Departures

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

A monument to Unsatisfied Desire

clarice-lispector

‘The “ever after” of passion tastes like a stubbed out cigarette.’

In Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s ‘Letter to Hermengardo’, the writer, Idalina, advises her reader about desire, the tendency to seek after pleasures, and the pain this brings. Continue reading A monument to Unsatisfied Desire

On race and belonging

On Between the Covers, poet and writer Claudia Rankine talks about the title of her book Citizen being in part about belonging. This is a theme that has been often on my mind since moving to Japan four years ago. Continue reading On race and belonging

Only connect

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

Life is short / Mid-life goals: part 1

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

Why blog?

Marlene-Dumas-oscar-wilde-bosey

‘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?

Eight ways to calm your mind with numbers

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.

Continue reading Eight ways to calm your mind with numbers

Body matters

Ghada Amer Green Paradise for bodies

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

Double negative

Helen Verhoeven

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.

Continue reading Double negative