Saturday, 13 December 2014

Meditations On A Rainy Day III

The difference between these two pictures is 20 hours
and an awful lot of rain.
It’s the same stretch of river and the same willow tree.

For tonight the forecast says dry and very cold.

2014 has been good to me, or perhaps I have been good to myself? They say “Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied”, or ‘Life is what you make it’. Even the ancient Romans knew that. Appius Claudius Caecus told us that  ‘Every Man is the Architect of his Own Fortune’. I expect everybody has their favourite proverb but do we all follow the sentiment?

Well, I think I’ve cracked it. For the whole of the year I was determined that apart from the odd stumble here and there my path would be smooth, that I would not let indifference, unkindness or bare-faced lying on the part of others, no matter how close the connection, push me into unhappiness or illness. And I’ve done it. Two separate relationships have made me very unhappy in previous years; one is severed completely and the other is cooling. So, that’s that. I am amazed at how easy it was in the end. I feel regret, but accept what is and cannot be changed. Both situations have been fraught with unease and pain in the past, in both cases a catalyst caused me to stop and examine my motives for continuing with them, when there was no profit and all loss. It feels good.

Half the young ladies in London spend their evenings 
making their fathers take them to plays that are not 
fit for elderly people to see.               G.B.Shaw

All the pleasures and happinesses of 2014 have been modest, play-going chief amongst them. Thanks to a good friend we have had many trips to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford; many more are planned for 2015. That wonderful new institution, Live Streaming from the foremost theatres in London, as well as the Royal Opera House, have meant that we hardly had to miss anything we crave. As well as going to poetry meetings in Knighton, over the border in Wales, we have resurrected poetry readings at our house once a month; wine and poetry in a circle of like-minded friends make for wonderful evenings which require little effort but give an inordinate amount of pleasure.

A Book Is Like A Garden Carried In The Pocket.
Chinese Proverb

Aren’t I lucky. I have both. An endless supply of gardens on my shelves and an outdoor garden for work and play. The balance has been shifting, I’ve allowed myself far more reading than gardening time during the year, partly due to the ease with which I can, thanks to a Kindle app, read for hours without stopping. Gardening has been important too but I’ve relaxed my harsh policy of eradicating every weed that dared show its face; or if a plant wants to lean over, muscling in on its neighbours' space, so be it. I will not chastise and imprison it in a rigid corset of stakes. Besides, I’ve dug up and given away many clumps of herbaceous plants this year to replace them with easily cultivated shrubs. But best of all is to be out in the garden in summer, drag a chair into the shade of a tree, fetch a drink and open a new book. Bliss. 

Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.
Pat Conroy: My Reading Life

To my great surprise, I’ve continued with blogging throughout the year. Had you asked me five years ago I would have said that this is an activity destined to last but a short time. I am posting less, reading fewer blogs, leaving comments only once or twice a week. I have made absolutely no effort to gain new followers and have cut down on the numbers of those I follow. But I am still blogging. It’s my only other addiction apart from a craving for chocolate. Will I give up either next year?

I often think that the night is more alive 
and more richly coloured than the day.
Vincent van Gogh

Leaning out of my window last night, breathing deeply to get rid of stale central heating air in my lungs before bed I looked up into a clear, cold, starry night. The swollen river hummed monotonously, deeply soothing to the spirit. The night was calm and so was I. Counting my blessings is not for me, but appreciating the joys of the simple life is. 

Whatever happens in the new year, I will be kind to myself. 


  1. I'm trying to get to where you're at. It is a state to be in, for sure.



  2. I am so glad you haven't given up blogging, since you and your world so enrich my own. You are the reason I love the blogosphere: the ability to join you on your journey and learn from your inner travels. Another lovely piece. Thank you, Friko.

  3. Sounds like a shift that will be good for your heart, Friko.

  4. Friko, reading your collected meditations on a rainy day has given me much to think about myself. Your writing and the quotes from others have contributed in a very positive way to my recent days that have gotten a bit more hectic than I prefer.

    During the past year I have also tried practicing the fine art of separation, and have seen my own life improve as a result.

    I very much like the two willow tree photographs and think that seeing the same place differently is a powerful reminder. I will remember these pictures, and may return here for another look as this year turns into the next.

    Blogging a chocolate are very good, and can even be enjoyed simultaneously. I also find great benefits in walking, without a particular destination.

    How glad I am to know you. xo

  5. Lovely post but that water level is amazing. Nature is a wonderful thing, but take care when it is angry. Keep well and have a good Christmas Diane

  6. A sense of well-being radiates from every line of this post, including the cleverly chosen quotations. The Chinese proverb reminds me of the line from O'Hara," "My heart is in my/pocket. It is Poems by Pierre Reverdy." Even if one's choice isn't Reverdy, a book or a poem "in one's pocket" is a lovely thing. It's a funny thing, when I thought at first about "my year in music" this year, I thought, with regret, of so many things I'd missed. But then, when I prepared the post, the focus shifted to all the wonderful things I'd been able to do! Your post is a lovely validation of that perspective. (New Year's resolution #1.)

  7. Well, I for one hope you will be kind to your readers by posting as often as your other activities permit. I understand the words of Pat Conroy, at least II understand what I take them to mean. Writing fills some basic need I've had since Imwas eight years old. I know I was eight because my mother noted my efforts in my BBy Book.

    Yes, shrubs are the answer to irascible perennials and wily violets.

  8. Each visit to you brings me something of immense value. Often beauty, and at least as often wisdom. Things to take away and mull over. Today I have both. Thank you.

  9. Like most of us, still blogging after all these years ...

  10. I wish more people could discover what you've discovered. We'd have many more happy people in the world. There are many proverbs that could give us a start to making a positive change.

  11. We are much alike Ursula. I usually describe my gardening efforts as barely restrained chaos. and I have let go of relationships, I hesitate to call them friendships though I did once upon a time, when I realized that if not for my efforts at staying connected, I would not ever hear from them. and I was up late last night reading. we part ways on poetry though. and we rarely entertain. always been a loner. I still blog but like you, comment less, read less, don't try to increase my readership. Don't know why I really continue but I guess I will start my 7th year next month.

  12. I love blogging so far (only six months into it), and I definitely share your love of chocolate....think I'll fix a hot cup of cocoa.

  13. Of all written here, the most important element is kindness. One will never regret being kind, but being mean will haunt one for a lifetime.

    1. Meeting unkindness with kindness sounds lovely on paper, but it doesn't always work. Honesty may not be the best policy, but not having the courage to speak out and defend oneself can haunt you for a lifetime too. The hurt and regret never go away. I have struggled for years to overcome the unfairness with which I was treated by a family member, and for the most part have suceeded, though the hurt still comes back at inconvenient moments, to cast a shadow over the present.

  14. There's a lovely sense of contentment and quiet satisfaction in this post that is highly appealing. I do hope you will continue to write on your blog - as Elephant's Child writes, there is always some beautiful morsel to take away from here and mull over.

  15. Lovely thoughts to share. Thank you. And Happy Christmas! xoxo

  16. My husband has finally cut out of his life his sister and brother who have done nothing but try to hurt him down the years. I see the difference in his health since making the decision.

    I still enjoy blogging.. the people who comment are absolutely super and make me reflect, think it possible that I might be mistaken, introduce me to new worlds with their blogs - and make me laugh out loud!
    I've never beaten myself up...mother did that for me in my youth and made repetition unnecessary.

  17. Your final paragraph made me sing in harmony with you!

    "I feel regret, but accept what is and cannot be changed. Friko

    We make our fortunes, and we call them fate. – Earl of Beaconsfield"

    Two wise quotes that speak to the topic at hand, and to me. Thank you for continuing to post.

    Fair Warning: Tomorrow I steal one of your sources and credit you for the find.

    May your comfort continue, dear friend!

    Fond ALOHA from Honolulu

  18. I am so happy for you. Giving up the hopeless quest to make everything run correctly . . . when others aren't playing by the same rules . . . what a relief!

  19. "Life is what you make it.'
    This is so very true.

  20. Congratulations! A good summary of a good year. It is not just my opinion but also my personal experience (can there be something as an exerpience that is NOT personal?) that we are, indeed, our Glückes Schmied.
    Very good step to have acted upon those relationships that were not good for you. I have done the same in two instances over the past 10 years or so, and am still glad I did.
    Why would you want to give up on chocolate?! Life isn't the same without it!
    I feel honoured that my blog is still among the ones you follow. Thank you!

  21. Hi Friko - that is fantastic ... you have a very happy band of followers, many intellectual who enjoy your writings on life and your take on it. Congratulations ...I'm so pleased your determination to readjust, lose the irritations in life, move in quieter, peaceful, tranquil settings ... enjoy the rushing waters of life from the sidelines. The poetry readings sound a delight ... while continuing on with your theatres and opera ... courtesy if necessary of the magic of Live Streaming .. a great addition to our choices when we live in the 'sticks' ...

    Enjoy your snuggling down with books, music et al .. lovely post to read and am so glad you're not stopping this pastime ... cheers Hilary

  22. Shoulders squared back, she watched the olde man walk away. Her mind filled with confusing thoughts - was she so horrible to chase him away, vowing to call the police if he ever drunkenly ventured into her yard again. As her mind filled with memories of the same from her past, she suddenly felt the weight fall away from her shoulders. The many years of heavy burdens suddenly gone. She hesitated, what was this light feeling? Slowly, a smile appeared on her face. He was gone and she had done it. It wasn't so hard after all - she thought she would feel guilty or great sadness. Instead there was relief and a great feeling of having let go.......let go - She had finally LET IT GO. She had finally stood up and said "NO MORE" - She was only 34, there was great peace in her life - the darkness was gone.
    I will never be able to write like you my friend, however; I am happy for you that life is good. I am happy for you that you squared your shoulders and made some changes with the people in your life. There are times that having someone in your life just isn't worth the insults or whatever else they do. Sometimes the decisions we have to make are most difficult, however; I am a peaceful, happy soul, content with my surroundings, good life, good friends. I am also most envious of your opera, theater outings. Have a wonderful day.

  23. You have found what works best for you and that is to be kind to yourself. It is something that we all need to learn.

  24. I was reading with a smile. Eliminating or severely limiting negative people from your life is a wonderfully freeing decision. Whether they are "friends" or family, makes no difference. Some people just drain you and bring you down while others always make you smile and lift your spirits. Easy choice. But it took me a very long time to realize I had a right to make that decision. Enjoy your wonderful, like-minded friends and your less chastised garden. :) :)

  25. Fresh from my own river sojourn, I'm completely taken by your pair of photographs. If any proof were needed that Hereclitus had it right, about no one stepping into the same river twice, those photos certainly would help the cause.

    As for the things of which you speak: one of the great mysteries of my life is how completely many of the pains of the past have been wiped out. I remember that there were times of difficulty, but the emotion associated with them simply is gone. When I think, "this happened, and that," I'm quite amazed that it seems as though I remembering stories told about another person entirely. And perhaps I am, after all.

    I know this -- I love the New Year above all holidays. I love the sense of possibility, and the opportunity to let go of the past. Once upon a time, I attended a congregation whose pastor chose to forego traditional end-of-service blessings in favor of: "The past is forgiven; let go. The future is open; go live." That's pretty much it, for me.

  26. Looks like I am way the hell down you see my hand waving? All sounds very good to me. You have balance and that will keep you from falling on the things in life that will still trip you up. I feel much privileged that you still visit me now and again, although I will always see what you are up to. I have both a Kindle and a Nook and while waiting from someone at the large mall book store today I bought 5 real books!! That and chocolate are my addictions. By the way do you know that Americans think quotes are so much more erudite when written in a foreign language, and yes, you still have to translate.

  27. I am pleased that 2014 was a smooth year for you. I hope 2015 will be as well.

  28. Perhaps the key IS to be kind to oneself! I am glad to know you feel this way, so positive! as the year is coming to an end. Letting go of things that haven't worked for a long long time, if ever, is freeing. Once we stop trying to fix the thing that was unfixable, there's energy leftover for enjoying what never was broken.
    Peace and comfort of a simple life: Priceless.

  29. I've always liked the admonishment to be a little kinder than necessary. With that said, I hope you will be kind enough to continue blogging, no matter how little, no matter how followed you are or whom you choose to not follow. I can't imagine wanting to eat less chocolate!

  30. Don't give up chocolate, whatever you do. You have accomplished wondrous things inside and out. Just reading this adds to my own happiness!

  31. My computer shut down
    and lost my comment.
    But will try again.
    Thank you so much
    I learn from you
    and many of your words
    have been copied in my journal.
    keep writing..

  32. So beautifully expressed -- and such a deep sense of contentment.

  33. This is a beautiful post full of wisdom and a reason why I hope you don't give up blogging. What would I do without all of your wonderful writing?

    The wisdom that you have shown about gardening is a lesson for life. I hope to come to the point where you are in the year that follows this one. Know what we need growing in our garden (life) and cultivate that.

  34. Your new and relaxed approach to gardening seems to be spreading to the rest of your life, Friko. Your contentment is palpable and I'm glad that blogging and chocolate still figure there.

  35. I think appreciating simple pleasures is a way of counting blessings. Or maybe living blessings.

  36. A wonderfully inspiring post! Be kind to ourselves and others - sounds like a great motto for the coming year.


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