I Watched A Spider Weave Its Web

Today I have experienced what the legendary Robert the Bruce had seen in a cave hundreds of years ago: I have watched a spider weave its web, graciously and with great determination. As in the story with King Robert of Scotland, the weather these past days has been rainy and windy, a blessing for the greenery and a curse for some creatures that live everywhere around.

The spider that appeared in my window sill this week was frail and barely visible, but it managed to build a very large web. Unfortunately, two nights ago the bad weather ruined it completely. The poor creature was hanging by a thread, holding tight in the freezing winds that never ceased for the entire day.

Today I have noticed something else. The spider began to weave again with the same grace and determination as a few days before. Unlike the spider in the legend, which only tries to cast a thread to the other side of the cave and fails six times only to succeed a seventh time, my companion started anew to build another net, more intricate and well-fixed, despite its apparent delicacy.

It’s inspiring to watch this fellow grow in size and try again when everything else falls apart. I guess it is the same for every creature on Earth. When we stop trying to move on the only thing we have left is failure and surrender sooner than later to the inevitable death. Destruction can be a chance to rebuild, to become stronger and more adaptable to surroundings that never cease to change.

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John Keats – Ode to a Nightingale

I haven’t had much time lately to write about anything because of my finals, but I feel compelled to share this wonderful poem by John Keats, who slowly (but surely) finds his way amongst my all-time favorite poets! Him and Robert Burns (an Englishman and Scotland’s favorite son), along with the less known Welsh poet Twm Morys, beautifully complement each other by bringing to life their respective countries. And this is how it goes:

Ode to a Nightingale

By John Keats

1.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains  
  My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,  
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains  
  One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:  
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
  But being too happy in thine happiness,—  
    That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,  
          In some melodious plot  
  Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,  
    Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
  
2.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been  
  Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,  
Tasting of Flora and the country green,  
  Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!  
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
  Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,  
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,  
          And purple-stained mouth;  
  That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,  
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
  
3.

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget  
  What thou among the leaves hast never known,  
The weariness, the fever, and the fret  
  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;  
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;  
    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow  
          And leaden-eyed despairs,  
  Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,  
    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
  
4.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,  
  Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,  
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,  
  Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:  
Already with thee! tender is the night,
  And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,  
    Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;  
          But here there is no light,  
  Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown  
    Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
  
5.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,  
  Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,  
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet  
  Wherewith the seasonable month endows  
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
  White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;  
    Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;  
          And mid-May’s eldest child,  
  The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,  
    The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
  
6.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time  
  I have been half in love with easeful Death,  
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,  
  To take into the air my quiet breath;  
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
  To cease upon the midnight with no pain,  
    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad  
          In such an ecstasy!  
  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—  
    To thy high requiem become a sod.
  
7.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!  
  No hungry generations tread thee down;  
The voice I hear this passing night was heard  
  In ancient days by emperor and clown:  
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 
  Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,  
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;  
          The same that oft-times hath  
  Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam  
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.   
  
8.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell  
  To toil me back from thee to my sole self!  
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well  
  As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.  
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
  Past the near meadows, over the still stream,  
    Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep  
          In the next valley-glades:  
  Was it a vision, or a waking dream?  
    Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Hugo Black Quotes

“A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”

“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.”

“When I was 40, my doctor advised me that a man in his 40s shouldn’t play tennis. I heeded his advice carefully and could hardly wait until I reached 50 to start again.”

Rise or Fall?

The world has changed. Or maybe I have. Maybe the world has always been a cornucopia of violence and ignorance, where rationality is stubbornly reduced to a flickering candlelight in the dark. This dying light should be nurtured and encouraged to expand from horizon to horizon, yet hopes are growing dim.

Sometimes I think the great majority of the world is simply not ready for progress. And I don’t mean making use of the available technology, but using it in order to bring peace and equality to all the nations of the world.

The scream of our ape-like ancestors keeps calling us back to the comfort of the savannah where we belong. Just like so many other species have perished in the natural history of the world, Homo sapiens isn’t yet safe from the same fate. We have yet to adapt: not to our surroundings, but to a world where people should treat all living beings as equals.

Moreover, religion roots this world deeper into the past and the primitive gods of our forefathers are the true mermaids, hungry for those who are careless enough to stray away from their path.

Humans think they have God, who loves them and keeps them safe, but in the name of an invisible character too many people don’t realize that the only thing we truly got in this world is each other. Each other to look after, to love and protect.

There’s so much hate and indifference in the world today: Muslims hate non-Muslims, Christians are suspicious of non-Christians, white people are racist, rich countries hate poor countries, the British hate immigrants, political parties hate each other, high school bullies hate and prey upon the more sensitive students, and the list can go forever on. We always find a reason to hate and almost never a reason to love.

This century will mark the rise or the fall of the ape. Will we put down our guns and start paying attention to the world around us or will be return to our caves unaware of a future we could have had?

What Time Will You Shut Down Today?

“In our lives immersed in technology, we rarely shut everything off.

We turn on when we wake up, and are on our devices until we go to sleep. And every hour in between.

I’m not immune to this. Very few people these days are.

And yet, there’s value in shutting everything down, so that we can reconnect with life. With people. With the moment. With ourselves.

There’s a time to work hard, and there should be a time to shut down. Otherwise, it all blends together and nothing has any space.

What time will you shut down today?”

~ Leo Babauta (zenhabits.net)

Star of the County Down

This Irish ballad is set near Banbridge, in County Down (Northern Ireland). According to the book Songwriters of Ireland in the English Tongue (1967), the words were created by Cathal McGarvey (1866-1927).
The following version is performed by Sarah Moore

And another beautiful, beautiful song: