online: 1 april 2003

30 march 2003 a kind of perfection

15:33 A jetplane with a vapour trail is approaching from the horizon towards a point directly above me - it appears to be climbing vertically, like a rocket (but actually it is flying horizontally).

Two other jets, and two sea gulls, fly in different directions across the blue sky. There have been few clouds for several weeks - though it was misty yesterday, and the day before.

A noisy helicopter flies quite low over the heath. It pauses and turns as if to watch something happening on the ground (and then it goes away)... There are many people here today, it is Sunday afternoon. The helicopter returns - it is now directly above me and is moving slowly... and now it flies away. I resent its intrusive presence.

From this point I can see more than 30 people. If there are say 100 such points on the heath there could be 30 x 100 = 3000 people on the heath today. Most days I would expect to see no more than say 5 people from any spot - which would indicate 500 people out walking... there are probably that many in the jumbo jet that has just flown over... So what? Counting and measuring are ridiculous*.

I decide to walk on.

17:17 Viaduct pond. Nearby are about ten groups of people sitting in the sun. The nearest is a woman who has been talking to someone by phone for about ten minutes. She looks as if she is going to continue phoning for as long as she sits here... She laughs and reacts playfully when a friend comes near to interrupt her - but she continues talking on the phone - even when her friends persuade her to walk with them. And now they go away, laughing. It's not often that I encounter such visible happiness...

There's a bird singing in the elderberry tree above me but I cannot see it among the branches and the leaves that are already out.

A woman fifty metres away hangs a mirror on a fence - it's at just the angle to dazzle me - but I don't think she is aware of where it is shining. She is reading.

This is peace. It is paradise. This is life as it should be, and can. The guns and missiles in Iraq are inaudible and out of sight.

An old and frail-looking woman in a hat and overcoat walks slowly down the slope. She is following a younger person - without whom, I guess, she would not come here.

These are very short stories.

This a kind of perfection.

As I walk away I see a man and a small boy at the water's edge - they are looking at a toy submarine that is moving away from the bank and perhaps will not return... The man says that the boy has several toy boats and does not mind if the submarine doesn't return to the bank. I once had a toy submarine with a clockwork motor - it was not long before it ceased to function as water got inside it. I used to like toy boats.

*I remember Edwin Schlossberg saying that all measurement is ridiculous. This provokes another thought, about science: if you can measure something it's unimportant, even trivial; if it's a matter of life and death it's beyond science and measurement. Examples? age, size, cost, the quality of life, love, hate, art, education, faith, my happiness this sunny afternoon, the pleasure of writing this... only the first three can be measured. The others disappear if you try to express them by numbers - but they exist! It is official policy these days to try to control everything by measurement. What a mistake. It's ridiculous!

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© 2003 john chris jones

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