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The changing seasons of my mind

The changing seasons of my mind

Old May 21st 2009, 9:27 am
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Default The changing seasons of my mind

We’ve been back in England for just over a year now (after five years in Japan and four in Perth, Western Australia). There have been some ups and downs along the way, and I haven’t really posted much as I was waiting for my feelings to stabilize. It’s been quite a hard year emotionally, but also a good one in many ways.

Yesterday evening I was driving through the Cotswolds (along the Fosse Way, built by the Romans, no less) on my way back from the swimming pool, and it struck me again what an amazing landscape we have here (I’ll try to refrain from overwrought descriptions of hills, dry stone walls, fields of yellow rapeseed flowers, ancient church spires in the distance and clusters of honey-coloured limestone buildings in perfect harmony with a landscape that has been shaped by centuries of agriculture, all illuminated by gentle late-evening sunshine!).

Anyway, I started thinking about how we perceive what is around us, and what sometimes leads people to uproot themselves and their families and move away.

Having been back a year, we have now seen the seasons come full circle. I had been a bit apprehensive about the winter, but the hardest season for me was last summer, which was pretty dismal I have to say. Autumn here was quite cold but with lots of sunshine, and an amazing display of red leaves. Winter was the coldest in years, or so I’m told, but again it came with lots of sunshine, mist, beautiful crisp, cold days. Not much rain. There was a week or so when we were clearing snow most days. The spring flowers and blossom were stunning as the countryside came back to life after a hard winter.

As I was driving home yesterday, for some reason I began thinking about a famous Japanese poem, which is generally translated along the lines of

“The bell of the Gion Temple
Echoes the impermanence of all things…”

It’s inspired by Buddhism of course, but in Japan there seems to be quite a strong idea of how there is melancholy in true beauty, how things that flourish inevitably decline, and how this transience is what makes things valuable.

Rambling incoherently now, but I guess what I was feeling was how the lazy spring, evening in the countryside feels all the more sweet for having been through a harsh winter. How the greyness and the rain is what makes the countryside so lush and so beautiful when caught in sunlight. How the months with bare branches and ploughed fields make the landscape seem all the more green right now.

I think there is a tendency for the human mind (mine in particular, perhaps, or is it just the British mind?) to latch on to the negatives. In our minds eye, the UK becomes dominated by the greyness and the rain, just as the notion of Australia becomes white sandy beaches, turquoise ocean and constant sunshine.

Then begins the quest to exchange this permanently dull UK for the permanently bright Australia, with its never-ending summer.

But I think perhaps that what we can end up with is an artificial flower. It looks pretty on the surface, and lasts forever, but has no real value.

Does the quest for perfection lead to dullness? Is melancholy underrated and should it be embraced?

End of sermon.
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Old May 21st 2009, 9:41 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
We’ve been back in England for just over a year now (after five years in Japan and four in Perth, Western Australia). There have been some ups and downs along the way, and I haven’t really posted much as I was waiting for my feelings to stabilize. It’s been quite a hard year emotionally, but also a good one in many ways.

Yesterday evening I was driving through the Cotswolds (along the Fosse Way, built by the Romans, no less) on my way back from the swimming pool, and it struck me again what an amazing landscape we have here (I’ll try to refrain from overwrought descriptions of hills, dry stone walls, fields of yellow rapeseed flowers, ancient church spires in the distance and clusters of honey-coloured limestone buildings in perfect harmony with a landscape that has been shaped by centuries of agriculture, all illuminated by gentle late-evening sunshine!).

Anyway, I started thinking about how we perceive what is around us, and what sometimes leads people to uproot themselves and their families and move away.

Having been back a year, we have now seen the seasons come full circle. I had been a bit apprehensive about the winter, but the hardest season for me was last summer, which was pretty dismal I have to say. Autumn here was quite cold but with lots of sunshine, and an amazing display of red leaves. Winter was the coldest in years, or so I’m told, but again it came with lots of sunshine, mist, beautiful crisp, cold days. Not much rain. There was a week or so when we were clearing snow most days. The spring flowers and blossom were stunning as the countryside came back to life after a hard winter.

As I was driving home yesterday, for some reason I began thinking about a famous Japanese poem, which is generally translated along the lines of

“The bell of the Gion Temple
Echoes the impermanence of all things…”

It’s inspired by Buddhism of course, but in Japan there seems to be quite a strong idea of how there is melancholy in true beauty, how things that flourish inevitably decline, and how this transience is what makes things valuable.

Rambling incoherently now, but I guess what I was feeling was how the lazy spring, evening in the countryside feels all the more sweet for having been through a harsh winter. How the greyness and the rain is what makes the countryside so lush and so beautiful when caught in sunlight. How the months with bare branches and ploughed fields make the landscape seem all the more green right now.

I think there is a tendency for the human mind (mine in particular, perhaps, or is it just the British mind?) to latch on to the negatives. In our minds eye, the UK becomes dominated by the greyness and the rain, just as the notion of Australia becomes white sandy beaches, turquoise ocean and constant sunshine.

Then begins the quest to exchange this permanently dull UK for the permanently bright Australia, with its never-ending summer.

But I think perhaps that what we can end up with is an artificial flower. It looks pretty on the surface, and lasts forever, but has no real value.

Does the quest for perfection lead to dullness? Is melancholy underrated and should it be embraced?

End of sermon.
LOL, i enjoyed reading your post. But made me feel that you are still unsettled and searching for the right answers.
Well, i agree with all of your sermon, but i know i have found perfection (although not flawless) but nothing is perfect. We have to learn to accept the good with the bad and vice versa. Because the world isn't perfect and never will be.
I'd love to live in the Cotswolds but i am happy in my home town in Yorkshire, deleriously happy, that suits me fine
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Old May 21st 2009, 9:52 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Nu-Shooz
LOL, i enjoyed reading your post. But made me feel that you are still unsettled and searching for the right answers.
Well, i agree with all of your sermon, but i know i have found perfection (although not flawless) but nothing is perfect. We have to learn to accept the good with the bad and vice versa. Because the world isn't perfect and never will be.
I'd love to live in the Cotswolds but i am happy in my home town in Yorkshire, deleriously happy, that suits me fine
You're absolutely right. It is a search, but I think that's the point. I think I've just got to learn to live with the quest for answers because that's just the way I am, even though I know there are no right answers (there is no secret ingredient!)

I was born in Skipton, but lived there for just three months so can't really remember it. Technically, I think that makes me a Yorkshireman.
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Old May 21st 2009, 10:52 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
You're absolutely right. It is a search, but I think that's the point. I think I've just got to learn to live with the quest for answers because that's just the way I am, even though I know there are no right answers (there is no secret ingredient!)

I was born in Skipton, but lived there for just three months so can't really remember it. Technically, I think that makes me a Yorkshireman.
Yes, life really is what happens while you're making other plans (or while you are searching). It's very easy to spend a lot of time yearning (as many people on MBTTUK do, including me), and in the meantime life is passing you by.
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Old May 21st 2009, 8:25 pm
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
But I think perhaps that what we can end up with is an artificial flower. It looks pretty on the surface, and lasts forever, but has no real value.

Does the quest for perfection lead to dullness? Is melancholy underrated and should it be embraced?

End of sermon.
Oh, great post and very interesting! You're right, we sometimes do look for perfection. That's not bad, really, but what we want IMO is happiness. I think everyone would like to live a day-to-day happy life, and why not?

But if we look around for people who are truly happy, we find it doesn't have much to do with the things we usually pin onto it, or there'd be no poor people who are happy, or no rich people who are happy. No people living in harsh climates, or where it rains a lot, or in crowded cities, or in miles-from-anywhere-else isolation.

All the same, some people truly will be happier with what they see as a lovely home, or lots of sunshine, or living in a medieval town, or surrounded by chic bistros. Most current research, however, seems to show that happiness is largely dependent on the people around us. Not just family and friends, but everyone around. Even people we never speak to. It's as if we pick up vibes.

People who are truly happy aren't going to think much about change, so looking for change tells us we know there's something lacking. But increasing our happiness might not mean moving to a different place, or moving far.

OTOH, if we're out of sync with the people around us, then moving is the only way. Trick then is, move where? Not for the pretty, artificial flowers, for sure.

Bev
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Old May 21st 2009, 8:37 pm
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

I think what happens is that the beauty that enthralls so many in the UK is in sharp contrast to some of the harsher realities of living there and sometimes, this has a deep impact on how they translate what they are looking at.
Having lived in the UK and Australia, I hate the Oz climate while I always admired and loved the seasons in the UK, rain, frost, fog, everything. It never got to me because I was always content and happy with my life.
People could be a pain and the news was always depressing but I took the best and left the rest. I loved my work, loved my home, loved my kids and friends and I got the most out of every day whatever the weather.

In 51/2 years of having to live in Australia, I have found it to be the most uncomfortable and difficult place to live for all kinds of reasons but mostly cultural. I'm going back home to England next month and I can't wait.
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Old May 22nd 2009, 4:37 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

That was so beautifully written,

Its cold in Perth at the moment and I've had to drive in hail and dodge fallen trees to pick my kids up from school (no electricity so they get the day off)

Like most I do complain about the cold but I would happily wear 3 jumpers, move back to the uk and take the drive you took.

I so want to go home
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Old May 22nd 2009, 9:08 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Bevm
But if we look around for people who are truly happy, we find it doesn't have much to do with the things we usually pin onto it, or there'd be no poor people who are happy, or no rich people who are happy. No people living in harsh climates, or where it rains a lot, or in crowded cities, or in miles-from-anywhere-else isolation.

All the same, some people truly will be happier with what they see as a lovely home, or lots of sunshine, or living in a medieval town, or surrounded by chic bistros. Most current research, however, seems to show that happiness is largely dependent on the people around us. Not just family and friends, but everyone around. Even people we never speak to. It's as if we pick up vibes.

Bev
Yes!
That all rings very true for me.
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Old May 22nd 2009, 9:10 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by tinamichelle
That was so beautifully written,

Its cold in Perth at the moment and I've had to drive in hail and dodge fallen trees to pick my kids up from school (no electricity so they get the day off)

Like most I do complain about the cold but I would happily wear 3 jumpers, move back to the uk and take the drive you took.

I so want to go home
Sorry to hear you are so homesick.
If it makes you feel any better, I do miss the Indian Ocean, even when those storms roll in and try to remove your house from the face of the earth!
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Old May 22nd 2009, 9:14 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by cricket1
I think what happens is that the beauty that enthralls so many in the UK is in sharp contrast to some of the harsher realities of living there and sometimes, this has a deep impact on how they translate what they are looking at.
Very true. Some of the negatives in the UK can go much deeper than the weather. I'm still learning how to avoid them and neutralize them as much as possible. It ain't easy.
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Old May 22nd 2009, 9:26 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
Very true. Some of the negatives in the UK can go much deeper than the weather. I'm still learning how to avoid them and neutralize them as much as possible. It ain't easy.
Oh my goodness! What are you doing for the next 20 years. Do you fancy becoming my best friend? As an eternal optimist with imagination that dances to every beat (I'm a designer), you try living my life and fending off the negative mindsets. I tell you. We're going home in 41/2 weeks and I am worried about how to avoid the weary wet set.
I have great determination though and a wicked sense of humour.
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Old May 22nd 2009, 10:14 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
Sorry to hear you are so homesick.
If it makes you feel any better, I do miss the Indian Ocean, even when those storms roll in and try to remove your house from the face of the earth!
We have that kind of weather at the moment. The heating is on, the flanno jim jams and uggys are on and the hatches are well and truly down.
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Old May 22nd 2009, 10:40 am
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
We’ve been back in England for just over a year now (after five years in Japan and four in Perth, Western Australia). There have been some ups and downs along the way, and I haven’t really posted much as I was waiting for my feelings to stabilize. It’s been quite a hard year emotionally, but also a good one in many ways.

Yesterday evening I was driving through the Cotswolds (along the Fosse Way, built by the Romans, no less) on my way back from the swimming pool, and it struck me again what an amazing landscape we have here (I’ll try to refrain from overwrought descriptions of hills, dry stone walls, fields of yellow rapeseed flowers, ancient church spires in the distance and clusters of honey-coloured limestone buildings in perfect harmony with a landscape that has been shaped by centuries of agriculture, all illuminated by gentle late-evening sunshine!).

Anyway, I started thinking about how we perceive what is around us, and what sometimes leads people to uproot themselves and their families and move away.

Having been back a year, we have now seen the seasons come full circle. I had been a bit apprehensive about the winter, but the hardest season for me was last summer, which was pretty dismal I have to say. Autumn here was quite cold but with lots of sunshine, and an amazing display of red leaves. Winter was the coldest in years, or so I’m told, but again it came with lots of sunshine, mist, beautiful crisp, cold days. Not much rain. There was a week or so when we were clearing snow most days. The spring flowers and blossom were stunning as the countryside came back to life after a hard winter.

As I was driving home yesterday, for some reason I began thinking about a famous Japanese poem, which is generally translated along the lines of

“The bell of the Gion Temple
Echoes the impermanence of all things…”

It’s inspired by Buddhism of course, but in Japan there seems to be quite a strong idea of how there is melancholy in true beauty, how things that flourish inevitably decline, and how this transience is what makes things valuable.

Rambling incoherently now, but I guess what I was feeling was how the lazy spring, evening in the countryside feels all the more sweet for having been through a harsh winter. How the greyness and the rain is what makes the countryside so lush and so beautiful when caught in sunlight. How the months with bare branches and ploughed fields make the landscape seem all the more green right now.

I think there is a tendency for the human mind (mine in particular, perhaps, or is it just the British mind?) to latch on to the negatives. In our minds eye, the UK becomes dominated by the greyness and the rain, just as the notion of Australia becomes white sandy beaches, turquoise ocean and constant sunshine.

Then begins the quest to exchange this permanently dull UK for the permanently bright Australia, with its never-ending summer.

But I think perhaps that what we can end up with is an artificial flower. It looks pretty on the surface, and lasts forever, but has no real value.

Does the quest for perfection lead to dullness? Is melancholy underrated and should it be embraced?

End of sermon.
This has to be the best post I have read in ages, thank you so much for brightening my day
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Old May 22nd 2009, 3:36 pm
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by S E A N
This has to be the best post I have read in ages, thank you so much for brightening my day
Ditto - so beautifully thought out and written.

Climate, weather, sunshine - they do all have a massive impact on our lives, whether we realise it or not, or whether the realisation dawns belatedly. I think we have lost our ability to be in tune with the seasons and what goes on around us and we have moved away from listening to the heartbeats of nature (good god, that sounds way too hippi-ish to come from me ). But it's true.

And as to our searching for the never-neverland, 'tis a human trait I believe! Some of us 'get it' early and find a happy fulfilling life quite quickly; some of us (most on this board I would hazard to say) muddle through the middle years just looking around the world, and checking to see if they missed something fundamental, while others still may never find much inner happiness. I'm still in that middle ground, though I do know 'happiness' isn't "stuff". And I guess I've always known it, but sometimes it needs to be pointed out with flashing neon lights.

And I'm more in tune with the weather, the climate and the seasons now, than I ever was when I was fed up with grey England! Think I'm even more confused about what I like and don't like
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Old May 22nd 2009, 6:17 pm
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Default Re: The changing seasons of my mind

Originally Posted by Exile
Very true. Some of the negatives in the UK can go much deeper than the weather. I'm still learning how to avoid them and neutralize them as much as possible. It ain't easy.
Hey you - long time no hear!! I think you may just have that expats curse - always striving for that one place that ticks ALL the boxes - well as we all know it doesn't exist but for me it's simple it's all about what you feel deep down in your heart - having been back in the UK for nearly 3 years although there are obvious flaws with the UK for me it just 'feels right.'

Good luck with the soul searching - you'll get there in the end!!
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