2018 Grateful 34

“‘There’s a James Thurber cartoon I’m very fond of …’ He turned to Shaw then, the face relaxed, honest, and open. ‘Thurber – you know Thurber?’ Shaw nodded. ‘He sketched this graveyard, glimpsed through railings, the pavement crowded with determined men and women walking to the left, to the right, clutching shopping bags, briefcases, pushing prams. The caption read simply: Destinations. Devastating, really.’” This conversation is from Death on Demand, by Jim Kelly.

“It reminded him of one of his favourite cartoons, by the humourist James Thurber, depicting a street full of determined men and women striding to their next appointments, against a background of a cemetery. The caption read simply: Destinations.” This reference is from The Funeral Owl, also by Jim Kelly.

Were I cynical, I might scream Lazy! But I like how Kelly writes and I enjoy his characters (Valentine & Shaw and Philip Dryden). This is something that obviously resonates with him. And now that I’ve come across it a second time, it resonates with me, too.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to slow down, to stop occasionally and smell the grass cuttings. I ran into someone I knew from my early days in Budapest who took to country life a lot sooner than I did. We compared notes, Both of us in our day had been medium-sized fish in a very small pond and had enjoyed a certain measure of fame and attention. But neither of us miss it. Both of use have crossed the half-way point and probably have fewer years ahead of us that are behind. Perhaps that has something to do with the mellowing. But this Thurber cartoon sealed the few cracks that might have been lingering in my perspective. Life is simply too damn short to keep up that level of manic candle-burning.

I’m readying my jam-jars as the cherries ripen. I’m culling recipes for preserves. I’m noting bookings in the diary as friends make plans to come visit.

But recognising the danger of becoming too insular, too settled, too comfortable, I’ve decided it’s time to go somewhere I’ve never been before. The itinerary changes daily but Thailand and Indonesia are on the cards later this year. It’s never too late to try Paniki (a dish made from wild bat) or Belalang goreng (deep-fried grasshopper) but I might just draw the line at Tikus panggang (grilled rat).

Am grateful this week for the life I’m living and the adventures to come.

 

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