From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier

From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan" by Andy Couturier

Pages 264-265



“Sooo..” I begin to ask him, a bit apprehensive, not wanting to be insulting, “Gufu-san, why write all this stuff down?”


Unperturbed, he replies simply, “To make a record. If you don’t record things, you start to lose your sense of the place. It’s also interesting when you talk to other people, or when I want to look up something later. But it’s mostly just to make a record, even if I don’t use the information.”

“Yes, but how do you decide which things to write down?”

“Whatever is possible to write down, I write. How much the bus cost. How much the movie was, or how much the hotel was.”

“But why?” I ask.

“I didn’t have any purpose in doing it.”

No purpose? Perhaps I’ve been too attached to all my own actions being done for a reason. Utilitarianism is so deep in my culture I don’t even notice it. Listening to Gufu it occurs to me that it may not be so good to be always reaching ahead in time. Sitting here with my friend in a farmhouse in the mountains of Japan, I find my way of seeing the world start to deepen and change. All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory. By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next. I think of so many travelers (myself included) zipping from one location to the next, taking photos of scenery or a building. Have I been missing the beautiful in the obvious?

Gufu is showing me--not that he’s trying to show me anything--that the whole world can come alive with these tiny details, ephemera, you might call them. But not just a generalized “world,” but a specific world, an India of a particular time, and, as it happens, an India that is disappearing every day.


Sunday, May 24, 2020

in the hallway of mirrors

I found a sandwich in the fridge from last week that was still good. I put it in the toaster oven and warmed up pea soup and that was lunch. I imagine that dad and hubby will eat chicken and a salad or make a sandwich.  The big cup of tea I made is excellent.

Dad and I had a small walk. It was so small that I can't even really count it as a walk but it got dad off the sofa and outside. Hopefully he will walk again later. I am doing the laundry and there are more clothes piled up.

I am going to enjoy my tea before tackling the rest of the laundry. This morning I went to Goodwill and dropped off old clothes of mum that were still in the house. Most of them appeared new and someone would be able to use them.

I have left dropping off books now as I want to remove unused clothing and other soft goods. Books can always be sorted and looked at later. I have taken some to FIND and some to Goodwill but now I will focus on the other stuff in the house.

It's already lunch time for dad but he's still napping. I asked him if he wanted some pea soup and he said not yet so I imagine he will have a late lunch.  My peppermint tea is delicious. I am enjoying it far too much.  Let me go do the laundry now.  So one set is now done.

In the hallway of mirrors that is life I go about doing chores, dumping stuff and making a place for yet more junk in the basement. Meanwhile my father goes about his social rounds, calling everyone he knows to talk and make contact in a way that is entirely foreign to me. I prefer a quiet house, where books are my friends and where silence is the goad to write or read. The quiet of the home is a blessing for hubby and myself but is anathema to dad who keeps phoning relatives, friends, and odd past acquaintances to talk. He lives for his relationship. I live for avoiding relationships.

I understand why Sue collected books because I collect them as well. Books are the friends of our lives. We keep them near as trusted advisers and objects that will never betray us. Books keep secrets and are beautiful to touch and own.  Possessiveness about books endures even after cancer rips away the shroud about us and tells us it is all useless.  Even now after my sister has died, I keep her books like a shrine. Not all of them. But a lot of them.

Once I have gone through probate twice I will be more sluggish about the removal of stuff. Already the heat of summer is upon us and we are like drowsy flies about a bowl of cream. I don't feel like doing anything right now.  Later maybe, I will bring in the stiff bodies of the towels drying on the deck. Later I might put the clothes away.  Later I might wake up sufficiently to read. Later. 

But here, in the hallway of mirrors that is life, I look at one reflection and then at another. Which one is the one I will believe in now? What is the purpose of all these wants and needs? Which project will I work on? How will I get through all the work?  I leave the problem of what it all means. Maybe it means nothing. What we do in life to get us through life is each of our problem and really who am I to say that collecting stuff is a bad way to get through life especially a life of suffering that Sue endured? A bit of pleasure goes a long way when you have metastatic breast cancer. Long may she have enjoyed her books and small items. 

Stephen Maher @stphnmaher People are stupid

People are stupid
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Amir Attaran
@profamirattaran
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This is NOT COOL. It’s killing. Scientifically it is IMPOSSIBLE to stop Ontarians dying without stopping the selfish idiots who violate safe distance. FINE THEM NOW! Italy turned the corner after fining over 100,000 people up to ~$5000. We must too. thestar.com/news/canada/20
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7:42 PM · May 23, 2020TweetDeck
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I agree. But they don't like being told they are stupid. It's the look in the mirror thing that got the Conservatives fired in AB. We don't like being told we're stupid in AB. depends on this stupidity to get their propaganda believed.

Julie Ali @JulieYAli · 1s Replying to @randyhillier If you want to die, go ahead and do whatever you want to do. My dad is 88 years old. I will be conservative. I will ensure he is safe. But you be you.

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I know this is really, really difficult for some people to comprehend, but maybe people have considered the risk, the danger, read the data and have come to a decision that for themselves enjoying life is an acceptable risk. Let’s not be condescending but understanding #onpoli
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Stephen Maher
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People are stupid twitter.com/profamirattara…
6:07 AM · May 24, 2020Twitter for iPhone
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If you want to die, go ahead and do whatever you want to do. My dad is 88 years old. I will be conservative. I will ensure he is safe. But you be you.