And time to catch up on my blogs, both the ones I read and the ones I write. While I'm doing that, going through my impressions of the last week and sorting out what I want to share, I have one post that I wrote a few weeks ago and have just been waiting to click "Publish" on. (I suspect this is a topic I will come back to, as the visits to Paris and Berlin certainly had the potential to ramp up the desire machine. . . . )
Before I left home, I was reading Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost (sadly, I had to return it to the library only half-finished, and with no time to make notes. It's one I'll definitely take out again to spend more time with).
I hope to tell you a bit more about how the book influenced the way I spent the first two, the solo, weeks of this time away, but for now, I just wanted to share this wonderful passage that I'm carrying around. It's helping me think about several things, prime among them the geographic distance that exists between myself and two of my granddaughters (one three or four hours away, if all coordinates optimally; the other a tough day's travel and considerable expense) -- and now, of course, the distance between me and all my grandkids.
But the quotation applies to so much more -- to distance from friends; to the desire for a bigger or smaller or cooler or better-furnished home; the desire for a more interesting or a more status-worthy job. And particularly, for me as I travel past some of the most drool-worthy fashion-retail windows imaginable, the desire for clothes and shoes and handbags. A desire which is ramped up in so many ways, over and over and insistently over, until it seems only reasonable to meet the desire, to juggle the budget however necessary, to bring a bigger bag to carry the goods home. . . I've been trying to check this response to desire over the last year, and I must say that one good way to do that is to edit the belongings from a house, albeit a small one, so that they fit into an urban condo.
Sometimes, though, reinforcements are needed, and this quotation is exactly the reinforcement I needed. Here it is:
We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue [on the far horizon] that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
And so it was that, having read this quotation, I was able to walk away from the bag I saw a few days before my trip, the bag the deepest colour you'll find in these end-of-season hydrangea blooms.