The joy of observing the quotidian…

The philosopher G. I. Gurdjieff was of the opinion that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”[ref]I’ve somewhat brutalised his philosophy for the sake of pithiness, more at the Gurdjieff society, Wikipedia,[/ref] ; one of the aims of a life well lived was to snap out of it and wake up. One of the simple joys of being retired is to be a little more aware of the world, to take the time to wonder a little more.

Perhaps work did that hypnotic sleep thing for me, the routine dulled the senses, it’s still a little bit sad to think of the wasted years of consciousness. Now, even in observing the quotidian, I wonder if I just missed stuff in the real world. Some of the greater awareness almost throws back to childhood times 😉

I try and do is get out and wander around the immediate area every day, I’m lucky in having a few quiet streets with a rec and a cemetery nearby, places where I can observe Nature going about it’s everyday business. At the moment the walk is livened by the lovely sound of blackbirds in full song.

Is there always such a profusion of dandelions at this time? Is that just something that happens at this time of year and I never noticed, because I was too busy looking at screens than at the Real World™? How did I miss that for 20 years…

This is what happens if you don't dig 'em out of the lawn
This is what happens if you don’t dig ’em out of the lawn

I thought of the fellow above whose ‘lawn’ I pass every day, as I dug my own Löwenzähne out of the grass. The German word for dandelion is ‘Lion’s teeth‘ translated literally, a more poetic term. If they didn’t spread like crazy (see above) they’d be attractive flowers in their own right.

Not so much pushing us daisies as pushing up dandelions
Not so much pushing us daisies as pushing up dandelions
They look quite pretty...
They look quite pretty…

Gurdjieff was right. How did I miss this minor spectacle for 20 years? If this kind of living on automatic pilot only made me miss this sort of thing then it’s not the end of the world. But drifitng through life means we live by other people’s values, standards and agendas. That isn’t a way to lasting inner peace. Thoreau put it well

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Thoreau, Walden

Some of those values and agendas are buying stuff because it makes other people richer, not because it delivers inherent value for you. It’s a bittersweet tragedy that working, which enables you to earn more money to buy more Stuff, steals away our consciousness at the same time unless we are unusually vigilant and alert to the distant drummer, and so we spend more of what we earn on Stuff that doesn’t always deliver value for us.



8 thoughts on “The joy of observing the quotidian…”

  1. Thanks Mr Ermine. Well put. And what I needed to hear this fine Sunday morning.

    By the way, the word “dandelion” has its origin in the French “dent de lion” – or “lion’s teeth”. Whereas the French call them “piss-en-lit” – piss in the bed – no doubt. thanks to dandelion’s value as a diuretic. Blanched ones are nice in a green salad though!


  2. So they were lion’s teeth even over here – I never knew that 😉

    When I was a kid my dad pulled a dandelion head off and showed me the milky sap oozing from the stem and said you should never eat anything with white sap like that. It was a surprise to see them considered wild food!


  3. Mrs Ermine beat me to it with the translation – she must have had a tip off that another one of your fine and motivational posts was about to appear.

    That guy’s lawn looks a bit like parts of my allotment – except that I also have bindweed, couch grass and horse’s tail to contend with.

    Most of my colleagues drive to Tesco’s every lunchtime – not exactly conducive to escaping the hypnotic waking sleep… but every little helps keep paying those dividends!


  4. Hi Ermine
    Nice article, it’s so nice to live at your own pace. Also to set your own values, it is one of the perks being retired not to have too many deadlines, only the ones that you set for yourself.
    Reminds me of a tee-shirt I saw in Oxford Market. It had on it the logo,

    I don’t want to do it.
    You can’t make me do it.
    I am retired.


  5. Hi Ermine,
    A very timely post for me as I’ve had a helluva coupla days embroiled in things that I really should have chosen not to!
    @Lupulco – I’m gonna get a T shirt.


  6. @ BeatTheSeasons – I rarely get a tip-off that a post is brewing with Mr Ermine 🙂 He is a secretive creature even in his own home! I feel for you with the weeds… have you tried covering with woven polypropylene weed control matting for a year to clear the weeds? You can grow squash over it and still make use of the space.

    @ Romany – I hope life gets more peaceful for you… 🙂


  7. @ BeatTheSeasons – bindweed, couch grass, you have a chance. Horsetail – nope. That stuff’s got attitude and none of it is nice 😦

    @Lupulco that’s a cool T shirt. I want one. Though I’ll let Romany get one first, the need sounds greater 😉


  8. @ Mrs Ermine – I’ve acquired some old carpet and was thinking along the same lines. I’m gradually reclaiming the land, but the weeds have got a 20 year head start apparently!

    Which squash do you recommend? A few people have said Crown Prince and I grew some Bonbons a couple of years ago which lasted all winter and tasted amazing.


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