The riddle of the Persian rug

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There is within me, a burning desire to create something, to make something happen and to achieve a result. The many days spent anchored to a desk, to the phone and to problems and issues which seemed superficial to me as a person, led to a conclusion that there has to be another path, another life, one where you get to realise your ideas and reach your own goals.

Leaving all that seemed superficial behind, leaving the comfortable path and routine of an eight o’clock start and daily longing for the weekend, I am in the wilderness hoping for a great adventure, I am a small splotch in a middle of a blank canvas hoping to be the start of a meanigful masterpiece. It sounds promising, and in moments of elation, rising above the daily concerns, one sees the blank canvas and realises that it is all up to you. It is not just a case of the ups and down of life, being out on your own means you have moments where you have nothing to grasp onto, no direction, you are lost.

There is that burning desire to create, to achieve, to reach for … ??? That’s it, for what? A void. There is nothing pulling you forward, nothing pushing you and that blank page is empty; the hope that your masterpiece will somehown eventuate is a hope lost.

Confronting this void, and channeling this burning desire within you is something which we need to very elegently and gracefully do. I find that looking above these tedious daily details and emotions, looking at the ‘big picture’ is the way forward. What often helps in this lifting and rising is reading, and perhaps writing if you get get past the gloom.

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The Cafe by Graham Bell, 1938 / Courtesy of WikiArt.org

As I write about the ‘splotch’ in the middle of a blank canvas, I realise that perhaps this idea is fuelled by my recent reading of W. Somerset Maugham’s fantastic work “Of Human Bondage”. I do not want to reveal too much of the plot, so I will just touch on one small idea which is explored in the story. Philip, the main character, along his life’s journey meets a man called Cronshaw, a bohemian, a drunk, a talker and a poet. Cronshaw gives Philip a piece of Persian rug as a parting gift.Why? Well, apparently this item represented the meaning of life. Many years later Philip, in a moment of dispair suddenly relised what his friend was trying to tell him.

Philip came to the liberating realisation that “There was no meaning in life, and man by living served no end”. This sudden epiphany took all the pressure off, there was no meaning, one’s life did not serve any particular purpose.

So whats with the Persian rug? Well it provides an uplifting explanation of purpose and direction – “As the weaver elaborated his pattern for no end but the pleasure of his aesthetic sense, so might a man live his life, or if one was forced to believe that his actions were outside his choosing, so might a man look at his life, that it made a pattern”.

Philip was very happy with this revelation. It meant that whatever happened to him from now on, or what ever he choose to do would add to his own masterpiece, it would simply be the continuation of the interwoven pattern of his life. W. Somerset Maugham really lets his character weave a magnificent, intricate and inspired pattern. As a reader we are lucky to enjoy it. And for us, readers? How do we take that next step, when you don’t quiet know what comes next? I guess just think that you are weaving that rug of yours, or you are a splotch in the middle of the canvas. What you do next is of your own choosing, there are no wrong moves, no bad decisions, but do keep going, take the next step, otherwise who will weave your masterpiece? And what are you going to look back on someday?

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Spring in Sydney

 

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Sydney Harbour 

Spring is here! This no doubt means more of that wonderful blue Sydney sky, more sun and a warmer breeze. There will be fewer early-mornings chills. The day is getting longer. These are all reasons to leave home right in the morning, as the city comes to life, and come home late in the afternoon as the sun takes its deserved break in its happy red gaze beyond the horizon.

It’s the time to get a spring in your step and start anew. And the first day of spring did not dissapoint! Starting the day with a morning coffee, I was than very excited to pursue a potential new opportunity in the world of fine food. Perhaps a good sign that this opportunity came to coincide with the beggining of spring? Not sure, however it will be a chance to talk to people who pursued their passion and are now in business of selling artisan, finest quality products like bold butter, succulent salami, cheeky cheeses, healing honey and saucy spices, and many, many more. No doubt there’ll be a few occassions to taste those products of love and devotion. It’s really amazing to see so many products out there made with such love and care, and so many brave and talented people making a business out of their passion for quality food. For me this will be an exciting new opportunity with infinite, unexplored possibilities! I will no doubt write more about it in the next few weeks.

Hitting mid-morning, the weather was … almost spectacular, with just a couple clouds, and there was simply no time to waste! Let’s hit the pavement ASAP was the war cry! And with destinations abundant, it was a luxury of simply walking right ahead towards the train and seeing where the track takes us.

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Opera House roof gleaming in the sun 

The track was one previously travelled-by, a somewhat obvious choice in this city, not a trip of great discovery but one of spectacular views. As soon as you arrive at Circular Quay and look out the window, you are in for a treat. The Circular Quay ferry terminal, with the blue of the harbour behind it and the Harbour Bridge as the background make up a spectacular view to admire while you get off the train. Downstairs, facing the terminal you have three choices. First one is to find a good ferry destination, hop on a Sydney ferry and admire the city shores form the water. Second is to head to the left, towards the Harbour Bridge, wonder around underneath its gigantic construction and head for a history-infused wander around The Rocks. Finally, the third option is to head right, towards the Opera House, the Botanic Garden, the spectacular location that is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and perhaps further towards The art Gallery of NSW and Woolloomooloo. All three options are fantastic! We headed for the Opera House and a walk along the edge of the harbour. It was a great walk – here are a few photos. With spring on our doorstep, and summer taking giant leaps, there are many Sydney adventures to be had.

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Sydney Ferry
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Walk between the Opera House, Botanic Gardens and Art Gallery of NSW

 

 

Lessons from the Stoics

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control”. Epictetus

 

Philospoher

Inspiration can come to us from various sources. With this in mind I immersed myself in the Sydney University library to seek to understand the lessons of the Stoic philospohers. Below are just a few lessons we can consider.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control”. Epictetus

Epictetus tells us, as do other Stoic philosophers, that we should only consider that which we can control. It is the key to happiness in fact. In order to be happy we should be constantly analysing what is “up to us” and what is “not up to us”. This is can be a difficult task, perhaps the answer will be different for each one of us? However, we should all strive to have this awareness. Having this awareness, we should than only concentrate on the things which are “up to us”.

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” Epictetus

Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations, tells us to “confine thyself to the present”, to understand what happens in a given moment, to “direct attention to what is said”, so listen. Do not worry so much about the future, but concentrate on the now, really learn all you can from this particular moment, and from history, as events of the future will in some way replicate those of the past.

“If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.” Epictetus

The Stoics say to ignore all that you can not control, but at the same time these wise men are adamant that you should look within yourself, find all the good, and devote all your energy and be disciplined in being the best you can be. There is no room for emotions with the Stoics, it is all about reason.

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” Epictetus

“Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty, and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice…” Marcus Aurelius

Educate yourself, reflect on your education and surround yourself with those who inspire you. Do not let others discourage you, nor let their worries become your own.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence call forth your best.” Epictetus

 

 

A refreshing start

The cool air was refreshing. Like a mighty strong coffee – it went straight to your senses and you were awake. The vast blue sky lit up with the promise of a sunny day. For many the day had already started. In the car or with a brisk step, people where heading towards their morning destinations.

I take life too seriously. Why do I always analyze everything over and over? That is why it is so hard for me to write. I stay inside my head and come up with the same stuff. Thoughts, doubts, some deliberations. I need to lead my imagination to a different place, a different time. A time and a place that has nothing to do with me. 

The sun was shining through the fogged up window announcing the start of a new day. It was quiet, just a few birds, the humming of the fridge and the moving of the floor boards upstairs. He listened in to the silence for a moment. Sat down on the couch, just taking it all in. Then got up, grabbed his bag, put on his hat and walked out the door.

The cool air was refreshing. Like a mighty strong coffee – it went straight to your senses and you were awake. The vast blue sky lit up with the promise of a sunny day. For many the day had already started. In the car or with a brisk step, people where heading towards their morning destinations. Most in a hurry. Many with a sombre look on their face. For Rich, watching these people in their morning routine was enjoyable, he himself was not in a hurry, he did not have a destination. His was simply enjoying the start of a new day – because he wanted to, not because he had to. Big difference, one that made him smile.

The drycleaners, the barber shop, the bottleshop and the pizza place were all shut lifeless. It would be hours still until the oven would be fired up and someone’s taste buds called for a margarita. For the Vietnamese drycleaners these were probably the 4 hours in which they allowed themsleves a rest. The barber shop would be buzzing a little earlier with all the Lebanese boys coming in for a shave and a chat. Right at the end of the short strip of shops were the red window frames of the Rosebud. Few tables outside, visible from a distance told you that it was a cafe. Coming closer one had no doubts – coffee.

“Good morning Rich” Came the greeting as soon as he walked through the door.

“Morning Jack” He answered, looking to his left, at a tall man wiping one of the small tables.

“You not going into work this morning? And you are out and about already?” The man finished wiping the table, stood up and with the wet cloth in his right hand moved closer to the counter, “What’s going on mate?”

“Got the day off, no work apparently. Yeah, I thought I would see what the world looked like in the morning when you don’t have to rush to work.” He explained. “Busy morning?”

“Not yet. It’s still early. But it will be soon. Coffee?” the man asked, now behind the coffee machine.

“Yes, please. I will have it here. Always wondered what it would feel like to sit at those windows and not have to go to work. I guess you get that everyday, right?” He smiled, moving towards the small table at the back, near the window. He took his bag off and sat down. Facing the cafe and the street on the other side of the window.

“Yeah mate, I get it everyday. And love it each time the sun comes up.” came a jolly reply, “So, you got anything in particular planned for the day? It’s going to be a nice one. Good morning.” The greeting was directed at a woman who had just come in.

“I am not sure yet. I just though I would wander about a little. I will get the train into the city and see where I end up” Rich replied. A few more people had come in since he arrived. He looked out the window not wanting to expand on his plans for the day. People were going past in more and more of a hurry. Laptop bags, few briefcases, couple of school bags, and of course handbags. Everyone was ready for the day’s tasks. Rushing towards the train.

“Thank you” he said looking up at a girl who put his coffee on the table. A new girl. Long black hair, not too tall, in the standard waitress black. She smiled and walked away towards the counter. He looked at Jack behind the coffee machine, now busy feeling a line of paper cups with the coffee and milk. He looked up at him and smiled.

Jack owned the Rosebud Cafe. He made the coffee and did some cooking. He usually had a waitress to help him out with serving the customers, make toasts and plate muffins and the like. Rosebud did not have too much of a menu, but it was a great place for a coffee and a chat.

Ok, that may not be moving too far away from my time and my place, but it’s a start. Little to do with thoughts, more about simple tasks, a few different characters and a few places – one in a totally different place and time. Let’s come back to this, ok? 

Moments to savour

 

The bright, warm rays of sun sneak through beneath the blinds. There is a promising snippet of a blue sky fighting through, round the edges of the covered window. After three days spent inside a factory, it is a great feeling to wake up to a bright, warm room, with the luxury of ambivalence towards the usually daunting sound of the alarm clock. Ambivalence, because staying in bed for a few more moments is a pleasure uncommon in the daily routine, but getting up early, and before anyone else does, allows for a celebratory cup of strong, black coffee and few moments to savour the quietness of the early morning.

Three days, three long, twelve hour shifts inside a loud, airless factory. No, I am not complaining and it is not as bad as it sounds. It’s tedious work, sometimes physically demanding, at other times it drags on and one is left alone with their thoughts. Come clock-off time, I rejoin the world and am keen to find out what has been happening.

So what has happened in those three days?

I can not resist making a comment regarding the appointment of Boris Johnson to the role of Foreign Secretery in the UK. I could not believe when I saw the news. It seems that the appointment was a suprise to the media and, no doubt to foreign affairs representatives of many nations. I do not know enough about the man’s accomplishments as the Mayor of London, however it is certain he was one of the key figures in the Brexit campaign, an accomplished globetrotter and … a menace in his service to his nation. It is baffling to me how a man who has absolutely no background in international relations, who is a brazen opportunist and an offensive loud-mouth can represent a great nation, a former empire, in the sensitive and intertwined realm of international affairs. He has offended people, nations and major leaders. He is seen as untrustworthy and unprofessional. He may have his talents, he may be influencial and have a ‘feel’ for the celebrity world, I do have an appreciation for the ‘self-made man’, those flamboyant, charismatic and brave people that make something of themsleves, make great fortunes or acquire a significant social standing, but not at the expense of normal people who are vulnerable in seeking simple answeres to complex realities, not at the expense of public trust nor international stability. This is not the right place for such a man.

The complex realities, I use a plural as these are different for different people around the globe, are very, very complex. In the past week the world has watched TV footage of the dramatic, tragic events in Nice. So many lives, so much pain and anguish. From Nice to Ankara, where the Turkish President was almost ousted in an attempted cout d’etat, an event sure to destabilise the region and perhaps create tensions in NATO.

As I am finishing this post the sun is again high up in the sky, its a fantastically warm day, but a week has gone past in a flash. Two short, wonderful moments, and a week inbetween. Just a reminder that moments are there to be savoured.

 

walk to the store

 

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Daily Prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/desert/

The store was about 400 metres away. In the town centre. Precisley centre, as the entry to the store faced the centre of the intersection. The only intersection in town, where two wide slabs of asphalt met to form a cross on an otherwise endless desert, unmarked by the human hand, nor by natures immagination.

The road was so wide, that looking at it, one straight away made a comparison to a football field – almost like a football field. Everything out here inspired a feeling of infinite, endless space. Whatever we, people put up, always seemed small, insignificant and fragile. The desert would eventually swallow up everything, leaving only the bigger, sturdier buildings standing, ghost-like in the middle of nowhere, beaten by the sun and sand.

The side of the road cracked, and crumbled, blended with dusty gravel, and the omnipresent orange dirt. He walked slowly. The sun was now spread across the entire sky. The brightness and the heat made walking unbearable. He was used to it, but it still made him tired. He had an old straw hat on his head, a thin and loose, cotton shirt, wide open on the chest, and a pair of  red, rag pants. Old worn sandals protected his feet from the frypan that was the ground.

There was no one in the street. The shades were drawn in the diner. He did not look towards the pub, it was too long a walk, and besides he had different plans for the afternoon. He pushed the door to the store open, and was ushered in by the welcoming sound of the bell. The store was hot, stuffy and dark, but offered some respite from the tortorous sun.

 “G’day Bill” he said as he made his way to the counter “No one around I see? Anyone come in here?”.

“G’day” the store keeper replied “Nah, it’s been a quiet morning. I don’t blame them with this heat. What are you after mate?”

“I will get some ginger beer and a few of them apples you had the other day” he replied.

“We got bread and rolls delivered about an hour ago. Want some?” the store keeper asked in reply moving towards the drinks shelf.

“Fresh hah? Yeah, I may as well grab few of those white rolls.” he replied thinking to him self – “we have to eat something”.

He paid the man, picked up his bag and walked back out into the scorching heat. Nothing had changed out there, no one around. Nothing happening. He shook his head, and smiled at the same time. “Why am I still here?” he thought to himself. And started walking towards the house, towards the outskirts of town.

Life’s choices

 

He walks past the same cafes, bars, ice cream parlours, looking in, taking in the bustle, the sight of occupied tables, diners, dates and drinks. Life. Other people’s lives. It has been years since he last walked these streets. Much has changed. So much. Yet … so little.

Years. Yet the the same sense of longing, loneliness, and sadness floats a few steps ahead, preceeds him. At moments like this, it is so easy to anticipate the feelings. That ‘sense’, those ‘feelings’ hit reality, bouncing back at him with force, and again, becoming stronger, sadder, that much more hopeless, desparate. Like a snowball – once it starts, it is hard to stop it.

It starts with wanting it all. Desirous of everything at once, as the quote goes. Maybe a belief that it can be done, it could be possible. A few thoughts, a few doubts, and it is no longer all that clear.

Chaos. There are suddenly three options. Four. The same ones. “Maybe I should …” “Maybe I could …”,”I should have done that five years ago. Why didn’t I continue with it?”. Many options, and so hard to decide on the right one. Chaos. Idecisiveness. Defeat.

Difficult to understand how a person can be so torn. How is it possible that someone at that age, still has not decided what they want to do with their life? Thoughts are in chaos. This open the door wide open, with doubt and anxiety coming in to take over.

Some would gloss over the details, not overthink it, and come to the enthusiastic conclusion: There has been so much success. The years have brought so many positive changes. Loneliness is a feeling of the past. Defeat should be a distant consideration. No. Not he. He thinks. Needs a plan for the future. Is it ambition? Need to belong? A need to feel deserving of a pat on the back?

It will pass, and chaotic enthusiasm will sweep his spirits up to appreciate the freedoms his decisions have brought him.  Hopeful and lucky. Ready to face the future.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/chaos/