The Thames at low tide. Running through Limehouse, past mud banks, luxury flats and glimpses of a lost dockyard past. I’m listening to the haunting, heartbreaking strains of Agnes Obel’s Familiar.
The sun glints crystals on the water. A sudden mood shift from my running playlist to Erasures’s euphoric Give a Little Respect .
A small terrier barks and rears up. Its lead is nearly choking it, it’s trying to attack a much bigger dog, who stares down at it with benign confusion. Above them, their owners start to trade angry words. A potential war is started, averted when the bigger dog gently nudges his owner who walks him around and away.
The wind chases the clouds and hides the sun. I’m now listening to Dostoevsky and the Russian Soul. As a young man, Fyodor Dostoevsky found himself in front of a firing squad. For 10 endless minutes, he thought he was about to die. His sentence was commuted to hard labour and military service. Dostoevsky’s observations during his time in Siberia, revealing the deep contradictions of our human souls: the peasants, brutish, violent, yet capable of unexpected kindness, the deep rooted fear of ‘the other’; the need to define ourselves by what we are not; Russia is not the West, the West is not Russia.
Nations endlessly going to war. We act against our own best interests in the name of abstract concepts like freedom. And yet at the same time, we are capable of showing great kindness and compassion.
Literature holding a hopeful mirror up to reality.
Weekend running – time, space, meditate.