a calm and modest life…

Of late, each time I feel the inclination to cobble together a blog post, reflect on what’s been happening [or not happening] and review my camera roll since the last blog post, the words Albert Einstein wrote in 1922 on a piece of hotel stationery for a bellboy come to mind.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” ~ Imperial Hotel note paper, Tokyo Japan.

Checking my memory of the words of the quote for accuracy, I found anecdote gold from the Dull Men’s Club – Where we “Celebrate the Ordinary” (dullmensclub.com)

“Einstein was on a speaking tour in 1922. When in Tokyo, staying at the Imperial Hotel, a bellboy delivered a package to him. In lieu of a tip, Einstein wrote the words shown above on a piece of hotel stationery.
Einstein advised the bellboy to keep the note because someday its value will be more than a tip.
A century later Einstein was proven right when the bellboy’s nephew contacted a Jerusalem auction house to put the note up for sale recently. It sold for $1,560,000.
Einstein endorses the lifestyle of dull men. A calm and modest life. A life that avoids pressures to constantly to acquire and achieve more —‘moreitis’.”
This advice is free for us to use. We don’t need to pay $1.3 million.”

Indeed, my life is a celebration of dullness.

Which brings to mind this, always profound but more so during these pandemic times.

“I like to prowl ordinary places. I feel sorry for us all or glad for us
all caught alive together and awkward in that way.

there’s nothing better than the joke of us
the seriousness of us
the dullness of us”
¬ Charles Bukowski

You’d think having spent the better part of 2020 and 2021 focussed on what we can do with the day-to-day materials that are and within our home-yard-village our desire for the divertissements of the wider world would be escalating. Yet, despite daydreaming about the delights of pre-pandemic good ol’ days it seems we’ve become quite appreciative of our bespoke Covid coping mechanisms and the space and simple quality of life they afford us. Accordingly, our everyday life rewards the attention we pay it. We don’t crave commercial outings, haven’t indulged in any kind of retail therapy at the shops [finally conceding to online-home-delivered supermarket shopping] or dining out other than one truly awful takeaway fish and chips at the beach recently.

Envisioning venturing away, I think of the birdlife in our garden faring without a top up of birdbaths and a little seed for the wild finches [and doves & pigeons] and if the weather warms up the plants drying out without us giving them a drink; wonder will the caretakers of the chooks let them out and in at the right times and give them treats, and if it looks like rain should I pack my trusty rubber garden clogs; of how we love the idea of not having to cook and wash up but hate contending with the populace and less appetising gastronomic offerings than I create in my kitchen; and what if we want a handful of herbs or strawberries, salad or spinach leaves, a glass [cup of coffee or tea] of tank water or water kefir, sourdough bread, yoghurt and other homemade foodstuffs that we’ve become accustomed to… even factoring in our fully equipped, self-contained home-away-from-home caravan.

As we approach a point in time we’re supposed to take up postponed holiday bookings and open up from Covid restrictions to a “new normal”, I contemplate the various appeals of home and away, finding in the balance of weighing benefits of both that I’m more attached than I had realised to the merits of home… even after doing a long stretch as a pandemic-driven captive audience.

And so, à la Erik Pevernagie, some offerings from my camera roll.

“What makes people tick? Life can be a trap of ennui, but imagery may be a redemptive escape from dullness. The iconic power and exuberance of images generate an inexorable addiction that needs to be gratified without respite. Here and now! (“Give me more images”)”.

Kosekai Lookout
Home country… from Kosekai Lookout. Taylors Arm to the right middle distance.
Away but not too far for too long… to the beach at South West Rocks.

19 thoughts on “a calm and modest life…

  1. Just look at the variety from your very own garden…. I have always been a “homebody” & lockdown has given me a new outlook to life. It’s brought life into perspective… things I’ve taken for granted before has made me look with new eyes… the same park I passed in the car I now walk around every day & look for things I haven’t seen before. My backyard which was just ‘there’ is now my ‘great outdoors’… my cooking has always been a passion for me and I know I can make anything I want to eat …
    I’m looking forward to going traveling again but you know what ?!?! … that antsy feeling is no longer there.
    Life is very good as far as I’m concerned and we are blessed in every way. And it’s always so good to live vicariously through all my friends on social media… I love your blogs… I love your pics & I love your beautiful garden ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Antsy… is the perfect word. I too no longer feel antsy to go and do or be… what is, is, and what will be, will be and we will enjoy it all the more, I think, for having had a hiatus that’s helped us realise how precious having choices and freedoms is. It’s been nice to have more time to get comfortable in our home groove. After 3 1/2 years of study which I enjoyed… it’s nice to have more time to do things I choose rather than assignments with deadlines.


  2. I tend to think that living a ‘calm and modest life’ is not the same as dullness. Dullness brings to mind something lacking of sparkle and character, which does not describe your life from what I can see. Celebrating life’s small pleasures and every day miracles is more what I think Einstein had in mind–but I might be wrong. We have not been in lockdown for the most part, so I’m sure it must be different for others, especially those more gregarious than myself. But I have never been busier around the house, both domestically and creatively. I guess it just depends how you organise yourself and what your interests happen to be. Your thoughts and photos seem tremendously productive and festive. Eventually we will be able to move around a little again. As you say, that has two sides to it, as do most things. Accepting what is helps us enjoy the now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have an affection for dullness… there have been times when my life has been a bit too interesting. But yes, there’s dullness and dullness… I think you’re correct about Einstein… I’m pleased be in good company of many who nurture a calm and modest style… it helps I think to appreciate the pleasant home life groove we’ve found ourselves in… we could be in much worse circumstances, I agree. I was worried that FOMO would dog me but right time right place is my prevailing philosophy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Dale, this all resonates with me. And put me in mind of this from Nobel prize winning Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz: “In my dream I was traveling, probably by car,through a hilly countryside, little valleys where everyday life is lived, a so-so one, and a voice reproached me for squandering my time on trifles, instead of writing about the essence of life, which is so-so-ness.” So-so-ness is much underrated. Keep well, keep so-so. Enjoy life your way. Sending love, Mary x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A perfect quote… so-so-ness! I will remember that. So-so has a comfortable feel to it… it’s do-able. And I’m very fond of everyday life, its qualities are quite underrated. Lovely to hear from you. Back at you… take care, stay safe and be happy xx


  4. Well, if I wasn’t painfully homesick for the mid north coast before, I am now… Those are my hills and that is my beach (or something very like). I have been trying for *so* many months to come and get my fix of whatever local magic it is that I seem to need occasionally. It will happen one day. Meanwhile, I’ll continue with my own pleasantly boring life! Love the hat, by the way. And we still hope to welcome the three of you up here when things settle a bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your name was mentioned as we were sipping thermos tea and snacking on a picnic sandwich at the lookout… it reminded us of Griffiths Lookout at Dorrigo. We will add it to our list of things to do when we are able to get together again. Sharing glimpses of our lives via social media somehow makes them more meaningful… even though we’re apart our interests converge… including an understanding that pleasantly boring is a fine thing.


      1. I shall hang onto that thought… Pleasantly boring is a cosy quilt rather than a mink throw. Both keep you warm, but the quilt, while more humble, is much more practical and affordable!


  5. I so love your photo gallery of garden and gastronomic fare that sustains the body and promotes good health. I think living a more rural or even small community life we are privy to a simple and wholesome way of life. A neighbor recently stated that Forrest and I must get awfully bored and feel stagnate since he’s retired, and not being able to travel or do much because of Covid. I believe it’s quite the opposite – we are flourishing here, and digging deeper into land and wildlife management. We have been more able to observe, make plans for the future and make changes to processes that are not working so well. It’s a wonderful thing to have the time and opportunity to do better, or to create something new and watch it grow. Your blog posts are always an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You sum it up perfectly… it takes time, a steady pace and ongoing observation to really get the feel of a place and lifestyle, and then to respond. To appreciate where and how we live, be enriched by the process and use that knowledge to augment it is an attribute imo, rather than the compulsion for seeking external gratification… but each to their own. However, I’m happy for your reassurance that you like what I like.


  6. Yes. 🙂

    I think I’m in my happy place too. My apple tree-that-almost-died has beautiful blossoms on every branch, my apricot tree that looked sickly last year is back with a vengeance, my magpies have trained the dog to scratch on the back door when they want breakfast for their babies…and I’m never bored. Quiet lives of deep content. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I happy that you understand and feel it too. Our four-legged and feathered companions, have done ok from their humams focusing attentions on homelife, and us too if we are fortunate tenough to be inclined to the delights we can create from a domestic lifestyle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think we were headed this way all along. The pandemic simply focused our minds. Of course, we’re both on land that allows us to enjoy these things. As much as I hate the stupidity of the protests here in Melbourne, I can’t help wondering how many of those idiots live in tiny, cramped flats with no outlet for their frustration. That doesn’t excuse their anti-social behaviour though. Grrr…


  7. I love looking at your photos of “life as you’ve made it” – my own cooking prowess has disappeared but actually I’m not truly missing it. And as for my “lack of freedom, courtesy” of NZ gov’t, lockdown for my region, Auckland (NZ) ..the new “roadmap” they installed is plain wonky! And the date line even worse…so of course rule breaking with a tiny minority means the rest of over 1.5million inhabitants continue to suffer.
    I’m in the process of changing my daily schedule as the humidity has unlatched itself from it’s winter hiding place – so my walk needs to be changed…but no doubt, that’s not a bad idea, as it’s time for a “change”. I may not have a garden but I have plenty of art materials 🙂
    And this comment is completely upside down…I think that needs a change as well, making proper sentences and in some sort of order!

    Liked by 1 person

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