This morning I woke up at 6 (you’re reading a diary, remember?). The intention was to take a walk in the nearby woods (you remember my last walk in the woods, don’t you?), as the weather had turned surprisingly warm since last week. But when I lifted the blinds I saw a gray sky, quite unlike the clear dawn I had gotten used to since last week. I decided the weather was not good enough, and settled down instead on my sofa with the Financial Times weekend edition. One columnist there was urging people to restore the tradition of wearing hats, another spoke of his encounter with Kasparov (who viewed the world of politics like a chess board, with Freedom playing White against Communism, Fundamentalism etc), and yet another described a meeting with our good old Khushwant Singh (who apparently regrets having missed many opportunities “of seducing women because I didn’t have the nerve. Some of them were more than willing, as they told me later…” Now that, I told myself, is one regret I must not have to reflect upon during my old age, looking back at these youthful days filled with opportunities).
But seducing women demands an amount of time and energy I presently do not have, so I’ll put it aside for the moment. Life@work dominates most of life right now. And when things at work turn busy for both wife and me, a pattern emerges: we eat out every other day, disorder reigns at home, wife skips her piano lessons, I skip my chess sessions, and each night I barely manage to read a page from a book on the bedside table before dozing off. Leisure is word that belongs to a different century, surely.
One idea behind that walk into the woods was precisely that: to experience leisure and solitude. There is a pond in the middle of the woods where you can sit on one of the benches bordering it and gaze into the stillness of the water, a stillness disturbed occasionally by the wind. After a while you realize that your mind – occupied with nothing other than observing the swaying branches of pine trees reflected in water – is reaching a similar state of stillness. In summer, when the wind is warm enough, you could sit there for hours doing nothing.
The birds no longer visit our backyard: the yellow bag hangs empty. (The red one is full, but I found that it hangs on a branch that has no branches nearby – so only a hummingbird could access it, but we don’t have those here.) Last weekend a sparrow-like bird with yellow feathers came by several times, along with its mate (the other birds seemed to come alone, but those of this kind always came in pairs). It seemed to be very sensitive to its surroundings: even small movements of my camera would make it fly away. The others weren’t like that – they pecked at the bag blissfully, unmindful of a someone nearby clicking away. In all, I spotted six different kinds of birds; suddenly I find myself curious to know more about them (the names seem to matter, after all!).
There’s nothing much else to say, really. I’m off to the barber now, and will be working for rest of the weekend. And you surely don’t want to hear about my work, do you?