Sunday, 13 March 2011

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock.

I thought I'd start this with the first line of one of my favorite books ever, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. It is a popular classic, one of those that high schoolers will giggle about, trying to find the dirty parts in the text to make nervous jokes about. But I find both the original novel (and the extremely good film adaptation) to be a resounding cry out to so many people. It is so accessible, even though it is about a man who is, shall we say, not the most conventional.

Though perhaps we are not going through our lives nursing an old hurt that manifests itself in an obsession with a fourteen-year-old, a lot of us are searching for that something that gives us hope and happiness - it might be that old tire swing at our grandparents', a bike ride throught the woods that changed our lives, or the smell of freshly mown grass on a late-spring morning. It takes us back to a time when things were simple and when we knew what we wanted. And then we spend the rest of our existence trying to ressurrect that image or smell or feeling.

I think that is the beauty of story. It reasserts what is so important to us by reminding us just what that is.

And so my message today is for us to stop moving for just ten minutes and just be. We lose ourselves by being faster, better, more productive. I'm probably the worst out of everyone, running around in this endless rat race, rugby tackling people to get a seat on the train, attempting to achieve an improbable sales target at work, and hopelessly squandering any 'down time' by mobilising the courage to prepare for the next day, and the next, and the next, with no apparent end in sight because of my obsessive-compulsive nature.

Let's take a moment to find a quiet spot (like the bench in a happy green lawn as pictured above) and let ourselves catch up to ourselves. If nothing else, it gives our feet a rest. And it might even give us a picture of what retirement will be like. So far away and yet, mmm, I can almost taste it.

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