Monthly Archives: December 2013

Idle Pleasures


I started my day with the comfort and familiarity of hot tea and toast. I had to have a couple of slices from a supermarket loaf that has being languishing in the dark recesses of my freezer, untouched, since I started making my own bread recently. The contrast was too much to bear through a second meal, so I made a loaf of bread in time for a late lunch.  I enjoyed a sandwich with the fruits of my labour, wrapped around some salami and cheese. The bread turned out well. That said, had it been made by anybody else, I would have thought it a mediocre effort at best. I am quite sure everything tastes better when you make it yourself. I don’t know if that’s the pride of having made something with my own hands or a delusion brought on by denial that something that takes so much time and effort might not turn out perfectly.  
While I was mixing and kneading and waiting for the all important rise, I listened to some frenetic jazz. It turns out Thelonious Monk is a great accompaniment to slow, methodical and precise bread making. I ‘discovered’ Monk earlier this year thanks to a wonderful Twitter mate who helps to keep me interested in what humans do to entertain themselves.

I’ve had some rewarding exchanges on Twitter today, as I do most days. I haven’t met many of these people but I know them on some level. Despite enduring sneering and general disdain from some of those who don’t use it, I couldn’t be more pleased that Twitter and I found each other. My mind has been broadened more by what I’ve learnt, experienced, read, watched and listened to on Twitter than anywhere else, perhaps excepting my university years.  Twitter makes me feel like I’m not alone.  There’s no shame in that.  I’m not sure I would have done nearly as well as I have, or if I would have adjusted as well in my move from city back to town, without Twitter.  When living an idle life, you must learn very quickly how to do two things:  1. Be alone  2. Seek the company of likeminded individuals in whatever ways are available to you.

I’m going to go and read a book soon. I’ve got a few on the go, so I might take a while choosing which one I feel like diving into, today. Although I’m still not very good at concentrating, I think I’m getting better at it. Especially since I stopped putting pressure on myself to be ‘well-read’, a process that could become the worst chore if I let it become work.  If there’s time, I’m going to look over a short story I started a while ago to see if I can improve on what I’ve written. Then I’ll have a think about where to take it next. If I don’t have time, that’s ok. At least I’ve written something today. There’s always tomorrow, which I’ve set aside as a writing day.  So far, writing for me is an idle pleasure and I hope it will always remain so.  That doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously.  I would like to be published one day.  I hope that when I feel I have written something someone else might want to read, someone might read it.  If I never get published though, I will continue to write.  My primary interest in writing is to fulfil my own desires, explore my imagination and to see how good I can get.  I don’t really write for readers.

When it cools down a little, I’ll take Troy for a walk. It’s too hot just yet. It’s amazing how much I can make his day with two words: ‘Troy. Walk.’ To have that much power over a living animal’s ability to experience pleasure is a big responsibility.  I’d like to think he’s a happy little pooch. He makes me happy, so I owe him a lot.  By the way, if you would like to learn from a master how to be idle, get a cat.  Dogs are not idle.  That’s our fault.  It is up to us then to keep them busy and happy.

Later, after a dinner of soup and homemade bread, I’m going to a play. I was invited along by someone, so on this rare occasion I will have company. I’m looking forward very much to an evening out. I hope to be entertained. At the very least, I know it will make me think. I haven’t met a play yet that hasn’t done that for me.  When I get home, I dare say I’ll watch some trash TV or, more likely, watch a music or comedy DVD. Then I’ll fall asleep with a book in my hands and Troy curled up behind my knees.

I hated myself when my last-ditch effort at a ‘normal’ career didn’t work out; I mean really loathed. It wasn’t my fault. I tried so hard it nearly killed me, quite literally. That didn’t stop me detesting the sight of myself in the mirror.  Following a month in hospital, many months of visits from a district nurse and a move back to my home town to recuperate and pick up my shattered ego off the floor, I finally accepted that my health was going to get in the way of having a career every time, however much energy I expended on hoping for a different outcome.

I’m much more relaxed about my life now.  I’m still nostalgic for when my disabilities had little impact on my health. I still wish quite often for my old life back. I don’t bristle to the same extent now though when someone, probably well meaning and occasionally envious, exclaims how lucky I am not to have to work. I don’t measure success anymore by what a person does for a living.  It’s a relief in a way. I can concentrate on figuring out what might give my life meaning instead of attempting to distract myself from the inevitable meaninglessness of life, which is what I did for many years before I decided to relax into the experience. An idle life takes some getting used to and it takes a bit of work but it is well worth the effort.


Almost Grown

I know next to nothing compared with what there is to know. I’m ok with the fact that, however much I study and whatever life experiences I have, this will always be the case. I am 33 years old, I’m not writing from a place of great maturity and wisdom, here. What I do know is that I have a lot to learn and there is wisdom enough for me in that. I’d like to think I’m almost grown.

To my mind, an important development in adulthood involves realising that learning is a lifelong enterprise that doesn’t stop. No matter how old you get, you are never going to know everything there is to know about life. Perhaps there is an average age at which one gets to this place of knowing ignorance. If there is, there must be an awful lot of people who are outliers on either side. I think it’s true that some people never quite get to this place. To those people I would say that to declare you know everything is to admit you know nothing.

I have started to properly realise just how much I can learn from others. It doesn’t matter who a person is, how well read, how much they have studied or travelled, it doesn’t even matter how old; a person can always learn something from another.

Since I’ve moved back to my home town, I have had the overwhelming pleasure of getting to know my nieces and nephew, two of whom were born since I moved. They are all still children, though two of them won’t be for much longer. Every time I see each of them I learn something new: about them; about what it’s like to be young today; about unconditional love; about living unselfconsciously and about myself.

I didn’t think I liked children. I was a bit intimidated by their certainty. I forget what it’s like to really know something for sure. The two biggest things they have taught me is that you can learn from anyone of any age and stage if you are prepared to listen and that play and fun are not reserved for children. There is much wisdom in youth. Drink it up. It won’t be long before they’re almost grown, too.