Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Impressions of the Orient

Shades of the orient shimmer on green panes.

Occasional sighs of an eastern breeze awakens leaves above - their song and dance becomes a soothing harmony: Nature's counterpoints, glissandos and rubatos... A soft symphony

or perhaps a sunny lullaby

for fatigued minds

and gentle hearts.

Written in Yuyuantan Park, Beijing.
Back-dated to 24 September 2010

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Young Night Grew Old

The young night grew old as we sat side by side.

There we were - on a worn bench pointing out the stars above, barely visible in London's hazy sky.

Few words were said, but there was no need. We understood.

A cool breeze whispered to us. It signaled the end of summer - of days spent in warmth. And we decided to leave.

We were nearly home.

I stopped, and offered her my arm. She looked surprised and hesitant.

To her confusion I replied: '10 years is a long time... don't take it so seriously'.

And so she took my arm,
and we continued our walk into the night.

A good memory.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Appreciating Flowers

I am not normally one to appreciate flowers, but this is what I saw:

Shriveling tulips with limp petals in one of those generic brown paper bouquets. The result of many hours in what is now a relatively warm London.

I supposed it must have been a much more lively bunch of flowers when it was bought fresh from the shop, but it is no surprise that a little time can lead to some disappointment.

They were seen by someone who cared. Fascinating what happened next. The paper bouquet quickly stripped away. Out came the scissors to trim the stem and the vase. In came the water with a pinch of brown sugar. Minute adjustments - all that is required for a subtle but neat artistic arrangements.

And I was surprised by the beauty that bloomed in the same time that it took to wither. This beauty I leave to your imagination.

But just know that your pleasant and recently-envisaged conception was only possible because there was someone who cared about small things in life that many, including myself, would not be concerned about (tulips, for instance). And perhaps we are all better for it.

Monday, 29 March 2010

On Doing Nothing

I did not get up to much yesterday. There are days reserved for relaxing, but this one wasn't exactly one for that purpose; it was just me being lazy. I stayed home and did what people essentially would call 'nothing': ate some, slept some and allowed myself to indulge in laziness. I woke up this morning with that nagging feeling you get when you know the time could have been better spent but, alas, wasn't.

I thought about yesterday whilst on my way back home this evening. All that time spent on nothing. But perhaps 'nothing' is too extreme of a word; at least I was existing. One curious thought led to another and I ended up asking myself how many days do I have anyways?

Around 30,000 days, on average*.

That figure struck me. I knew that life was short, but I have never quantified it like this before.

I started seeing 'life' through numbers, and doing so made it seem even shorter. You can think about the days you have lived as a fraction of what we would live on average (30,000 days) or count the days you have left by subtracting from the figure. (To give you an idea, you've lived over 10,000 days by the time you are 28). Simple arithmetic but complex implications.

I probably will have tens of thousands to go, but what was less re-assuring was how quickly a time goes by (even when you're not having fun!). Also, consider the fact that roughly one third of our life is spent sleeping. And how many hours do we spend doing simple tasks such as traveling, eating and drinking, grocery shopping and being lazy? Many people probably start to be really capable of taking their lives into their own hands when they are in their 20s, but by that time they've already spent a quarter of their lifetime. Moreover, talk to many older people and they mention with nostalgia the flame of youth and how quickly it goes by; it should be noted that old age can limit what you can do and therefore there is a 'zone' where you are most capable in your life. The figure of 30,000 thus diminishes.

These numbers itself do not provide a meaning to my days. Knowing how much time there is left does not provide a purpose or guidance as to how such days should be lived. Nevertheless it makes my days more meaningful, or perhaps we should say something like 'precious' to avoid confusing the paradox.

I don't regret doing nothing yesterday, but for sure I'll try live my future and remaining days with greater zeal. Or at least I know I'll be waking up early tomorrow morning to do something.
- - - -
*Assuming you live to 80 years of age; 365 multiplied by 80 gives you 29,200 days.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Lion Of Russell Square

But for the echo of a few footsteps, no sound falls upon the Great Court of the British Museum tonight. Before me the grand Lion of Knidos* follows my every movement with its empty, hollow eyes. I stare straight back into the two lonely voids. As eye contact is made, a tension between a man's appreciation for sculpture and the lion itself forms, rises and -

'Pop!' - breaks, as I twist open the cap of my peach-flavoured Arizona iced-tea. The sound of a vacuum being filled ripples and bounces happily around the Great Court.

After slowly sipping my drink, I look back at the Lion and notice how dull and sad its eyes are. I begin to appreciate this fine creation with a sense of nostalgic sympathy and tragic amusement.

Ironic, perhaps, that two thousand years ago it was watching over a nation on a high cliff top, mighty waves pounding below. No doubt a symbol of pride, strength and nobility.

Today it sits on a short pedestal, watching me drink my peach-flavoured Arizona iced-tea.

But to me, it will always be the Lion of Russell Square.

- - - - - - - - - -
*Colossal marble lion:

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Locksmiths of Ventimiglia

I stop at the middle of a bridge above the Roia river in Ventimiglia.

Below me the lucid swirls of the river draw curious ripples against the pillars of the bridge.

I contemplate the lovers who stood here years ago, throwing keys into the same clear turqouise current.

Before me are rusty locks with the names of those unknown couples - some locks have hearts drawn on them, others with carved statements of passion.

I do not know and will never meet them, yet I am secretly happy for them; it is not every day that one declares an unbreakble bond to another, throws away the keys and never looks back.

Beneath the rusty locks are a new and shining locks.

I smile, for it tells me that the heart's traditions are still carried forth by the locksmiths of Ventimiglia.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Sheep In The Window

Do you have any idea how relaxing it is to see sheep in the window? Little white cotton balls against the lush and cool green of the grass. And it's all a gentle blur as the hills oscillate, passing you by as if they were waves and you were on an ocean liner. But no, rather, you are the one that is passing the hills by. On a train sliding away from the city, literally leaving your thoughts, stresses and business behind. The destination is irrelevant, rather, it is the getting there.

The smooth voice of the wind and the sound of the rails beneath you orchestrate the soft lullaby of travel. Rest your head in the soft seats and let the steady sway of the carriage cradle you as if you were once again a small child in a swinging crib. Again, slowly draw your eyes to the hills. How many sheep are in the window?

Count them,
fall asleep,
and pursue those dreams beyond the grassy hills.