a simple life

When I read Anna Karenina, the character that stood out the most to me, and that had the most impact, apart from Anna Karenina herself, was Konstantin Dmitrich Levin. I think all of the characters were constructed and explored really well, but Levin in particular was given a lot of depth.

One of the main things I remember about Levin, even several years after reading the novel, is how, despite being a well-off landowner, Levin yearned for a simple life of honest labour. There is one part of the book where he helps his muzhiks with the harvest, wielding a scythe alongside them in his fields. To him, it was satisfying work, but not only in the physical sense of “a good day’s work”, but also in a psychological or spiritual sense.

I’ve heard that Levin was the character that Tolstoy most identified with, or that was most closely modelled on his own thoughts and beliefs. In War and Peace the equivalent most Tolstoy-esque character is Pierre Bezukhov. It is not surprising then, that this yearning for a simple and honest life is also experienced by Pierre.

[Warning: spoilers ahead. Please note, also, that I haven’t quite finished War and Peace yet, so please don’t spoil the ending for me.]

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the end of an epic

Last week-end, I finished playing Mass Effect 3. It is the final instalment in a trilogy of video games, which I would attempt to summarise here except that I’m not sure where to start, and I’m sure there are better explanations already on the internet. In basic terms, it’s a game in which you play as a character named Shepard, who has to save the galaxy from various evils.

It is very much like a “choose your own adventure” book but in game form — at various points in the game, you have to make decisions that will affect what happens next or what happens further along in the game. Even when your Shepard talks to other characters, you choose between different dialogue options to shape your character as more friendly (paragon) or mean (renegade). I suppose this makes it very easy to become personally invested in the game, as it feels like a unique experience shaped by your own choices, which are likely made based on what you would do if you were in Shepard’s situation. 

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discarded and decayed

It’s been a bit of an odd day. I was going to write about something quite different, but the way the day has turned out has got me feeling like writing about it.

About a month ago, I got a flat tyre on my bike. It had happened before, and DL helped me replace the inner tube, and it was all good for several rides before it went flat again. It was a bit unusual because I had cycled in to work with no problems. I locked my bike up in the allocated cage in the car park, and didn’t notice anything amiss. Yet, when I returned to my bike later that day, the front tyre was completely flat, and couldn’t be inflated.

Annoying, yes, but not a major problem. I caught the train home that day, and figured I could replace the inner tube again — perhaps there was a tiny rock or bit of glass lodged inside the rim, and it would be a simple fix. However, week-end after week-end passed, and it was either raining (I don’t have enough space in the garage to do work on the bike inside), or I was too busy/tired (or both). So I put it off, and ignored it, and thought about it, but didn’t do anything.

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silence

This post is not about silence in the usual sense.

It is not about the silence of libraries and waiting rooms, broken only by the occasional cough or the shuffling about of things and people.

Neither is it about the silence of the oppressed or marginalised.

It is not even about the silence of mid-night or early morning, when the streets are empty and the air is still.

As I write this, it is almost seven weeks since my grandma passed away. I will schedule this post to publish at more or less the seven-week mark.

I’m not sure why exactly it’s taken me this long to write about this. It’s not really that it’s been hard to talk about (especially after reading Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes). Part of it is simply that I didn’t have the time, energy or words.

But I know if I don’t write this, these thoughts will just continue to swirl around in my head indefinitely, waiting for an outlet. So, I suppose, this post is about my silence of the last seven weeks — the silence of loss. Continue reading

lessons in friendship

This is one of those things that no one ever teaches you about, and you kind of have to learn as you go. It’s just so hard to learn…

I think people and society in general have come to accept that break-ups and divorce are things that happen. People accept that not all marriages last forever, and if a couple decide to part ways because it’s better for their well-being, then that is the best decision. Perhaps it’s just me, in my own sheltered corner of the world, but I don’t think we’re there yet with friendships. Continue reading

adrift

As we enter a new year, and a lot of people are contemplating what they want to achieve, what they want to change, or what they want to keep and nourish; I, quite honestly, feel a little lost. But maybe not so much lost as “adrift” or “suddenly aware that I’ve been adrift for a while, riding the gentle waves of a lake, no longer sure what shore I left from or which bank I need to go to”.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the situation – there’s no storm brewing, no predator beneath the surface of the water, no structural problem with the boat, or shortage of supplies – but I feel a little adrift. Continue reading