A friend seeks contentment the creative way

Photography by Jorge Royan, Argentina

Photography: Jorge Royan, Argentina

He was very clear, very driven, and very talented. He knew exactly what he needed to do in life to find fulfilment. That clarity and sense of purpose, together with his precocious artistic talent, would see him home. There was no doubt about it. He could see the route to finding the contentment he instinctively sought. The plan was quite simple.

How lucky he was, at this tender age of fourteen, to know his purpose in life. How many of us have the remotest idea of what lies ahead beyond the dreams, the vague and perhaps utterly unrealistic visions, the naïvely faithful notions of our own abilities? But this young man had substance to it all. He had talent and artistic sensibility in abundance.

None of this would be easy though – and he knew it. It didn’t matter. It was Plan A, and it was the only plan. He didn’t need alternatives, reserve positions, a fall back. This was going to work; there was no question about it. All he had to do was hone his craft further. All he had to do was to give his natural ability time to mature and develop.

Five years he gave it; ten at the outside. It didn’t matter – it would happen. He’d devote himself wholeheartedly, sacrifice everything. Forget the girls, the blokey camaraderie, the non-essential studies and the qualifications. Forget the inevitable loneliness and isolation that this devotion would bring. This was art; you suffer for it – you have to.

He became a master of his instrument. It took less than four years. By the time he was eighteen he was hailed as the very finest in a field of other prodigiously talented young musicians. He could play any venue and the past masters would turn out to listen. He was in demand as a session player with recording artists too. He’d made it ahead of time.

Now in his mid-twenties, certain things were becoming apparent to him. He’d attuned to the success, but it gave him no real sense of fulfilment. I asked him why he seemed unhappy, why he wasn’t as responsive as he used to be. He replied: ‘Cos I’m depressed Hariod. Sometimes I feel like killing myself. The music’s never given me what I thought it would’.

Fortunately, my friend survived the crisis. The affection of a dog helped, as it always does. So did the wonderful countryside he found solace within. It was a long process though, several years in fact. Eventually, the adjustment was made, and the realisation set in that the creative impulse, as potent as it was, could never create contentment itself.

When we invest in our dreams we take a huge gamble. We love the content of those dreams, and we become wedded to the embedded illusory projections. Yet divorce is always painful. To invest our entire emotional and physical energy into what amounts to no more than desire, is dangerous. It feeds blind belief, and it abandons reason.

We create in our dreams a fairy tale in which we live contentedly, fulfilled, free of striving, free of internal strife. This narrative projection in effect becomes our personal identity. We inhabit this narrative thinking that it’s what our life will become. We project our personal self-entity so as that ‘self’ becomes both narrator and narrative alike.

It’s all incredibly creative. You might say it’s one of humankind’s most sophisticated attributes – the projection of the ‘self’ into a complex narrative. Very few other animals can do this; and even then, it barely warrants comparison. Our capacity to delude ourselves with these narrative creations and projections is enticing too. It feeds desire.

We can make intelligent plans; we can and must project into the future – of course. These plans can be as creative and ambitious as we like; there’s no harm in any of that. But when we project our ‘self’ into future scenarios, such that the projection becomes belief, then the creative force turns into an adversary. We think it’s our friend, but in truth it’s not.

We can’t create contentment. It can’t be willed or manipulated into being through self-interest and acquisitive desire. It’s in fact this self-interest that blocks any contentment. If we’re able to remove the ‘self’ from our plans and projections, then we’re immediately shielded from the intense negativity my friend suffered. So we need to uncreate this self-entity.

159 thoughts on “A friend seeks contentment the creative way

  1. It was a cat who once helped me make the choice to stay here in a body when a life threatening illness presented the choice to get off the earth ride or not; so the share of the role of your friend’s precious dog really rings a beautiful resonant bell in my heart. At it’s root my considering getting off the ride was all about being lonely inside, while I was not actually alone outside. At that time in my life there was such a sense of awakened loneliness while I was still around so many beloved sleeping human family members. I was still learning to transmute this (a)loneliness into the special power available within solitude.

    Here is to celebrating a glimpse at the color filled master works of art created by contentment at it’s gallery opening in our lives, while honoring it having been built on those brilliant initial black and white sketches made while still asleep in the illusion of separation. -x.M

  2. I am really enjoying your book thoroughly. I like the comment about the duality-creating Descartes. Pretty well all that you write about I can relate to. I am inspired when I encounter writing like this that is able to point to a not-so-recognisable truth in contemporary ways and times.

    • Very many thanks for letting me know your reaction so far Gord. I truly appreciate the time and effort that you are expending in exploring the book’s content; and I do appreciate that, in parts of it at least, the text does indeed require a concentrated effort.

      All best wishes.


  3. Dear Hariod,

    It’s truly amazing what people can do with their ability to focus and concentrate. At the same time, without balance, it’s also, sadly, amazing how separate we can imagine ourselves to be. I’m gladdened to hear that this artist was able to reclaim their humanity and appreciate contentedness.


    • Dear Vincent,

      Thank you so much for taking the trouble to read this piece and for taking the time to add a thought of your own; I greatly appreciate it; truly I do.

      My friend has gone on to become an internationally respected musician and so there was a partially fulfilling ending in those limited terms at least.

      With all best wishes to you Vincent.


  4. Beautifully shared Hariod! Removing the self from our plans is the learning of a lifetime, and somehow this part gets easily forgotten – on with the journey!

    • Thank you very much for taking a moment to read and ponder my words here Precious Rhymes; I greatly appreciate it, as well as your addition of a lovely comment. I never take for granted the presence of anyone here, and each visit is at once a gift and a humbling. May you be well and happy, Hariod.

      • Many thanks Hariod. Your posts are inspiring and help me to reflect. I also want to say thank you for the ‘bag of blessings’ 🙂 you dropped on preciousrhymes a little while ago. I started sharing there very recently. I will see how long the heart is willing to do so. I hope to read more here and feel fortunate to have connected.

        • Precious Rhymes, I hope you may forgive the impertinence, though are you currently well? I cannot explain quite why I am asking, and will remove this comment if you do not answer soon.

  5. Dear Hariod,

    I am well. 🙂 ‘Prognosis’ was the most recent post on preciousrhymes; maybe that triggered the question, whilst compassion and connection prompted you to ask? I’ve encountered many ‘whys’ that I’ve not been able to explain, maybe because the answer is not important.

    With gratitude, I appreciate your reaching out to touch. Strangely enough, the heart feels like it knows you; I can attribute that to the writing here and our human connection I guess. Like everything else in life, finding your blog it feels was not accidental, there’s a sense of warmth and wisdom here that attracts. I will be around and visiting.

    I can always be reached at precious2014rhymes[at]gmail[.]com

    • Thank you for your generosity and openness preciousrhymes; I am pleased to hear that on this occasion my instincts have proven me wrong. You are quite correct though, I was uncertain as to whether “Prognosis” was autobiographical; and then there was your comment above “I will see how long the heart is willing to do so.” Two plus two equals five! Perhaps we will have a little more dialogue in the future; I would enjoy that and in the meantime look forward to viewing some more of your work.

      Hariod. ❤

  6. A lovely piece, Hariod. So true, and yet often necessary to get to the point where we are! Alchemy seems to be the same everywhere, we strive, we crash, and from the ashes. . .

    • Thank you Poppy; both for reading and for adding a contribution. And yes, making plans, as I say in this piece, is altogether necessary; and again, such plans can be as creative and ambitious as we like. There comes a point where it’s healthier to detach from the plan though; we run with it, yet we don’t identify with it egoically in selfhood. This is quite a subtle thing we’re talking about here, because the consensus would have it that if we’re seeing through our plans, or pursuing our dreams and ambitions, then we must be identifying with them strongly. As I’m sure you know, that need not necessarily be the case.

      Your own life took a massive turn in the apparent pursuit of a dream, and as an apparent result of much planning and weighty decision making; yet I believe I may be right in saying it was all more the fulfilment of a promise. The little Viking in you once made that promise to a man of the sea; and you kept it in later becoming a truly brave, and in all ways strong, Viking Queen. Only you can state the degree to which you identified with the fulfilment of that promise in any egoic way; and in any case, there would be justifiable cause for some pride at certain junctures (e.g. the Meltemi blows?). “And from the ashes. . .” – the Queen rises.

      It’s all a case of what’s going on in internally isn’t it Poppy? By this I mean how we respond emotionally and psychologically to situations as they unfold. If the self-entity is at the forefront of matters, it very rarely assists the situation; it’s too preoccupied with keeping up appearances to itself and to others. In weakening the links between our being and this imagined entity of selfhood, no objective gets hampered, no prior ability diminishes, no passion need be quashed and no ideal need be sacrificed. We sail on, free.

      Hariod. ❤

      • Beautiful reply, Hariod. I agree. I do enjoy playing my role as a latter day viking, but my essence knows the difference between the two states of me – ‘big’ and ‘little’, if you will. I know by my reaction to situations exactly which one has ‘kicked in’. If there is such a ‘thing’ as progress (time and space therefore probably illusory) then it would be the ability to be present enough to tell the difference. The ‘Poppyness’ continues and I love to be a part of it. It’s fun!

  7. “But when we project our ‘self’ into future scenarios, such that the projection becomes belief, then the creative force turns into an adversary. We think it’s our friend, but in truth it’s not.” – so true, projected ‘truths’, negative ones that is, send us only to dark places, it is a fait accompli, and to paraphrase Captain Piccard, one will ‘make it so’ if such a linear, ingrained path is walked upon. Creativity is wonderful, but it will not ‘save’ anyone, however it can be employed to enrich your life, and as a wonderful form of therapy too. When I write, or when I used to paint, I always feel/felt like a successful Lady Macbeth – Out damn spot out!! And out it comes/came, in part. It is a release, but not a cure. I’m glad your friend came through the darkness H, and people should never underestimate the healing power of having an animal by ones side too. Another brilliant post *smiles*. ❤

    – Sonmi writing upon the Cloud.

    • My very favourite reader is here once again, a blessing upon blessings! I can safely say that, as this is an old abandoned staging post, little more than tumbleweed territory, a black hole for word-shaped pixel arrangements to disappear into, and I am free to declare my true allegiances unnoticed. That sentence you picked up on was one that I momentarily agonised over during writing, because it takes wee bit of unpacking. It’s easy to believe that our best laid plans somehow remain absent of the ‘me’ that is here now, yet most often we tangle ourselves up in the projection and the ‘me’ is also out there in the future – we identify with the projection in selfhood, a ‘me’ that will carry forward and become (the projection). Oh gawd, I’ve gone off on one Sonmi, forgive me, and ignore me too if you will.

      But what’s this, you used to paint you say? Not with blood I hope? So what are these spots you seek to erase, and by your account succeed in so doing, are they something a little more solvent? There I go, prying again into matters which should not concern me. And yes, my friend is doing wonderfully these days thankfully, the spots now only mere traces, outlines, subtle gestures and marks, no longer great pools of dark blood. He went to live up on Skye for a few years so as to “get his shit together” with the aid of a dog, a few seals and the odd eagle or two. He’s back “up the smoke” now, letting his genius live through him which is quite lovely to see, and hear. To meet him you would think him a bit of an oaf, yet his musical sensitivity is almost super-human, deva-like.

      Thank you Sonmi; I treasure your interest and presence; truly, I do. H ❤

      • You’ll get me lynched at this rate! *laughing*. I am honoured to be your favourite reader H, and find all your writing enormously interesting, chewy in fact. Yes, I painted, no, not with blood thankfully, and the spots? Well they’re rorschach prints that are the very devil to clean off cotton I can tell you.

        – Sonmi smiling happily upon the Cloud ❤

  8. Those Rorschach prints – have you tried soaking them in Tia Maria? On second thoughts, that is not the way for a lady to go, and in any case, I daresay the patina adds greatly to the mysterious whole, for it appears certainly to be so. My own mysterious hole whole seems on the whole, wholly devoid of such intriguing patina, bedecking and exotica, I must confess. And I sense this lack all the more since the demise of my dear Nellie, who provided all that is missing in my own psychological make-up. I compensate for her absence by mimicking her ways, and can often be found licking shadows off the wall, murmuring to my own reflection in windows, and of course, shall be adorning great big bunny ears ere too long.

  9. “Our capacity to delude ourselves with these narrative creations and projections is enticing too. It feeds desire.”

    I really resonated deeply with this post.

    I find so much fulfilment in painting that relationships, especially romantic ones, seem distracting, or pointless. Then I feel slightly bad (not so much anymore) for being so selfish in my creative endeavours.

    After removing and becoming aware of my many undeniable ‘escape reality’ habits, I decided to stop all creative pursuits, to observe my inner patterning’s, and see how ‘addicted’ to the ‘not having to be in reality’ I was. Let’s just say it was not pretty. For one year I did not create. And felt like the most useless human being. Questioning existence.

    Then creating started happening again, and joy was found.

    Reading this has me questioning whether it’s still delusion, desire, escape – or love, passion, truth and life purpose (if such thing actually exists).

    Thanks for your wonderful words.

    • Thank you very much indeed for reading this; it was something of a test piece for writing in short form and is perhaps a little removed in style from what I do now in my once-a-month posts. Your situation may appear to contrast with that of my friend, in that you say you find “so much fulfilment” from your creative endeavours. I am uncertain whether that is synonymous with finding contentedness, which is a state utterly devoid of all yearning to experience anything in particular, including even a sense of fulfilment. Perhaps that is precisely what you mean; I could not possibly know, and do not wish to suggest otherwise.

      My friend certainly always found his music fulfilling, though it was rather in the manner of a drug fix, wherein the next high was soon sought. It was a fulfilment that receded almost as soon as it was realised. If we have what some, for want of better words, refer to as a ‘spiritual yearning’, then what is alluded to is something instantiated in a more enduring way I think – I simply call it ‘contentedness’ – and perhaps you would agree with the idea, if not either wording? That was what my friend had sought and never found within his creativity. Nature brought him closer to it, and there is no denying that his creativity played a major role in that; yet of its own was incapable of actualising the contentedness he sought.

      Your closing remarks are particularly interesting to me, and open up many avenues of exploration, far too many to explore just here. My own take would be to say that contentedness is its own end, and one without singular causal means. In other words, if it is found then it is perhaps unwise to attribute too much relevance to this or that pursuit or psychological proclivity. Your suggested ‘delusion’, ‘desire’, ‘escape’, ‘love’, ‘passion’, ‘truth’ and ‘life purpose’ can all be present barring ‘desire’, as that by definition is something other than contentedness. The rest though, could all be extant factors, even ‘delusion’ and ‘escape’.

      I am very grateful for your interest and engagement Human; thank you very much indeed once again.

      • I am unable to reply in the depth that I would like at the present time, and will leave these comments for another day, Hariod. I am very much interested in discussing slightly further, and until then good day sir!

    • Thank you for reading this early effort of mine; you perhaps may have noticed that my short-form writing style has changed a little as my first blogging year has progressed, hopefully for the better. My friend is still amongst us, which state of affairs seemed touch and go at one point, and has worldwide recognition of his talent; though I could not say he is contented, and very few truly are. We are adaptable animals though, and most of us can tolerate a more-or-less permanent degree of dissatisfaction, accepting it as the norm, even to the point of no longer acknowledging it.

    • Thankyou very much for taking the time to cast your eyes over this very early offering of mine. This, together with four other pieces in the same month, were really test articles just to get the short-form blog writing ball rolling. My style has changed somewhat, as you may see if you view offerings from the past year. May I ask if you have a formal practice or philosophy that you incline to? Apologies, though I do not know your name, still I welcome you here TSP, and my name is Hariod by the way.

      • Nice to meet you Hariod, and my name is Jimmy. I do not have a specific practice or philosophy that I am inclined to. There are pieces of many, from Christianity to Buddhism, to others in-between. The Universe is still guiding me, so I don’t have all the pieces yet. I can say all religions are a human construct, and each main religion has many sub-types with varying philosophies. There are multiple Muslim faiths, multiple Christian faiths, multiple Buddhist faiths, and so on and so forth. When we break through and have true oneness with God, i.e. the Universe, each individual will have a different resolution of their experience. None will be right or wrong. One thing will be a certainty; all are touched by the same universal energy of unconditional love. The Universe is not restricted to operate under any religious creeds.

        I have a big list of topics to write on including more depth as regards to what I have written here. My topic list is constantly growing, but I currently have time constraints on writing time due to working. Being able to put all my hours into this would be great, but it must not be time for that yet. I am working on getting it all out there though. It’s funny, I haven’t really written in a little over ten years until a few weeks ago on here. Still knocking the rust off my craft. Thanks for bringing questions to light that make me really have to think deeply about before I can reply.

        • Thankyou Jimmy; it is good to know a little more on your perspective. If you read further here in future, you will see that I never couch my writing theistically, referencing ‘God’ or religious cosmologies. Many readers here do have a theistic outlook it would appear, particularly the North American ones, and many also a teleological perspective, driven, it would seem, by their deity. I choose to keep my own words here grounded in the directly apprehendable, the warp and weft of subjectively felt experience. That said, I can align with certain modes of theistic phraseology and interpretations, such as Spinoza’s ‘God as Nature’, which seems inarguable, as what is beyond or other than nature itself, wherever in the universe it may appear? Anyway, I look forward to reading further your own understandings and ways of presentation Jimmy, and in the meantime wish you all the very best.

  10. I selected the calendar and clicked at the first month of your blog – April 2014. I landed here, to see this beautiful post. So, as a good friend of yours let me seek the contentment a creative way. I have nominated you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award – go and check.



    • Thankyou so much dear Shiva, for your very kind thoughtfulness as regards my blog here, and I shall visit your site straight away. I of course accept your award, and do so in all humility, though in mind and heart alone, as I chose not to participate in awards when I commenced here almost two years ago. I know you will appreciate and respect such a decision my friend.

      With much gratitude and respect,


  11. That’s an interesting way to think about it. Very often we are presented with the intense striving of a great musician, an Olympic athlete, or whatever, and expected to uncritically admire it. I still do admire it in a way, but if it doesn’t bring eventual contentment to the striver, it does suddenly seem rather pointless.

    • Thankyou, Bun, for casting your eyes over this very early offering of mine. Yes, one cannot help but admire the human spirit in its search for excellence, yet rarely does its attainment bring contentedness to the achiever. In my life over sixty and more years, I have been fortunate to know quite well some extremely successful people, both in the creative arts, and within business. I have yet to find one who has found contentedness through their worldly successes. This is no reason not to strive for excellence, of course, but we do well to do so in the knowledge that its final achievement will very unlikely bring in its wake any enduring contentedness.

      As I see it, the reason is all to do with the very fundamental misapprehending of our own self-entity, and what it actually is. Rather like consciousness itself within science, the exploration of ourselves as subject is ignored for the most part, and so we fail to see that what we anticipated the contentedness would attach to, is in fact merely a mind-creation, an internalised construct of self-entity. This is not to say that we do not exist as separate, striving individual subjects – obviously we do – but the actuality of ourselves as subject is not at all as we conceive of it.

      • I’ve heard before that the idea of the self is far more complex and far less well understood than many people realize.

        I listened to a radio program a few years ago with Susan J. Blackmore being interviewed on the subject and I remember being surprised by what she had to say, although the subject was rather a deep and difficult one for me to follow at times.

        • I have heard of Susan Blackmore, though not read any of her work, Bun. The self as a social construct is quite obvious and clear, and as written about extensively, notably by the Sociologist Ervin Goffman. When I refer to the self here on this site, I mean that idea we have of ourselves that there is somehow a ‘self of me’ which is enduring, unchanging, and akin to a soul. We all assume we are or possess a ‘self of me’, yet none of us are able to describe it – which is interesting. Neuroscience and neurophysiology tells us that there is no enduring self or soul within or about us, yet it continues to be an enduring artefact of our evolutionary inheritance, and it is incredibly difficult to disabuse ourselves of such a firmly held, but erroneous, intuition. Good to chat with you, Bun, and thankyou once again for your kind interest and engagement. All best wishes, Hariod.

          • As I remember it, I think Susan Blackmore’s point was similar to the one you are making. She said something to the effect that everybody has an instinctive feeling that they exist as a unified conscious entity “sitting at the controls”, as it were, but when scientists actually investigate, this supposed unity disappears and all they are left with is a collection of subsystems for carrying out discrete mental tasks that together create an illusion of self.

            Her argument was interesting but a little difficult for me, to be honest, once she got into the specifics of it all. Still, for all I know, she may well be right. I’ve always found consciousness an extremely puzzling thing.

            Anyway, thanks again for the reply. I hope you’re having a great week – Bun.

            • Yes, leaving aside any religious implications, then that’s the central point about whether or not the ‘self of me’ exists – it’s the erroneous idea that we, as an enduringly instantiated entity, have agency. As there is no ‘enduringly instantiated entity’ supposed to be ‘my self’ or ‘my soul’ then the question of agency is rendered meaningless. The philosopher Hume both reasoned and intuited that all there is, when investigating the putative self or soul, is a ‘bundle of perceptions’. The same has been intuited by countless many before and since. Husserl’s method of Phenomenological Reduction arrives at the same understating, as do many other introspective systems and all objective analyses in modern physiology. Still, knowing it as an objective fact is one thing, but actualising the fact of it in direct experience – knowing it in one’s bones, as it were – is quite another.

              All the very best to you, Bun.


              • I knew that with a difficult topic like this, I might bump up rather quickly against the limits of my knowledge on the subject! 🙂

                I was interested to hear you say that the notion of the self as merely a “bundle of perceptions” has been intuited many times before. It reminded me of a Buddhist friend of mine who once mentioned a similar notion, although he didn’t express it nearly as clearly and eloquently. I’m not sure if his ideas were his own or stemmed from his religion, though.

                Anyway, I hope you’re having a wonderful week, Hariod.


  12. Hariod, this was a very good choice for me to visit first today. I’d read it a few months ago, but wanted to return to your words, as I’m in a different place with my writing now. I’m sharing the process with others and finding it much more satisfying creatively. Although there are subjects I will still choose to keep close to the vest, I think my first mystery book was a good choice to open to others. Creativity is a mysterious process in and of itself, I’d say. Thank you.

    • Dear Clare, I must offer sincere apologies for the delay in responding to your kind words; events have rather been piling-up here, and I’ve had to put WordPress on the back-boiler for a week. What you allude to with your writing has me curious, and I’m wondering if you’re now part of a writer’s group, or somesuch? I think I might enjoy that myself, as I’d quite like to occasionally venture into short fictional stories, to allow the mind ‘to boldly go’, as it were, and do something a little different to the rather dryly prosaic offerings I make here. Do let me know; I’d be interested to hear!

      • Hariod, I, too, am in the middle of a pile-up and blogging has been placed on my own back-burner. When I get any spare time, I’m reading comments and answering them and trying to read other’s posts. I fear I’m falling behind and I can’t get up!

        I’m not involved in a writer’s group but, unlike my children’s books, with my first adult book, I am reaching out for help. I have asked people who enjoy and are avid mystery readers to give me feedback on my first draft. And I have friends in the editing field looking at the more technical aspects in the writing. Then I’ll do my second draft.

        I also have a small story in verse about a little carnivorous plant in a botanical garden that awakes one morning and decides to become a vegetarian. Although I took photos of the garden, I’m enlisting the help of a young artist to turn the photos into actual illustrations. He is a student at the university and needed to do an internship. I was enlisted to be his mentor and we are working on this project together. I’m truly enjoying the process.

        I tend to do most of my writing alone. Working with others to improve on the finished product is new to me. And I’m working with another student in an inter-generational computer course to set up a website for my books. Our college is attempting to create opportunities for their students to work on class projects with older people in the community. I just finished a course with film students and ‘seniors’ in which we produced a short film. I had a tiny part and ran the cameras.

        This weekend, Charley and I are going up to the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts. This is the setting for my children’s books (The ZuZu Series). I need to take some photographs for a new Christmas Book in the series which will be set in Stockbridge. This won’t be in print until Autumn, 2017. Although the text is complete, I have much to do regarding the illustrations and design. Again, unlike my first books which were illustrated with my own photos, I’ll be using an artist to take my photos and create the illustrations.

        While in Stockbridge, we are staying at a Bed and Breakfast which is hosting a ‘Mystery Weekend’ and we’ll take part in a Renaissance Murder Mystery. I am a Duchess and Charley is the Bishop. I’ll probably write a blog post about the experience, should I have time.

        I would love to read your fictional stories and we could form our own group. I think Jackie has some great stories to tell and feel her posts would make for the basis of a wonderful book. And Bun is hilarious. I often go to both their sites when I need a shot of humor. We could send each other stories and get some friendly feedback (not criticism – that’s for editors to handle).

        I’ll be returning to your blog later tomorrow. It will be blue-jean Sunday at Church. After service we all work around the church getting some chores done that need to be accomplished before winter sets in. I’ll be outside pruning the rhododendrons.

        I love hearing from you.


        • Found it Clare, at last! I like the idea of a Writers Circle. It sounds fruitful and I think it would be beneficial to both reader and writer. I am not as polished as either of you though, but I would enjoy reading your books. I also like the idea of Blue Jean day in Church. Doing something as a community – I don’t get that here. It’s sort of there, bubbling under, and I wonder why it’s more prevalent in the States, or so it would appear. H may like to say otherwise.

          • Yes, it would be fun. I think we each have our own style that is quite unique and you are certainly a polished expert in yours. H wants to try a venture into something he describes as less dry than his posts and so he won’t be so intimidating to all of us. He does have an amazing vocabulary! And he would give us the best advice on grammar and spelling. Don’t you think? And I know he’d appreciate a woman’s (2 women’s) input.

            I think our sense of community is because I live in a small town and much of that sense is built around our church. Our pastor believes in inclusiveness and creates a Sanctuary for us to share not only religious/philosophical ideas but to socialize. I grew up in the Catholic Church, became an atheist and then joined this Congregational Church which is quite liberal. As an atheist, I find the openness and acceptance of differences there very refreshing. I’m not sure it’s that prevalent in the U.S., though. It hasn’t been my experience, anyway. I’m glad you found the comment. I’ve been trying to catch up on reading blogs and can often forget what I said, and where I said it.

            • I can be the ellipsis-watcher and Oxford comma enforcer, and you two can be the creative commentators. I simply don’t possess the imaginative skillsets to draw upon that the two of you clearly have at your disposal. 🙂

                    • C’mon, you can admit it, it’s all a front that language school nonsense. Reveal your true identity woman, I demand it! I have my suspicions that you’re the lovechild of Lucky Lucan and quietly run diamonds from his SA stash back here to blighty, all concealed within your suspiciously voluminous ‘luggage’.

                    • Ok guv, it’s a fair cop. You have me banged to rights. Yes, Lucan was my dad and in future you can refer to me as m’lady. Talking of diamonds, as we were, I have just posted a pink one on Gumtree. Any takers? 🙂

                    • Okay, if you want to be serious, I will be. After all, you have a high-brow, serious blog, not a load of hot air rubbish such as I. The Pilot, previously known as ‘SFW’, used to say that you can only get .25 carat in a pink diamond. I said that was total tosh, which it is, and to prove it, ‘we’ purchased one at .75 carat – unpolished and without a mount (a bit like me.). Oh well, edit that out. I may well have a picture somewhere but its on my old CD pictures – titled My Life with SFW.

                    • Yes, that’s probably what The Donald has been saying once the results were known. I wonder if he ever really thought he would get in. A case of “be careful what you wish for”.

                    • I’m very worried. There is much fear surrounding this election result and I have my own fears about someone deciding to solve the problem with assassination, which would surely throw us into a total Civil War. He’s opened up a terrible Pandora’s Box here in the U.S. I wonder if it will all turn on him at some point when he begins to make mistakes? Our sense of security has been rocked.

                    • Things settle and find their own level, and sometimes that new level can be good. I can offer no solace, I know, but try to see it as ‘new times’ rather than ‘bad times’. Review the situation in January. Failing that, we will crack a bottle and get drunk in The Druids Head and H can come and collect us.

                    • Can I leave you to do that? He said his bike has a puncture which means he will have to reconnect the battery on the Rolls and fetch us in that. Oh well, we can sleep it off on the journey home.

                    • Charley and I attended a medieval murder mystery dinner over the weekend. I wanted to stay at this lovely inn and we never were able to get a reservation. They were hosting the banquet, so we signed up. Little did we know we’d be cast into the middle of a drama with people who were very serious about their roles. Charley and I showed up to enjoy the evening meal in our normal clothes amidst 16 other guests attired in all manner of costume. I took pictures. My point being, I’m not so sure I would make a very good High Priestess. (I was not a very good Duchess.) And what would I wear for the part? I’ll write a post about the weekend and include photos, so you can see for yourself. (You, my dear Jackie, would have made a marvelously, regal queen – attired in velvet robes and diamonds.) But the food and drink is right up my alley.

                    • You are too kind (re: queen), but I do think the rather cool High Priestess would be wonderful for you. A long white robe with flowing sleeves, trimmed with ermine, of course. I look forward to the blog regarding your weekend. Could you not say you were in costume and that usually you don’t wear any clothes? 🙂

              • Hariod, we will make quite a team, but you need to know that I no longer am able to use ellipsis. Every time I try to type those little dots, I think of you and my hands freeze on the keys! But the Oxford comma is a whole other thing. (Having attended Cambridge, I am more versed in using the commas from that city.) I could certainly use help in the area of punctuation. The question is, are you ready for Jackie and me to creatively comment? Give thinks! This could lead to your undoing. Clare

        • Clare, once again I must apologise for the tardiness of my response to your message of the 5th. at 3:26 p.m. I really must disabuse myself of what seems to be a neurotic compulsion of mine to read each and every post of each and every blog I subscribe to, and for which I receive email notifications. It’s getting to the point – no, it’s actually beyond the point – at which my own blog is receiving the required attention. It somehow feels both disloyal and disrespectful to skip others’ posts, but I have noticed my reading away from blogs has reduced dramatically since I began here two and a half years ago. As with everything in life, it’s a question of finding the right balance, I suppose? I really wouldn’t want to be without the connections and friendships I’ve made in the blogosphere, but in sustaining them I’m finding I’m being increasingly asked why I don’t write so much at all myself! I’ve actually had a post in the pipeline for a few days but I’m still catching up on those of others to read and also on comments that require responses. If I post now then I’m simply going to increase my backlog. Anyway, I’m being somewhat tangential to your lovely message.

          You’re very fortunate to have editorial help, and really very brave too. I’m acting as co-editor on someone’s book right now – purely as a favour from myself as an untrained, but willing, friend – and am conscious of how sensitive one must be to the writer’s feelings. How to stand in the writer’s shoes; how to see a perspective not necessarily given to oneself and yet remain sympathetic to whatever its validity to the other? I often find myself thinking certain passages could be conveyed more effectively, and yet this of course is merely me pandering to my own subjective inclinations. We seem to have worked out a good method between us, nonetheless, and the process has become one akin to a game of ping-pong in which drafts are sent back and forth betwixt the author and I. She now has learned how to accept my perspectives and observations as being non-personal, and for my part I am beginning to distance myself from my own presuppositions as to what is acceptable, or what feels natural. It’s a very interesting process, and I’m learning greatly from it.

          • Hariod, I am experiencing the same difficulties with writing blog posts and reading other’s posts. With books and marketing, and then real life interruptions, it is truly a balancing act. I don’t feel I need to be posting so much and should use my time more in the reading. I have certain friends whose posts I’m still catching up on, and certain friends whose posts I love to revisit. Your posts are in the latter, as there is much to think about and the comments are informative, also. Those who do not post so often make it a bit easier for me to take the time to revisit and enjoy old posts like old friends.
            I agree that one has to be very sensitive when giving a perspective on another’s ‘child’ (as books tend to be). I am new to this process and hope I can be open to other’s observations, although I’m not so sure I’ll drastically revise anything I’ve written. Everyone has a style and poetic license must be considered. I am looking forward to reading my early Christmas Present. Your book will be much appreciated. Clare

  13. I am out of sync with this now because H’s blog has black-balled me in not allowing me to reply within the thread. I wanted to reply to Clare’s piece. Clare, I don’t ellipse any more. Like you, I think about it and falter. I only do it if I wish to prove a point on my blog. If I do it on H’s blog, he edits them out. I like the idea of a comma, from time to time. It gives great emphasis. Do you think H will ever forgive us (I shall include you in my gang) for dumbing down (a great Tony Blairism) his blog? The good thing about H moderating everything on here, is that you don’t need to spell-check, and if you really want to send him off into a puff of smoke, just spell badly – it’s enough to give him indigestion. Gavescon, anyone?

    • You weren’t black-balled, diamond girl, and neither are ellipses here – if applied appropriately, and not indiscriminately. 😡

      Incidentally, that expression, black-balled, originated at White’s in SW1. At a social gathering here one of the guests was the grandson of Winston Churchill, who’s a member there. He told me how back in the 18th. century, aspiring new members would be put onto a list and displayed. If any existing members had any objection to membership being granted then an anonymously applied black-ball would be inked-in against the applicant’s name.

      • That’s an interesting theory. I had heard it’s how the Masons decide if you are coming in or not. If not, they roll the ball down the table. Heard that one? I may give up the ellipses in favour of dashes . . .

        • White’s and the Masons are quite connected, so perhaps the practice applied equally? I really wouldn’t know the truth of its origins, only what Jack told me, and which he managed to spin into a lengthy anecdote about the place.

          Now, the ellipsis has its place, if used correctly . . . (unspoken thoughts). Whereas the dash is something like a semi-colon – though not demanding that what follows it is a complete sentence.

              • Ho-ho, is it a slow news day for you ? You have to take things slowly for me as it takes a while to sink in, even though I am taking my Gilko Bayao, or whatever it is called, for brain development. I am going to get your book because I just adore reading. If I get the diamond out of the country, and am not arrested in the process, then I shall buy you a drink in the Druids Head after becoming a hippie and living off the land.

                • You’ll enjoy Cloud Atlas a helluva lot more than you will my book, Jackie, but I greatly appreciate your interest, nonetheless. Why might it be problematical exporting the diamond; is the provenance dubious, or something? I’ll take you up on your offer – re: Druid’s Head. It sounds quite exotic.

                    • You’ll have to excuse Jackie if she fails to respond in good time – she’s currently in Zurich, or Johannesburg, or somewhere, misappropriating repatriating diamonds to their rightful home; to wit (to woo), her coven on the South Coast.

                  • The Druids Head, sounds an ideal place for ‘a hit’, or even ‘an exchange’. Most diamonds have a questionable provenance, especially blood ones which have traversed North Africa with, coincidently, Clinton and Gadhafi on board. I shall purchase the Life Book and look at Cloud Atlas. Although being a serious type, I am not much given to flights of fancy or science fiction. 🙂

                    • I have a pathological aversion to sci-fi (and fantasy) myself, Jackie, and very much read CA under duress. There are strong elements of futurism within it, certainly, and one of the six stories that comprise the whole is set 200 years’ hence – that story didn’t appeal to me, although it’s necessary for the book’s conceit to work. The mid-point of the book is also set in a future Hawaiian dystopia, yet has none of the preposterous devices associated with much sci-fi, and is in fact, deeply touching, as is a great deal of the remainder of the book. The voices Mitchell crafts for his characters are dazzlingly evocative, in my opinion, masterfully crafted, witty, acute and utterly believable. My natural territory is more Ian McEwan’s kind of densely-wrought observations on interiority and human character, so CA was a venture into the dark for me, though I was glad to have succumbed to the duress placed upon me to read it.

                    • FFS – sometimes, can you just say ‘fine’ and ‘you are right’? 🙂 Okay, I will put it on my list to read and see how I feel at the end of it. I am seeking some sort of enlightenment with maybe a trip to the dark side so I am going to order your book and read it. Talking of which, Passenger to Teheran is superb whether you are a Brit or a Persian! 🙂 I recommend it if you like Travelogues from the past.

                    • Calm down ya nutter! I’m merely describing CA and why I liked it, not demanding that you read it. You queried me about it on your site earlier this morning, asking me if it was fiction and supposing that it contained elements of fact – it doesn’t, by the way. I don’t think it’s going to be your cup of tea at all, and at well over 500 pages wouldn’t recommend that you wade through them only to discover that – I’ll have hell to pay! 😮 Receiving recommendations for books or films are almost certainly going to put me off exploring them – I think I mentioned to you somewhere or other that I’m a hopeless autocrat. And like you, the greater part of my reading is non-fiction in any case. [I know PTT is biographical.]

    • Jackie, I find my spell-check has led me into some terrible disasters, as was the case with the “Hairdo” fiasco. I check very carefully, now, to make sure I do not unintentionally offend. I’m told that English teachers often end up being the worst spellers because of all the correcting they do. Studies have shown that if you see something spelled incorrectly in print a number of times, that spelling makes an imprint on some portion of the brain and you cannot distinguish the correct spelling from the incorrect spelling. (Is that a run-on sentence?) Well, that’s my excuse, anyway. Love, Clare.

      • ‘I don’t know’, is the short answer. Whilst I love ‘English’, I don’t pretend to know all of the rights and wrongs of the language. I am curious as to why your spellings of the same word are different to ours though. How has that happened? On a frivolous note, I love ‘Hairdo’, and think it’s a wonderful term of endearment, so don’t change it. Secretly, I think H is pretty puffed-up about his little non de plume!

  14. To both H and Clare: I am feeling a little dizzy and don’t know which comment to respond to on which blog. Maybe we need to do one – a menage a trois? 🙂

  15. H! A word please! Are you editing my posts? Nay, are you adding to them? We did not need a Wiki reference, if you don’t mind, to Fluffy Ducks. Everyone who is anyone knows what a Flufffy Duck is, as I have eluded to in my own special colonial recipe. Two red cards in a day. Not going well, is it? [Notice, no ellipses.]

    • Merely ensuring your reference was not one of rhyming slang, my dear girl. And yes, I do normally amend your comments so as to ensure your pristine clarity of thought shines through undiminished and ubiquitously. Would you like me to amend the above, for example, so as to change your ‘eluded’ to ‘alluded’? Or did that error elude your attention? 😉

        • Look H, I am worried, genuinely so. You have been seen here to have run amok with two women. And two women from different continents. A bit like a sailor – a girl in any country. Hardly appropriate, would you say? One rather assumes you are like a trappist monk, living your life out in sandals (no socks) and sackcloth. Your more serious followers will frown and think you are being frivolous and that is not the impression I would like you to give to others. You are rather a sage amongst bloggers. A wordsmith with humour (sorry about the ‘u’, Clare), and running with the hoi polloi will only take you from Channel 4 News and plonk you with Sky.com.

          Leave now, whilst you still have a chance!

          I will stop now, for fear I will drag it into the mire and it become a mere common piece of prose without sense, rhyme or reason. I am off to bed now.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoi_polloi [For those who aren’t of the literary ilk.]

          P.S. Whilst my spelling may be a little dodgy or vicarious, it doesn’t mean I can’t hold my own with the best of them, who ever they may be. I shall stop eluding or alluding now.

          • I appreciate your concern, Jackie, but it’s quite okay, really. Below the line comments come in all shades, and as long as they’re respectful of others, then anything goes. If people don’t get the humour – and I accept some may not – then I see that as their issue, not mine. This is a serious blog, as you say, but one can be serious and maintain a sense of humour; I know you and Clare will agree. And we Brits have a centuries old tradition of indulging bawdiness, as Clare well knows from her Shakespeare and Chaucer. I wouldn’t encourage an exchange like this on a reasonably current or live post, but back here in the archives it’s perfectly fine. 🙂

            • Just back from the front. Stop. Disappointed you thought I was being bawdy. Stop. Fluffy Ducks is not rhyming slang for “having a good time”, but a colonial drink. Stop. However, you were right to include the link. Stop. Suggest you reintroduce. Stop.

  16. Oh, how beautifully you write! You convey such compassionate wisdom with such wonderful insights and revelations. Thanks for sharing this powerful and inspiring cautionary tale. 🙂

    • Thank you very much indeed, truly, for your wonderfully generous and kind words of encouragement. I shall carry them with me as I periodically add a little something to my modest collection of posts here. With all best wishes, Hariod.

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