Under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers

I’ve found that I’ve a knack for repeating myself at times.
I tend to reread books, I listen to songs over and over again.  
I’m in such a mood tonight.
And tonight’s reading is Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.  
A very interesting read to be sure. 

. . . I speak here only of an emotion,
and of an emotion at once stubborn and subtle. But the repetition
in Nature seemed sometimes to be an excited repetition, like that of
an angry schoolmaster saying the same thing over and over again.
The grass seemed signaling to me with all its fingers at once;
the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood. The sun would
make me see him if he rose a thousand times. The recurrences of the
universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation, and I began
to see an idea . . .


A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit
fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.
They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it
again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong
enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough
to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning,
"Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon.
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike;
it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired
of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy;
for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.


Poetry is sane because it floats
easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea,
and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion,
like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything
is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only
desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in.
The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician
who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.


I admit that your explanation explains a great deal; but what a great deal it
leaves out! Are there no other stories in the world except yours;
and are all men busy with your business? Suppose we grant the details;
perhaps when the man in the street did not seem to see you it was
only his cunning; perhaps when the policeman asked you your name it
was only because he knew it already. But how much happier you would
be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you!
How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller
in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity
and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their
sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin
to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you.
You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your
own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself
under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers."


Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire
to live taking the form of a readiness to die. "He that will lose
his life, the same shall save it," is not a piece of mysticism
for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for
sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide
or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage;
even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by
the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within
an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut
his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a
strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life,
for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely
wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape.
He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it;
he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.
No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle
with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so.
But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it
in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance
between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the
sake of dying.


Chesterton and NorthTown, an iced peppermint tea, processing life as life passes

by outside.  So much changes, and so much stays the same.


And tomorrow is coming – soon the rosy fingers of dawn will pierce the night sky.

And another tomorrow will be upon me. My days numbered. My time valuable – 

my time squandered or invested? Heavy thoughts, somber smiles.  All good things.





Ingrid Michelson keeps me company tonight, my ice cubes melt and clink in their 

glass. This is life – this is it, these still moments of reflection . . . I tell 

you dear reader because in telling you I am actually reminding myself. 







This is not for you – No, I am selfish – this is for me.


  1. "It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."
    What an amazing thought Neil. Thank you for sharing my friend.
    I do not have words to process my thoughts, but thank you.
    Keep up the writing. It is a wonderful glimmer of hope and inspiration. Thank you.

  2. Opps! I did not credit that well enough - all those amazing quotes - well they're Chesterton's - not mine . . . amazing yes - mine no