In The Philosopher’s Kiss, a historical novel about the French philosophers who created the first encyclopedia, author Peter Prange describes an 18th Century Paris shrouded in impenetrable fog. The fog, mixed with the sooty smoke of that period, hung dense and unmoving between the buildings.
With the city sounds muted and their sight blinded, people bumped against each other in open squares or walked up to the door of the wrong house. Coach men felt for curbs with their hands.
In those circumstances the magistrates called on the blind for assistance. The ones who usually passed their days huddled on the stones crying out for alms were paid to guide citizens safely through the city. In those circumstances Paris was a city that only the blind could see.
The passage in Prange’s book turns the old expression “the blind leading the blind” on its head. That phrase, based on a Bible passage: “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39) portrays the blind as less able, less than others.
In fact, the blind can lead the blinded. In fact they are the best candidates to lead others who have become over-dependent on only one of their senses.
The passage prompted me to wonder, on what senses have I become over-dependent? What am I missing?
What unexpected resource have I been overlooking?
Some days I barely manage to thole the Twitter experience. Other days, it sends wonderful gifts.
Last week, @RobGMacfarlane sent this gift:
Word of the day: “thole” – to endure with fortitude, to cope with suffering or challenge patiently & with dignity (Scots).
This is one of my favourite Scots verbs; quietly, toughly inspiring. If a situation is “tholeable” it is, in the end, with courage & support, survivable. pic.twitter.com/mv3U7x0OPD
— Robert Macfarlane (@RobGMacfarlane) September 5, 2018
Fantastic word, that.
Quietly, toughly inspiring, as he says. The simple act of reading the definition fills my “thole” with a renewed vigour.
Sometimes we feel like this lone twig on a barren tree.
Other days nothing can hold us back, like these robust colourful blossoms.
Lonely twig or robust blossom, I thole, you thole, we all thole together.
In Canada we jokingly say we have only two seasons: winter and construction.
We laugh, but it’s true that nature dictates that we have a time to build and a time to refrain from building.
We’re still in construction season and during my daily cottage walks I passed this sign posted by a new housing development.
This site poses a certain kind of danger. The trees they are clearing could fall a bonk someone on the head, or the large diggers and bulldozers used to dig roots and clear rocks might flatten a heedless pedestrian.
On other sites when builders sledgehammer through walls, someone might step on rusty nails or touch live electrical wires.
Construction, it seems, involves an inherent element of risk.
What about other kinds of construction?
- When I was pregnant—”constructing” babies, so to speak—nausea and fatigue made me, let’s just say, unpleasant to be around. My husband often tiptoed around the danger zone.
- This day after Labour Day many of us begin new studies or projects at work. As we construct our knowledge-base and our careers, we face the dangers of failure or financial losses.
- Building a business is a dangerous proposition. To earn business rewards, an entrepreneur risks investment funds and reputation.
- Artists and writers who build worlds for us to temporarily inhabit all know the danger of rejection, feelings of inadequacy or wasted time.
In this season of construction, are you clearing paths and building despite the danger?
This colourful flower bursting out from between its constricting fence border captured my eye.
To me, the brilliant red blossom represents . . .
. . . beauty that wants to be shared and appreciated and not hidden away . . .
. . . natural gifts that should never be wasted . . .
. . . bright optimism in grey times . . .
What does the picture bring to your mind?
Imagine how excited I was to discover this at the Penetanguishene Public Library near my cottage.
My husband, a former journalist, remembered the feel of those old typewriter keys under the fingertips.
I loved the idea of the invitation to story. I was pleased to see people take up the offer.
Looks like PPL was visited by a budding Author this week. You can visit us too. Come check out our typewriter. pic.twitter.com/MfqPsm0OSQ
— PenetanguishenePL (@PPLlibrarystaff) July 28, 2018
I’m still on a summer break, but itching to write . . .
I will be stepping away for a few weeks of down time in the Ottawa summer sun.
May you also enjoy a time of respite wherever you are and whatever season you are in. Carry this thought with you into that respite. I will.
“When is the last time you physically hurt yourself? What did you do to get the pain to stop? And how long did you wait to do something about it? When we’re in physical pain, we’re usually extremely proactive about figuring out how to make it go away immediately because, you know, it hurts . . .
When it comes to our emotional pain, however, we’re apparently way more game for seeing just how much torture we can endure, wallowing in our guilt, shame, resentment, and self-loathing, sometimes for our entire lifetimes . . .
Forgiveness is about taking care of you, not the person you need to forgive.”
—Jen Sincero from You Are a Bad Ass”