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“It is dull in this world, gentlemen”

“It is dull in this world, gentlemen.”

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, “The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich”

Today I agree with Gogol’s remark. What a compelling way to end “The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich” that I just finished re-reading!

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons


Gogol’s peculiar, often detestable characters and his vivid, witty language takes you on a captivating journey. A journey that leaves little room for other thoughts. It makes you smile and frown. It’s absurd at times (just like life can be), but no matter how bizarre it seems, it does remain real, and everything falls into place at the end. When you finish reading, you know that every word and every punctuation mark played a certain role in the narrative. And despite the dullness you wish for more. More meaning, more experience, more of this bizarre life story. I’ll end a dull day with that wish for more, mesmerized again by the power of good literature. Experiencing it is one of the best things this world has to offer. We should do it more often.

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Dissatisfaction

“Dissatisfaction is the mother of change, and only change can drive improvement.”

This phrase caught my attention in a book called “Confidence: The surprising truth about how much you need and how to get it”* a few days ago. My minor achievements and failures today proved once again that a certain portion of dissatisfaction remain a constant source of improvement for me, both when I succeed and when I fail. Recognizing this fact doesn’t necessarily make discontent pleasant, but it does make it easier to understand and deal with.

*The book is probably just the opposite of the self-help guides attempting to help people artificially boost their confidence. It looks at low confidence as a driving force for increasing competence which ultimately results in higher confidence. While a little repetitive, it is a compelling, well written read in our world of way too many confidence distortions.

Discovery 14: “The Days Go by”…

Another day went by… and today I feel it’s time to share Mirabeau Bridge (a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire). A poem I often go back to. Every time I read it, I seem to discover yet another nuance to it… and to how I feel in that particular moment. About time, uncertainty, love, fatigue, meaning, elusiveness, momentariness, distance, proximity… Life!

Try a ‘walk’ on Guillaume Apollinaire’s Mirabeau Bridge and see for yourself.

Mirabeau Bridge
by Guillaume Apollinaire
translated by Donald Revell

Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away
And lovers
Must I be reminded
Joy came always after pain

The night is a clock chiming
The days go by not I

We’re face to face and hand in hand
While under the bridges
Of embrace expire
Eternal tired tidal eyes

The night is a clock chiming
The days go by not I

Love elapses like the river
Love goes by
Poor life is indolent
And expectation always violent

The night is a clock chiming
The days go by not I

The days and equally the weeks elapse
The past remains the past
Love remains lost
Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away

The night is a clock chiming
The days go by not I

Source: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16218

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