Flying West to
Shift – a shock.
Looking at normal
So called – but whose?
Humbling – humbled.
Blocks of grey flats
Soot blackened walls
Sadness for eye
Heart – break.
An Eastern confection
Renovation – restoration.
From West to
East with refreshed
Eyes and mind
Good to be disturbed, to have ones cultural norms thrown into sharp relief. Jigger – jagger! Moving around can loosen ones foundations. There is no permanent ‘place’ to lay ones mind. The Soviet past is like a particular perfume mixed in with a swipe of eye watering cleaner. Mixed in with pre Soviet grandeur. This is all a challenge to the mind that, has views. Not to be held on to. Acknowledged here? Yes.
We have a full schedule of activities organised for the next few days. Our host is a Latvian born American monk here establishing herself to teach the Dharma. I’m impressed already.
As we passed this car last Saturday my companion commented, as much to himself as to me, ‘That’s your worst nightmare right there’! Take my ‘wheels’ off and render me immobile? How would I be? Just fine I am sure. When I broke my leg in late 1999 I ended up enjoying enforced immobility. Although I have to confess to being ‘difficult’ at a certain point in my recovery.
Now I’d better find out where exactly Latvia IS! Before flying there tomorrow. A very heavy world atlas is calling to me.
Mobile – Immobility
Moving – Stillness
Walk on – sit up
How fortunate we are to be born a human being, to have found a path and to keep walking on. No matter what.
Years ago a friend who contracted polio as a young child, and was confined to a wheelchair until he was six or so, described how it was to walk for the first time, barefoot on grass. He luxuriated in the memory and I shared in it.
There is something about the contact with the ground which we all know about but lose touch with as we graduate from sensible sandels to fashionable foot torture!
So. Please join me in my joy and enthusiasm for my shoes bought in London today. Barefoot shoes, Vivobarefoot shoes. Yes the shop window says it all, Beautiful Feet…..are happy feet. Which makes for a happy memory of a chap from long ago. Imagine remembering in detail ones first steps!
This post is for all those who walked on the ground for the first time, and lived long enough and had the words to describe it. Viva Vivo!
This is how the bookshelves were on Saturday, in the house I was ‘sitting’ since Iain Robinson’s death in 2011. Iain well remembered.
Yes, the house felt empty on Saturday when I opened the front door to pick up my remaining belongings. Empty yet oddly….full! Not of any persons, or memory, or sadness, regret, happiness. All potentially there however the utter sense of stillness eclipsed anything and everything. I’d wondered how it would be to come back after 15 months to a house I’d lived in. I’d shared with visitors, helped fill with Iain’s possessions in 2009 and then gradually helped empty it of them. Of books and SO much more of those things he treasured. His wife hardly had the opportunity to accumulate before the sudden death. Heart breaking for her.
People said after he died we, Iain and I, were close and I’d say, Well not particularly. Yes, he was always there via email to advise on matters to do with written English and sundry other things especially to do with the house or his car, which I had the use of. And he consulted me, or talked through, personal and spiritual matters on the telephone or in person when he was back from Japan. I was his religious mentor, a student/teacher arrangement. Close but not close close. The teaching relationship between us prevailed. Though I’d be hard-pressed to describe it. Ones humanity is not excluded.
I knew it and from time to time it was obvious and on entering the house and walking about collecting things confirmed it. Anything personal which one would describe as ‘being close’ was eclipsed by…..stillness. One could call that emptiness or better, a full-emptiness. What I know of is the gift we give to our fellows, which most often gets lost in the wash! Lost sight of that is, in the cut and thrust of daily living with it’s warmer and cooler moments. But pausing for a moment, as I did on Saturday, the truth of the gift is confirmed. But nothing to get excited about though. No sadness at losing something nor joy either. Full-emptiness does the job, an expression my teacher frequently used.
Then I walked up to the Nine Standard Rigg, and on the way down the sun picked up Cross Fell. Although my monastic friend might tell me otherwise….! Put me right Reverend.
This post is for all those who are or who have lived through the pain and suffering that comes with loss. It fades.
Today I am driving to the village where I lived, on and off, from 2010 to 2014. Which belonging to the late Iain Robinson and his wife. Iain and I went and saw the house about this time of year in 2009 and he instantly felt it was for him. Unfortunately the house has not sold since his death in 2011. But fortunately for me I am able to pick up the items I didn’t have the room in the car for last July. Which is when I packed up and left – heading towards Canada and the US. The books are all gone and the one refered to in this post is in Japan now. It will be interesting to visit the house and village after a year or mores absence. Maybe I’ll be able to take a walk in the hills while in the area. Or not.
They have a smell all of their own – and a feel and a certain character to them. Ancient dust, brittle paper, long loved volumes. The books, so very very many of them, are all now shelved. I think I qualify as a Bibliophile. Iain said this afternoon during a pause in the action. Oh! and here, grasping a desperately ancient volume, is the very first book I ever bought – I was nine. Canada (Romance of Empire) by Beckles Wilson written around 1900. Here is a sampling from Chapter V: The Founding of Montreal.
Of all the great cities of the world you will not find one that has had so romantic a beginning as Montreal. The stories sent home by the Jesuits had stirred all France, and made the more pious and enterprising spirits more than ever resolved to teach the wicked redskins (ahem!) a lesson in Christianity and plant the fear of God in their hearts. The French said they did not believe in treating the savages (double ahem) of the New World in the cruel way the Spaniards had done in Peru and Mexico; They preferred to win them over to civilised ways by kindness and the force of good example.
There we have it. What can I say? Sorry Canada. If we knew then what we know now, things may well have turned out differently. Hopefully.
When Iain returns to his wife and home in Japan at the end of the month I will come back to the books, and house. If all goes to plan I will manage to carve out about six weeks of rest/renewal/retreat time before flying to…Canada! So my labours of the past week are of mutual benefit.
This post is for Tom in Canada who loves books.