Winter has started and I am busy with my favorite pastime, a long sit in an espresso bar, anonymous among the crowd, observing, thinking, writing and being. I’ve got Lana del Rey on repeat, and I can hear the stir of the many people around me. I can quietly observe as I am seated in a comfortable brown leather armchair with my back to the wall, facing the crowd.
I’ve been sitting like this for a while, initially busy with an attempt to write a review of Isaiah Berlin’s essays on Russia in the penguin classic edition ‘Russian Thinkers’, but as all to often happens, I lost my concentration, train of thought and general courage halfway.
Again my thoughts are scattered and it annoys me that I can hardly keep any of them together for a sufficient amount of time. So I am writing this post instead. A general autobiographical post is better served by scattered thoughts than a serious review on a serious thinker like Isaiah Berlin, who I am glad to have discovered.
Across from me I see many people busy on their laptops. One guy is seemingly busy designing some architectural plans on his. I am just pretending to be busy. How I sometimes wish I had learned some practical trade…
And I see women. Always the main object of my desire, apart from books. Winter is no season to be single. Spring and summer are the seasons best suited for a single life, not winter. Winter is meant to be spent inside, huddled together under a blanket with a hot beverage and romantic thoughts and family.
It’s no shame to admit these thoughts and feelings. I never particularly felt this way when I was younger. I had no fond memories of our own winter family holidays and I couldn’t understand those memories of others. But I guess that’s what getting older does to you. Life is not to be lived out alone, and winter is harsh on lonely people; my heart goes out to them this winter.
Then Robert Walser’s short story ‘The walk’ came to mind. I just finished reading his little gem. Robert Walser was lonely most of his life. From his short bio on the back of the book;
Robert Walser (1878-1956) lived his life in small rooms and stayed his final 23 years in a psych ward. He liked going on long walks and writing and despised fame.
‘The walk’ is just that, a description of one of his many walks, his thoughts and the people and scenes he encounters. Most memorable to me are the final pages which I want to translate and share (however crudely) when on the end of his walk he lies down and watches the sky;
Watching earth, sky and heaven I was overwhelmed by a saddening, uncontrollable thought that made me convince myself that I was a poor prisoner caught between heaven and earth, that we were all miserably caught this way, that no other way existed for all of us to another world except the one that leads to that deep dark pit, the grave.
And with these dark thoughts finally comes his remorse for a chance missed;
…I might have been able to convince her that I had her best interest in mind. I should have told her in time that my affection was completely honest. It would have been simple and truly correct if I had openly confessed: ‘I love you. All your affairs are to me just as important as my own affairs. For many kind, beautiful reasons it is of utmost importance to me to make you happy.’ But she left, because I didn’t make any effort… I raised myself up to go home because it was late and everything was dark.
With that I end this post. It’s also dark outside of the espresso bar. Time to go home.