Beijing, 4 February 2013
From time to time in Buddhist temples in this part of the world one sees a metal sculpture standing on altars, which takes the form of a stem of a lotus plant to which are attached a flower bud, a fully opened flower, and the seed pod from which the petals have fallen off; sometimes they are accompanied by a young leaf unrolling, a fully mature leaf, and an old leaf, ragged and torn. It is a visual allegory for the cycle to which we are all subject: birth – life – death. It is a gentler reminder of what I was harshly told every Ash Wednesday when I was a boy: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return”.
I was reminded of this as the tulips – so lovely two posts ago – paled, wilted, and lost their petals, to finally leave the stamens standing naked and forlorn. I decided to record this decay down to death.
I would like to think that my life currently stands at Saturday evening. Cold objectivity suggests instead that it stands at Sunday morning.
I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me.
What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things.
But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind?
I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet.
What else about me?
When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit.
What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written.
As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree.
I hope you enjoy my posts.
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