January 25, 2011
Image by SonOfJordan on Flickr.
Through a recommendation (I shall restrain myself so as to not bore you with the details — so do not tempt me) I was introduced to Nietzsche through his collection of aphorisms in “Human, All Too Human”. I found a copy in the university library — admittedly, there were numerous copies, but since I only had use for one, that is what I borrowed. The book has been my companion on my long commutes since.
Ah, indeed, I do realise that makes me appear a slow reader, if I divulge that I have had it for three weeks, which translates to 30 hours of train rides — but, to my defence, every morning and every evening I travel through rather mundane British countryside; which never the less manages to be among the most beautiful scenery I have ever beheld. Half my time on the train is thus dedicated to pressing my nose against the glass of the window, studying the hills and fields that I know so very well — almost by heart — as if I seek some deeper truth I hope thusly shall be revealed.
So, shall the time I spent reading the work be summarised, it is probably closer to 15 hours, which I believe a more accurate estimation. And, Nietzsche himself stated in a version of the preface that “I betray the fact that this book is hard to understand –that it stimulates confusion.” I cannot say it stimulated confusion, but the act of understanding someone else’s thoughts has always been a laborious one.
Never the less, this afternoon, not long after I had departed London, I could close the book and declare myself done; I had read and considered the last set of aphorisms, and I could turn to the — perhaps paramount — task of understanding them fully; at least to the best of my ability.
One of the last aphorisms is #627: Living and Experiencing:
[W]e are finally tempted to divide humanity into a minority (a minimality) of those who understand how to make a great deal out of very little and a majority of those who understand how to make very little out of a great deal; indeed, we encounter those reverse wizards who, instead of creating the world out of nothing, create a nothing out of the world.
Yes, admittedly, Nietzsche was an existentialist, and a pondering such as this is not at all unexpected. What caught my eye, however, was that it rang so true in its appeal; the irony in the observation being that although it is within human ability to see beauty wherever one turns, it is also human to fail to hone this ability — this talent.
Maybe — I am merely philosophising on my own, inadequate level here — the ability to see the world as a beautiful place (to be a wizard) is innate, only that it is lost as the human creatures outgrow their childhood to be lost in the present, too occupied with the mundane to realise that beauty is plentiful therein.
I am the eldest of a cinquain of sisters, and have thusly been blessed in appreciating the vastness of the infant mind, despite my own tender age, as I have seen my sisters grow up alongside myself. In regards to one’s own view of the world it is simple — too simple — to grow forgetful, and it is near impossible to remain objective. But in regards to the world-view of others it is easier to avoid subjectivity.
When I think of my sisters as they outgrew their infancies, I think of smiling faces with glittering eyes; the sparkle therein being the fire of wonder. And sometimes, as I recall this imagery, I think that a mature mind in a baby’s all-seeing apparition would go mad with the stream of influence to which it is exposed — for a child sees everything that the world offers. They are purely objective.
A young child does not pay much attention to the constructs of the world; what they see is the world as it is. They can crawl in what seems the most insignificant of spaces only to return with a treasure which is trash to everyone else. But to the child whose treasure it is, it is a part of the world into which they have been brought; their infantile minds believing that it is utter and complete truth, having no opinion about the worth — or lack thereof — of existence. If something is, then it is; a child’s world is not more complicated that so.
Many people fail to hone this ability to see the little within the large as they mature and grow up. They no longer see the innate beauty of things, but pass judgement upon it instead; they reverse the wizardry with which their childhood was endowed. Maybe that is why I am the only one on the train who childishly presses her nose against the glass as we fly across the countryside; I see such beauty in a world that others consider perfectly mundane, somehow, perhaps, who knows, having escaped the reversal that defines the adult mind.
Yes, to the defence of the native Britons, I am an infant in their corner of the world; but as a person, I have grown and matured into adulthood. In that sense, I am them. And still, they bury their faces in the blotted ink of the newspaper, whilst I breathe silver upon the glass of the carriage. My mind still retains the infancy theirs have suppressed; the reversal robbing them of the ability to see the beauty of it all.
I think this is very much at the world’s loss, and I believe there would be such benefit if “mature minds” could only kneel like wizards in the grass once in a while, having found a hidden treasure that although being worth noting, still manages to be worth the world.
Although I readily admit this is a liberal interpretation, I think this is what Nietzsche meant~.
January 22, 2011
It’s the little things in life that bring the most prodigious joy.
Browsing the supermarket aisles one rainy morning, I came across a crate of sun-eggs, each and every one lovingly picked with a few, green leaves still attached.
Finding this brought me the greatest delight; for I find that the small details of the little things in life are what bring the most joy — and such things being plentiful means one is guaranteed to find happiness wherever one looks.
In Sweden there once lived a woman called Elsa Beskow, who was an author and illustrator. She wrote the most magnificent of stories for the young at heart — be they little or not — and they all linger in my mind, their beauty too great to ever fade. In addition to her own works, she illustrated the stories of others. One such story is the story about the orange a child lost in the woods, and which the creatures of the forest believed was an egg of the sun.
June 13, 2010
One morning in late May I caught the first train to the rural outskirts of London and was rewarded with the most beautiful of springtime sights.
It did not take me long to wander downhill from the station and through the old town that resides in the valley beneath the modern settlement. Before the first half an hour had passed I could overlook the western part of the town of the hilltop which I had climbed.
Having cleared the town and its outskirts, I found myself passing through the barrier that separated the urban and the rural countryside: a charming gate blushing with rust.
The first field put me in a feeling of sheer delight, the rolling slopes encouraging me to believe I was one with the sky as the wind played with my long skirt. Eventually, I reached a dust road that promised to carry me as far as I wished.
My springtime walk took place late in May, and I found the first generation of dandelions had allowed their sparkling gold to fade to the hue of cotton-like copper I so adore.
I shall always with fondness remember my first visit to a forest whose atmosphere was adorned with the sweet, perfumed scent of bluebell hyacinths.
Although I had walked for almost five consecutive hours, it was still bitter-sweet to know I had reached my final destination and my springtime walk had come to an end. Never the less, my first introduction to the British countryside did nothing but cement my affection and enamour me yet more.
[This post features pictures taken during the walk detailed in Weightless Adventures.]
Thank you Vil for helping upload these pictures when my Internet connection laughed at me!
May 24, 2010
Image by lone snapper.
It was a wonderful morning as she awoke, the sun tickling her face as it was filtered through the curtains she had drawn the evening before. A whisper of a breeze floated through a window, only barely open. Even before she opened her eyes, she knew an amazing day was to mature from the fairytale morning.
An impromptu vase stood on her windowsill as she went downstairs, the plastic cup filled with flowers that had spread their lovely scent overnight; the sophisticated jasmine with its sweet tones, the heavenly blue forget-me-nots that twinkled in the morning light. There were the vanilla notes of the cow’s parsley and the precious, barely distinguishable whisper of the pink clematis.
Running to the train station to catch the first train of the morning, the air played with her golden hair and long skirt — in her mind she was the essence of times past, and nothing could delight her more.
Travelling thorough landscapes she knew she would never tire of, she all but flew out of the front carriage of the train, floating down the swindling road on the hill that climaxed in a valley with the town above her and the rolling hills before her mesmerised eyes.
Her path led her through the oldest parts of the town, the small houses crooked and aged, their lacquered doors however smiling kindly at her as she passed, the lace curtains modest eyelids concealing the lives of those who lived within.
Eventually, she found herself by the edge of a field, its rolling expanse a terrestrial wave frozen in its ascent, the height swindling and exhilarating from where she stood; the queen of the richness of the grassy sea.
In the sunlight, the grass shone with the fresh vigour of spring, as if it was the scalp of a creature so modest about its beauty it had hidden from sight under ground. As the wind played with the grassy curls, she, who stood in the midst of the ocean, would not have been surprised had a ship sailed past in the distance.
Eventually, the path upon which she travelled led her into the depths of a forest, the beeches embracing her with their grand architecture; their canopies a fair peridot ceiling, their silver stems the pillars of nature’s grand halls.
The floor of that ball room was covered with music, the light — all but heavenly — lavender blue bells softly dancing where they stood, gilding the atmosphere with their melodious, scented notes.
For a while, she stood, mesmerised, the sight before her so foreign, so beautiful. In her native lands, those she adored with all of her heart, the forest floors were adorned with the white stellar sparkles of windflowers, their fresh, musky scent a stark contrast to the sweetness that for the moment tickled her senses.
The metallic field of dandelions past the height of their bloom followed, the silver seeds filling the air as the heavens breathed, the copper of their stems a reddish hue adorning the grass, the few flower heads that remained a treasured sparkle of gold.
Walking upon the small lane that carried her across such fields, past farmhouses and small cottages, the sunshine kept her company, caressing her face and arms with its gilding warmth.
For a while, the hum of electricity through cables suspended above her head was all that interrupted the calm indifference of the eternity in which she had found herself, the modern reminder however soon again replaced with the twitter of blackbirds and robins in the canopies above, their duets only occasionally joined by a pigeon’s deep, velvety coo.
In the little village she thereafter reached, she realised her lovely adventure had come to an end. No matter how much she desired to spend the rest of her life suspended in the weightlessness nature’s freedom offered, she knew she had to return to the life that had granted her this dream-like escape.
Once back at home, with her remaining exam pocking for her attention, she looked out through her window into the sunny, all but Mediterranean afternoon, knowing her wonderful experience on the countryside of the land she so adored would remain with her forever; it having been validation of the enamoured beliefs which once had brought her there.
[Pictures taken during the adventure can be found here: Springtime Promenade.]
December 16, 2009
I woke up before my time today. In the early morning I opened my eyes, as if I had escaped a dream, being unable to return to the sleep that had been chased away. I rose and wandered out into the lavender light reflecting off the white façades of the town houses, steering my steps towards the large open area just nearby.
The parkland stretches for as far as the eye can see, and had it been more densely vegetated it would have been a forest — in the very heart of this large city. The grassy expanse was covered with frost, and as it was gently caressed by the first yawns of a newborn sun, mists started to rise into the peach atmosphere that warmed the frosted mint below. In ages past they said the fairies danced, and indeed, swirling mists and joysome dances can during serene morning hours be one and the same.
The sun rose as a great ruby over the eastern treetops, those leafless towers and pinnacles that towered in the distance, their silhouettes softened by the evaporating frost. Swans were lining the edge of the great pond, their white dresses a hint of what was to come.
Once the sun had risen and lost its blush the skies clouded over. The air was still sharp and nipped noses and cheeks of those who wandered towards their destinations. In the afternoon the purpose of the day was revealed as large, cotton-like raindrops swirled from the skies. As they touched the ground, they melted to water.
They say it rarely snows in London, and so it was appropriate for this fair snowfall to melt as soon as it had settled; it did not snow; it rained cotton balls.
July 14, 2009
In summer I travel to the most pleasing of places; a tongue of land in the vast sea upon which the winds are allowed to roam as freely as they desire, chasing the clouds away with their gentle whispers. The sun always shines in the paradise of my summers; a sparkling orb upon a cornflower blue sky, the sea applauding its daily performance from below.
As I wander barefoot by the velvet water’s edge my feet are kissed by the white-lipped waves, my song having broken the silence that has reigned for so long. Gazing into to hazy distance, above which cotton-clouds are floating past, I can see a hint of land by the horizon, and when darkness falls the shimmer of a city aglow can only barely be perceived. My summer’s paradise allows one to escape civilisation and reality to simply live and be alive by the ocean’s edge.
The beach is scattered with limestone, its tint blue, as if it paid tribute to the sky that warms it, and the ocean which has birthed it. As my bare feet, one after another, slowly are placed upon the surface of the smooth stones, they sing melodiously, their structure so fine, so fair! Sometimes, when the winds play with my long hair and the ocean sprinkles my face, I believe that I can fly.
One day, as I wandered upon my own horizon, my gaze wandered to the surface which supported me. My eyes’ journey was rewarded by the most beautiful of blessings; a shard of time itself. A stone in the shape of a shell lay before my feet, its organic origin now mineralised into limestone. It laid warm and smooth upon the palm of my hand.
My treasure and forever companion ever since is half a billion years of age, spared from the tooth of time for an eternity, it seems. What a fortunate cosmic coincidence it was that allowed me to encounter this treasure by chance alone!
This small piece of eternity is now mine to always caress.
April 1, 2009
The first day of spring is a magnificent day; the day the world so eagerly awaits; the sole reason for why winter is painfully endured. It is the day when one realises winter is as far away as it can possibly be, all because spring finally has won the epic battle of the elements: spring – with its freshly melodious name – is the season victorious and a time of plenty is about to begin.
The first day of spring is a very special day, and fact is that it only occurs once every year. Commonly, it arrives most unexpectedly – one day being winter, the following spring – and does one blink, one risks to be blind to its brief moment of glory, destined to for an entire year regret now having paid attention to such an important shift of power. For, it is one thing to be there when a change comes about, and wholly another to be present whilst the rewards are reaped.
This year I was almost premature in welcoming spring and I was very close to celebrating the wrong day. So eager were I to greet my favourite season that I almost missed it. Yesterday was a windy day and though the breezes played with my hair, my ears were spared – bare, but not nibbled upon, exposed, but not turned red by the cold. The sun shone and the breezes were smooth upon my face; warmed by the sun which shone from a blue sky. I believed that to be a sign that the first day of spring had arrived, and I wished to tell the world.
I sat down with a pen in my hand – papers before me – eager to make a delighted note mentioning that the miracle of spring had come to grace the lands anew for the first time this year; that spring had come to stay. But I did not, for it did not feel right. Something, deep within told me that to do such a thing would be to do a thing rushed. And so I did not.
I am glad I did not speak before the time had come.
Today, when I walked upon brown fields scarred by the rage of winter’s snow and cast a long shadow due to the sun yet having to rise it highest in the skies, I realised that the first day of spring had arrived. Its arrival did not occur yesterday, nor would it tomorrow, for today was the first day of spring; today was the day I had awaited for so long.
Kneeling in the withered grass I removed the gloves I had used to shield my hands from the winds. Though the sun gilded my hair the winds were cool – not nibbling on my ears – numbing my fingers. That it was rosy appendages I used to pick the gold did however not matter; I found that the reddish hue enriched the yellow, making the small flower now in my hand glow yet more strongly; it was a shard of the sun and spring itself which had fallen from the skies and landed in the winter-brown grass; the first coltsfoot of the year was the whisper I had remained silent to hear: “The first day of spring has arrived.”
Like a young child I skittered home over the fields, the weights winter had placed upon my shoulders had been blown away by the faint breath that vocalised the whisper; the first day of spring had arrived and it had to celebrated. And so the coltsfoot, the smiling flower face in the shape of the sun, was gently placed in a small glass; the golden rim a symbol of the tribute I pay spring every year.
It is time to remove the cloaks which have shielded our faces and painted our eyes grey. It is time to breathe once more, time to smile and time to live, for spring is here and winter is at its farthest away:
The first day of spring has finally arrived!