The Pillow Book of Prudence . . . Part 6

Things one shouldn’t do: Pass wind (in public).  Lose focus with one’s manuscript revision.  Become involved in another’s trials and tribulations.  Wear lipstick a shade too red for one’s certain age.  Short hems and bikinis (in public) after a certain age.  Gossip.  Drink more wine than is good for one .  Wish, because one should be careful what one wishes for.  Lift heavy planks that need stacking.  Be xenophobic.  Lose one’s temper.

Things one should do: If one must pass wind, one can always remember the adage ‘better out than in.’ Be there for one’s friends, no matter the cost.  Change the red lipstick for a soft shade of rockmelon or cantaloup.  Listen to what people might be saying and don’t comment. (see gossip, above)  If the wine is good then it is good for one to drink a goodly amount . . . nothing like the perfect vintage.  Wish on a star.  Be culturally broadminded.  Be filled with equanimity.

Tonight, in the middle of the sixth month, it is the night of the winter solstice.  This night will be the night of the long dark.  If we lived in the North, I suspect we would experience such a thing at about Samhain, in which case we would light twin fires and walk between the two as a cleansing ritual.  Such are the old traditions. Our newer ones imply that we have a winter festival called Lumina, where we celebrate the lands of ice to the south.  We will have festivals of voices and food, and a week where we shall celebrate the words of a great playwright.  In the words of that same Master: ‘If music be the food of love, play on.  Give me excess of it . . .’

We shall go out in the icy shadows of evening, wrapped in padded coats and scarves. During the days we shall hope to see the whale migrations and perhaps we shall begin to see that the trees are actually growing, not sleeping.  That the buds are beginning to swell slightly on the branch.  And we will be reminded that there is a cycle to everything . . . light to dark, life to death, hunger to surfeit, sadness to happiness and we shall be reminded that we must be observant and we must be grateful for small and insignificant things.