Thursday, 9 December 2010

Talking and Ruminating

This is still another chapter topic from Simple Pleasures.  

Apparently, there is a difference between conversation and discussion.  One is for  fun, the other for business.  I think I may still have more business discussions than conversations, in spite of being retired, which is a little strange.  Perhaps it's due to a somewhat solitary life, part of which is filled with committee-related e-mails (but then I think they are also fun).  Bill and I tend to 'discuss' the 'business' of running the house, having guests, Christmas plans, activities at weekends; I've no complaints about this whatsoever.  We have 'conversations', too,  generally when one of us comes across a new idea to share.  This is a good reason to have some separateness, if only to have something interesting to say to one another.  Otherwise we companionably read our books.

Another author writes about gossips vs. people of rigidly upstanding character (she calls them 'prigs') and is very clear that she votes for gossip.  It bonds friendships, has a element of trust, is a form of generous sharing and is just more fun.  She does set the boundary that it cannot be used for self-advancement, but I'm not sure what she means by this.  Personally, I divide gossip into 'malicious' and 'news about people who interest me.'  I have occasionally met a person who practically salivates when relating ugly stories about people they envy or hate.  I think these characters  are a bit scary and I cross the road to avoid meeting them, so to speak.  Then there is my question about 'How are John and Mary doing?' put to a common friend.  Last I heard their marriage was on rocky ground, for example.  I'm not looking for bad news to enjoy, I'd be thrilled to know they had patched things up.  I care about these people and I'm out of touch; I want information.  I will admit there are people in the world about whom bad news gives me no pain.  I just hope that I manage to mask my satisfaction sufficiently that folks won't cross the road.

If one has an excellent grasp of grammar, one can take pleasure in correcting others.  Spelling mistakes are another similar entertainment of one of the writers in this book.  I can only hope he has found his calling as a teacher or a proofreader and hasn't time to read this blog.  Why the editor chose to insert his essay into this chapter, I'm not quite certain; perhaps he was too intimidated to omit it altogether.

Then the authors seem to change the subject from talking to chewing thinking.  One writer told how excited she was anytime a business colleague cancelled a working lunch at short notice. It gave her time to think her own thoughts.  I did plenty of working lunches, though usually because of a day-long meeting ... .  Can I tell you how wonderful it is to be retired?

Note: she's not pregant, it was the fashion.  Can we have that fashion back, please, only without the head gear?
Another writer's piece is titled 'Portrait of a Marriage', which if Googled takes you to an altogether different, though fascinating, topic.  She's referring instead to the Arnolfini Portrait, on which many people seem to chew, and drawing comparisons with her own recent marriage.  [Note to self: read more about 'dagging'.]  The real point of her piece seems to be how pleasurable a place is The National Gallery, where she visits this painting like an old friend.  I can understand this, though the most permanant exhibit I've discovered at the Laing is the stained glass window; perhaps I should make friends with more of the pieces there.  My favourite place to ruminate is either right here at my computer or sitting with coffee in front of the fire with pen and a notebook.

'Wandering Lonely as a Cloud' clarifies that this is a pleasant occupation:  solitude is good.  No one ever needed to explain that to this only child.  Then someone talks about Meditation.  He approaches it in a very serious way, going to a School of Meditation and taking up yoga in India.  I like to think of meditation as 'sustained application of the mind to the contemplation of a spiritual truth' which can take place whilst sitting in an ordinary chair in your ordinary clothes, but each to his own.

The last author, of the Gratitude Diaries, tells how in a time of trouble a friend gave her a diary and set her the task of finding five things for which she was grateful, on a daily basis.  She's done this for many years now and her children will inherit the accumulation.  She noted that some of her previous entries would provoke curiosity, as she'd made single sentence entries, and that whilst it would make clear what in life brought her the most satisfaction, the journals weren't likely to be that interesting.  She clearly kept the diaries for her own benefit.  Sort of like this blog, then.  

Reminding myself of my blessings when I'm unhappy doesn't necessarily remove the unhappiness, in my experience.  Rather the blessings make my unhappiness seem less important and pull me above the present circumstance, if I'll just apply myself.   I hope her children appreciate their inheritance.

On the whole this chapter struck me as outlining some of the pleasures of company and some of the pleasures of solitude.  I revel in my solitude and will no doubt have to make some adjustments when Bill finishes work, but we have contentedly occupied different parts of the house in the past and I expect that will continue to some extent.  I'm particular about whose company I keep, so when I do meet up with friends, I really enjoy myself and we have lots to talk about.

Do you find simple pleasure in talking and in ruminating?


Tote said...

I have also been around people who like to gossip and talk about people, and I have come to the conclusion that as we age that sort of thing becomes so less important. We really have so much more to do and realize there is so much more to life. I have a few more years to retire and I am looking forward to it!!

Des Jumeaux said...

Sadly it seems to come easily to some people. If we all attempt to say nice things all the time it would make us all feel so much better.

Shelley said...

Tote - I believe you are right. So much of the malicious gossip is about bolstering our own egos when we are younger. With any luck and a bit of effort, we have far more confidence in ourselves as we get older.

Ben-the-dog - Howdy neighbour! You might enjoy the final installment on Simple Pleasures: it's about 'creature comforts'. Still working on it, though...