To Make A Portrait Of A Bird

Paint first a cage
with the door open
next paint
something pretty
something simple
something lovely
something of use
to the bird
then put the canvas near a tree
in a garden
in the woods
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
say nothing
don’t move…
Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but it can just as well take many years
before deciding
Don’t be disheartened
wait
wait years if need be
the pace of the bird’s arrival
bearing no relation
to the success of the painting
When the bird comes
if it comes
keep very still
wait for the bird to enter the cage
and once it has
gently shut the door with the brush
then
paint out the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any of the bird’s feathers
Next paint the tree’s portrait
choosing the loveliest of its branches
for the bird
paint likewise the green leaves and fresh breeze
the sun’s scintillation
and the clamor of crickets in the heat of summer
and then wait until the bird decides to sing
If the bird does not sing
that’s a bad sign
A sign the painting is no good
but if it sings that’s a good sign
a sign you can sign

– Jacques Prévert – Pour faire le portrait d’un oiseau – translation source

Screens, screens everywhere!

The other day I was on the train and to my right there was one of the most stunning sunrises I had seen in a very long time. The sunlight came through the windows and splashed its magical colours all around me. I watched in awe.

Yet, when I looked around, I couldn’t find a single person looking at that marvel from Nature – literally, dozens of people all around me were, instead, looking at their screens. Every single one of them.

I peeked at the closest screen to me. She was just flicking from left to right – right to left on the phone’s home screen, doing literally nothing. I looked at my right – he was on Instagram, scrolling down and liking photos at a speed that made me wonder whether he was a superhuman to be able to grasp that quickly the information that was being presented on screen.

I looked at the sunrise again. The sun was sharing its pure beauty to whoever wanted it, yet nobody did. How did it/he/she feel about?

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Environmental loss

”Far-reaching images, such as the Anthropocene and the Sixth Great Extinction are, help us register the true degree of the planet’s predicament and the real magnitude of the processes we have set in train which may bring about our ruin. They are of enormous value. They are talked about daily. Indeed, they are generating an academic industry on their own. But they do not necessarily convey the immediacy and astringent character of environmental loss, which in every case, somewhere along the line, involves hurt. If loss of nature becomes a sort of essay subject, we miss its immediacy; we may lose sight of its sadness and its nastiness, its sharp and bitter taste, the great wounding it really is.”

– Michael McCarthy’s – ‘The Moth Snowstorm’.

Three weeks in the Himalayas: The Annapurna Circuit

This story begins in beautiful New Zealand. Aranka (from now on Didi – which means ‘sister’ in Nepali) and I were cooking at her house in Napier, chatting about what following adventures we had planned. I said that in my case I was intending to fulfil one of my lifelong dreams: to visit Nepal and hike the Himalayas.

It is fascinating to see how life works out sometimes – Didi happened to have the same dream, and fast-forward ten months to the future we found ourselves landing in chaotic Kathmandu together.

Here we were, finally in Nepal! The country known as ‘Never Ending Peace And Love’!

Every single traveller I had ever met spoke of the country with glittering eyes full of excitement and passion for it. “You’ll fall in love with it” – they said.

And we certainly did. How can you not?

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Meditation retreat at Dhamma Daja

Whilst I was travelling, many friends and family asked me whether India would be part of my trip. I always answered that India required a trip by itself, and that I did not feel the calling yet.

For a while now I have been travelling with a more open schedule, in which no time-frame is set. The concept of a ‘one-year-trip’ vanished long ago. If a place resonates with me, I will stay there for one week, one month, or one lifetime. This flexibility allows plenty of room for magic to happen (no pun intended), and the journey flows more smoothly.

Following this philosophy, all I had booked was my flight from Kathmandu to Delhi, leaving the rest open. My original intention was to apply for a 3-day transit visa, so I could visit the Taj Mahal.

Yep, that one!

 

While having dinner, my friend Chris told me that the e-visa for India had become very easy – “you go online, fill it in, and boom! 30 days in the country”.

As Oscar Wilde said: ‘I can resist anything but temptation’, and if you know me you will know that I take very little to be convinced to do a trip! And so it happened, the following day it was decided: I would extend my trip for one month, and finish it off in India.

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