These woods are lovely dark and deep,
But I have played all day and now it’s time to sleep.
I pray thee Lord my soul to keep,
As angels watch me through the night,
And keep me safe till morning light.
When it’s time to play again.
Archimedes said, ‘Give me a place to stand and I can move the earth.’ – I say, ‘Give me a chair, let me sit, and go to a place where time and the earth stands still.’
I love to travel, but hate to fly.
Traveling puts me on a plane, where if I am lucky, I get an aisle seat in an emergency row, but, if not, I am sandwiched in a middle seat between two large passengers who either talk too much or snore. “Peanuts or cookies?” the stewardess asks. An upgrade to First Class where the champagne flows, I want to reply.
Born free, and yet everywhere on this plane one is shackled by the reminder to keep seat belts attached at all times. What would Rousseau think?
If one believes in the philosophy of yin and yang, then the unpleasant experience of flying on a Boeing 777 is complementary, interconnected, and interdependent with the experience of traveling to the natural world. One necessarily gives rise to the other.
In this natural setting far away from the familiar world, I find a seat, confining as the one left behind, but a seat that takes me where I want to go, to a place where I move and time and the earth stands still.
Alas, it is a universal truth that good and evil co-exist, but the natural world, though pushed aside and often forgotten in a rush to get ahead, has its place and waits for us to come.
It was Saturday morning and the first day of spring. The weather was cloudy and cool.Because I thought it might rain, I was wearing a short light grey trench coat, the kind Audrey Hepburn wore in Charade. But maybe, I was just trying to be incognito.
Five minutes before, I had just arrived after an 8-hour, sleepless flight from Heathrow to Dulles. The Metro was due to arrive in two minutes. Then my baby called, saying she had missed her connection in Atlanta. Next flight noon.
There it was, a Stressless recliner in the middle of the plaza.
That is strange, but stranger still is the fact that it was empty. No one, not a soul, seemed to see it. And baby, it was calling my name.
I felt relieved as I sat down. I stretched out my arms and back, and felt the chair magically adjust. I closed my eyes and began to sing, “Ain’t got time to take a fast train…”
And soon I was asleep.
Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
Wayne Carson wrote and composed “The Letter” after his father suggested an opening line, “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane.” The track was recorded in Memphis with a local five-man group in a session produced by Dan Penn. The band members were Alex Chilton on vocals, Danny Smythe on drums, Russ Caccamisi on bass, John Evans on keyboards, and Richard Malone on guitar. The session took over 30 takes to get it right, with Penn suggesting to Chilton he pronounce the title “aer-o-plane”. After the session, Penn added the sound of an airplane take-off.
The song took off and reached #1 position for a total of four weeks, Billboard ranked the record as the No. 2 song for 1967.
Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?
My Losing Season by Pat Conroy
I have concluded that life’s best teacher is losing.
In winning, we celebrate, but in losing we learn the hard lessons of life and so become better. Perhaps in that sense, we should celebrate the losses and strive to take on more and more challenges in the hope that we will lose and by losing become our very best.
Life is full of contradictions, isn’t it?
I am always reluctant to read books that do not have a happy ending in the strange and bizarre belief that we become what we read. I make an exception with Pat Conroy whose books often deal with dysfunctional family relationships.
If you are not a Pat Conroy fan, become one.
My Losing Season is Conroy’s story of the losing basketball season in his last year as a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He is an unshakeable though small and modestly talented point guard for his team. His father is a hard-core marine colonel. His capricious coach heaps withering scorn on his players.
Somewhere in all the pain and humiliation, Conroy is able to find resolution, strength, love and healing.
Don’t hurry this book. It is meant to be read leisurely. Read a bit then get up and go for a walk. Healing takes time and learning to love those who have been a little tough on us takes a lifetime.
It only takes a moment to enjoy to relax in a Stressless recliner.
Out for a walk on a winter’s day, I come upon a fence. The fence is made of wood and falling down here and there, so I know that no one cares to make repairs and keep me out. A thought by Robert Frost comes to mind that good fences make good neighbors. Hmm-m, I pause, I stop and watch the fence and yet it does not move. It does not keep the rabbit out nor the yelping dogs, and surely not the deer. They who run and jump love a strong and sturdy fence that says to those who carry guns, keep out.
Still, I shout, hello, to see if anyone replies.
Stay, it says silently.
With not a soul in sight to give offense, should I cross or stay? An old fence in the woods and far, far, far from home, it seems to me, is not so neighborly. And now a thought for an old man who is frail, and cannot climb a fence.
Would it be a crime, should I remove a log or two?
Oh, the winter is quite wicked with its biting, whining wind and snow. Oh, my careless woes.
If I am going to stick with a New Year’s Resolution in 2017, it might be this:
Go not where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The thing about resolutions is that they are often abandoned and forgotten like a clod upon a field. Still, if even a glimmer of the resolution is kept, we create a whole new person with a whole new outlook on life. This thought leads me along the path to one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl, who said:
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
Magic is a wonderful thing. It makes life exciting. It makes life likeable and livable. I am not speaking of Las Vegas magic, I am speaking of the magic of finding something new in life, of discovering that learning never ends.
This year, I will be home for the holidays.
My grown children are arriving soon from Colorado and Texas. Dear guests will drop by. My aunt will be making cookies and pie. I’ll be buying the beer and wine. It is the least and the most I can do. And the cold days and long nights give rise to thoughts like these:
The highlight in December is Christmas
A day we are all waiting for
When family and guest gather round
To listen to the sound of carols
To share presents under the tree
To raise a spirited cheer
With a glass of wine
To throw a log of wood on the fire
And stare at the flickering light
But out in the hills and valleys and woods
The animals gather too
Underneath the twinkling stars
To ward off the cold and dark
There below the heavenly skies
To experience the beauty of the snow and the silence
Adults are obsolete children. – Dr. Seuss
My children are my biggest gift in life and my biggest challenge.
At first you want to protect them from all the misery the cruel world will throw at them, then manage their every move so they are not hurt badly, and finally you are ready to let them loose, and soar to heights unimagined. And when, on their own, they do something quite remarkable and are happy, you think, job done. You’re sittin’ on top of the world.
Good God in heaven, isn’t it nice to sit back and relax and let the next generation take over.
It is five o’clock somewhere and in a Stressless recliner it is always five o’clock.
I love that I can sit in my favorite Stressless recline, relax in comfort, and go anywhere in the world, if I make up my mind to do so.
Visit Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Bouchon, at the Venetian. Have a glass of wine.
Keller says. “Going to Mondavi or Franciscan is a great way to begin.” Graduate to “Colgin Cellars in St. Helena which produces beautiful Cabernet and Bordeaux-style blends … exemplary of the terroir of Napa Valley.”
Open the bottle, let it breathe, take a sip, close your eyes and you are there.
On Christmas Eve in Norway, Norwegians work, shop, and hurry to finish their last errands until 4 pm when the church bells ring throughout the city signaling that Christmas has officially begun. The city is lit with ice-white lights sparkling in the darkness and the scene is magical.
On Christmas Eve, mamma has set the dinner table with roasted pork ribs and mutton, Christmas sausage, lutefisk, sauerkraut, meatballs and gravy, and cranberry sauce. Pappa raises a Christmas toast made with a glass of Gløgg, a delicious mix of mulled wine with spices, nuts and fruit. For desert, Mamma and Grandmamma have made all sorts of pies and even a special bread called ‘Julekake’ that has raisins, candied peel and cardamom with hints of lemon, mint and smoke.
After dinner the family gathers ’round the Christmas tree. Santa or as he is called in Norway, ‘Julenisse’ arrives with a helper gnome called ‘Nisse’. They are sung a carol before the giving of presents and treats. Then much like families around the world, they play games and sing carols the night long, all the while enjoying the blessings of the year.
If there is only one song sung each Christmas Eve it is the hauntingly beautiful, Mitt hjerte alltid vanker, (My heart always lingers), whose words in English translate as:
My heart always lingers in the birthplace of Jesus
My thoughts gather there as their main sum
There my longing has its home, my faith its treasure
I can never forget you, blessed Christmas night…