"I am teaching myself perfect freedom…the great first principle is that the clamour of the world is just wrong."

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My trip to Brazil was comically short. Only four and a half days before I got in a cab and rode back to Salvador airport, changed my ticket and came home.

It was an expensive and mostly unpleasant mistake – but fabulously instructive nonetheless.

Primarily, I learned that I am at core still a seasonal animal. And ripping myself from dark winter into an alien summer only upsets me.

I realised it most sharply on the 30th of December, less than 36 hours after having arrived in Brazil.

I was standing in a yard full of Brazilians, all hysterical with summery happiness, singing along to the divine and golden Marienne de Castro, and I knew, to my mild embarassment, that I didn’t want to be there. My body and brain were still in the British winter. And the transposed animal part of me was miserable. I wanted quiet introspection. Brazil (quite rightly) wanted a giddy party.

When you think about it jetlag is the one thing human evolution can not anticipate. Sudden brutal movement from one hemisphere to another? The genome’s never going to come up with a biological bandaid for that.

I feel happy that I had the courage to tend to my misery and not brush it aside with the heartless rationalisation of the thinking mind. I didn’t let the mental superstructure persuade me to stay where I was uncomfortable. And I am delighted to be back in the cold darkness of British winter, where paradoxically, I feel happiest.


  1. Geoff Coupe

    January 4, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    “I feel happy that I had the courage to tend to my misery and not brush it aside with the heartless rationalisation of the thinking mind.”

    Eh? It sounds entirely the rational thing to do. The unthinking thing to do would surely be to stay there and suffer?

  2. Valerie W

    January 6, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    That climate and atmosphere was a bit of an extreme
    difference. Maybe just a trip to the coast of Portugal
    would have been better. Here in New England life goes
    on and Winter is just part of it. Can’t wait for the next
    snow storm with clogged roads, power outages, frigid
    temperatures, biting winds. I guess I’ll just go to work
    come home a read a good book. And then there’s spring.
    But really I would find it hard to live without our seasons.
    Each one brings something different.

  3. Lucy

    January 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I’m glad someone else can’t just take it in their stride.

    Last year after a month in the antipodean spring then coming back to begin my working, academic year in autumn and the approach to winter was, I think, a shock I didn’t really get over all year, I was so out of sorts. I’ve no real wish to do it again, and would hate to live somewhere where Christmas and the midwinter festivals took place in high summer.
    Well done for having the courage to make that decision!

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