Popped into a charity shop (thrift store to Stateside readers) the other day, looking for a piece of lost soul and there on the shelf was the complete recording of ‘La Boheme’ with Kiri Te Kanawa singing Mimi, libretto included and all for under £3. I love it when that happens, as I feel the Universe smiling in my direction.
I bought it and later at home found a small envelope tucked into the case. It had ‘Elizabeth’ written in a fine italic hand on the front and inside a note in the same handwriting that said,’ I hope you grow to love this as much as I do. Love Dad’. Elizabeth obviously hadn’t, as it had found its way to a charity shop, which I found very sad and rather unsettling. That juxtaposition of yearning and rejection seems to be a repeat melody in the human song. What longing and perhaps rather inappropriate desire had propelled that envelope on its journey from there to here on this page in cyberspace? It’s a mystery.The sort that often jump starts a poem into expression.
That’s what I love about charity shopping. It’s the antithesis of going shopping with a list, for serendipity is in the mix. It’s rather like fly fishing. You cast your line and never know in advance what is going to grasp your fly.
Once a postcard fell out of a book that had come to me this way. The picture (Karl Spitzweg 1808-1885) was of a bedridden man in an attic, with an umbrella to hold off the rain coming through the ceiling and a pile of books possibly ready to be used as fuel for the stove at the foot of his bed. On the other side of the card was the handwritten message: Mother I am coming to visit you from an attic. No special arrangements please. From Dennis
Sometimes I ask myself, why no special arrangements? No answer comes apart from a feeling that grows and grows until one day it pops out as a poem about the yearning for love and the myriad of reasons we find for withholding or deflecting it. And so we spin a web of meaning from the extraordinary ordinariness of being alive. I suppose this is how I retrieve the lost pieces of soul. Tomorrow I might even post the poem that postcard triggered.
I always find it’s a good idea to opt for the bigger picture. It defeats boredom and it’s good for dopamine hits. The bigger picture is very, very exciting though I’m sure I’ll never be able to convince you of that in this short(ish) blog.
Today I made pea soup. Not from a recipe you understand. I wouldn’t have the patience to follow a recipe. I’m just not very good at being told what to do. I’m a creative cook: after all these years I know how long to soak a pea.
After a long soak I put the peas, with onion, celery and lots of carrots in a casserole and filled it with water. After adding a hock that the butcher was practically giving away, I let it simmer away for a couple of hours. It was then cooked and complete and delicious.
If I didn’t serve this delicious soup to friends but rather left it on the top of the stove for a week or more, it would sit there contained and growing but not in an edible way. It would within the boundaries of the casserole develop a fungus-y life of its own.
At this point it would be like the Mandelbrot set-boundaried yet infinite. Though as I’ve never actually tested the infinite properties of pea soup (yucky and smelly), my hypothesis breaks down at this point and you can see why I’m not a scientist.
However I can seamlessly segue into a song of praise for the exquisite model of infinity contained in the Mandelbrot set, whose beauty is readily available to those of us lucky enough to be alive at this time. Google it and see how the 2D shape of a buddha on its side translates into a never-ending stream of paisley and islamic motifs.The beauty and the ever changing patterns that arise like archetypes from the well of chaos always fill me with joy. This, to my mind, justifies the name ‘the thumbprint of God’ , far more the the Higgs boson justifies being called ‘the God particle’. It was Melinda Green who first captured the Buddhabrot, as it is called, within the set in 1993, though the technique she used to do so is way beyond me. Thank goodness one doesn’t have to be a mathematician to enjoy the visual smorgasbord of delights that arise out of the boring equations. They convince me that I am seeing how life rises from the Source and that feels sacred.
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Tagged Benoit Mandelbrot, boundaried yet infinite, Buddhabrot, dopamine hits, Higgs boson, Mandelbrot, Melinda Green, pea soup, the bigger picture, the Mandelbrot set, thumbprint of God
Boy have things moved on while I have been under that saffron umbrella. House prices, traffic, people have all proliferated. Twitter, selfies, instagram have been birthed-all adding to the culture shock going through my system right now.
Life is full of imponderables but I am determined to make sure that a hashtag isn’t one of them.
A hundred years ago there was no understanding of computers,space travel, lasers, transistors, quantum theory or relativity (general or special). Now look around and see the confusion of communication. Our consciousness is the link creating the illusion of thing-ness. We create the illusion of continuity, I am told. I hope I can. At the moment it all looks as comprehensible as one of those BT boxes one sometimes sees an engineer working on.
Only this mangled mess is without wires.
There are many things I don’t understand-like okra and weddings and nightdresses-but I’m home and I understand that.
Fortunately I didn’t marry Mo. He was very solicitous for the first three weeks. Even shut up his apothecary shop in the Medina and spent his time introducing me to the nooks and crannies of his palace and more besides. I’m such a tart for attention. There in that magnificent space beyond the medieval wooden door half way up a dirt alley, I was introduced to joy all over again.
For three whole weeks…and then the shutters were taken off the shop and I was alone for hours on end.
I took to creating a roof garden that required more attention than a toddler as I played hide and seek with the savage sun. And in my spare time I wrote three books.
Then I realised that Fez, that gorgeous link with a fast fading past, could have been anywhere in the world, and the place where I am happiest is the world of the imagination, which I can access on the same continent as my children and grandchildren (yes we’ve now got twins). So I made my excuses and left.
Three years wiser I arrived back in rain soaked England and found May in full flower and the countryside showing off more greens than the Inuit have words for snow. I can’t tell you how good that feels. Will I never learn that the answers I am searching for lie in my own back garden?