Categories
HM Stray Toughts

A Crazy World?

Some years ago, I purchased a keyboard for one of the ancestors of the smartphone. Recently, I ordered a reserve ‘hand’ to hold my phone and kindle. I also have a drawing tablet to use as an alternative for my mouse. Why? The strain of working with a mouse, typing on a small screen, and clicking on links got too much for my hands, shoulders, and arms. To think that it needs to be so complicated. Yet, handwriting strains as much if you write a lot. Imagine all the letters it would take to keep up with online acquaintances – and add the work one puts into a book. My shoulders would be permanently attached to my ears if my only option were handwriting.

Was it easier in the days of the first typing machines? Clearly, social networks and the entire networking philosophy have changed the way we live. Would we want to change it back? My answer would be a resounding NO. We live and fit into the circumstances our society offers – and it is good so.

We can discuss the environmental impact on the world we live in until we are blue in our heads, but we still have little influence on innovations. Sometimes, it feels as if every development necessitates another, and we, the humans, stand by with no power to change what we call progress. Did people ever influence the world? We seem to float along a stream, never knowing where it will take us. Then we talk of destiny or fate and wash our hands. Still, one person against the world never makes for much of a change. Of course, we can always fall back on that story of the woodchopper who became president of the United States.

There will always be solitary voices that have an impact – for better or for worse.

Don’t forget that some of those solitary voices have brought war and misery rather than good to the nations. Having said that, it is still true that we can take baby steps towards a better world. How? Through our way to tackle the world. Through our words and convictions. We can create an impact in our sphere of influence, but if we don’t all pull in the same direction at the same time our efforts won’t leave more than scratches on the surface. There is much to be said for our modern world – but the negative impact that our way of living causes may well outweigh the good parts. Maybe it has always been this way. History certainly comes across as a series of blunders that got repaired, sometimes less than adequately. Still, if we don’t dare to hope and, buoyed up by such hopes, act, we will fail.

How can we avoid facing that we live in a complex world and that platitudes won’t cut it in the big picture?

Alone, we don’t amount to much. We need solidarity but, more than that, we need a consensus about what we want from the world, and what we will give to achieve our goals. Life will always remain an enigma – but we have a right and a duty to make the best of every day. Who said that life was going to be easy told a lie.

© HMH, 2021

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

Domestic Violence

I’ve been pondering this for a few years now. I wanted to write about it straight away but felt too raw about the incident. I got involved, and that could’ve been unwise. One could say it was no concern of mine, but there was no doubt in my mind: I had to act.

On the way to a meeting, I observed a couple walking in front of me. She drove a buggy with a little child. He walked in front. Then he turned around and started screaming at her turned around and walked on. This muster he repeated two or three times. By then I was getting close. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was gesturing in a threatening way. On the corner of the street, they stopped, and it looked like things had calmed down.

I went past them and stopped at the red light. Behind me, they started quarrelling again. I don’t know why, but I turned around and at that moment, he grabbed her from behind: holding and shaking her shoulders. She started screaming, begging somebody to phone the police. Several people were standing around, but I was the only one who took out my phone. When I did that the man went away. When I got through to the police, I asked them to send somebody, giving my name and explaining what had happened and where we were.

The guy returned and as he saw me talking on my phone, he started screaming at me. He told me to put away my phone or he’d ‘take it and throw it on the street’. By then I was angry too, I tried to capture his ranting on the phone, but I believe that the call got cut off. Anyway, he stayed there shouting at me and his girl-fiend. I and some of the other people present tried to calm him down, but he kept threatening everybody. It took about five minutes. During that time, I noticed that the little kid had lost her cap and put it back on her.

When the police arrived, the guy disappeared rather quickly. The police talked to the young woman. They were helpful, as far as they could. They have their procedure, taking names and addresses, asking for the description of the man, and where he could have gone to. The young woman said that they lived together and that he could well have returned to their flat. Also, she explained that they’d had a long quarrel, lasting most of the day. He’d taken her mobile phone and, I believe, her bank card. The police sent another car to check if they could find him at the flat or somewhere on the street. When they heard that she’d have to go back to a flat she shared with this man, they suggested that it would be better for her to go somewhere else. It turned out that her parents live here, so they offered to bring her to them. I believe that she accepted the offer.

It was a harrowing experience, but worse for that poor woman and her child. We do far too little to avoid domestic violence. It is one of those things that, although they aren’t acceptable, can go on almost unchecked for years. People often know about the problem, but they don’t do anything. Admittedly, it isn’t easy to help. Mostly maltreated women are too scared to accept help or even admit that there is a problem. Often, they feel shameful about the abuse they are subjected to. No wonder, they’re alone with a violent man, they want to protect their children, and sometimes they still love their men, regardless of their inappropriate behaviour. These women are afraid for their lives, for their children’s lives, for the next beating.

In some ways, the law isn’t helpful. It is impossible to step in unless a crime has taken place. That means, a beaten wife must go to the police straight away and show her bruises, but most of us know women who try to explain away their bruises and or wounds, sometimes for years.

What makes men violent, and what makes women accept the beatings? Is it a matter of hormones or are there other factors? No doubt, there are men with excessive testosterone levels. But that isn’t the entire explanation. We must bear our part of the blame. Violence breeds violence. Little boys or girls that get beaten, learn that it is OK to hit. A slap can easily be followed by another. That’s how habits get formed. Abused children are more likely to abuse other children, their spouses, and children when they grow up. We know that. Still, some people insist that they have a right to chastise their children as they see fit. It’s a vicious circle. It can be broken, but It takes courage.

© HMH, 2021

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

Food for Thought

The sun visited for a few minutes yesterday. Today it has been snowing. Apparently, the polar vortex bears part of the guilt for the extreme conditions this winter. It might be colder tomorrow. The weather keeps see-sawing, and that may not change for the foreseeable future. It may get warmer for a couple of days, but there are always sudden temperature drops. No wonder that it’s difficult to adjust.

What a pity that humanity has done so much to screw up nature. We’re reaping the reward now. Or is it a punishment? Rather. There’s nothing to do but to make the best of it. Of course, that goes for everything that occurs these days. This is a weird period. One must stop to think, but the thoughts are hardly pleasant. Have we reached the point of no return? Who can tell? With the COVID19 situation, with the weather shot to pieces, with the general decay in comportment, it becomes urgent to ask such questions.

Was humanity always fraught with such flaws? No doubt. The question is whether we’ve moved so far towards a lack of consideration for our fellow human beings that this alone will constitute the beginning of our end. It isn’t easy to judge. Perhaps we need a wider perspective. On the other hand, it is not so simple to find out what the complete concept is and where it might lead us. Aye, that’s the rub. We dream and hope and think, but we may not be able to put a finger on the crux of the matter.

Where did we go wrong? Did we ever go right? Is that the real question? If so, we aren’t much better off than pond scum. Is there the slightest prospect for rectifying everything that we’ve caused through negligence and stupidity, through greed and selfishness? Where can we turn to find a path that will take us to a safe shore? If such a marvel exists? Maybe these questions are futile. Maybe we must look for the right questions. Could it be a matter of starting to think about what we, as individuals, might achieve?

Maybe one person can’t do much, except change his or her way of thinking. That must be the first step. It’s so easy to lean back and say – I alone can’t do anything. Stop and think. This may not be the place to start. If we start questioning what we do – and begin to take small steps in a better direction if we share our thoughts and actions, may it not create a movement towards something valuable? It may be a slow process, but it’s better than no process at all. If every individual would think and do our little bits to benefit the world we live in, could it make a difference? A tentative butterfly effect? It might be our only chance. If we wait, we won’t make a difference, but if we dare to move forward and do small deeds that may seem pointless in the large picture, this could inspire others to do their part.

© HMH, 2021

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

Collective Living: A Utopia?

Does twosome bliss exist? Some people claim that it exists, but there’s little evidence of it. Most individuals seem to go along with less than ideal conditions. Ask Graham Greene, he dissects so-called happy marriages in The End of the Affair in the most appalling manner. He cuts deep, but there’s no doubt about his understanding of the mechanisms of jealousy, boredom, loneliness, and heart-wrenching sorrow that goes into a marriage.

Must we pity or envy those unmarried lovers that stand outside, longing to be inside? Maybe no good solution can be found. So many humans are lonely whether in or out of relationships. Those who know how to deal with our innate loneliness, or learn to enjoy solitary pleasures, are probably better off than everybody else.

Of course, there will always be those moments of doubt. Moments, when we crave company, but there’s nobody to talk to. Friendships may be the best alternative. Still, there’s the question of sex. Is it true that sex and marriage don’t go together too well? Promiscuous sex causes all sorts of problems. Yet, we need somebody to make love to, to feel we’re truly alive. It could be so simple if we didn’t have the idea that we can own a person. When will we learn to understand that ownership has nothing to do with love?

Love is a gift, but not a contract. Marriage may be a contract, but then it has little to do with love. Is it a common mistake that Eros and agape are one and the same? It couldn’t be further from the truth.

That brings me full circle. Would it hurt a good erotic friendship to turn away from being lovers and elect twosome and married bliss? Probably. What would model love-life be like in an ideal world? Is it possible to avoid being possessive in love? Who knows?

I suppose there were attempts to rule out such complications in the sixties’ and seventies’ collectives. If ten or more people share a living space, the questions of loneliness don’t arise. There might be other problems though. Like how to sort out practicalities: who should cook, get in groceries, clean, and do the laundry? That can be difficult in a small family unit, but would these difficulties increase, or would it be a matter of organisation. How would the free love-life fare? Nothing is simple where humans get involved.

***

***

© HMH, 2020

Categories
HM On Writing Stray Toughts

About Men-watching Women and Women-Watching Men and Everything In Between

People watch people. There’s nothing new in this, but the trend may have intensified over the last few decades. May I add that I’ve chosen the terms ‘woman’ and ‘man’, ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ for clarity? With the gender diversification that is an important part of our world, it would be difficult to give everybody his or her due.

Every second cover of a romance novel presents broad chests and a six-pack, preferably naked. Throw in a few tattoos and the heartthrob of the twenty-first century appears. Opening such books, it is no surprise that the content matches the cover. The heroine is obsessed with the hero’s physique and sometimes it seems that his appearance is her only criterium for falling in love. The reader wades through broad chests, strong arms, and hefty built creatures, who often haven’t got much to say for themselves. If the heroine is only interested in a man’s appearance, no wonder that she gets into trouble.

Broad chests and rippling muscles are all very well, but other aspects may help to enlighten the reader to a character’s personality.

No doubt, this mirrors the situation in the world at present. At least, in the corporate world. Nobody who isn’t groomed to within an inch of his or her life should bother to seek an interview. It is good for the beauty industry of course. It is good for the nail salons and the beauticians, and all the other well-educated people who work in clothing design or peddle the newest diet. It is good for all the gyms that sprout all over the place. People get healthier through exercising and eating healthy food.

That is all good. All the same, many people can’t afford to follow the trendy diets or get the perfect haircuts. Some of these, especially the most vulnerable, get depressed and fat through being confronted with endless youth and beauty. They may be as worthy and as intelligent as those high-flying lookers. Don’t forget, some people just can’t or may not want to follow the trends. On that note, how can we forgo mentioning the surgeons that enhance or diminish body parts according to their clients’ wishes? Botched operations can ruin lives too. Is it worth it?

To return to the romance novels and their part in this. One could add Hollywood and – Bollywood films to the offenders. Don’t get me started on the advertising world. I digress. Is there anything as endearing as the floppy male with wit? What about people with eyes to die for? What happened to intimate talks and banter? A protagonist with pumped-up biceps can never cut it compared to a man or woman capable of a well-turned sentence. Am I wide off the mark here?

I agree that there is something restful in watching a beautiful person, regardless of sex. For me, that is something different from the current trend. Long and lean muscles seem more attractive to me, compared with the gym fabrications. Tell me what is wrong with a small pot-belly – if it’s combined with a soul? At the end of the day, how many men – or women – have ‘perfect’ bodies joined with an enjoyable mind? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with natural beauty, but it isn’t the beginning or end of the world.

Free us from heroines that can’t see a soul for a display of muscles. Free us from the hero who is attached to a mirror. Free us from heroines who spend their time shopping and believe that looks alone will engender happiness.

© HMH, 2020

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

A Question of Femininity

Not so long ago, I watched Lover Come Back with Rock Hudson and Doris Day. No need to mention that it’s a pre-feminist movie, notwithstanding that the female lead is an advertising executive. The portrayal of her can be explained in two words: dumb blonde. She accepts everything her antagonist says, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to us today. Obviously, they end up married – and there you have it.

The film was funny in some ways, but it was embarrassing. In the end, it didn’t make me laugh. Doubtless, it is an accurate presentation of the fifties and early sixties. The question is, have we come that far since then? In certain ways perhaps, but there’s still huge gaps between what men and women earn for equal work.

There are less female than male representatives in any government or high finance. There are less female than male leaders in any business, as far as I know. The number of male chauvinists hasn’t changed — much. What can be done? Women may carry part of the responsibility. It’s difficult to change the way people think. Regardless of all the brave women who fought for equality, most people haven’t changed their ideas about women’s place – or men’s – in the hierarchy.

Take a simple issue as height. Women prefer dating men who are taller than they. It’s something they say openly. Any woman likes to be swept off her feet by a strong alpha male. Many women look for a partner who earns more than they. Women who become mothers to sons often don’t teach them to sew buttons or do the washing up. Girls learn those ‘female’ skills without a question – and yet some of the most famous clothing designers are men. Go figure.

It’s a marvel that we can’t seem to accept that the sexes aren’t that easy to separate or determine. This reminds me of a book I just read, Beneath an Indigo Moon by JT Atkinson. He makes some pertinent points about gender. It is a thought-provoking book and hard to deal with in some places. Nevertheless, it is well worth tackling. Anyway, these days, it becomes increasingly obvious that there is an entire spectrum of sexes, spanning from alpha male to alpha female. Some are easily recognizable, but the difference becomes difficult to see when boys grow up in female bodies and vice versa. Yes, that can be remedied nowadays. All the same, the confusion reigns and will continue to do so, until we accept that we’re all human beings, regardless of sex, sexual preferences, and colour. There are still many people who resent anybody who doesn’t fit the norm, which is their norm.

For some reason, this reminds me of a sign outside a barbershop. I saw it not three weeks ago on a sidewalk in Bremerhaven. It said Racists Aren’t Welcome. Next to this was another sign saying that the salon isn’t open for ladies. Food for thought. That’s how far we’ve advanced since women should only concern their little heads with their children, the kitchen, and the church. Of course, they had to maintain cleanliness in household matters too. In many heterosexual households, these issues still fall to the woman. A patriarchal society that has worked for around two-thousand years doesn’t change fast.

Maybe there’s reason for rejoicing that husbands can’t commit their ‘unruly’ wives to asylums any longer. There’s also ground for rejoicing that women are allowed to have possessions and earn money after marriage. In most countries, females even have the right to vote. Forget that the most progressive countries granted that right to women about a hundred years ago. All the same, there are many countries where girl children are mutilated at a young age, to keep them innocent until they marry. To return to past politics, there were times when only the ruling or moneyed classes, obviously only the men, had the right to vote.

Males and females indeed have different bodies. Men are endowed with stronger muscles, but only females can procreate and carry a child to full term. That doesn’t mean that men have intelligence and females – souls. That idea is too simplistic. Will it ever change? It is delightful to be a female as it is probably great to be a male. It is alluring to be complimented, wined and dined. All sexes enjoy that game. Isn’t it time to accept that it’s a game and has no real substance? Let us be as feminine and as masculine as we can and as we like, without pulling rules around our necks that limit our humanity. Is that too much to ask for? Just wondering.

La Dance by Marc Chagall

© HMH, 2020

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

The Impossible Dream

Last night, I indulged in a film evening. Moonstruck. The script is unbelievable. The cast is stunning. The repartees, the romance, the music, everything works. Even Cage, hamming the proverbial lover, is perfect. The costumes are gorgeous, even the smallest role is perfectly filled. Love that film – and have loved it since it came out in 1987. It brought me to tears of laughter and longing. It always did. The scene in the opera is powerful, especially that scene when Cage kisses Cheer’s hand as she cries. Together with Puccini’s music, it destroys you. In a good way. Obviously. Is this just a bit of nostalgia? Yes – and no.

There’s no longing in my heart, not for the past. The longing that is there is for a dream that might be better for staying a dream. It’s a dream of love. A love that can be cherished no matter what might happen. It will always stay with me. That’s what makes me cry. The joy and the pain of that impossible dream. Impossible?

It is a dream but it’s also a reality. What more can one wish for?

A fulfilled dream is quickly gone. An unattainable dream – nobody can take it away from you. Isn’t that what we long for most of all? Something that will always stay young – because it is out of reach? The paradox is that it may not be out of reach. How does that work? Don’t know, but it is so. It is a gift that somebody gave and withheld – and keeps giving and withholding. Strange but wonderful. An enigma.

Is the reason that we’re attracted to the mystery more than to the fulfilment? It could be so. Why not? Having something – forever – can turn into boredom. Security breed ennui. Familiarity does the same. Receiving a gift that you may or may not be allowed to keep may be bittersweet, but the sweetness is stronger than the rest.

It’s a pity that one must be relatively old before it becomes clear that possession may not be the ultimate joy. That doesn’t change our longing to possess what we love. It’s a thought that came to me early. When living with my first husband, it became clear to me that our marriage couldn’t survive being too close. The moment you experience what happens when somebody obsesses about you, you know that this is the wrong path. It didn’t sink in then. It was the embryo of an idea that proves itself more convincingly the longer it stays with me.

Is it feasible to love and grow together? It may be, but it may not be possible for me. Is it a curse or a benediction? That’s a difficult question. Never mind. It’s a way of life, and it will take me somewhere. It may take me to my death, but that could be the ultimate adventure. We have no way of finding out until it comes to us.

Let’s face it. Life is not to explain. Love is too. Yet we live and love because we have no choice. Not if we want to live to the fullest. Whatever that means. It may mean something different to every man or woman or child. It’s an individual thing if ever there was an individuum. One thing is certain, we’re no worms or ants living as automatons. That is, we don’t have to be. We have every possibility and it’s our choice. Ours alone. We have the responsibility too. We must live with our choices.

***

***

© HMH, 2020

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

Questions in a Time of Deathly Seriousness.

Holbein’s Physician

The Covid-19 virus spreads. It can perhaps only be seen as nature’s attack on humanity. This has happened before with plague, cholera, diphtheria, and poliomyelitis. Now the time has come to see what coronavirus, Covid-19 can do.

In between, there have been other strange attempts at wiping out humankind, like Ebola, mad cow disease, bird flu, H1N1 Swine flu, and the pre-Covid-19 viruses like SARS and MERS.

The force with which nature attacks is nothing less than astounding. Will nature succeed this time? If the virus continues to mutate so quickly and so often as it has done so far – we may not have much of a chance. Maybe the only hope is to build natural immunity. What do I know, not being a health worker or a virus researcher? Is it possible that we face a global killer?

Supposedly, there are too many who survive the current strains. On the other hand, it seems that the deaths come in bouts. Looking at the statistics, it takes a long time to recover. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones that hardly notice that you have been infected.

Is it possible that we humans are our own worst enemy? Could it be that humankind’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases? If so, what are we coming to?

It appears that a new discipline, planetary health, recently emerged. It focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems. Food for thought. What can we learn from the past – and how can we prevent a global killer? There are no easy answers. It’s a funny sobriquet though. We call it a global killer although it kills people. Maybe the rest of nature’s wonders, from trees to flowers, and animals of all sorts are better off without human beings. Who knows, once the worst menace (read civilisation) is gone, the world will recover and return to a pre-historic balance? After all, we humans have done a lot to reduce natural diversity.

Should the world recover, we may even have a chance to come back, better equipped to live and – let live.

Gustav Klimt, Death and Life

© HMH, 2020

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

A Matter of Choice

Misery or joy?

Figuring out what’s the matter with life takes too long and it doesn’t help get you anywhere. It’s better to concentrate on important issues. Everybody has their own dreams and goals. To me it’s writing my books, singing my songs, teaching, and everything that brings a smile to my lips. Yes, there are enough reasons to be content, sometimes even happy. After all, life is a gift to celebrate.

When the food is good and well prepared, there’s reason to rejoice. When new flowers break the ground, often in the most unexpected places, our bad mood can change for something better. When the sun shines, we get a different outlook. When it’s warm and almost feels like spring, we get courage to do what we must. Then the sun gets past the clouds, and life becomes valuable.

Sure, there are enough reasons to be sad or afraid. Still, if we succumb to that, what is there to live for? That’s it. Life is too important for squandering on worry and desolation.

Grieving is another issue. There’s no way around that, but we only grieve if we’ve lost something that meant a lot. After all, we don’t mourn for small annoyances.

In other words, there’s much in life that is worthwhile. There’s much to be grateful for, and much to applaud. Never forget that.

Is it time for celebrating life? It might well be. So many people only see the negative side to everything and lead miserable lives. What a waste.

If you make every flower you see count, if you celebrate the little joys, don’t wonder if the great joys come to stay. It’s up to you. Do you want to be miserable or do you want to see every day as a blessing? The choice is always there. It’s too easy to sink into misery. It can be tempting when the unpaid bills grow over your head, or when everyday difficulties confront you at every corner. That’s when you must stop and ask yourself what you want from life – and what you’re prepared to invest. Do you want happiness, or will you indulge in self-created misery?

The choice is ours every day of our lives.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

© HMH, 2020

Categories
HM Stray Toughts

Bedtime Story

There’s nothing like my bed. When the pillows are arranged and I dive under the duvet, ready for an evening of writing and reading, it’s bliss. One of those moments when it’s impossible to deny that life is wonderful. To think that it’s a habit to go to bed. Every evening ends with a quiet time. My laptop and pad are ready for my thoughts. Even the most inane ones. What more does a person need?

The frustrations – the daily frustrations disappear. It’s time to snuggle and take delight in simple pleasures as above. True, this isn’t the only use that a bed provides. Let me not digress. Yes, let me. A bed is for sleeping, right? False. A bed is also for sleeping. It is for quiet talks at the end of the day — if one has somebody to share intimate thoughts with. It’s for passionate love-making – if one gets there and doesn’t resort to the floor or a kitchen table. Beds are far superior though.

Beds are for building caves with blankets and duvets and pillows, or for staging pillow fights. The last idea may not always be appropriate. On the other hand, beds are versatile. They may not be the best site for extensive breakfasts, especially because of the crumbs. A cup of tea or coffee works, if one doesn’t spill it. Film viewing? Sure thing. Telly? Not for me. My preference is settling down for a writing session. A few cars pass, or a couple of girls chatter. Then the street-noise calms. The flat is darkened except for a small table lamp beside my bed. My feet get warm and my mind soars. What will be my theme tonight? Will it be a rant, a short story, musings about my work in progress? It all depends on what’s uppermost in my mind.

Sometimes, it’s just a blow by blow account of the day. Not so interesting, but probably practical. It’s difficult to remember when certain affairs started or ended if one doesn’t write them down. The best moments happen when a sudden idea develops. Beds are fertile for busy minds. Or is it the other way round? Can beds make busy minds fertile? That makes sense. If they (the beds) also help procreation – that’s another matter altogether. That is, if procreation doesn’t take over and decide to pounce, negating well-laid plans.

That was a digression. Back to bed. My bed. Warm and snug. The ultimate in cosiness. The helping hand for crying over spilt milk. There’s nothing like the comfort a bed offers a saddened heart. Yet, a bed can become your worst adversary. The enemy that won’t let you be comfortable. The lair for bogeymen. They prefer living under the bed though. Mostly, they’re easily scared away. Just turn on the light and they disappear. Pouf.

Have I forgotten something? Naturally. Beds are dream machines. Everything is possible in a bed. You can fly — and there’s no need for fairy dust. Just close your eyes and soar. In dreams, you can be a hero or a victim. You can have the entire spectrum. Want to experience being a spy? Try a dream. Want to laze your time away in a flower meadow? Nothing is easier. Want to get lost in a mysterious house that grows new rooms as you roam? Close your eyes and find exquisite tapestries, fabulous divans, shadowy corners, and ballrooms, candelabras, or staircases going up and down and in circles. Careful that you don’t get dizzy. The next you know, you wake up, stretch, and a new day begins. Alternatively, it’s still night. Ah, but that is a bonus. That means time to start over.

Read a little, turn out the light and the dreams wait, just around the corner of the pillow. Don’t despair if sleep doesn’t come instantly. That gives time for reflection. Only, don’t think too hard. Muse upon something pleasant. Take a sip of water. If necessary, take a turn in the darkened flat. Certain yoga positions can be practised in bed. Wiggle your toes. Arrange your pillows. Sooner or later, everything will come together and harmony reign. If it doesn’t, don’t curse the bed. It provides the nest, but it can’t take away your improper thoughts. Improper for creating harmony. All other thoughts are proper.

Welcome. A bed is a kingdom in miniature. Use it but don’t abuse it. It’ll always be ready to welcome you, give you warmth, and a good night’s sleep. Enjoy.

© HMH, 2019