born again. But perhaps I should. Perhaps, if I were born again, and I tried more single mindedly, I could actually translate Tagore into English, and pay due tribute to a human who has brought me overwhelming joy. In the meantime, in this life, I can continue to listen, hum, and sway to his songs, feeling their glory in each cell of my body.

What a pity, only some of the very few Bengali readers of this will understand why I am having such a fan girl moment.

In the meantime here are a few translated lines from Tagore’s own pen, for a small taste of the words that reach deep into the soul, the original of which is one of my favourite songs.

The World today is wild with the delirium of hatred,

the conflicts are cruel and unceasing in anguish,

crooked are its paths, tangled its bonds of greed.

All creatures are crying for a new birth of thine,

O Thou of boundless life,

save them, rouse thine eternal voice of hope,

Rabindranath, by himself

Rabindranath, by himself

Let Love’s lotus with its inexhaustible treasure of honey

open its petals in thy light.

O Serene, O Free,

in thine immeasurable mercy and goodness

wipe away all dark stains from the heart of this earth.

Thou giver of immortal gifts

give us the power of renunciation

and claim from us our pride.

In the splendour of a new sunrise of wisdom

let the blind gain their sight

and let life come to the souls that are dead.

O Serene, O Free,

in thine immeasurable mercy and goodness

wipe away all dark stains from the heart of this earth.

Man’s heart is anguished with the fever of unrest,

with the poison of self-seeking,

with a thirst that knows no end.

Countries far and wide flaunt on their foreheads

the blood-red mark of hatred.

Touch them with thy right hand,

make them one in spirit,

bring harmony into their life,

bring rhythm of beauty.

O Serene, O Free,

in thine immeasurable mercy and goodness

wipe away all dark stains from the heart of this earth.

The Golden Girl

I can see her through the kitchen window. She is flying higher and higher on her swing, chubby face split by an endless grin, flying hair bathed in a golden glow. The wind kisses her as she swings daringly higher each time, but her gurgling giggles fail to reach my ears. She has come to visit me, again, as she often does, soundless, and swathed in a golden light. I don’t really know her very well. I think I do, as she is me, at the age of three and a half, give or take. But she is really a phantom of those days, not the whole person that was me. Golden girl 1

I remember those halcyon days, and even later ones as I grew up. Every memory of those days has a warm golden glow to it. That little girl, growing up in that home, is always laughing, always running, with the shiny golden light setting her aglow. I know that my childhood, and youth, as every one else’s had moments of such bliss and moments not quite so blissful. But when I look out of windows, in my moments of peace, that is the girl I see.

This is the reason why, I am guessing, many wish to go back to those days. They wish to hold on to those moments of innocence, laughter and fear free joy. They say, in a voice languishing with memories and myths, “I wish I was a child again, I wish I was that free and innocent child, again, with no worries in the world, living that life, revisiting those events.” Yearning for that fleeting, probably (perish the thought) non existent, moment of perfection.

I look back at this girl with the golden smile, and I feel her freedom, and her carefree existence. I feel the sun again on my skin, and the certainty the world was just the way it should be, with a delicious dinner and a cosy bed at the end of the dreamy day. But does that mean that I wish to go back to those days? I don’t think so.

I think that what I miss is that girl’s outlook on life. Each moment of her existence is swathed in the present. She is playing, and laughing, in the moment. She does not have a care, not only because she is innocent, but because this moment is perfect, as it is. She may have fallen, or been chided for being “naughty”, or been made to drink warm smelly milk, but that is not in this moment. That is past, and the time for learning silly times tables or spellings is not yet, so this moment is free, golden and alight with laughter, and a bouncy sense of peace.

Perhaps that is what I yearn for. This strength to let the past be, and not worry about the future. My tendency to live in the moment survived for years, much later than some others around me. Then one day I realised that this characteristic in me was looked upon by people I respected, as being superficial. A child’s unconcern about the future or the past is loveable innocence, but to take this un-awareness into adulthood shows a lack of self analysis and self-awareness. I must have agreed with this view of life, so I trained myself to worry , and fret, and analyse my mistakes, and generally hold myself in low esteem because I was not perfect. I could never be perfect, so the constancy of my fretfulness was ensured. I trained myself to fret about things I could not change, and remember real and imagined downfalls for years, years and years. I learnt to fret about the future even if it was only 30 minutes away, and to worry that I had been wrong in the past, even if that past was five minutes ago. I learnt never to let go of the past, and never to be in the present. I learnt to try and change things, everything to fit a standard that now seems arbitrary. Since most things are not meant to be changed, I was caught in a constant vortex of mindful frustration.

Years later, even when I learned that those whom I had respected may have had their own imperfections to deal with, and demons to battle, I still continued on my harried and worried way. As a new age of awareness and acceptance slowly emerged and made itself felt worldwide, I began to see the sense of being in the present, though I still beat myself up about the not present at every opportunity. Even as I wised up to the fact that the little girl had probably been wiser than the big girl I now was, I still clung to my over analytic, hyper critical self. I had trained myself only too well.

But that little girl still lingers. She still pops in once in a while, and teaches me, that each moment is an adventure awash in golden light. That is all.

 

Chill. The centenarians are coming

As usual, scientists are excited and baffled, together and separately by the challenges of living longer, healthier.Social scientists, politicians, financial experts seem to be scratching their heads as well. In the interests of happiness, health and having your grandma around for longer, or great grandma around at all, the scientists are searching for the fountain of youth. Others are debating whether that fountain has the answers society needs. Or wants. Like all real life phenomena, the answer is not displayable in any one sequence of thoughts and experiments.

People age at different rates, this is observable evrywhere. We are envious of the person of fifty with the trim taut and terrific body, and the person of seventy with a spring in their step. Yet, at the moment, the perfectly healthy nonagenarian or centenarian is still an oddity. But mythology, as well as scientific understanding of the human body tells us that a bod can continue to be hot till much longer than is the current norm. So the scientists are searching, the naturopaths are extolling and the pressure on society to give up smoking and start running is enormous. Even though these last two pieces of advice do not seem to be backed by non controversial scientific data.

So what do we do? What do the rest of us do, those who do not live our lives out in a lab, those of us who run from fad to latest fad… as touted by Huffington Post, twenty something beauty YouTubers and YogaTubers? We live life as we can. as always.

The life of a yogi is not lived out solely on the mat, and the life of a beauty guru is not lived out solely in front of a vlog camera. There may be a lot we can apply on our skins to achieve the complexion of a twenty year old. There may also be many pretzel shapes that massage our inner organs to health and youth. We can embrace all of these. But perhaps, what works most, is to embrace these, and other ideas, with the chill of a toddler. With the joie de vivre that is so visible in those who have been recorded laughing and giggling at a hundred and twenty, or so.

Perhaps we take a regular moment to read, and watch, and then do what our common sense tells us. After due consideration. Perhaps, we should just keep laughing. Keep loving the best in ourselves. Do what seems right to us, inside of us. That part in there, untouched by others, is perhaps the perfect guide. In doing so, if we do reach to be a hundred and fifty, and be able to enjoy that life, let us share a huge belly laugh. If we are cut short before that magic date (set arbitrarily by me) we can still share a huge belly laugh as we leave.

Let the sands slip through……… Slipping sands

These thoughts inspired by: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/10/what-happens-when-we-all-live-to-100/379338/. A pretty un chill article. But seems to be able to provoke some chill thought.

Let the asana do the work for you

Imbued with the culture of doing, achieving, and pushing past the barrier, we end up on our yoga mats living the “no pain no gain” motto. Yet the mat is the one place where we can begin to learn that gain is not related to pain. Never. Not at all.

Along with the multifold (other) benefits of yoga, a double whammy of a benefit is, that, with regular practice, the asana does the work for you. All we need to do, with regular diligence, is to practice each asana to the point that our body allows us for that moment in time. Regularly, with patience, and correctness of posture. Did I mention diligence?

My early years of learning yoga under stringent circumstances, and long years of training in Indian Classical dancing, led me to an arrogant assumption, that, when I chose to learn again, I would be able to touch my toes. Easy. There. What did I say? I could do it.

Supported uttanasana

A chair does the trick as well.

The triumphant surge in my belly was short lived. My spine had to curve, and my shoulders had to stoop, in the exact ways that my book warned me not to, in my effort to prove to the most important person in the world, me, that I still had it in me. Today, I am not quite sure, what it was that was “in me”. I caught myself mirrored in the French window looking most inflexible and tortured. Red with mortification, and sweaty with humiliation, I turned away from that sight and reached for the blocks. I felt an unfamiliar sense of humility, coupled with a reluctant conviction that B. K. S. Iyengar must have known what he was writing about. I turned the blocks to their longest height, straightened, rooted my feet as evenly as possible, straightened my legs, raised my arms up, … you know the deal. When I then sneaked a look at the book, and back to my reflection, I realised I had to straighten my legs to a ninety degree angle from the floor, and soon I was able to breathe in a regular flow. Over a period of diligent, regular, time, I was able to lower the height of the block.

When I finally found a teacher I could adore, she gently pried the block away, and lo and behold, I was in my first, unsupported Uttanasana, since my childhood. I suddenly realised at that moment, that I had not put in an ounce of extra effort, ever, since that first time. Slowly, gradually, imperceptibly, over time, the muscles, legs, shoulders and spine had learnt to do whatever was necessary. Surely, and confidently, each time I practised, the asana had spoken to my body, and the two together had got my Uttanasana into place. As I proceeded through that lesson, I noticed the progress in each asana I had practised. Here was yoga. Here was a journey!

I am indebted to Yoga Adam for the title.

Image credit: http://dev.drfranklipman.com/uttanasana/

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