I am one of those who, everyday, watches the sun rise and set.
It is for me a way to remain aware that we are part of nature, of a cycle of day and night, and of a movement vaster and faster than we can ever imagine.
Watching the sun rising and setting does not require a view upon the sea or even a large window, a small patch of sky suffices.
Days are filled with activities and noise, so I like the simplicity of seeing the slow lightning up of the sky announcing the start of a new day in total silence. And I like taking a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of a late afternoon to witness the sun setting, even if it is a simple reflection on a glass pane.
Every dawn and every dusk are distinct in sights, with different colors and sometimes birds flying across the sky; and in sounds, with silence or the echos of thunder. Each rising and setting of the sun has its own atmosphere, and I am grateful for being a witness to it all.
These are simple pleasures really, reminding us that beyond the fracas of the world, there is serenity and there is beauty.
Inspiration: changing skies.
She stood with a fan in her hand, her gaze reaching far beyond the fence.
She filled the museum room with grace and poise – a silent contrast to the visitors, all smart phone at hand rushing by, their short attention span turning stillness into boredom.
I was absorbed by her grace. I never asked myself any questions about what she may have been thinking. There was no need.
I stood there, wishing for her serenity to touch me. And as the visitors withered away, it did. I hope it touches you as well.
“Lady with a fan” by Fei Danxu (China, 1801-1850), ink on paper, hanging scroll, Qing Dynasty – a photo I took at the Shanghai Museum in June 2018.
Inspiration: Chinese New Year and serenity.
Open the ancient manuscripts of your heart
let your fingers trace the curves and the dots
then set them free to dance away the dust
so that light may finally shine in.
Inspiration: heartfelt conversation with a friend.
“Nativity” — a fresco by Bernardino Luini (Italy, 1485-1532), made around 1520-25.
In my eyes, this Nativity representation is most special because of the serenity that emanates from it and the gentleness in the gestures of all the ones present.
Being a fresco, the colours appear to us after so many years subdued, giving the scene a most serene and warm feeling. The use of the full spectrum of colours from warm to cold hues is remarkable in that there is no clash and everything remains soothing to the eyes.
And of course, the influence of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is undeniable. Da Vinci was a contemporary and a friend of Luini, and his influence can be seen through the softness of the facial expressions and the delicate touches of light. Actually both painters used similar technics, and until recently some paintings by Luini had been attributed to Da Vinci.
This fresco was originally in a private chapel in Milan. It is now at the Louvre, Paris. The photo was taken by me and the colours are exactly as you see them.
It is cold.
The flame of the candle shivers in the dark.
The Japanese incense releases its delicate fragrance.
I tighten the châle around my shoulders.
The window frames a dark sky.
The moon is a thin bowl,
and Venus shines beside it.
It is very quiet,
the moment utterly serene.
I anticipate nothing.
Inspirations: morning meditation, silence.
Yes. Slowing down. Going at a lower pace.
Looking, really looking around us.
And feeling also. Feeling the wind and immensity of the sky upon opening a window. Feeling the emotions, like a dress we smooth discreetly as we stand up.
Walking without running.
Taking in the taste and texture and colors of each dish when eating, and doing the same when cooking.
Listening to the other person, speaking with precision, pondering each word and adding comas.
It is not to stop time; rather, it is to live it fully.
“We live no more than one hundred years” wrote Sikong Tu at the start of a poem more than one thousand years ago.
We live but a speck in timelessness.
So, why not let our hair turn white and the soft breeze rustle through our clothes?
Why not let the moss cover the stone?
Let us not fret about the world, shall we?
Inspiration: Sikong Tu (China, 837-908), Tang Dynasty poet, known for his poems and for writing the Chinese poetry manual “The twenty-four styles of poetry.”