Evolving notes, images and sounds by Luis Apiolaza

Category: quotidian (Page 2 of 2)

Keeping momentum

I don’t believe in New Year resolutions: the idea that people have to wait until this particular position of the orbit around the sun to start doing something. At the same time, I am not great at sticking with changes of behavior: I get distracted easily and I trace it back to losing momentum. Once I stop I find it very difficult to restart.

Yesterday—Tuesday 27 January—I decided to fix at least one thing at home every day, so I can one day be up to date with all the DIY and TLC the house needs. It can be working in a big project or as simple as hanging a picture, but I have to do something. In reality I have been doing this since mid-December, but I prefer to formalize it just to keep momentum. Keep on moving forward; that simple.

Gratuitous picture: cabling my head (Photo: Luis, click to enlarge).
Gratuitous picture: cabling my head.

On point of view

Often times we experience mental paralysis: we can only see a problem, a situation or a person from a single point of view (mea culpa). Some times the single mindedness of our view point becomes so bad that we inexorably drift to complete silliness. This is the case when one keeps on insisting on a point that has been shown to be, how to put it, wrong.

Photography is a fascinating hobby. I think it was around 30 years ago, may be a bit earlier, that I started taking it more seriously. Learned to process film and to use an enlarger and to witness the magic of an image slowly appearing on paper submerged in developer, while a dim red light bathed the room. A few years later I stopped taking pictures, mostly due to economic problems: I was not able to even buy film, let alone to process it. Photography stayed dormant for many years, then resurfaced in the digital area, but it did not feel the same.

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I start every morning making coffee. For a long time the routine included putting ground coffee in a very small (read toy) espresso machine. Since last Christmas I have been using a Moka Pot (aka stove top espresso) that I received as a gift. Thanks Marcela and Orlando!

There is an increasing interest in providing frictionless experiences, making life extremely easy. However, sometimes at least, we require friction in the same way that we require sadness. A totally happy, sad-free, existence does not provide contrast to enjoy ‘the rest’.

A frictionless start of the morning would be to have an instant coffee (anathema) or to have an automatic machine with a timer that grinds the coffee and makes a ding! sound that wakes us up. This machine would also produce a perfectly consistent cup of coffee. There would be no ritual involved.

In my start there is pouring water in the bottom of the moka pot, setting the coffee container, filling it up with ground coffee (but not compacting it), carefully cleaning the borders, and screwing the top part of the pot. Then I turn on the stove, wait a few minutes (until the top container is between half and three quarters full and removing the pot from the stove. One can see the crema on top of the liquid. I will have some milk and (little) sugar with it.

The coffee is never exactly the same, never perfect. It requires some work and distracts my mind for a moment. I don’t want to work on improving it (as people suffer here). I can try different coffees, but I will not spend a lot on a ‘brand’ moka pot, or on sophisticated cups, or on a spectacular coffee grinder. It would be transforming the ritual into religion, which is not the point.

Humans require rituals. Rituals require some friction.

Un cronopio no more

According to the nice domaintools folks, I first registered uncronopio.org on 5 February 2002. That is eight years with a name that started as a play on Julio Cortazar’s Cronopios and Famas (Historias de Cronopios y de Famas en español). It was an easy choice, one of my favorite books and the chance to make some sort of statement: I was un cronopio (a cronopio).

In the short stories cronopios are ‘greenish, frizzly, wet objects’ but, more importantly, they are free spirits. They are what we many of us think as an ideal: creative, unconventional, etc. The stories also include famas (planning all the time, judgmental) and esperanzas (‘hopes’ in Spanish, non-creative, dull).

But although we all play with the idea of being cronopios, in fact not all of us can. Sometimes it is a matter of temperament, of being scared or the weirdness of that unassailable reality. It is like the idea of being a superheroe, appealing in the surface but nor for everyone, even if you do happen to have some super powers.

I feel the need to move on from that. Some days I like to act cronopio-like, but many other days I just want to be plain me. It is time for a change. It will take a while to move things around, change software, scrub all the corners and write a few new things from scratch.

I can hear Jorge Tellier’s words from Los trenes de la noche (1963):

Pero debo dejar el pueblo
como quien lanza una colilla al suelo:
después de todo, ya se sabe bien
que en cualquier parte la vida es demasiado cotidiana.

Un cronopio no more.

The art of losing

Very few things last forever. Forever used to mean a hundred or a thousand years—even the universe had a beginning and will have an end; today it could mean three, five years. One of the reasons things last so long (or so little) is the need for self-consistency. Consistency can be good when we are true to our best, but it can be a drag when we want to become better. I have to break now with over six years of ‘backward compatibility’, which means starting over. Elizabeth Bishop wrote:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster

The art of losing, the art of letting go, the art of dharma practice aren’t hard to understand, but one needs a life (or two) to master them. Starting over is the first step of the life to master. The text above was also the last post in my old blog. I will rescue some content from there that I still like (and tag it #recycled) abandoning the rest.

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