26 February 2010

Excursions To Scientia

The American author Ernest Hemingway once said: "Never go on trips with anyone you do not love".

It is important to recognise, however, that there are several types of love and that some trips are better when the relationship is based on one sort of love rather than another.

In 1988, I took a trip alone to the west of Ireland. It was the first time I had travelled very far without being on a guided tour. On the left is a picture of a sign post that greeted me as I set off on a hired bicycle one morning. Fortunately, I met many friendly locals along the way who helped to point me in the right direction.

In my view, friendship is the best sort of love for most travels, but what does friendship mean? The philosopher Aristotle called friendship "philia". The English word philosophy begins with the ancient Greek word for friendship, so philosophy really means being friendly to wisdom.

So, how do you know if you are friendly to wisdom, or even just friendly? How do you know anything? Perhaps the Latin word "scientia" may be just as useful here as the Greek word "philia".

You may know that "scientia" means knowledge. It is the origin of the word science. Have you been on any friendly excursions to Scientia recently?

06 February 2010

Love, Loss, Life and Nostalgia

There are few experiences more unpleasant than unrequited love, except for the permanent loss of someone we truly know and love. I am not the sort of person to celebrate Valentine's Day.  It seems to me to have more to do with purchasing products than expressing genuine love.

Although we have been married for over twenty years now, my husband (the angel one) and I live life as if we are still on our honeymoon, every day. He cooked a lovely, very romantic lunch for the two of us today. It does not matter what the calendar says - every day is a day for genuine love.

Thinking about genuine love

Valentine's Day can be a very painful experience for many people, especially those who are single, feeling lonely and perhaps even have their birthday on that day. Have you ever tried to book a restaurant table for a family birthday gathering on 14 February?  Most tables on that day are reserved for (temporary or permanent) couples.

Is Valentine's Day a time of nostalgia for you, or a time for thinking about loss or love, or even loneliness?  Is it an important day in your family for something other than romance?  Do you ever travel in search of love?

01 February 2010

Singing, Dancing and Travelling

I wish I could sing. Some days, I sing better than at other times. Most of the time, though, my singing is unworthy of any audience.

Even rainbow lorikeets, galahs and sulphur-crested cockatoos fly away when I try to communicate with them in my own similar squawks.

This youtube video might give you an indication of my singing:

My dancing is probably worse than my singing. I tried ballet as a four year old but did not want any more lessons after accidentally tripping over another little girl in the class.

My next attempt at dance training was in my early 20s. I was asked to leave the class after just a few weeks when my conduct was considered disruptive. The main problem with my behaviour was that I could not look at myself in the large mirror in the dance studio without laughing at what I saw.

Innate talents and misguided hopes

Perhaps my lack of talent in the realms of singing and dancing are enough reason for my pursuit of other activities. It may be why travelling seemed like a much better use of my time in my twenties, rather than attempting to become any sort of performer, especially on a regular, disciplined basis.

After I finished university, in my mid thirties, I thought I might have enjoyed being an opera singer, but then reality set in quite quickly when I compared my voice to those on great recordings. My innate talent may be lacking but I do gain enjoyment of the sound of my singing efforts when I am in the shower. There are no misguided hopes in that sphere, especially when my husband shuts several doors between him and the sound I am making.

Fitting into old clothes and feeling fit

Now, I think I may take up dancing again, but not in a misguided way. Having successfully lost some unwanted weight, I look forward to opening an old suitcase full of the clothes I enjoyed wearing before my waistline expanded.

Having eaten too many cakes in England and too many large dinners and ice creams in Italy last year, dancing around my living room between reading and writing seem like a good use of my spare time. I will continue to do my yoga style stretches in the warmth and comfort of my bed each morning after my husband has gone to work. That has been the usual extent of my fitness regime. And please don't expect me to get up any earlier in the mornings!

Exercise in comfort

Most forms of exercise do not appeal to me as I am not a competitive sort of person and I prefer being at home alone while I dance rather than make a fool of myself again in public. A regular exercise routine does not appeal to me either as I do not like a rigid schedule or a feeling of guilt when I am not feeling in the mood for a particular activity. I like my comfort too much to wish to endure anything voluntarily unpleasant.

Although I do most of the strenuous housework myself, and try to weed the garden whenever my surroundings become too much like a jungle, dancing is a more aesthetic response to my physical place in the universe. I have decided to use medieval music as its rhythms appeal to me more than most modern forms. I don't know why.  You will not find any videos of my performances on youtube though!

If you have visited my Quieter Living blog today, you will have seen my ideas there about aesthetics. I at least know that my own dancing might not be very beautiful, especially as I am not talented enough to perform for others, except perhaps in a comedic context (as with my singing).