In these crazy times, here are two Japanese words that I learned recently:
Tsundoku – This literally means a reading pile, or a pile of books waiting to be read. It can also refer to the action of piling up books and leaving them unread around the house (something that I’m somewhat guilty of).
Hikikomori – This is a Japanese word used to refer to a person (usually a young adult) who withdraws from society and lives in extreme isolation. It’s similar to the word ‘recluse’.
The world has become a hikikomori, myself included. And I am surviving …. no, I’m enjoying lockdown with a tsundoku. I’ve never been a social person, but now my isolation is ramping up. I don’t even go outside to throw rubbish or hang laundry on the line anymore. I take this lockdown as a challenge. You want me to stay at home? OK, I’ll see how long I can stay at home for. I don’t have a balcony, so I don’t get any fresh air or sunshine if I don’t go outside. People who know me were starting to worry that I would get a Vitamin D deficiency. My neighbours started to worry because I haven’t checked my letterbox for mail in over a month and I don’t answer my doorbell anymore. I wasn’t lonely, and I didn’t mind the isolation, but the mounting pile of rubbish in the house really started to bother me. I spent 24 days inside the house, before finally opening my front door on the 25th day to take the rubbish out.
I told myself that I would only buy food when my options were starvation or supermarket. I didn’t buy anything, not even food, for 33 days. I finally went to the supermarket on the 34th day when starvation was imminent. I am so proud of myself for my planning and execution, and I learned that I’m pretty damn good at rationing food. I will (hopefully) never have another chance to do this again.
This post is actually about airline socks. I didn’t mean to write 3 consecutive posts about socks. It just happened that way because the world went a bit mad. I go out as little as possible, so I don’t even wear outside shoes and socks much anymore. As my house is a shoe-free zone, these days airline socks are all I wear around the house.
Shih Yen sitting in her reading chair wearing indoor clothes – track pants and brown airline socks, courtesy of Royal Brunei Airlines.
Airline socks are those socks that you get on an airplane. They are meant for you to wear in the airplane while on a long flight. I love airline socks because they are so comfortable. They are loose and shapeless and very comfortable. Currently, they are also the closest thing that I’ll get to air travel for a very long time.
Shih Yen’s selection of shapeless airline socks from different airlines, the closest thing to international travel these days.
Here’s a poem (a sonnet) by John Donne. I first read it when I was 16 or 17, and I have always loved it. I don’t know if you find it helpful, but I do, especially in these crazy times.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.