Tag Archives: tolerance

… debates at beech tree junction …

From my desk I see the crowns of a few massive beech trees on the hill beyond my garden. Come autumn, tons of leaves used to smother my mossy lawn until, thankfully, the branches were cut back last year. Wood pigeons value the majestic view across town from up there, as much as they like gobbling up my Stella cherries before I ever have the slightest chance of harvesting them. And yet, I like the pigeons’ cooing code by which they talk to each other in spring, and I find their peculiar waddling, neck-pushing walk in search of worms amusing. Presently the bare branches of the beeches show the pigeons’ constellation throughout the day, bringing on some thoughts … and a Haiku.

at beech tree junction

each morning the ruler lands

sometimes with a mate

later the pigeons gather

and debate migrants

they conclude – not our problem

skies are border-less

Re: migrants, given the human longing for belonging, it is the brave feat of ‘exits,’ people who leave their birth land for whatever reason, which expands tolerance, as well as emotional and intellectual independence from the collective pull towards loyalty for any one group or ideology.

Recently I came upon this quote by Italo Calvino, which resonates:

‘The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.’ – Italo Calvino               

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Our Souls at Night – Kent Haruf – talking in the dark

In my last post I touched upon the half-imagined essence shining through a work in progress – via incubation, the search for one’s language (in whatever form,) through the heart. This kind of search is bound to involve deep personal experiences, be it related to an outer or inner place, as the myth of one’s existential journey, which, when authentically communicated and shared tends to assume universal significance.

Kent Haruf –  (Feb 1943 – Nov 2014,) a humble, kind and unbiased writer, developed a powerful language. He shaped words until the essence of his characters stood clear – endearingly visible through sparse dialogues, exposing silent inner dramas all the more. The way I see it, his characters are letting sorrow be – a pragmatic yin approach that helps one to move along with the relentless forwarding force of life.

It is high art that sketches a story with modest words that slip right into the reader’s heart.

‘Our Souls at Night,’ is Kent Haruf’s last novel, published after his death. The story opens with possibilities: “And then there was the day Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.”  The courageous elderly Addie propositions Louis, a neighbour, widowed like herself, to share her bed during lonely nights. She scarcely knows the man, but acts intuitively on her need for companionship.

Talking in the dark, their hands occasionally touching, Louise and Addie come to value their fragile pact. Even Addie’s abandoned visiting grandson is wooed by the loving regard between his grandmother and her new friend, and their tolerance and tender concern for him, which is, the way I read it, the initiation of a small boy into the wisdom of respect. While the petty gossip of townsfolk adds to the fun of their social transgression and strengthen the closeness they’re forging, the jealous objections of Louis’s daughter and Addie’s son are truly hurtful, and in the end decisive.

Making less use of the environmental atmosphere that sparkles in earlier books;  this last story keenly sharpens on the inner sanctuary of lonely people.

The backdrop to these novels about ordinary fates is the sleepy fictional town ‘Holt’ on the high plains of Colorado, which embodies the writer’s reclusive childhood.

In an essay published in the Granta magazine, Haruf movingly shares about his difficult early life, and how it advantaged him later on – follow this link, it’s worthwhile …  – The Making of a Writer.

… ‘Years of unhappiness and isolation and living inwardly to myself have helped me to be more aware of others and to pay closer attention to what others around me are feeling. Which are good things if you are trying to learn how to write fiction about characters you care about and love’ …

And he has a message for fellow writers …

… ‘You have to believe in yourself despite the evidence. I felt as though I had a little flame of talent, not a big talent, but a little pilot-light-sized flame of talent, and I had to tend to it regularly, religiously, with care and discipline, like a kind of monk or acolyte, and not to ever let the little flame go out.’ …

Le Guin wrote that Haruf’s “courage and achievement in exploring ordinary forms of love – the enduring frustration, the long cost of loyalty, the comfort of daily affection – are unsurpassed by anything I know in contemporary fiction”.

Kent Haruf’s novels will certainly enrich your reading list during the coming festive day.

And, my wishful thinking, have a sneak at my mythical quest: Course of Mirrors, to be followed by its  immersive sequel, Shapers. Funds allowing, please consider supporting my efforts at Patreon

Related … don’t miss this short video about the most compelling story of a woman who found a language for her myth – think of incubation, cocoon, deep, deep desire to protect …

The blue-highlighted links in this post will open new pages – so you won’t lose this page. Thank you for reading.

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… sensibilities … difference … becoming human

Have you ever gone to your fridge in the middle of the night, opened it, and seen nothing to entice your taste buds? That piece of leftover cake – no, cheese – no, mustard – near, but no. So you search shelves and cupboards and find chocolate, crisps, mints, even healthy nuts and dried apricots – not really. Your taste buds are frustrated, bored to distraction, until you spot a slim tin – anchovies – yes –  and a dance breaks out on your tongue. Taste buds have their intrinsic purpose, which requires the freedom of tasting.

It goes to show that senses are in need of stimulation, frustration and elation to achieve their latent capacities. Smell, taste, touch, sound and sight make up our unique worlds – re-evoke places where stimulation or its lack happened before, places where we felt free to play or places where we experienced limitation and longing. Joy and suffering happens through the senses.

Indulged too much, they bring us harm, shut down, they also bring us harm.

Environments push extremes. The sensual overstimulation in democratic cultures results in distortions through opportunism and excess, whereas sensual pleasure in autocratic cultures is often deliberately suppressed, and cruel distortions happen through the abuse of power. ~ Many people dream of ideal systems, even of egoless societies. This is not likely to happen collectively. Such perfect environment would lack the dynamic challenge individuals need to negotiate a functioning balance within, to become human, and with it develop the tolerance that embraces humour and celebrates difference – a tolerance that allows the stimulation-hungry as well as purists to walk their path provided they don’t harm others, a tolerance that does not perpetuate tiresome twists of self-righteous opinions.

Opinions are the bitter children of morality, blind to insight.

Differences express themselves not only at levels of class, religion and tradition, but through our varied sensibilities. An academic may breathe for his research and let his garden go to weed, while his neighbour despairs of thistle fluff spoiling his immaculately kept grass. In turn, the academic may be sound-sensitive and is driven to distraction by a fridge vibrating through the party wall. A tactile person may go nuts over crumbs on the bed sheet. Or, if aesthetics guide your mood, mindless behaviour may fit your kind of hell.

Artists tend to refine their sensibilities towards the irrational golden means of relationships within and without, processes of becoming in their dynamic balance. You find among artists the most tolerant people. If so, they allowed their imagination free rein and creatively employed one or more senses to a degree that gives joy or shocks. It takes a strong and flexible ego to practice as an artist, and it takes an open mind to appreciate the inventive and experiential art that makes us human.

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Here the excerpt from a life-embracing poem written by Fazal Inayat-Khan, Qalandar, which appears in a book I co-edited, The Heart of a Sufi www.heartofasufi.org.uk

Adam/man, Minerva/woman – a human being in the making – functioning in the world on the stage of life – playing the script of destiny with the delight of indifference and the carelessness of full satisfaction. A being knowing all there is to be known by it, but ever learning; ready to feel all there is to be sensed by it, yet ever discovering new depth of emotions; capable of expressing its deepest and truest inspirations, yet ever expanding its consciousness; sensitive enough to give and receive love in all its forms and levels of becoming  …  A Qalandar is simple as a child, wise as an old woman, unfathomable as an old man. He belongs to the moment, she responds to every need. He speaks all languages, she performs all roles. They are one …

 

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