14 February

coffee shop in the Jordaan
ceiling of a coffeeshop in the Jordaan, Amsterdam

“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience, from Essays: Second Series

Here is a holiday which, more than most, seems to engender feelings of ambivalence (in the definitive ‘love-hate’ sense, not the oft-misused ‘indifferent’ sense). Everything is a convention of some sort or other; life remains insoluble. That’s a good thing. Shrug off contrivances— live deliberately or with abandon or both, but live wisely, live well. Happy Friday!

Cafe 't Smalle in Amsterdam
a jolly crowd at Cafe ‘t Smalle in Amsterdam

“Listen: I am ideally happy. My happiness is a kind of challenge. As I wander along the streets and the squares and the paths by the canal, absently sensing the lips of dampness through my worn soles, I carry proudly my ineffable happiness. The centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, but my happiness , dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a street lamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal’s black waters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which God so generously surrounds human loneliness.”

— Vladimir Nabokov, “A Letter That Never Reached Russia”
From The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

* both quotes via liquidnight
* naturally the talk of canals took my thoughts to Amsterdam

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