Since moving to Japan four years ago I’ve had to say goodbye many times, to friends, family, colleagues and students. Each time, I tried to hold back the full extent of my feelings until just after parting. For me, showing too much emotion has always felt like a loss of control. Yet in hindsight I regret the times I held back more than the times I let go. Continue reading Departures
I never got to know my mother as an adult. She died just after I turned nineteen, a few months after Princess Diana’s fatal accident. Continue reading Things my mother loved
Today’s post will be a short one, to share this excerpt from Yiyun Li’s essay ‘Dear Friend From My Life I Write to You in Your Life’. She writes about a childhood friend who committed suicide shortly after they resumed their correspondence as adults. I think this is a beautiful reminder of the power of writing to connect. Continue reading Only connect
In yesterday’s post I mentioned this article by Maria Popova. I’m glad I read it again. I needed to be reminded that I’m doing the right thing as I get ready to leave my job and move to a new city in a few weeks’ time. For months I’d been worrying about finding work. Then one day I decided to just stop stressing. And within the same week, found myself turning down three separate job opportunities. Continue reading Life is short / Mid-life goals: part 1
‘All art is quite useless. So is a flower.’ Marlene Dumas, Oscar Wilde, oil on canvas (2016).
I started this blog earlier this year after a friend encouraged me try it for just three months. I wanted to record the ideas I’d been coming across in podcasts and books that have had an impact on my life. I’d scribbled notes in journals but I wanted to bring them together in a more coherent way. I also wanted to share the links I’ve found useful. And connect with people interested in similar things. It wasn’t so much about writing – I think I’m better at story-telling than essays – as about sharing. Except I wasn’t sharing the posts. I hadn’t found the courage. Continue reading Why blog?
When I’m stressed or worried about something, I find that counting or doing calculations in my head helps to redirect my thoughts. Numbers are also an easy way to quickly recall techniques that reduce anxiety. Here are a few examples.
Ghada Amer, Untitled, acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas (2008)
Every week I read a novel by a Japanese writer with my friend – in her case the original and in mine a translation. Recently we read The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto. The main character, Chihiro, is an artist who paints murals for a living. She spends most of her time outdoors, engaging her whole body as she works. ‘I guess I’m one of those people who always thinks with her body,’ she says. Continue reading Body matters
Helen Verhoeven,The Waiting, oil on canvas (2014)
I’ve just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s first novel, Hear the Wind Sing. In it, one of his characters paraphrases this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.