Monday, August 27, 2012
In writing one can easily spoil the fun by pinning one’s hopes to the idea of harvesting the results. Don’t complain when the fruit is rotten: it’s preparing to launch its seeds. That untidy heap of rubble is the ore of a precious metal. In all my human weakness the germ of fresh strength may be discerned. So let me look upon my failures, and my neighbours’, and the world’s, with indulgent affection. Within us gleams something which only needs to be brought out.
When I let myself fall out of step with the crowd—the crowd of ideas in my head that parrot the world’s chatter—I observe something quite different, and better, than anything I imagined. I can free myself from mental slavery, as Bob Marley advises. I don’t like sitting at a screen, or beating a keyboard tattoo. I want to write with my favourite battered, hand-modified cheap Lamy Safari, with Registrar’s ink, smooth paper (Optik® that doesn’t bleed through, with lines the right distance apart) in a wire-bound notebook that lies perfectly flat and folds back on itself. Unfortunately, my handwriting is almost illegible. Even I can’t decipher all of it. When I’m gone I don’t suppose anyone will try reading it, but the ink will last a long time and is waterproof too. That’s why registrars (of births, marriages and deaths) use it. And I can write daily, whether I've “anything to say” or not.
To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive. (Bhagavad Gita)
. . . and if I say that the greatest good of a man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living—that you are still less likely to believe. (from Plato’s account of the trial and death of Socrates)
So I examine my life and prepare calmly for death, an event I’m sure is far away, but I’m one of those who takes an exceptionally long time to get anything done.
We spent a few days in West Wales, in Narberth. We camped in primitive conditions a stone’s throw from the old Town Hall, just behind the building with iron railings at the right of the painting. We shared our paddock with a sheep, a goat and six hens, four of whom were sociable. The other two, with their refined black & white lacy plumage, stayed close together and delicately aloof from everyone. The goat was constantly looking for mischief. The sheep was just glad to be still alive, weary and weak in the legs, but followed the goat around like a devoted fan. His fleece was badly in need of shearing, but was partly shorn by the goat, who nibbled anything, including ivy, newspaper, the sleeves of your cardigan. And yet all the animals were perfectly behaved, gentle, seeking and giving love. Once a little dog found its way in and chased two of the sociable hens, who had a hard time of it, being forced reluctantly into the air, till I drove the dog away and its owner called for it from the other side of the tattered fence. Another time some little neighbouring children brought crusts for the hens but kicked the bold ones out of the way to encourage the shy ones. None of this caused lasting trauma.
I wonder if my conversations with the animals took me to a place beyond human language, for there were times I could just be with them and find in myself no thought at all.
Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the photo of Narberth High Street, top;
and to Garg-oil for the painting above, and other paintings of Narberth displayed on Flickr
Posted by Vincent at 12:32 pm