Friday, February 11, 2011
Tuesday 8th of February
Tuesday 8th of February was the forth day in succession here to begin with a stunning orange and blue dawn heralding sunrise into a cloudless cerulean sky. By mid-morning I was sitting in shirtsleeves on a terrace in my garden. I was sipping coffee and reading. The sun was pleasantly warm on my face and forearms. Presently I am struggling to read, “The Road Home” by Rose Tremain. There is a delinquency in my reading experience of of both women writers and contemporary fiction but thus far “The Road Home” seems only to confirm to me why there is such a delinquency. The delightful condition of the morning and a book that was not engaging my full attention conspired to allow my mind to drift to considering whether or not I was happy. Certainly I was not unhappy, far from it, but, I wondered, is not being unhappy altogether synonymous with being happy? There is everything about having nothing more pressing to do than to sit peacefully reading in sunshine that ought to make a man happy, but each time I looked up from my book I was confronted with the spectacle of what presently appear to be the overgrown ruins, rather than the work in progress, of my summer kitchen. For just a moment a lack of moral rectitude about my condition pricked what little remains of my Northern European inwit but the influence of many years living amongst Mediterranean people for whom the priority of life is its enjoyment - something that their Northern European paymasters’ will never understand - absolved me from guilt to foster my immediate return to a condition of blissful contentment. By mid-afternoon a light breeze had sprung from nowhere to make the air feel cool enough for me to abandon my seat and my book and to go to the olive grove from which I have recently been harvesting firewood. There I spent the last hours of the afternoon stripping twigs from useable boughs which I loaded onto my jeep. The remaining twigs I burnt on a big bonfire, this work assuaging to a degree my earlier prick of conscience. Before loading up the afternoon’s harvest of logs and making my way home I rested against the bole of an olive tree to watch my fire burn down and to savour the scent of woodsmoke on cool early evening air and to dream; whatever my state was it was certainly not one of discontent or unhappiness.
Gazing into the small grey pillow of smoking ash, all that now remained of three huge piles of brash, I further ruminated on the condition of happiness. Could it be that “happiness” once secured, can induce and maintain a state of complacency that denies the will to be courageous, to test the boundaries of perceptions of contentedness and happiness? So ran my thoughts.
The following morning was quite similar to the previous four, if just a little breezier. I did not go to my seat on the terrace but stayed in the house writing at my computer and looking out onto my sun-soaked garden through a wide, open doorway; I was not unhappy.