Quaint

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It’s one of those words with changeable meaning. Originally it meant clever, ingeniously unusual, something to marvel at. Nowadays it is used in an almost derogatory way: obsolete, old-fashioned. Sometimes though it goes further and means simply unobtrusive, nothing to write home about, and if relating to décor, to be changed to something more modern.

Kind of like us, then 🙂

Even if the Chinese didn’t say “may you live in interesting times” it remains a favourite wish of many to do so. Craving adventure, out of ordinary events, escapism, forgetting perhaps that we also need solitude, peace, a roof over our heads sometimes, security even. Not to mention the money that must be made somehow, relationships that need sustaining, books that are too heavy to carry in a backpack.

I am one of those people, you see. Railing sometimes at the routine I am told will make my life easier. Watching jet planes tracks across the sky and wishing I was on one of them. Wanting to go with the retreating wave.

It doesn’t mean I am forgetting the above. The small pleasures, the gratitude for so many things, the safety routines can bring to everyday life. Just that sometimes I am also aware that there is more to life than just the small circle in the sand I have been marking. That’s where the envy comes for those who travel, who create, who explore.

If I remember correctly, those anti-suffrage used to say that women who go to higher education will no longer be content with the life prescribed for them. It was true, too! 🙂 Whole systems needed to be changed to accommodate those women.

So what to do when life is prescribed and I am no longer content with it? When the soul demands that the eyes witness what documentaries present? When the spirit rebels against bedtime as night dreams can’t hold a candle to daydreams? When the body aches from sitting in the office and asks to be allowed to roam at will?

Reading remains a staple, sometimes to the point of obsession, but fiction can’t hold me anymore. If I am to be stuck on the couch then I want my brain to fire on all cylinders. I can find emotion and feelings elsewhere! Music, especially live, is another good way to escape routine. Walking, while useful, is no longer enough in the weekends, so gardening will have to take its place, especially permaculture where the brain is involved as well, not just the wonder at life appearing out of seemingly nowhere.

It seems to me then that the brain is the culprit then, so it’s the brain that needs to be pleased until the time will come for an escape from the routine. And stubbornness will have to suffice, until freedom is at hand. And if there is a sacrifice… well, I assume it will be sleep!

Teach

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You’d think it would be difficult to find a notion that includes, in various definitions and languages, to lead into vice or bad habits, a token, to watch or guard, and those quite aside from the well-known definition. Turns out it’s not impossible, teaching covers the lot and more 🙂 Sounds a bit strange, when you think about it, but for once I am not interested in etymology.

You see, there is something about the ability to teach that sparks every nerve cell in my body. I love to learn. I mean, I really love it. The worse punishment you could give me as a child was to tell me I could not go to school that day. And that was without even taking teachers into consideration. I was interested in learning but having in front of me someone who actually knew those subjects, oh, my, divinity was simply too little a gift for them! Yeah, well, I was always a bit OTT 🙂

I had a bit of a problem though. Most children learn to please others and I was no exception. Most children move on though as they grow up and they learn for their own sake. I never made that move completely. I could still learn a subject with a bad teacher if it was in my interest but no matter how much I loved that subject or how good I was at it, bad teaching would lead to me giving up that subject.

I sometimes made teachers uncomfortable. I am an impossible pupil unless you are very confident in what you teach. My memory, like so many children of my generation, has been honed over years of rote learning. I stare at teachers for hours on end if allowed trying to absorb everything they can give. I always have a answer and I am quick about it. I am also reasonable with analysis and synthesis. I test teachers to make sure they remember their own words. All in all, perfect for one on one tuition, but horrid in a classroom 🙂

I mentioned once that between people and books, the books almost won. The reason they didn’t is because they are simply not personal enough. Yes, yes, yes, I know that everybody perceives the same book differently, but that is not enough for me. I want to be taught. I want to look at the teaching subject not through the static lens of a book but through the eyes of a person who loves that subject. I am not asking much, am I? 😛

An example is gardening. I have read uncounted books on it and experimented in my garden and the results have been dismal. I am now learning to garden organically and I can’t wait for each class. A subject I love taught by a teacher who loves it… a no brainer, really!

I am also very angry if a teacher is not good. It’s the unfairness of it, you know? Here is a subject that could be taught so well and could change lives in the bargain… and what are you doing with it? How dare you make a hash of it? Horrid pupil, like I said!

Of course I would love to have private tutors for each subject I want to learn (and there are many, as described in yet another blog). Small groups seem to be ok though, so I’ll stick to it.

But what I would actually like is an apprenticeship. Does anyone know a person who’s skilled in herbalism and wouldn’t mind having me as a shadow?

Clichéd

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I was reading a lovely book the other day, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. She’s German writing about the French so the English translation is occasionally quaint 🙂 Life, love, (the universe), death, mourning, polyamory, dreams, reality, it has many threads. It’s probably not the type of book you will call “a classic”, but it is the kind of book many read once a year at least, whenever you need reminding of some things that are really important. It is a wise little book, and getting a list of books to be used as medicine for the soul is an added bonus, but what really got me writing about it was actually the reviews. You see, they called it predictable and clichéd. Predictable it is, in the sense that you know what she will write next and sometimes you wish she didn’t. But clichéd? I guess it depends on the subject but I took exception to it, so in return I decided to write a list of clichés on the most “done” subject in the world (no, not the Bible. No, not Lord of the Rings either 🙂 )

I love you. The you I love cannot be subsumed by the parts of you I love.

I love your voice. It soothes my soul to hear your voice. And yet if you couldn’t speak I couldn’t love you less. And if I couldn’t hear you I would only have the regret of never being able to hear you.

I love being in your arms. And yet if any touch would be agony for my body, I could only regret that I cannot be in your arms.

I love laughing with you. And yet if laughter disappeared from our togetherness I could not love you less. I could only try to give you back your laughter.

I love how your mind works. I love second-guessing (mostly right!) what you will say about any given subject. And yet if your mind gave way to time or illness I could not love you less. I could only regret that I have no partner to spar with.

I look at the world through you and yet if my lens was taken away from me I could not love you less, I could only regret the lack of depth or colour my eyes can see.

I love our times together. And if those times should be over I could not love you less. I could only contemplate the times alone, cherish the memories of our times together and regret the lack of them.

I love you. And if the you I love should perish I could not love you less. I could only regret…

See? There is more to life than reality. And there is definitely more to reality than just the senses.

Oh, wait… that’s what she wrote about, too! Oh, well….

Connection

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For reasons fair, a relationship of mine had to…end. I do not like the word, nor is it true, so I thought I will explore the “connection” theme.

But first, a metaphor: running water. More precisely, a fast flowing mountain stream. Magic sources state that running water, especially that going in a certain direction (does that still apply in the Southern hemisphere or is it inverted? Must find out – most of my magic sources are Northern hemisphere born) is a bigger barrier than suspected. So let’s assume that the two persons in the relationship sit on the opposite banks of the river and, for both magical and practical reasons, cannot cross.

Sharing of sorts is possible, of course. They can see each other. They can hear each other (imperfectly, the water is loud). Occasionally they have to shelter from inclement weather.

Every time they share something though, a small thread is thrown across the water. Thin and fragile, insignificant you might say. Over a couple of years, many threads have been thrown over the waters, they have twisted around each other, finding similarities. The connection is now a rope they both hold. And then one of them decides to loosen its grip onto the rope. The decision could have been made to leave. Or unkind words would have tried to sever the connection.

Does it matter? Of course it matters at a personal level, but does it matter at the connection level? Can that brave person who leaves actually let go of the rope? Can that rope be cut?

It seems unlikely to me. The rope (and the connection it signifies) will loose strength over time, it is true, otherwise grief would be absolute and eternal. But that rope is strong enough to survive at the beginning. And so it happens: people you meet on the street have the same first or second name of the other person. You suddenly see so many similar cars, someone may have their coffee the same way, you smell the same perfume, you listen to songs on the radio that have associations, you see something in a shop and you start to buy it before you realize that you don’t have to. Sometimes you end up buying it anyway. Mostly books and music. You turn your head and start talking before you realize that there is an empty space. A life turns on its axis, trying to find a new centre of gravity.

So how is that the end? You may want it to be so, it is occasionally healthier. It will, as I said, fade in time. But if our memory is triggered by emotions, then I could say in all honesty that years from now, threads of that rope will still be crossing that river, waiting for a particular hand to pick them up.

And would that I could cross, and find you…

Study

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If you had more money than you needed, what would you do? Invest, travel, give to charity, buy a house/land/car/motorbike etc?

All of the above have gone through my mind. And I would probably do it, too! But now, listening to medieval choral music (it’s that type of evening…there was rock happening in the morning 😛 ) I can say that if money was no issue then the best I can spend it on is study.

Yup, I would go to university again in a heartbeat. And get a private tutor for some things. Let’s see…I would start with herbalism. It’s not difficult to find recipes, what herb, what method, what affliction. Time is of essence, as most of the herbs need to grow, then be steeped, extracted or worked for long periods of time. Waiting, patiently? Me? 🙂 Well, yes, and especially if someone could explain and walk me through interactions with other medications, what to use for holistic care (one herb/tisane per affliction is awesome, except that most don’t have one affliction… so which herbs interact better with others in order to provide the maximum of benefit)… these are not necessarily things you easily find in the myriad books in the library.

Next would be music lessons, for both voice and at least one instrument. Hmm… guitar? Piano? Marimba? Shepherd’s pipe? And the voice? Choir or solo? Classical or modern? No matter, as long as there is a person there to teach me. This is not something you go to school for, private all the way 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against performing, show-off that I am.. but I do prefer to know what I am doing!

Right, anthropology next, and here private tutor is not what I want. I want to be in the same place with others who can discuss the subjects, debate, maybe argue and therefore allow the subject to grow and stretch the mind, encompass humanity, put it into perspective, drag it down from the pedestal people themselves have put it on.

What else, I wonder? Ah, of course, astronomy. A short amateurish course to begin with, mainly because I have never been able to figure out even the most famous constellation when looking at the night sky. I am looking but I cannot see… what type of blindness a multitude of stars has put over my questing eyes?

And, of course, languages. At least a few of them, with private tutors. I am good with languages, which is why class setting is not my favourite. Someone to teach me the basics, then point me to children’s books or chicklit so I can get the conversation going properly, someone to converse with afterwards.

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Some cooking classes would not come amiss. And drawing and painting, too. Restoring old furniture. Weaving and spinning wool. Sericiculture (better get that mulberry planted then!) and apiculture. Carpentry. Making jewelery. Ah, so many possibilities… and that’s it, you know? It’s narrowing down what I want, acknowledging my luck that I was born in my age, when I can actually do it, there is nothing really stopping me… even money is not a real obstacle for most of the above. Time is though… or rather the perception that I don’t have time. Finding the right persons from whom I can learn… that is probably the biggest obstacle; as an adult student I am not likely to put up and shut up, I can vote with my feet 🙂

Shall I vote and do it?