A few of my favourite things

We all deserve a bit of what we fancy. I am not Maria from the Sound of Music. But I appeal to you: always remember your favourite things. Indulge in them. Even if only just for a bit. 
Painting
I needed to be creative in 2018 and early 2019

 

Lent and lengthening days

It’s soon Lent. Which it’s just occurred to me sounds like the Spanish or Italian for “slow”. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests its etymological roots lie elsewhere: if anything in the lengthening days of the new spring. Whatever the word ‘Lent’ means, I know I love pancakes (Shrove Tuesday is next week and I can’t wait). I especially love the longer nights that will unfold between now and Easter. Funnily enough, I am not that fond of Tuesdays.

I love cherry blossom, which these days appears remarkably early in the year (perhaps that’s one effect of the Climate Crisis, and one we shouldn’t ignore). Appearing quite as early on our trees as it now does, cherry blossom is a symbol of something strange and discomforting in terms of changing flora and fauna. But the handsome pinks still fill me with joy.

This past week, I have been left reflecting on other joys. What I am grateful for. The 25th anniversary of my Barmitzvah has inevitably taken me back to my childhood. I was an awkward so-and-so, but my head was full of dreams. I want to tap into that childlike space. I have written elsewhere here about my childhood imagination. https://andrewkaufman.co.uk/reset/age-is-just-a-number/

25 years ago this week

It’s not quite nostalgia that is stirring; rather, I like to think of it as my very own invitation to experience a playfulness, a certain texture to life, that all too often I forget as an adult.

A wonderfully gifted teacher of mine, the NLP guru Robert Dilts, talks about how all of us as adults deserve more “playfulness” in the quotidian existence of the humdrum and the routine.

Cherry Blossom
Wonderful cherry blossom in Ronda

So I remember things in no particular order. But remembering does me good.

I remember being aged around five or six and absorbing the heat of a log-lit fire tickling away at Ben the Dog (our beautiful black labrador’s) paws. I was in our front room, it was Christmas.

And while the house was filled with laughter and a reliable sense of cheer, I remember being sat on the carpet – gleefully – just Ben and I, on our own. Re-runs of ‘Allo Allo (a seriously unfunny 1980s BBC sitcom about the French Resistance) were on the television; or perhaps it was ‘Dad’s Army’. I forget the specifics.

I seem to remember Tim Currie, the actor with a seriously strange career, appearing in a film as a grand wizard, ‘The Worst Witch’. It matters less than how I felt. Which was to feel as though I was being held in a permanent, warm and domestic embrace.

There were Quality Street and Roses chocolates in abundance and the discarded plastic wrappers shone the colours of Christmas; emeralds for the chocolate pralines that nobody wanted, ruby reds for the ones as a young boy I felt I was foretasting adulthood licking, (rich with a butter chocolate liqueur).

Simply look around and view it

I loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original one with Gene Wilder as the ever-so sadistic chocolatier). I loved the lyrics to his song, ‘If you want to view Paradise…’. The sentiment was so pure, so honest: “…simply look around, and view it.”

Willy Wonka
My favourite chocolatier, Willy Wonka

Keep on appreciating what you already have, seemed to be the moral of Willy Wonka’s tale. Some things, however, we simply need to soak up.

It’s true we can have “too much of a good thing”. Everything must in the end be in balance.

As a kid, I had a voracious appetite and would surprise my sisters with how many chocolate digestives I could consume on the sofa. Alas, my metabolism has slowed over the years. But my eyes remain twice as big as my stomach.

I try to resist my sweet tooth and walk past the bomboneras and pastelerias I find here in Barcelona. But that doesn’t mean I can’t undress the chocolates and sweets from their wrappers.

Lovely cakes
Lent is coming up. Still time for some cake!

 

 

 

 

 

So, here’s the thing.

I think I had got way too serious. Life was feeling a bit too much of a commitment. At times, that’s absolutely as it must be. And we feel lacking in any real choice. Caring responsibilities overwhelm us. Illness frightens us. Death knocks at our door and the doors of our loved ones and dearest. I am not saying Life is all Ha Ha, Hee Hee (a nod to the brilliant Meera Syal there).

What I am saying, is that playing with the tender and childlike innocence we have at our core, no matter how old we are, is not just a valve to reawaken historic memories and thoughts. It’s essential to feeling alive now, in the present.

A close friend of mine surprised me the other week when she came to visit me in Barcelona. She suddenly, driven by childlike glee and impulse, started rolling in petals laid decoratively on the floor of a Gaudí modernista Casá we were walking around. And good for her! She needed it. It awoke something. She was present.

Art can help me connect with this playful presence. It certainly helped me in 2018 when I felt a lot of dread. I painted in hues of pink, green, yellow and red. No wonder forward-thinking health commissioners invest in art therapy. I felt transformed!

Painting
I needed to be creative in 2018 and early 2019

When’s the next time you can be the very best version of your childhood self?

I might not be Maria from the Sound of Music. But I appeal to you: always remember your favourite things. Indulge in them. Even if only just for a bit.