Week in bed with flu – cough keeps me awake – bit weak – but appetite fine. Between wee dozes, I’ve just finished ‘Italian Shoes’ – a novel by Henning Mankell – loved it. Mankell is Sweden’s Ian Rankin – his Rebus is called Wallander – but this is not a ‘police procedural’ – it’s about a man in his sixties living in self-imposed isolation on an island in the Swedish archipelago.
The desolate frozen landscape, and the changing weather of these fog-bound Baltic islands is beautifully evoked – but it’s the inner landscape of Frederick Welin which I found compelling.
He was once a successful surgeon – years ago his career struck a rock – now he’s a recluse – reflecting on a life of failed relationships – coming to understand how fear of attachment denuded his life. It’s a beautiful story about ageing and about human frailty.
Looking back at my own life, it feels like I have been absent from much of it. All that noise and all that energy now seem so remote. I don’t think I made much sense from my childhood – then so much thrashing around. Like Welin, when the chips were down, I was often missing – there’s nothing as scary as love. Now it’s 7pm – clear sky – sitting in a puddle of sunlight at the front door – neighbour, walking his dog stops to chat.
I enjoy the solitude of my life – chosen – the impulse, towards evening, to make sense of the day. Albert Einstein observed that we don’t need to understand the world – we only need to find our way in it. I wonder what to make for my tea.