11 January 2019

In the early, very early morning hours I look out the kitchen window into the grey and wet garden. Desolate is a word I could use to describe the view but of course it's really just January - and jet lag.

A bit more than one day ago, I stood in the shade of frangipani and breadfruit trees by a small beach, watching plastic bottles drifting on the currents of the deep blue South China sea, gently landing and resting on the golden sand for a short moment before being whisked off by a uniformed young man. I tried polite conversation about the number of bottles he picks up in a morning and whether they come from ships or Indonesia or Malaysia. But he just smiled, his teeth very white, and bowed reassuringly. All clean now madam, and off he ran after the next bottle. My shirt was sticking to my back by the time the taxi driver offered me a cool cool bottle madam, and later on the plane, the supply was once again seemingly endless. Flying for three days includes a lot of plastic bottles.

Through my kitchen window I watch rain turn to sleet. I can faintly remember the birdcalls that now form the soundtrack to my grandchild's days. My garden in winter is silent.

Earlier, I calculated my life expectancy online. The Swiss offer me a stunning 30 years, the US is less enthusiastic with a mere 21 and Germany cuts it to 17 more years but only with a 50% probability and I had to click my way through three disclaimers before I got the result. 
(Obviously, I left out the bit about my shitty disease.) 

A week ago, I stood in front of the sign above, stunned and suddenly too much aware of what is ahead of us.

"The French philosopher Henri Bergson (. . .) developed a so-called process ontology, which claims that nothing in the universe is ever fixed. In fact everything that exists is an ongoing and evolutionary process (√©lan vital) without a fixed goal. And since—according to Bergson—our rational mind is solely capable of understanding and therefore predicting rigid entities but not processes, any belief in the complete predictability of the universe must be abandoned. Instead, we should focus on the possibilities of an open, spontaneous and creative future, which we will only then be able to understand, if we get more in touch with our so-called intuitive faculty, which is able to fathom a process in its processual state."

More here.

picture credit: educatingthedragon.blogspot.com


  1. First- congratulations on your grandchild! I would wish that baby all of the hope and love I can offer.
    Secondly, we are so overwhelmed, aren't we? By it all. In my heart of hearts I do not understand how we have lasted this long. Do the actuarial tables include this sort of data as well?

  2. Going from summer back to winter is quite a journey. I am so afraid for our planet. What are we going to do? I'm afraid I know the answer to that.

  3. Your garden will soon welcome spring and perhaps also a grandchild to explore its gifts alongside you. Welcome home.

  4. Your link to the article about the ideas of Henri Bergson has had quite an impact on my last 24 hours, involving journeying from article to related article on the internet. I even had a haunting dream early this morning that seemed to have been a result of all I had been reading and absorbing since reading your post.

    May we all experience courage.


    "We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending. Little molecules, random in their movement, add together to a coherent whole. Little lives do not. But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see."
    (Kate Marvel)

    I treasure the thought of your grandchild listening to the birds.

  5. I think people want order and predictability and the universe prefers chaos and randomness.

    "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry..."

  6. There are online calculators for life expectancy that vary by country?

  7. I'm happy you were able to spend so much time with your grandchild. Were you surprised to find how intense your feelings towards the baby could be? Becoming a grandparent surprised me in that way. I thought I might be detached but devoted. But no, I fell in love.

  8. I prefer to live in and have faith in randomness and chaos. Perhaps it's a defense, but it feels right.

  9. That is a very thought-provoking sign. We have to take all the positive action we can, realizing that a lot of the world is utterly out of our control.