The quotidian

During these days of our ‘new normal’ when we are tempted to believe that so much has stopped or has been put on hold, it’s perhaps useful to think of how this pause can offer new vision. Am thinking of the viewpoint of writers / thinkers such as man-of-letters, Georges Perec, who coined the phrase the infraordinary — meaning that which is going on when apparently nothing is happening. How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, how to flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what we are? (Perec, 1973). Being the well-read people you are, you may recognise such an outlook from our classic writers, such as George Eliot, who advised in her novel Middlemarch, that  if “we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence …”. Then again, there’s good old Blake and his invocation “to see a world in a grain of sand / and a heaven in a wild flower”. And some of you may recognise an echo of the philosophy of American guru Dan Millman who advises that ‘there is never nothing going on‘. Our mystics, no stranger to being quiet and thoughtful, have always know this of course. What I’m musing on therefore is how our ‘new normal’ apart from being a daily negotiation with the dance of social-distancing, may also be an opportunity for a spot of contemplative gazing. And that in turn may help assuage stress levels if you happen to have caught any news headlines or are standing in the queue at Morrison’s. Go on … pick up a dandelion and notice how amazing it really is.

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