Migrations and homecomings

8 thoughts on “Migrations and homecomings”

  1. thanks for sharing the swifts and your journey. Sometimes the old paths, ones we trod in our youth, are the best, especially when visited again at different stages in our life. I think they remind us of both change and permanence, all at the same time.

    1. ‘they remind us of both change and permanence, all at the same time.’ Absolutely – in a nutshell, my thoughts, too. Thanks for reading.

  2. What a beautiful idyllic place it looks Gerry. I have never been there, but now feel, having read your blog, that I too have trod the same paths, taken in the same views and breathed the same air. Like you, I wonder if our lives in our ‘Brave New World’ have conditioned us so much that we could not live there long in that or these beautiful boltholes for too long before some angst, some tetchy irritable disease or compulsion overtakes us. We have become gleefully addicted to our lifestyles, yet still long for something other. Perhaps it is possible, indeed, maybe people are, somehow combining two seemingly opposing ways of living in towns and villages worldwide, a drift back to a more manageable existence. We live the ‘linear’ life that the Industrial Revolution awakened within us, the life that demands something new, ever changing, relentlessly moving ‘forward’, caring little for the source of its appearance and even less for the residue left, but yet brings with it many riches, and the other life that can be lived ‘within the revolution of the days’, which has repetition, seasons, community, contact, slowness in mind and body and thought and an honouring of the sky above and the earth below.
    I wonder if visitors to this country seek out and can find, do find, without resorting to artificiality and a kind of forced tourism, places such as you visited Gerry. I am assuming, perhaps wrongly I do not know, that short of updating themselves ‘in the best possible taste’ (sorry Kenny), these places in France and elsewhere are still leading a quiet gentle life, that trundles along as if still in a past age, the locally grown market foods and such, the visitors coming and going, the gossip, everyone knowing everyone else’s business. It seems idyllic and perhaps that is so, though no doubt there is a certain toughness required to live there that perhaps we have lost or have had to adapt for our city ways and our constantly shape-shifting days.
    In Mark Rowlands book, ‘The Philosopher and the Wolf’, he recalls living for one year in a cottage in Languedoc, a solitary life (he became very misanthropic, very reflective and often very inebriated, though his thinking and writing somehow remained very lucid) save for his faithful dogs and Brennin, his wolf/malamute hybrid, who was slowly dying from cancer. It was a last hurrah for Brennin, who incidentally, is buried in a cairn Rowlands constructed somewhere in that area, and in a chapter called ‘Times Arrow’, Rowlands reflects on the ‘nearest thing to a timeless existence’, ‘living not by the clock, but by the sun.’ Then he corrects himself by writing, ‘Actually, who am I kidding? We did live by a clock, but it was Nina’s clock, not my own.’ Nina being his Alsatian, Brennin’s best friend. His repetitive life that year causes him to reflect on it and how his dogs loved and lived by the repetition and certainty of each day, something a human is repulsed by and ‘seeks happiness in what is new and different, in any deviation from times arrow.’ And so on and so forth. ‘The search for human happiness is, accordingly regressive and futile. And at the end of every life is nevermore. No wonder we try to find our happiness in the new and unusual – in any deviation, no matter how small, from the arrows path’, and yet repetition in our modern western industrial world of mass manufacturing seems to be the antithesis of what our spirit and brains require and are nourished by. We use repetition as a means to an end and no more.
    Perhaps that is the one major emotional pull that attracts us to these peaceful places, a sense of no time, yet time that is as it is for a dog or a wolf, circular, not linear, ‘each moment of their lives complete in itself. And happiness, for them, is always found in the eternal return of the same’.
    Perhaps Rowlands is speaking not just of his beloved dogs, but of a spirit within us that wants to connect with who we once were before our headlong rush into our Brave New World, perhaps our need to go back to find refreshment is a calling, a longing to find a home back in the land and country we once came from and sustained us.
    It is interesting that your recollections and reflections follow closely on the heels of your erudite summation of Mr.Berry’s lecture and how your contentment there in a part of France familiar to you seems to closely follow his interpretation and contentment of his own world and also with Rowlands final thoughts in the ‘Time’s Arrow’ chapter, that, ‘she (Nina, his dog, this after Brennin dies) understood that real happiness lies only in what is the same, what is unchanging; what is eternal and immutable.’

  3. Les, you’ve done it again. I wasn’t aware of Rowlands’ book, but your description and reviews on Amazon have convinced me – I’ve ordered a copy. Many thanks.

  4. Well enjoy, but proceed with caution, there is much to admire in his thoughts and his relationship with Brennin and his associated philosophy but also much that he reveals about Man which gives concern as we are perhaps stuck with what we have. Gerry, I’m no judge, but I think reports like this last one should be seen in print, a Sunday paper magazine or similar, they are too good to be kept a secret!

  5. Have you heard of Pierre Rabhi, a French-Algerian farmer, writer, environmentalist, living in the Cevennes, who has developed the concept of ” Oasis en tous lieux – An oasis in any place, aiming to promote an earth that can produce food and the reconstitution of social involvement” and founder of the “Terre et Humanisme association”? I just came across him today – a coincidence after reading of your beautiful Cevennes wanderings. In my corner of rural northern Poland, also beautiful but under constant threat from “modernisation” undermining traditional care for the land and care for ones neighbours without seeming to make anyone happier, I appreciate every thing which suggess that another way is possible. I don’t think there has to be a city/village division either – I am sure that sane ways of living are possible in cities too – it’s a question of values rather than place.

  6. Ewa I hadn’t heard of Pierre Rabhi, but I’ve googled him, and his ideas are extremely interesting. There seems to be only one book by him that’s translated into English (a novel) but for readers of this blog there’s more info at: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Rabhi), his blog in French (http://www.pierrerabhi.org/blog/index.php) and his organisation – Terre et Humanisme – also in French at http://www.terre-humanisme.org/. Google will translate – up to a point. Thanks for making me aware of Rahbi and his ideas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s