Bethany says that the difference between Paris and London is that Paris is a city you visit and London is a city you can be in. As a tourist in Paris one generally does not become so comfortable that they feel they belong there. London, on the other hand, feels immediately like somewhere you become a part of. That, even as a tourist, for the time being you are living here. Having visited both cities now within a few months of each other I can confirm that is indeed the case. We’ve certainly been doing many "touristy" things in the 36 hours or so of being here. But, due to Bethany and I having both visited before (and her even living here for a time), navigating the town feels like old hat. Though I know my time here to be short and it may be a long time before I return, whenever I’ve come I feel a sense of belonging and comfort I feel very few places away from home.
I’ve had a few highlights so far, Portobello Road Market was a menagerie of wonderful curiosities. My favorite restaurant, Belgo Centraal, is still there where I first found it many years ago and still serving the best Mules Frites anywhere outside of Belgium (Beatrix loved them too). And the Jubilee line is still the best tube route (according to Bethany, who am I to argue?). And a lovely time just walking around and feeling like a part of things.
All this is to say that we’re having a marvelous time and feel very much welcome here. We’re looking forward to what the rest of the days bring.
This is more of a note to self. It’s something I’ve not been doing well enough of late. I’ve been suffering from foot-in-mouth disease. I’ve been talking, prognosticating, having the answers. Noticing without observing. I can be better than this.
This seems the season of noise. A million voices shouting at us. Demanding our attention. Of course, it seems natural to respond by shouting even louder, just to be heard among the clamor. But, we have another choice. To mindfully tune out the noise and tune in to that which really matters. To do that, we must be still, present, and listen.
To be in silence is to be present. To be in silence with another and feel comfort and peace is to have true companionship. The gift of presence is the greatest of gifts. For one is giving the most finite and precious of resources — time and attention. Things that are priceless.
The wise listen. They know it is the only true path to knowledge. The humble listen. They know there is greater wealth and deeper riches in silence. The compassionate listen. They know that it is the simplest kindness.
I wish to be kind, compassionate, and wise. And the best way to do that is to listen.
My family (my wife Bethany, daughter Beatrix, and I) will be traveling across the pond to London, England, UK later this month for a week. We’ll be there Saturday, November 19 through Friday, November 25th. We’ll be staying in the St. John’s Wood area. We’d like to meet as many of our online friends and folks as possible while there.
To facilitate that, I’m hoping to find a place to hold a meet-up. Some where convenient for most folks to get to. Someplace casual and accepting of a very well-behaved 8 year old. I would have no idea of how many people to expect and would like to leave it open anyway so it’d have to be somewhere that would not require such information ahead of time.
If you are in or are familiar with London, and have a suggestion. Please let me know via email or one of the regular social channels.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to just have breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, drinks, a couple of hours at a museum, offer tour guiding service to something we just have to see, etc. also please get in touch. We’d be open to any gracious offer of companionship.
I recently came to the end of my ten year relationship with my beloved Nissan Versa. Easily, the best car I’d ever owned in the time I had it. When I decided to buy it brand new I said to myself, “This is a 10 year car”. I had done a lot of research on various makes/models in its class. Though, it was a brand new issue from Nissan at the time, I knew exactly what to expect from it. It was a great 10 years.
It took us on several long road trips. New Orleans, twice. Through a torrential downpour on our way to upstate New York and Boston. Winding and twisting along the Blue Ridge Parkway returning from Asheville, NC — certainly the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on.
It was dark blue and I often referred to it as “The Tardis” because for a small car it had an amazing amount of interior room. Every Christmas season, I would fit a 10’4“ tree inside and shut the back hatch. This to the amazement of every person at the place we get our tree. A 6’4” tall friend of mine could sit in the back, behind the drivers seat, comfortably. It was like magic.
For several months, I’d been looking for a new Nissan Versa to replace it. So, attached I was to the car. But, then, my wife found someone selling a 2006 Volvo v50 for a good price in great condition and very low miles for its age (91k)…
I could write a couple hundred words on it too. It, too, is a good car.
I’ve always been a slow reader. With non-fiction books, especially so. I’ve always carried an element of shame over my lack of speed and the desire to be faster at it with me. For a very long time it’s been an uncomfortable shoe-pebble nagging me every time I pick up a book. In some cases, it has flat-out stopped me from even attempting to read some books. I’ll look at the size of them and think, "My gosh, that would take me years to get through!"
Further, this stands in sharp contrast to my wife. She’s an extremely fast reader, especially with fiction. I’ve seen her get through a 300 page book in a couple of hours. She averages well over a hundred books a year. I’ve often found myself quite jealous of her gift and the difference further highlights my inability and frustration.
So, in an effort to be more gentle with myself I’ve come to embrace my reading as a part of my practice. I call it Mindful Reading (more slowly — the opposite of speed reading). The idea that my lack of speed actually allows me to be more present with each word and idea. That, to feel shame and desire around this is causing needless self-suffering when self-kindness and permission are called for instead. So, if I read fewer books or it takes me longer to get through one it might mean that I simply was more present with the books I read. Mindful Reading is OK.
At least it makes me feel better.
I need a new book to read. But, of the 30 or so books on my “too read” shelf, none are speaking to me. I have a thought about books needing you to be in the right headspace and time for them. I often think that they are sentient and there is a cosmic agreement between the both of you, book and reader. Sometimes a pile of books will just sit there and none will be ready to be read. The books feel no guilt about it and neither should you. Perhaps, you wont be able to resist and pick one up and attempt to read it. But you will get a few pages in and find yourself slogging to get through. Neither of you are ready!
Be patient. Sometimes, we have to just sit and wait for the right book to come along and speak to us. To say, “We’re both ready for each other now.”
Some days you have to turn off the news
and listen to the bird or truck
or the neighbor screaming out her life.
You have to close all the books and open
all the windows so that whatever swirls
inside can leave and whatever flutters
against the glass can enter. Some days
you have to unplug the phone and step
out to the porch and rock all afternoon
and allow the sun to tell you what to do.
The whole day has to lie ahead of you
like railroad tracks that drift off into gravel.
Some days you have to walk down the wooden
staircase through the evening fog to the river,
where the peach roses are closing,
sit on the grassy bank and wait for the two geese.
(This poem really spoke to me today)
Much like Henry David Thoreau had three chairs in his house, I’ve come to realize that I generally have three types of posts for my online writing — what I’m collectively and quirkily referring to as “Rhoneisms”. These are…
- The first type what I’m calling and categorizing as a “thought”. These are the shortest the ones that are tweet length — 140 characters or less. These will often, but not always, be shared on Twitter.
- The next are the things I’m calling a “post”. These are longer thoughts — usually less than 250 words — that will live here as well.
- Then, there are my “essays’. The things of essay length — 500+ words. Those will get posted primarily at my personal site but also could end up in my newsletter.
Now, there are other things I’ll often share here as well, like photos, links with commentary, and quotes. But, mainly, my original writing falls into those three types.
Since I’m still experimenting with the tools I’m using for all of this and how it all fits together, I wanted to keep the essays and my personal site separate from the rest for now. Eventually, I plan to have all of this under one roof there. I want to be able to tell people to go to one site and have one place that is all me.
Where is here, exactly? This is my new “second place”. A place other than my main personal site. That place is where my essay driven work will still live. This place is for the things that don’t quite have a place there for now. This is one step in an ongoing move to better organize and consolidate my online presence.
The Random Post used to be that place for me. It was a Tumblr site. It served this purpose well enough. But, I have come to a time where I want further ownership over my words and work. I want to ensure it has a long term place on the open web. Tumblr is not the place for that.
I also wanted a place for the very short stuff. The thoughts I post to Twitter. Those will now originate here as well. I want to ensure those have a long term place on the open web
I’m also piping my Instagram shots through here too. Once again, this is about ownership and trust. I want to ensure those photos will have a place on the open web long after Instagram is gone.
There’s a few more thoughts about this place, my other online places, and how I plan to proceed in the future and why. Those will come in near-future posts.
My personal site may, in fact, be designed in such a way that keeps me from blogging more.
I have an idea for a redesign and way to fix that. Need to let it germinate for a bit.