Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Year Resolutions

I bet I know what you are thinking - you are thinking that this book is full of nifty, pertinent, quotable, pithy sayings - a book from which one might choose new year resolutions - come on, admit it! you do think that don't you. So what is inside this book? Well I will tell you later on in this posting, but first you need to bear with me a bit - Ok?

No, no, no, don't do that, stop it! don't scroll to the end of the post for a quick read to find out what's in the book! stay here with me, yes stay here, that's good, now settle down there and read on.

New Years Resolution (1) - My son Nikolai said to me last year, "Dad, you have nearly 3 thousand books in this house, and not enough of them are fiction - too many are non fiction, meaning of life, staring at your bloody navel stuff - there are other ways of finding out about this stuff you know! what you need to do is read more fiction" - He's a great reader of fiction and he is right you know - why? because, well, the meaning OF life, the meaning TO life, can indeed be expressed and encapsulated in fictional form - just as the forms of metaphor, or poetry or myth, can reveal the truth and the heart of the matter, so too can the literary form of fiction. Fiction often deals with the universal themes of human nature and our struggles - it enlarges our perception of who and what we are by allowing us to experience in a vicarious way the lives of others. One lifetime is not enough to experience everything, but through reading we can catch a ride on the coat tails of other peoples minds, their experiences, their struggle to make sense of our shared humanity. When I counted the number of fictional books I had read compared to a number of 'Best 100 books' lists on the Internet, I had not read any more than about 15 to 20 on any one list - so I have a lot of work to do - So! - New Years Resolution number 1 is to bone up on the truth laid bare in fictional form.

New Years Resolution (2) - My brother Chris said to me as we sailed down the coast a couple of weeks ago - " I saw this really neat movie in which this guy decided that he would spurn the knee jerk reaction to saying "No" to new experiences. He decided that he would say "Yes" to everything that came his way and see where it led him" - "This guy (Chris continued) said "yes" and went all over the world having incredible experiences. One experience led to another - a whole set of experiences driven by the engine room of his answer "Yes" whenever he was asked if he wanted to go somewhere or do something" - "It was an amazing film, you should see it" - "What's it called ?" I asked, "Can't remember" he replied, but just start bloody well saying "Yes" man and you will have the time of your life" - Hmmmm, So! - New Years Resolution number 2 is to say "Yes" as far as my courage will allow - ye gods! bring on the roller coaster.

New Years Resolution (3) - Circumstances are such that I am doing a lot more cooking. It started with my usual cooking on the good ship Mariner when I was away sailing and has continued in fits and starts (that's fits of laughter from myself, sometimes others) ever since. The book in the blog photograph is full of lined blank pages. To date I have written four good recipes in it. My food is simple and wholesome stuff of the comfort food variety. I hope to fill the book as much as I can over the year. So - New Years Resolution number 3 is to cook more meals, and try to be as creative as I can - shouldn't be too hard, I quite like cooking.

New Years Resolution (4) - This resolution came to me like white light on a black sky when I bought the book of blank pages - it is printed on the cover of my recipe book - "Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss, You'll Land Among The Stars" - This is going to be easy because I often miss, but I absolutely, simply adore stars, especially sailing stars.
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11 comments:

Katherine said...

Woo Hoo! Go Alden! I *Love* those resolutions!

OK. Now. Re. 1: I too, have many of those non-fiction naval-gazing books. BUT! I also have the complete works of Sir Terry Pratchett. So, given (2), I ask you to, today, go to your local library and get out one of his books. Doesn't really matter where you start because you may have to read three before you 'get' him. But you might start with the Bromeliad Trilogy. Then move on to the Discworld books.

Re. 2: Please would you and your wife come and stay with me? Sometime. Preferably the first half of this year. You could sail down and berth at the marina.

Re. 3: Email me and I will send you my secret Spiced Fruit Muffin recipe. World renown in Tauranga. Easy peasy. But *really REALLY* yummy.
people will always recall your muffins with pleasure.

Alden said...

I love the name 'Sir Terry Pratchett' he sounds like the sort of person who would have the name 'Biggles' as a non de plume - thankyou I will certainly put him on my list.

I think a coastal voyage to Tauranga would be out of the question for Christine - that is why I took two different crews going up and down the coast at Christmas, but a visit by car sometime is not out of the question and your invitation is a lovely gesture.

My email address is aldensmith@xtra.co.nz - all recipes gratefully accepted -'Spiced Fruit Muffins' have an enticing soft sweet notion about them I must say - Thankyou.

Mr. Kinder said...

Like you, I'm a committed reader of non-fiction. When I do, on occasion, pick up fiction I'm often swept away right off my feet and stuck in the story until I reach the end of the book. When I finally retire I look forward to the time to read fiction, but for now I won't allow myself the luxury of time it involves.

Kudos on your cooking resolution. I regard cooking as the queen of the arts because you're striving to create items of beauty that are pleasing to the eye, the nose, the tongue, the tooth, the body itself, and, if it sizzles, even to the ear. Cooking can produce that you ingest. In the end as ephemeral as music.

Finally, as I've developed my interest in cooking, I've discovered that I care more and more about how and where my food was grown. I've been inexorably drawn to support local organic farmers. So for me at least, my interest in cooking has been good for the planet, and good for the local economy.

As for the Yes! resolution... I'll look forward to what you have to say about that one. Seems to me that "No" is a useful word in many situations.

Delwyn said...

So I'm the third follower who is grateful for the return of the Tillerman's tales.
Your resolutions are entertaining and we will expect updates of their compliance levels...
Fiction can provide a vicarious education because it demonstrates theory(non-fiction) in the real world.(well almost real world unless its biographical and that seems open to dispute these days. And from the fiction we can extract understandings about our own lives and behaviour. It allows us to view a much bigger slice of humanity. I think a good test of fiction is when after completing the novel you find yourself wondering about the characters' wellbeing in the following days as you would a friend.

So Dan I don't see fiction as a luxury at all but a necessary way to enlargen our perspective of life.

Alden said...

You are quite right Dan about the usefulness of the word 'No' - I guess under my new self imposed rules I would say 'Yes' to the invitation to bungy jump into Skippers Canyon from a high bridge in Central Otago New Zealand but a resounding 'No' to an invitation to jump from an aeroplane without a parachute on to a strategically placed haystack.

- and What I like about cooking is that it is all absorbing, a sort of concentrated meditation in a way, with a usually pleasurable result.

Alden said...

Delwyn, compliance levels! you sound like someone from a govt department!

You make an excellent point about how the timbre of the book resonants for days - for me it seems to stay imbossed somehow in my brain - I can still conjour up the very flavour of some books e.g. 'On The Road' by Jack Keroauc or 'The Catcher In The Rye' by J.D.Salinger - great reads both of them.

Kathryn said...

What wonderful resolutions you have made. Good luck with all of them.
Cooking is not one of my favourite activities, although I do like to eat, so cooking is a means to an end for me.
And with regards to reading, I love fiction much more than non-fiction. I have so many non-fiction books around the place with book marks in them at various stages because I have promised myself that I will get back to that book and finish it..... However, there are no such fiction books; there is a pile of read books, waiting to swap with friends and family, there is a bookcase of waiting to be read books, and there is one being read book - which at the moment is Jack Higgins' Thunder Point. My Dad thought I might like it.
There is nothing better than getting lost in a good story.

Alden said...

Kathryn, so what would your recommendation be for a very good read be then??

Katherine said...

Terry is great. I think he will appeal to you.
Well, a car voyage can be fun too... and I am quite sincere about the invitation.
Spiced Fruit Muffins are on their way. I even made some this morning!

Kathryn said...

I Particularly like John Grisham, especially ones like The Brethren.
I also have developed a liking for Di Morrissey, "Tears of the Moon" is a good one.
I always liked exciting stories, maybe a bit of suspense. When I was young I liked Alistair MacLean (e.g. Guns of Navarone), and I think I could read all of his books again if I had the time!
I recently read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini,a brilliant story about the hardships in Afghanistan.

I have plenty of books to read, just not enough time to read them! I have been sick the last 2 weeks, but didn't feel inclined to read much. I have been watching the Australian Open Tennis on tv during my waking moments.

Alden said...

Thankyou Kathryn for your recommendations, I too read Alistar McLean years ago and some Nevil Shute who was fashionable at the time - I will follow them up. I am sorry to hear you are not well - Just remember add plenty of good rest to anything that the doctor orders. Take care.