Somewhere Else

Imagine my delight when the postman knocked on the door
bringing this lovely book of poems by A.A.Milne. A gift.

A couple of weeks ago when visiting sangha in Norwich I was shown a piece of university work done by a daughter studying architecture. It was beautifully produced and very much a limited edition unfortunately because it was a book I’d love to pick up and read again. I’ve probably not quite got the description correct however I remember it to be about small spaces used for solitary contemplation, allotment sheds featured.

It was an inspired project full of incredibly useful references. One was to the A.A. Milne poem Halfway Down. I’m not at the bottom and not at the top; So this is the stair where I always stop. And in the second stanza, And all sorts of funny thoughts run round in my head: It isn’t really anywhere! It’s somewhere else instead!’

A theme I have been visiting is the importance of having a place, a chair perhaps, where one is between activities. Somewhere to land, stop, be still, pause before moving on. Somewhere which is somewhere else. One of the things about traveling, especially long distance on trains or ‘planes’ is the quality of being suspended between what was and what is to be with no possibility of being anywhere else. Forced by circumstances to quietly sit, look out of the window, allowing thoughts to flow by with absolutely no pressure to DO anything than be there.

Very many thanks kind donor for the book, it brought a yelp of joy to brighten up an otherwise dull grey morning. And to the young woman whose work I so enjoyed.

I can’t leave without mention of another poem from the book which my father loved to read me. Bad Sir Brian Botany. I loved how outrageously BAD he was and then his karmic comeuppance when villagers took his battleaxe and round him with ironical salutes.

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One thought on “Somewhere Else”

  1. A lifetime ago we lived in an “einzelzimmer-Wohnung” (one-room apartment) in Zurich, notable for its efficient use of space such as a bed that folded away, drop-down cooking hobs etc. Today we live in a marginally bigger flat within commuting distance of London, and the trend around us seems to be demolition of old houses and a huge growth in single-person apartments. For anyone with books or children (no priority implied), this is impossible. I think we are seeing fundamental shifts in society and perhaps it is not just Buddhist monks looking for small living spaces! Given that people increasingly live in an electronic universe, how small can an apartment be? I thought this recent article on “Pint-Sized Apartments” from the New York Times offered an interesting perspective.
    Posted on behalf of Walter.

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