Beauty fades as knowledge grows And wisdom comes too late To understand what the old one knows As the acceptance of this fate
When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.
Today I’m feeling: Happy and chilled Today I’m grateful for: The lady in the print shop helping me to print out a few things I needed. Some for school but also printouts from my blog which I will send to Hayden. The best thing about today was: Finishing reading a couple of books. I love the anticipation of starting a new book, a new journey, new knowledge. What movies do you need to watch? This is easy. There are NO movies that I NEED to watch. I have a hard-drive full of movies that I’d like to watch along with many DVDs, Netflix and YouTube. And perhaps, hopefully, one day I will. I may even try it tomorrow, now that it is in my head.
Get used to it, it’s not going to change Settle on down til it’s no longer strange Culture shock, not worth fighting against It’s upsetting but not worth taking offence Getting used to it, going along for the ride Hiding in the open is the best place to hide Running away or kicking against the pricks Means never teaching this old dog new tricks
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Today I’m grateful for: Receiving some comfortable new sandals that at least attempt to give me some arch support. The best thing about today was: Walking home from Utopia in the light drizzle. It was just the right rain not to get too wet and to keep the temperature down. The air felt supremely fresh and reinvigorating. I really enjoyed the walk.
A Russian writer in a Dublin bar Took a metaphor way too far The idiot brother spent the day Conjuring up their words at play Newspeak made them more afraid And on the farm, a price was paid Conch holders soon made no sound As Alexandria’s library burned to the ground A plague, a joke, the man outside Tall tales of prejudice and pride Repeated and replaced with robots, I Struggle with two suns in the sky
Isn’t it conceivable a person wants to be a decent human being because that way he feels better.
I don’t want to go outside The rain spits knives at my blinking eyes Don’t want to be outside Angry ghosts stare at me in surprise I don’t want to see outside Evil awaits with sharpened knives Don’t take me to the outside Amongst the dead and zombied lives I don’t want to go outside The flashing neon against dull grey skies Don’t want to be outside To smell the carcass covered in flies I don’t want to see outside The monsters can’t get me in my bed Don’t take me to the outside Where the rats of paranoia invade my head
The day a child realises all adults are imperfect, he becomes and adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; and the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.
Alden Nowlan, Selected Poems
Today I’m grateful for: Pushing myself to walk to Utopia in the morning and recognising the extra energy that gave me throughout the day. I got a lot done. The best thing about today was: Reading more Gormenghast. I’m loving the language and imagery and being introduced to all these weird and quirky characters. I’m enjoying it more than the first book in the series so far. There were lots of other good things today too mostly because I was in a good mood because of my morning walk and the sun being out again.
This morning I am filled with a quiet happiness. Determined to get up early on a Sunday and to do something, whether it be a walk, a meditation, writing or studying, I rolled out of bed, fed the cats and opted to walk to my favourite local coffee shop, Utopia.
As I prepared food for the cats a light rain appeared. Unusual for this time of year but accurately predicted by our weather apps for once. Undeterred, I set out. The temperature still cool but the minimal exertion keeping me warmed I chose to listen to a reading of a Chekhov short story. The relative quiet around made for clear listening to the beautiful words of the story as I walked through small fields of wet grass and aspiring mud. Was I still in Thailand or transported to that Armenian village?
Before I knew it I had arrived at the shop but it was too early and as I waited on the porch I listened to a primer on Nietzsche and then an imagined conversation between Fred and Jane Austen where, despite their differences they arrived at a philosophical agreement and appreciation for each others works. Inspired by this I contemplated how everyone is different but we must be able to find some common ground.
The Nietzsche primer mentioned his text’s difficult reading but also highlighted his humour. Something which I had not been previously aware of. Friends have told me they preferred to read works about Nietzsche rather than his own. I will try this approach sometime. Sometime when I can add those books to my ever growing library.
The shop opened and I lazily drank through 3 coffees which produced a wonderful buzzing awareness of all the subtleties around me. Soon an acquaintance of Amy’s arrived, a Thai lady who runs her own English school. As this was our first meeting we talked about our shared experiences with teaching here in Chiang Rai.
I lead the conversation for a while before realising it was time to let her speak and so I asked questions about her school and so the conversation flowed. I set myself a small challenge to try to talk to a stranger every day and thought to myself that I can cross this off today’s challenge list and it’s not even 10am.
Later though, as I was walking home, the rain a little heavier than before, I realised that I had failed in another of my personal challenges. Inspired by a Tim Ferriss article I read this week I have challenged myself to not complain about anything for 21 days. To remind myself about this challenge I have started wearing a bracelet, the purpose being that every time you complain you have to swap the bracelet to the other wrist. I have made this doubly difficult for myself by choosing a bracelet that is awkward to attach to oneself with one hand.
As the bracelet effect kicked in I thought back to the conversation in the coffee shop and asked myself if I had been complaining. Despite my mind’s protestations and justifications I sadly realised I had, indeed, been complaining. Perhaps only mildly but there is a fine line between stating the facts as they are and infusing a negative into the narrative.
In fact, the hardest part of this challenge is actually recognising that you are complaining. So long as it pushes to the forefront of my mind more and more it will help me become more aware of my own words and to try to understand how someone might feel whilst listening to me.
The walk home was still wonderous as I contemplated all this and listened to the description of beautiful Masha and the joy and sadness the narrator felt. This description was thought-provoking as I also was feeling so happy with life, despite the fact I was getting cold and wet in the rain. The walk crowned by the view of the feathery grass that spikes alongside our driveway, suddenly weighed down by the heavy drops of water, pointing towards the path home.
I am so happy and grateful to be inquisitive. To want to constantly learn and understand myself. This morning I listened to a primer on Nietzsche which was interesting as an introduction because I don’t know enough about his philosophy. I then listened to an imagined conversation between Nietzsche and Jane Austen where there two apparent so different writers end up agreeing on many things. I walked to Utopia this morning too. A nice gentle walk and gave me chance to listen to these articles.
On Friday I kept my challenge of playing with the kids so that I would get some exercise. However, after a while, they asked me to calm down. I was a bit rough and too competitive. I felt slightly aggrieved at that moment but did calm down some. When I thought about it afterwards I realised they were right. It probably wasn’t as much fun for them as it should have been. I need to learn about the consequences of my actions – even the small ones.
Here I am playing catch up again. Wakey, wakey – wrapped up in cotton sheets and Bronwyn, both naked for the first time since Wednesday night. Lovely kisses and hugs wake us slowly even before our morning call. Slow we rise with spectacular view outside, mountain snowy with last hailstorm, over the lake where we walked yesterday. We wash and wake up more (unfortunately we have to put clothes on) and go down to breakfast where we feast on toast, juice, coffee, cereal and scrambled egg. Bloated we packed up and paid, buying the owners poetry booklet which is very good and very funny.
Drive back around the lake and mountains to Keswick, parked up and checked up on the weather before setting off one our 25 pence walk. It was a quiet walk till we got to a beck with the bridge and walk across, and one upways off our map. We opted for upways – climbed steep slippery stone as the wind gathered strength, approaching top, beck still water tumbling to our right. And the view from the top gob-smackingly stunning.
Back down, marshy green, boggy brown, singing and playing, chanting and running burping and farting, ears a-chilled with the wind. Down to Ashness bridge and over to the surprise view – across the other end of Derwent lake.
In the shelter of rocks we cooked Pot Noodles and ate that with bread and water. Despite the basicness of our food we feel well fed and makes me realise what a pig I am at home, stuffing myself full-a-food. Back round by the lake, us favouring the rocky shore than the road, the water is beautiful and clear. We picked up an old sheep feedbag and Broni collected rubbish on the way back – us quite exhausted.
Still on a high though, back in tin-tub, over to the coast – where Broni can’t believe the houses in this different kind of suburbia.
Into Whitehaven, my home town for several young years, past my old infant school, whose name we had to put on my Visa application only a few weeks back and down my old street where I used to run and play, as do the kids there today. Backtracking to Cockermouth, we take the road that leads through Buttermere and Borrowdale, me in search of a road I remember my mum taking me down. This little route is probably the best in the whole district, past Buttermere you head up, up, up, round twisty single-track tarmac, stone lined walls, valley stream in centre rolling down, boulders as big as houses left where they have fell sometime in a different age maybe.
At the top of the rise we park so Bronwyn can relieve her desperation behind a rock or three. Big smile of relief we get 50 yards down the other side of this huge hill and car screams at us and across the valley. Oh my fuck! Please don’t break here!
I contemplate cruising down this hill 25% gradient and twisty turny as the road up. Two hikers come along and give advice – one pokes around under the hood and the car works again. I guess we were closer to heaven than we thought.
Slowly, slowly we glide down the hill and limp back to Keswick by the most beautiful river we’ve seen so far. We look around for a campsite and find a good one by the lake – unfortunately the people are a bit queer, it is expensive, the ground is sodden and it’s more of a family park – no river for us to camp by. We set up tent and hiking up into town (only a quarter of a mile away!) and get war, with delicious pub grub. A bit drunker we head back in crash out at the tent.It’s raining all night but we pack up the tent and leave in a break and I’m glad to leave this place – no character, charm or soul.
We figured on Windermere next stop, nearer home by some 30 miles! We stocked up on food and drive carefully down into Windermere and find a spot to park near our walk. The weather clears as we set off and catch a ferry across the water. Walk by lake, forest then up an old horse and carriage track made of stone’s roughly plumped on the ground – no way! Must have been in the dark ages! But we can visualise it. Up through a forest plantation and under the pines where the light hardly reaches, through bogs and broken walls, by small ponds and dinner ate by a peak sat with views of beauty two seventy degrees. Down past cows and calves, sheep and lambs, tractors and farmers and into Sawrey and by road, wrong turn taken, back to the ferry.
Back at Bowness we sit in the pub, resting weary bones and then find the campsite round the lake, a beautiful view across. Tent set, we open up wine and watch the darkness and rain coming in, as we sit by the still water, me skimming stones until the whitest white swan comes to check is out, and a pairs of ducks land by us on the water. Back to the tent and sleep, rain a-pouring all night, all night. Bronwyn up an out at 4.00am feeling queasy, into the wet, but us soon back asleep.
In the morning we drive back to Windermere and to the camping exhibition where we barter and buy a beautiful tent! I check out my bank balance and realise we can’t afford anything! I’m broke, we’re broke but we don’t really care – it’s been such good fun.So we’re sat here in the pub, overlooking the lake, grey outside but not all unpleasant. Just about to go play golf, like all the other lovers. I love Bronwyn, she loves me, we love each other and we love all we do and love life together.