Kathleen Fisher is one of my favourite writers on the internet. Everything she writes draws me in effortless. I don’t know how she does it.
From her latest blog post “From That to This”:
“During that awful time when Covid was ravaging the world, I watched a news report about a woman whose mother died, like most alone in a hospital ICU. The funeral was held in a parking lot and she sat on a folding chair underneath a canopy next to her mother’s casket where friends and family drove by to pay their respects. Such a contrast to Mark’s funeral, and I wondered how it is possible to survive the heartache of not only losing your mom, but then having to say your goodbyes on top of asphalt while people shouted condolences from car windows.
And yet somehow, I, like so many others have survived the heartache of the unimaginable. I’ve learned, I’ve changed far more than anyone realizes, I have oh-so-delicately dipped my toes into the pool of life and tested the water. This go ’round, though, is different. Because I am too familiar with how fragile this all is, the best approach for me is to live smaller and quieter. Will it always be like this? I don’t know, but I do know it’s the reason the beauty of a single blooming bulb in the darkest time of the year made me yearn for more of that.”
Our brain craves focus.
When it is focused, it is happy, still, powerful.
But a focused brain is a rarity in today’s world.
What do you do to keep your brain focused?
I’m reading Jostein Gaarder’s book “The Solitaire Mystery” for the second time and I’m amazed again by the depth of his writing. I enjoy the way his brain works – he thinks almost in a non-linear way, which I guess is how he’s able to write fiction that feels like a mind-boggling puzzle. He is also, of course, a philosopher (which is why all his books are about philosophy) who thinks too much about life (in a good way), and because he writes what he does and writes the way he does, I feel a little less alone in this world.
I remember when I was about 20 I asked my friend if she felt it was amazing that space was so huge. She didn’t find it amazing. She thought it was just science. And she felt it was just a fact of science that we were on earth and floating in space. She didn’t think beyond that, didn’t feel awe, didn’t feel the urge to wonder. Maybe that’s why we later lost touch, even though we were so close before.
“The Solitaire Mystery” is about time, creation, spirituality, consciousness. It is also constantly exploding with awe. And maybe a little sadness and anxiety. Because this whole affair of being alive is just that – awe mixed with sadness and anxiety.
If you’ve read this book too I want to be your friend.
“Our lives are part of a unique adventure… Nevertheless, most of us think the world is ‘normal’ and are constantly hunting for something abnormal–like angels or Martians. But that is just because we don’t realize the world is a mystery. As for myself, I felt completely different. I saw the world as an amazing dream. I was hunting for some kind of explanation of how everything fit together.”
– “The Solitaire Mystery”, Jostein Gaarder
This fucking sore throat, please go away soon.
This is one of those moments in life where I don’t want to accept my circumstances. I don’t want to accept this obscene pain in my throat. I don’t want to accept that I’m now sick in a very cold foreign country where I have to run a retreat in half a day’s time just because a few days before I had to fly off I decided to go hang out with my niece who turned out to be down with a virus.
Sometimes you just want to be angry and petulant and unreasonable, even if you’re just reaping what you sowed 😉
These days I think it’s quite charming when people are honest about their feelings. Maybe a couple of years ago I thought it was wonderful when people worked hard to be at peace with their life’s circumstances and to only smile at life’s tribulations, but now I think a little bit of anger and annoyance is good. It’s more real. Life is shit sometimes and we do deserve to be angry. It’s even healthy to be angry, otherwise all the bad emotions just get repressed/suppressed. Then they get stuck inside of us and become bad energy.
I have things in my life that I’m angry about. Some of these things go a long way back – ancient history with deep roots. Maybe these things are even the reason why I get angry about other more recent things. But I’m not very good with anger, as in I don’t really know how to express anger. I’m not good at shouting at other people. Instead I shut down and withdraw and bury that anger deep, which allows all the anger – past and present – to be compressed into such a small point that with time, it explodes.
Learning how to be angry in a healthy way is one of my projects in 2023.
“I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’.” – Henry Moore
I really like this quote by Henry Moore because it reminds me that it’s better to live our life in days, not years.
Also, it’s in line with my desire to not over-plan my life. I feel it’s enough to have a vague idea of which direction I want to travel in and to leave the path open for sneaky surprises. It’s too boring to plan one’s life out in meticulous detail. And the last thing I want is a boring life.
Anyhow, writing this from Finland. It’s at least -10 degrees outside and the whole day it’s been snowing nonstop. I wonder why we aren’t buried under snow yet.
I fell sick yesterday/today and had some time to think about why I haven’t been writing as much as I want to. I opened my blog (this wonderful place) and realised the last time I posted was in January. If only I’d written more. Then I’d have recorded a little more of my life. Then the memories wouldn’t have slipped away.
Going to New York City next week and I’m looking forward to refreshing my impression of that place (change my mind, NYC), but mainly I just want to eat all kinds of deliriously good Chinese food there.
All I think about is noodles these days.
I almost forgot about my guestbook but I just read it and I’m surprised that there are new entries! Thank you for writing in my guestbook 😉 It’s such a wonderful feeling to read these words written by people I might never meet. But for some reason these connections feel very real. If you’d like to sign my guestbook too, you can click here. And if you have a blog too, let me know. I’d love to connect.
“Stop” is a word I like very much.
Every day we are buried in a deluge of new information, new content, new this, new that. We are collecting and watching and reading and listening but not processing. So all of these information and content become just noise. Meaningless noise. Once in awhile, something jumps out at us, and we feel the desire to dive deeper or to process it, but we’re instantly hijacked again by new information, new content.
The cycle is deep and endless and tragic.
So it’s good to stop. Not just taking in less, but taking in none. Even one day of stopping works wonders for the soul. Three days are better. A week even better.
When we stop consuming so much new information and new content, we have time to look through our backlog of things we really want to look at. Books that are collecting dust on our bookshelf, an essay that we want to read again, an album that deserves our full listening attention, and so on. We stop consuming new stuff so we can have the capacity to digest the old stuff.
And it is the digesting and processing that is meaningful. We get to synthesise the new knowledge with what we already know, and we also get to properly learn new things without being swept away by the next Youtube video, the next great article, the next inspiring Instagram post.
Wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year and may this year be full of the best kind of stopping.
“Never before in his life had he known what happiness was. He knew at most some very rare states of numbed contentment. But now he was quivering with happiness and could not sleep for pure bliss. It was as if he had been born a second time; no, not a second time, the first time, for until now he had merely existed like an animal with a most nebulous self-awareness. but after today, he felt as if he finally knew who he really was: nothing less than a genius… He had found the compass for his future life. And like all gifted abominations, for whom some external event makes straight the way down into the chaotic vortex of their souls, Grenouille never again departed from what he believed was the direction fate had pointed him… He must become a creator of scents… the greatest perfumer of all time.”
Best book I read last year — Perfume.
Two parts of an inspiring post:
Thank you Brandon!
1. My current favorite emotion is JOY. It’s light in the body and bright in tone, yet not overly so – a nice balance between happiness and excitement.
2. Big dreams, small steps.
3. When you feel lonely, it’s because you think nobody loves you or loves you the way you wanna be loved. But accept all love as love. Understand that no one knows how to love perfectly. And that at each point in our lives someone is always trying to love us. Accept the trying as being enough.
4. Enough is hard but always worth gunning for. (I have eaten enough. I have rested enough. I have worked enough. I’m loved enough. I have enough. Etc etc).
5. You can’t love everyone in the world, but you can love the ones you love harder. (Similarly, you can’t have everyone in the world love you, but you can ignore these people harder😂)
6. Wisdom accumulates in the person who tries their best to wake up from the slumber of life.
7. Money is just a game. Play it well, play it badly, it’s up to you.
8. The most interesting person you can be is… drumroll… your good old boring self.
9. Read fewer books but fall more deeply into each book.
10. Lesson #286 from skateboarding: If you’re coming down a slope, lean forward, look ahead and enjoy the ride. (If you’re still leaning or looking backwards, you will fall!)
11. Pay your bills on time, but apart from that, remain a kid at heart.
12. Whenever you can, be thankful for a seemingly ultra-trivial thing in your life. (Today I’m grateful that I can move my fingers and type this!).
13. Stop looking for your purpose in life. There is no purpose, but there is what makes your heart SING.
14. Nothing is scarier than empty beautiful photographs (or art).
15. If you find yourself saying “Aiyah cannot one lah” immediately change it to “CAN ONE LAH!”
16. Make no distinction between hard and soft, art and business, life and death.
17. Listen > talk.
18. We are not more special, but we’re no less special.
19. Wander aimlessly – it’s okay.
20. We all view the world through a particular lens. If you’re unhappy, change/discard the lens.
21. Force yourself to do hard things. Then enjoy the easy that comes after.
22. In the end, the highest goal is effortlessness.
Bonus 23. You or I can go anytime. We can lose everything, anything, anytime. There is no guarantee in life or death. Change is constant. Life is transient. It’s all impermanent. On this basis, let’s stop resisting joy. And may all the suffering in the world be transmuted by time. From dust, to dust. Let’s enjoy being here for now.
“Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – C.G. Jung
“Do not struggle. Go with the flow of things, and you will find yourself at one with the mysterious unity of the Universe.” – Zhuangzi
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh