„Let‘s restart slow“
„A small manifesto to enjoying life more“
I am not one of those who sees everything magical in life.
Nor am I always so optimistic.
The rosy lives of Instagram have been wrecked in the last two years (thankfully) and what remains of the wake of the crisis is grey and with many cracks.
I find this very interesting.
My mission this week is to document and suggest a series of small steps that will lead you to small splashes of tenderness with your selves.
No luxury. No extravagance.
Just a list of habits that will help us have a Gentle Living.
I am writing to you from a small room in my home in Zurich that I love very much.
The architects who designed it 120 years ago certainly placed it in the model as a children’s room.
We don’t have children so this space of ten square meters became a library, office and dining room.
This is where the most beautiful daylight comes in and where I have my first cup of coffee every morning.
Here I isolate myself when I want to write secret letters ..or when I want to laugh out loud or cry.
**** Find a shelter, a corner, a piece of space, or a small closet and make it yours alone.
Stuff it and Love it. If you live with several people together, claim it and fight to have it, push for it and occupy it if you have to.
If there is some money that will lead to a renovation or a rental of a creative space .. then even better for you ..****
To move on to the next idea.
I grab my laptop, hop on my bike, and head to a lovely cafe in Zurich.
Today I’m going to choose the one that looks a little like home.
One that has a touch of Swiss or Parisian coffee but with a Mediterranean air.
Surely there is a place in your area with good coffee or good herbal choices and delicious blends made with love.
Go there ..find your table.
Have a chat with the owners and the polite staff.
There is always a nice story to tell or to hear.
If you still don’t want to communalize, silence is definitely a good option.
Staring at passers-by is another option.
With Small breaks to read your book.
I am not of course telling you things you haven’t thought of or done.
****I’m simply reminding you that an exclusively your own habit or solitary choice during the week is like a little treasure.
Thirty minutes, an hour, or maybe even more.
You and yourself.
Without children or babies or nephews.
Without a partner or the love of your life.
With your cell phone turned off and a little caress just for you****
One thing that I find over time to be tremendously therapeutic is… listening more.
The ritual process of listening to a vinyl.
The changing of the side of the record.
The attention to the notes and the lyrics.
In the last two years on the occasion of our “fencing” in the house… I felt like I was listening for a first time , to song lyrics that I had been listening to for years.
I put the radio back into my life.
Loving jazz, I learned to seek out radio producers with great music education and learn from them.
I hate “canned playlists” and the truth is they have covered every radio station.
But with a little searching, you will find the live voice that suits you.
Another way “to listen” is the little live concerts.
We’ve missed them a lot, haven’t we? I don’t think I’m ready to buy a ticket for big concerts and festivals yet. Maybe later, in Summer. But I make sure that twice a month I get together with friends and listen to the music I like in small venues.
****Is there anything better? Than Sharing music, your eyes flirting with other eyes, your voice joining other voices and the keys of the pentagram, your ears receiving experimental melodies, and on the big climax, bodies joining to dance .****
I love cities for what they offer me.
But I will always define myself as a Mountain man.
Choosing a condo near the lake … you know that choice will lead you to the heights.
I bought good hiking boots and at the first opportunity, I approach peaks and walk on trails.
When there is not much time, the small mountain above the city becomes my favorite destination.
Alone or with a group. With a thermos full of hot coffee, or the more adventurous option: making it on the top of the mountain.
Every town has its own mountain within easy reach. And if you live in a country like the Netherlands where there are not many hills, then get lost in the forest.
****And if the city is huge and the time and obligations are many then walk up the landmark hill and see the city from above. Listen to its sounds from a distance. See its magical lights. Meet there a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Take a deep breath, put a small pine cone in your pocket, enjoy the smell of a pine tree, and agree with me that the smell of a fir tree must be the most expensive, healing scent in the world .****
And if all this is not enough to make you feel happy, then let’s move on to the finger area.
When I was a student, almost all of my teachers had me convinced that I was talentless in my essay class.
My essays got the worst grade.
Because almost always, I was off-topic.
That was the reason I started writing a diary.
Because the only reader would be me.
No criticism would invalidate my writing.
No teacher would underline in red pen what I was trying to describe in this little notebook that I double-locked in my drawer so my parents wouldn’t read it.
Maybe my friends it is time for you to buy a beautiful notebook, a pencil, and a sharpener?
For those who will say, but I’m not good at writing, I’ll answer …
then write down :
words and phrases you hear.
Promises that will be broken.
Recipes complicated that will never be executed.
Swearing and sly jokes.
Names of loves no one knows.
Lyrics of songs.
Addresses of houses you never want to forget.
Letters that will never be sent.
****Even today, the smell of pencils gives me immense pleasure.
The relief of a written conversation with yourself is surely priceless.
And who knows, you may be hiding a greatly talented writer within you.****
I suggest we stay a little longer in the finger area.
Growing up in gardens with olive trees, lemon, and orange trees I couldn’t help but feel the need to mix with the soil.
Finding your green fingers (maybe even the gold ones ) you might think it’s hard.
But I can assure you it is not.
When you plant a seed and watch it develop, with care, it is like learning from the beginning how this world was made.
If you live in the countryside and own a large garden, then this seems funny.
But if you live in Tokyo in a small thirty square meter apartment without a balcony with your wife and child then you look hopefully at the window ledge.
You buy small pots and organize your little garden with mint, rosemary, and basil to use the gifts they offer you in your daily food.
I have a friend in Athens who hinted that she is not at all good with plants.
One summer while making a salad for us to eat together, I kept the avocado pit and put it in water with the help of toothpicks.
I advised her only to keep it in the light and to refresh the water.
After weeks the pit took root and she called me on the phone happy to tell her what to do.
The transplanting into a large potted pot with soil was done in the presence of many friends and a barbecue celebration.
My friend after a few years got married.
She left her small apartment in the center of Athens and moved with her husband to a house in the southern suburbs with a small garden.
The second transplanting took place there.
The tree today is 14 years old and her eighth years son is playing in the yard next to the Avocado tree.
****I think after this true story you are all ready to transform your little balcony into a botanical garden. Little tip. For the more mountainous cold climates, what was done with the avocado, can be done with an acorn. ****
I could write for hours about these little cares for ourselves and create a manifesto of instructions for slow gentle living.
I promise you I will do it soon in the next few Saturdays.
In the next article there will be a short discussion and commentary on the shocking documentary by Netflix :
“The tinder swindler “
and the much-talked-about movie: “Don’t look up “.
Until then I would like you to help me clearly hear the lyrics from the song below.
If you like, we can sing them together.
Have a good weekend …Weekenders