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

A trail of thoughtful examinations

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 interviews 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, excerpts and references I’ve found useful. And connect with people interested in similar things. It wasn’t so much about writing – I think I’ve always been better at story-telling/fiction than essays – as about sharing. Except I wasn’t sharing the posts. I hadn’t found the courage. Continue reading A trail of thoughtful examinations

Pick a number

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 Pick a number

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

The beauty of uncertainty

Nothing is certain and nothing lasts. As Sogyal Rinpoche writes in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, ‘there is only one law in the universe that never changes – that all things change, and that all things are impermanent. This realisation of impermanence is the only thing we can hold onto.’ Continue reading The beauty of uncertainty

The big leap

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint, Evolution, Group VI, no. 12  (1908)

Most of us think we want to be happy, or at least free from suffering. But do we really? As Eckhart Tolle writes in The Power of Now, there is a ‘peculiar pleasure’ derived from being unhappy. Negative emotion can feel good. For example, anger produces a surge of energy that gives us the courage to take action. And then there is the quiet, pleasurable sadness we feel at the end of a sad movie or when parting from someone – the sense of things passing, known in Japanese as mono no aware (the poignancy of impermanence). Continue reading The big leap

The art of saying what cannot be said

Koshiro Onchi Poem no 6 1948 woodblock

Koshiro Onchi, Poem No. 6, woodblock print (1948)

I’m currently reading Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and it has got me thinking about the ability of poetry to ‘describe the indescribable’, as Alan Watts puts it in his lecture ‘Buddhism as Dialogue’. ‘Poetry is the great language,’ he says. ‘It is the art of saying what cannot be said.’ Continue reading The art of saying what cannot be said

Entering

This is the poem that inspired the name of this blog. It reminds me of the feeling I get when I’m walking in a familiar area and look down a street I’ve often passed by before. Something catches my eye: a colourful mat hanging over a balcony ledge, a bush of hydrangeas or a line of trees at the end of the road. What’s behind them? I wonder. What else would I see if I walked down that street?  For me, that is how inspiration feels.  I like the idea of creating a world out of one black tree, and then letting it go. Continue reading Entering