Happy New Year

And so, on to 2022… after a thoroughly agreeable, if low key, festive period.

Between the turkey, goose, ham, endless cheeses, trifles and chocs – the wisdom of Joseph Goldstein on my daily dog walks has been a more ethereal and less calorific sustenance.

Now, if you’d have told me in any prior decades of my life than the one I’m living in, that I’d be listening to this sort of thing; I’d have said you were mad. Way too much Buddha and beads for an honest Northern lad like me.

But nobody said wisdom was a young person’s game. It takes time to tune in to these things. Thanks to the likes of Joseph Goldstein, I’m starting to develop an ability to slow down; to notice more and to hurry and worry less.

After all, most of what we spend our time doing – as Joseph Goldstein regularly reminds us – is struggle under the weight of two mountains: the mountain of the past and the mountain of the future. But although both weigh heavily on our shoulders, in fact neither of them is any more substantial than the wisp of endlessly passing thoughts and fears, regrets and memories.

Of course this has survival value. The so called Default Mode Network, which our minds switch to whenever we are idle, flicks relentlessly from past experiences to mid-term worries, to help us sweat the future and chart a safer path through it.

But it’s a bit of a waste of time really… The future will largely look after itself. As this Christmas showed, there’s a lot to be said for friends and family and simple pleasures.

So here’s to not having a plan for 2022. The dog has the right idea – simply chew on what’s to hand.

: )

Simple Pleasures

No-one would have wished for the pandemic. But it does help with one thing – the appreciation of simple pleasures. Last evening we had our favourite Chinese takeaway and enjoyed ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ as a family.

This morning: a fry up with sausages and bacon all round. And I sneaked a cheeky fried egg into the pan, just for me. I can’t remember the last time I had a fried egg.

A simple pleasure indeed.

Small Pleasures

20130225-210947.jpg

Today the email system at work catastrophically collapsed. Ironic that, as we were at an Away-day discussing our digital strategy. Ho hum.

I bumped into one of my team on returning to the office. He commented on the crash in connectivity and then laughed:

“You’re trying to find something positive to say aren’t you.”

“Yes; and I can’t.” I admitted.

And so with a rueful chuckle I donned my jacket and pedalled home nice and early. And what a delight…

Tea time with the kids, leftover spuds hoovered, dishwasher packed, lamb and aubergine in the oven, a happy boy abed and read to with gusto, red wine in a glass, sparkling teeth and three kisses from a delighted daughter and now time to sit down – and all before the News!

Small pleasures indeed – but a break in the breakneck speed of ‘always on’ connectivity and an extra 45 minutes at home, brings myriad small benefits. I left this morning feeling blue, now I’m in the pink. Perhaps I should cut the connection more often…

But literally just as I finish these words, the server’s back. ‘You have unread mails’ – the joy and curse of 21st century life.

Family Bundle

20121222-143056.jpg

Returning wet, tired and cold from pouring rain and the demands of work, cheerful – if poorly – children have been a joy to come home to.

So poorly in fact, they’ve been super hot, red-faced and unusually placid. And piling into bed, with one either side, for a bedtime book has been a particular delight this week. No bickering, no fidgeting, just two big cuddly hot water bottles with mops of hair.

We call it a ‘family bundle’. And when you’re in the middle, it feels like all is good in the world. Simple pleasures. They warm the heart on a cold winter’s night.

Autumn Sunrise

20111116-191114.jpg

On a misty morning
With the kids in the car
Turning left
The surprise of a huge sun
Low in the sky
A silver gold blob
Just too bright to stare at
Not too bright to blind
Heralds
An emergent phenomenon
Not easily had
Coming into being
In my busy head
Happiness
More than a brain state
A life lived instead
Myriad things
In work at home at play
To bring together
Before it is found
Easily lost
A single moment can confound
But in simple pleasures
Doing the right things
Caring for people
About things
And oneself
Happiness shines
At times
Just too bright to stare at
Not too bright to blind.

I talked to a taxi driver today – an old man and a nice one. He revealed he studied art a good many years ago. Very much against the odds on a scholarship, he went to the art school at the bottom of our road – near where he was taking me.

He said other cabbies sometimes mock when he says he paints, but it brings him great peace and satisfaction. I owned up that I’ve started writing poetry too. We found ourselves kindred spirits. It’s not always the winning, it’s often the taking part with art. This poem refers to yesterday, but some of the warm glow spilled into today’s conversation.