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johncomic: (Uncle Old Guy)
 the tender care of my physiotherapists

I especially noted it this morning when I developed a cough during treatment and they went to get me some water... there is something spiritually serene about the ways in which they minister to my needs that is actually beautiful. Strange how they can treat me like a Ming vase while also trying to force my body to do things that bodies can't do -- sometimes in the same instant!
johncomic: (Uncle Old Guy)
 learning deeper self-acceptance
johncomic: (Face of Boe)
some alone time in the car with beautiful music on a beautiful day
johncomic: (Sweets)
 my therapist and the many blessings she confers
johncomic: (Uncle Old Guy)
feeling like I am coping and learning, basically that I am doing all right
johncomic: (Sweets)
 a new motto

On my way in to work today, I was brooding on recent issues and challenges, feeling kinda sober... and then I caught sight of a lady walking a couple of cute shaggy pups. And I instantly broke into a grin, and for a moment my burden was lightened. And I thought, When you see pups, enjoy seeing the pups. 

And it occurred to me that that modest epigram actually encapsulates a large portion of my personal philosophy, gathering many aspects of it under one small umbrella. I like that little saying, and so I am going to adopt it. (Feel free to use it yourself as you wish.)
johncomic: (Booth)
 holding fast when at first I don't feel like I can - I like surprising myself that way
johncomic: (Uncle Old Guy)
a very peaceful morning, the kind I love most

UK musings

Aug. 7th, 2017 07:03 pm
johncomic: (Default)

The women of England are beautiful.

In many cases, that simply means they were conventionally gorgeous... even more frequently than the ones I see at home, and more often displaying charming, fine, delicate features, features that I might almost call carefully crafted. (For some reason I'm thinking of the difference between Hugh Grant and Sylvester Stallone -- each of them has people who find them attractive, but you can see the aesthetic differences in how their faces are built.) On the train back to York from our day trip to Halifax, there was one such lady on the train with us, and I kept swearing that she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen.

I wanted to capture that face, so I kept looking whenever I had an opportunity (not wanting to be seen staring, not daring to take pictures -- I suspect that explaining it was For Art wouldn't have cut any ice with anyone)... trying my best to commit her to memory, how the contours of her face changed when she turned this way or that, how the neck muscles shifted, the proportions of the jaw line... I mentioned in an earlier post that I spent some time drawing when I was in York: that was when I tried to draw that face from memory and recapture those details. I failed utterly -- my visual memory is nowhere near as clear or sharp as I would wish. No one seeing those sketches would have any idea how lovely the lady was who inspired them. Such is life.

But even the women who would "objectively" be considered unexceptional or plain -- I could still sense an energy in them, almost an inner light, that elevated them for me. I'm sure that part of this is some sort of honeymoon effect on my part, a perception of them as somehow "exotic". Eventually, though, I realized that even the men of York had a vibe around them... and it clicked that overall these people were healthier and happier than what I was used to at home. In the two weeks I was there, I can remember one time hearing a voice that was upset -- not once hearing one that was angry -- but many that were boisterous and joyous. You can imagine that this sort of spiritual environment would connect with me and appeal to me on numerous levels.

Since then, I've wondered to what extent this might be economic. My understanding is that the cost of living in York (and Greenwich and London) is higher than here at home. Which would mean I was surrounded by people who could afford to live there = people more well off than me and my circles. Such people could afford to care for themselves better, life would weigh less heavily on them. Maybe what I was seeing was the effects of spending time with a higher class? Still not sure...

johncomic: (SK BW)
the gradual return of enjoyment in drawing

johncomic: (Face of Boe)
beginner's mind

UK musings

Aug. 2nd, 2017 01:44 pm
johncomic: (Face of Boe)
After only a few days in York, I experienced a life-changing moment.

I was standing on the balcony of our flat, looking out over the river and watching the passersby, enjoying the peace... and suddenly I very vividly said to myself, If I could stay here, I could have a whole new life and I could be a whole new person.

The unexpected force of this idea actually startled me for a second, and I just sat with it a while, but it didn't go away. The idea of starting over and redoing everything seemed like the greatest thing a person could ask for. I asked myself if I was really prepared to give up everything and everyone I know in order to live here... and I deeply believed that I was.

I was rattled by this perception of being so utterly dissatisfied with my life, with my actual self, that I had no desire to salvage any of it, and wondered how this could be. Wouldn't I have been experiencing this deep dissatisfaction before, in my day-to-day life at home? Am I really that indifferent, that unattached, to the things I thought matter to me? Did I really not want to be who I am? And I found myself wondering, Who do I want to be? What do I want to be?  A true existential dilemma, I thought....

These ideas stayed with me strongly for days afterward, and to be honest they have never really left in the month-plus since that happened. But recently, in a meeting with Barbara, she cast the experience in a new light for me. To her, it seemed like a spontaneous flash of the Zen concept of non-attachment: a realization that my self is not made up of or defined by the things connected to it. My likes and loves, my desires, my tendencies, the things and people in my life, are not actually me. Some of them are an expression (or merely one potential expression) of me... but my core self is not actually attached to or constrained by any of them. What I had was a moment of experiencing my pure raw self... and she got me to recognize the sense of freedom that came with that. She said that such experiences are kinda common during travel, and she got me to realize they are good and not really threatening to anything at all.

But she did also get me to see it as a call to examine my life. And I became more aware that every moment of my life is chosen by me. I began asking how many of those choices are done on autopilot, and how many are made mindfully... and what are the ramifications of changing how I make these choices.

.... still working on this... but I will come back to it...

UK musings

Aug. 1st, 2017 02:35 pm
johncomic: (Sweets)
I've decided to start recording some of my thoughts and feelings regarding our recent UK sojourn, to preserve them and make them easier to share if need be.

One thing I noticed, in both Greenwich and particularly in York, is how the environment seems designed for human beings.

The streets and sidewalks are narrow and curved. Shopping appears geared for foot traffic far more than for drivers. I saw a [small] number of parking garages but don't remember seeing any parking lots. Everything you need is within reasonable walking distance [I did A LOT more walking than usual when I was there, ended up losing four pounds over three weeks]. I came to really enjoy the freedom of not needing to (or being able to) drive. Streets blocked off for the use of "pedestrians only" are commonplace. It might sound cramped to some, but it didn't strike me that way -- the sense of coziness is all-pervasive. I loved it; I felt like I fit in, like I belonged.

When we returned home, and were leaving the airport in Toronto, I was struck by the strangeness of places I have seen many times over many years. The huge sprawling roadways, buildings staggered far apart with no rationale I could see, the space between them wasted: not available for anyone's use, not crafted to provide green space -- it looked deliberately left desolate.

Even the views from the plane of the English countryside versus the farmlands outside Toronto provided a contrast: England looking organic, curvilinear, compact, green, rolling... Canada a wide flat grid huge beyond all human need, brown and struggling.

And now that I'm home, I keep noticing little ways that the people are constrained to make more allowances for the cars, the waste, the unyielding inorganic strictures of my surroundings... can you tell that I miss England?

johncomic: (Face of Boe)
 During the drive to the office this morning, I suddenly found myself thinking: 

I am not my habits.

And from there went into a string of realizations/messages from within myself: 

I am not my choices. 
I am not my thoughts. 
I am not my fears. 
I am not my desires. 

And I felt a brief rush of freedom... which I wanted to preserve here.
johncomic: (Face of Boe)
satori - and the recognition that it ain't all a bed of cherries
johncomic: (SK BW)
making some progress at getting out of my recent creative slump... it's a hard slog, gotta pat myself on the back when I can


Jul. 2nd, 2017 08:47 pm
johncomic: (The Mighty Scott)
On Friday we took the train from York to Greenwich, arriving in late afternoon. Today, I went to the M&S in Greenwich and had A Moment that I want to preserve...

In front of the store was a lone busker on tenor sax, playing Duke Ellington a capella. I needed to wait for Kyle to finish his shopping, so I decided to wait near this guy and listen to him. He wasn't a deep or breathtaking improviser, although he could easily have held his own in the reed section of a swing band... but his tone was as rich, powerful, and gorgeous as any pro I have ever heard.

He noticed I was actually paying attention to him, and starting chatting with me between numbers. He asked if I played an instrument, I told him I used to, we talked about carpal tunnel and the joy of creating as well as listening... he offered his hand, asked my name, gave his -- I believe he said it was Sylvan... he asked where I was from and about my family... we talked about the ups and downs of aging (he is 60 as well)... then Kyle came and it was time to go. He had a serene peace about him and I appreciated his outgoing friendliness -- the whole encounter really added to my enjoyment and appreciation of this trip. I feel lucky to have met him, even only briefly.

johncomic: (Default)
a day off when I deeply need one
johncomic: (Booth)
deep rest and good haddock
johncomic: (Default)
people who appreciate my hidden virtues

September 2017

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