Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cambridge and south

DSC04816 (1300x975)Wolfson College has begun work to organize their spring gardens.  Tulips are replacing daffodils; flowering shrubs pressing aside bluebells.  The wisteria, my favorite, hasn’t bloomed yet but it should be glorious by the time I return.

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The 3-day span between my Dutch landing and the start of Easter break is going to be full, so I rose early this morning to walk the gardens and think a little.  It’s a nice anticipation of Easter weekend in a few days.  I’m going to take a little time away, its supposed to be fantastic weather most of the time.

Meetings in London began at 2, so I headed south on the express train at noon.  It’s a nostalgia trip: the fields were painted yellow with flowering rapeseed, familiar stations rushed past.

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London was also in full bloom, warm and busy.  I darted through the smaller streets and alleyways in the city centre, crowded with early afternoon pub-goers and office-workers on break enjoying a tapas and a people watch. I’m warming up to London, day by day: there’s a lot of rich culture up the side streets and an energy that belies the gloomy economic forecasts.

I’ve learned that I’ve been granted lifetime membership in the Turner Society,  a treat alongside the Tate membership which allows me free worldwide access to any exhibition of Turner’s works.  Call me a fanboy, but I always learn a lot from studying his canvases and drawings.  He was a very original thinker and anticipated a lot of the modern techniques that followed him.

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Meetings, then an evening train down from Waterloo (above) to Bournemouth, April sunset falling in bright yellow contrasts over the darkening rolling green countryside.  I have another set of meetings in London tomorrow, but, arriving in Poole, I discovered that the car battery had run down during my absence.  AA promises a jump before 1 am, so there’s time to review saved longform discussions in Pocket before they arrive.

The Times had an interesting op-ed discussing the nature of happiness: is it rooted in life satisfaction, feelings, or emotional well-being?  I tend towards the latter (thinking of the prior two as being, respectively, contentment and pleasure). 

They then define emotional happiness as Being in good spirits, quick to laugh and slow to anger, at peace and untroubled, confident and comfortable in your own skin, engaged, energetic and full of life.  Again, this resonates with me, but I also think that they miss the essential quality of pleasure in the specific or overall state of things.

I also think that real happiness is transient: either ennui or reality will intrude before long to reduce it.  So happiness is always a search and an attitude.  The article notes that tDSC04844 (975x1300)he antecedents are a sense of security; a good outlook; autonomy or control over our lives; good relationships; and skilled and meaningful activity.

Bouts of happiness are the single best indicator of how our lives are going, and its interesting how well that list aligns with the qualities that I’ve tried to intentionally cultivate since last summer.  Control and Choice are still controversial, but I’ve made progress otherwise.

The service truck arrived at 11:30 – it took a series of increasingly strenuous measures to revive the battery.  The culprit turned out to be laving the TomTom plugged into the cigarette lighter while I was away, I took a half hour drive into the New Forest and back to put a good charge onto the car.

DSC04845 (1150x1300)There’s a cottage booked near Bath for the holiday weekend and I’m really looking forward to a few days in the countryside to do some cooking, reading, walking, and consolidating.  So, ‘off tomorrow night to find some peace.

‘and taking my new ‘Life in the UK book’ alongside my Dutch language tutorials, for some study…

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