In praise of the scruffy and marginal

In praise of the scruffy and marginal

I love hedgehogs and see them as an ambling, loveable, flea-scratching symbol of hope and freedom, as well as the rights of the scruffy and marginal to be scruffy and marginal.  If they can survive in your garden, your garden is healthy. If the species survives our...
These days of September

These days of September

A surprising insight by the author of All Quiet on the Western Front.  You will never see this month the same way again, here proposed as a metaphor for a stage of life, the ninth month of a lifespan of twelve.  So many fine aspects of a human existence, including...
Neglect nothing

Neglect nothing

This sense of completion in an artist’s life struck me, and it made me think about what I may be neglecting now. I take as read the implication that he means ‘nothing important’.  A no-regrets summary of life. It also echoes something my father has...
Far the greater number

Far the greater number

If you can die concluding that by far the greater number of people in the world are very good, you have had a good life or perhaps you have just lived it well.  Here, Steinbeck concludes his slim, rich account of a month spent in the Soviet Union at the height of the...
Here is a valuable life

Here is a valuable life

Lopez’s description of a tough animal encountered on a summer’s day, arresting him with its direct gaze, reminds me of the sightings of birds we enjoy in our garden. In one spot, we used a pair of terracotta pots, about a foot high and nearly as much...
Seven steps to heaven

Seven steps to heaven

Now I know why it’s called ‘seventh’ heaven – it takes only seven steps to get there. I stumbled upon this revelation while doing the Spring Circular, the 10km round robin walk with which I’ve been savouring the season’s renewal. A...
The texture of the everyday

The texture of the everyday

This thoughtful reminder of the splendour of everyday happiness made its way into the nuannaarpoq pipeline long before the world we love was swept by pandemic. How many of those in quarantined ‘exile’, or ill, or on their deathbed may be recalling with...
Impeccable integrity

Impeccable integrity

Barry Lopez came up with this touching idea of comparing perfect integrity in a human life to aspects of nature: the way light works, wind moves, birds sing, or seed pods burst. They are all good models for coherence in life. ‘I wish the order of my life to be...
Statistic of the day

Statistic of the day

I started viewing handfuls of healthy soil, forest or otherwise, with new respect when I learned of their teeming life forms.  That awareness has now extended to including rotting old tree trunks and stumps, smothered with moss and lichen and countless invisible...
Alive on this earth

Alive on this earth

Grossman’s essay on the Sistine Madonna by Raphael is one of the most splendid responses to art I have read. He deploys all his descriptive powers to encompass what it means to him and to us. Above all, it is a symbol of precious, tender, vulnerable, resilient...
The most splendid thing in the world

The most splendid thing in the world

Vasily Grossman, who lived through and witnessed some of the vilest episodes of human history, never lost his belief in humanity as embodied in the smallness of an individual human being with quirks, dreams, longings and a capacity for love and kindness.He is, for me,...
A slow creation

A slow creation

A marvelously succinct summary of the vast universe that is the evolution of a single human being, with all its subtleties and complexities.’A human being in this aged nation of ours is a very wonderful whole, the slow creation of long interchanging...
Of sleep, sky and an infinite future

Of sleep, sky and an infinite future

From Seethaler’s subtle, sensitive and slender novel on a whole life (you can interpret the title either way).Here he describes the easy sleep of the protagonist, adaptable to many places including the open air. I liked the lack of fretful concern for the...
Young and younger

Young and younger

A wonderful, playful evocation of youth remembered, in heaps and piles, years, decades and even centuries later. But keep in mind one definition of age; that of ‘accumulated youth’. There, don’t you feel younger already? ‘I was very young in...
Of longing and living

Of longing and living

An unusual take on the link between longing and being fully alive. Perhaps the Dalai Lama would question its validity, but I believe he would show compassion towards its all too human weakness. And I don’t see this view as being contrary to an all-pervasive...
In praise of later love

In praise of later love

George Eliot noticed a bias in poets’ treatment of love, a tendency to say many fine things about its first experience, and far fewer about those that happen later in life. I confess to having a special interest in sharing this quotation on this day, being the...
Sleeping beauty

Sleeping beauty

In the winter of 2004-2005 seven inches of rain fell in Death Valley, a once in generations weather event. When spring came the floor of the valley was a carpet of flowers. It had been sleeping, not dead. I was struck by this account of a rare deluge in a place...
Of youth and memory

Of youth and memory

Memory is a key theme of nuannaarpoq.com, as somehow it came to the surface as a principal element of a life well lived when I was considering what to highlight. Here Mark Twain embellishes the concept with his usual wit and verve.’When I was younger I could...
Nuannaarpoq Interviews – Question 003

Nuannaarpoq Interviews – Question 003

‘If you had an opportunity to put a question to Socrates what would it be?’ This is a quotation from Lawrence Durrell’s enchanting exploration of the island of Corfu, Prospero’s Cell. I have been pondering it for months and decided it was a good question...
What’s the point?

What’s the point?

The eternal question. We can’t know what the point is, nor even if there is one.  But in so far as we may need to believe that there is a point to it all, I liked the response given by the writer Philip Pullman: more consciousness, by whatever creative or benign...
A thought on childhood

A thought on childhood

According to his biographer John Drury, the English poet George Herbert ‘thought that it was better being a child than an adult’, perhaps confirmed by the simple closing line to his poem ‘Holy Baptism (II)’, comprising three diamond-shaped...
Which will you be?

Which will you be?

Essentially, do you cleave to integrity or niftily skirt around obstacles? I liked the choice presented as Achilles or Odysseus, the singular hero or the ingenious man (or woman, this isn’t a gender-specific issue).Nicolson’s wondrous book poses many...
A spell of peace

A spell of peace

An intricate description of the effect an ancient temple can work on the spirit – a falling away of complication and anxiety and a spilling over of clarity and hope.  I had such a feeling when a handful of us were allowed to roam untrammelled through ruins and...

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