“The individual attains significance as a free spirit only by surrounding himself with limitations and determining for himself what his duty is.”
Hexagram 60, Jie, Limitation
Book of Changes Wilhelm Edition.
Es Grau is what they call a “biosfera” that is to say a nature reserve. As well as home to abundant reptile life, it claims to be the winter resort of the Northern European coot. I’m just another one, I guess.
I’m sitting by myself at the huge kitchen table, listening to Thomas Tallis while I eat my breakfast: toast, (remarkably) Menorcan marmalade and tea made with Brooke Bond PG Tips Pyramids; very expensive, locally bought. I’m looking across the hilly heath-covered country towards Mahon, the capital. Those flat-topped hills are welcoming goy moons which are said to coincide with nothing much other than life going on. Huge gate is the usual translation; a friendly invitation. Happy, as they say, is the land with no history.
It’s often windy here which is just as well for the turbines now cartwheeling on the ridge. Last night I left my heavy curtain open to be at one with the beating of the wind. It was a wild night, the trees sighing and creaking. I’m only a couple of miles from the sea of course.
Occasional villas stud the skyline; a dozen or so to the square mile, I estimate. There’s no high rise even in Mahon, about five kilometres away, no clubs, no nightlife; paradise for the recreational hermit.
I’ve been alone in this rather splendid villa for nearly three weeks. During that time I’ve reviewed my approach to exteriors, planned my next couple of courses*, wrestled with the formulae of Qi Men Dun Jia and the ba zi theories of Jerry King, missed my wife and children and listened to a great deal of Josh Ritter. In no particular order. Maggie’s passing (as well as those of Annette Funicello and Mike Denness) came and went without any call for my attendance and a couple of atrocities the world could have done without.
I first stayed in this villa in 2003 when I’d only recently come out as a practising feng shui man. Back then my hostess, bless her, bartered us a fortnight for 12 people (12 people!) in return for a feng shui report. That was a riot; kids everywhere and the lizards running for cover.
I’ve learned a bit since then. That rococo report and map, sound though they were, missed the obvious: this is technically a 6 Fate House (built in 1973) on a North East-South West axis which puts the current Water Star (essentially about Wealth, should be at the front and free) to the rear and the Mountain Star (Health, rear, solid) at one end of the swimming pool. Sifted down, that means a downturn in financial fortunes from around 2004. I think my hostess will agree that that maps onto her experience. Not to say by the way that finance is everything. Abundance is a much wider issue than money and whether because of or despite my attentions, she has done pretty well against most of the benchmarks of a successful life, I’d say. But it’s interesting how over ten years everything gets more and more complex and then it’s simple again. And as she will learn on my return, there are things to be done about it.
In that first report I pointed out that several of us suffered ear problems, a function of the stars 1,4 and 7 which are about the orifices of the body. These Stars were overactive because they fell to the South where the pool is and there was scarcely an hour when it was not foaming with kids.
This time I noticed in the first day or so that the soles of my feet were cracking. The feet relate to the East and the Eldest Son. In this villa it’s where the sitting room is. This year the East is troublesome; stay out if you can. In 2003 we spent many evenings in that room passing the guitar and the rioja. The room is itself an eccentricity, being the lower half of a turret that juts out to the East like a snaggle tooth. There has been recent repair work to its exterior; something to be avoided in the Year of the Snake. I’m alone and I have no need of the room. So I have partitioned it off and not been back in. My feet cleared up almost right away.
I email with Jess and Hen my twin daughters. Now they’re twenty five and as independent as you like. And I text with Joey who was eight back then; eighteen’s very different. It’s World Record Store day so he’s gone to buy Record Corner, Godalming out of Manchester Orchestra. They’re not from Manchester or an orchestra btw. My other children are in occasional touch if it’s only to thrash me at Words with Friends. And I Skype and FaceTime with Sheila. I can see the familiar furniture beyond her on my laptop screen. It’s not quite the same as being there with her though. Poor poor me, all this luxury to myself in 20° Celsius.
And I’ve been reacquainting myself with the Yi or Book of Changes. I don’t think anybody ever does any more than that. I’m suspicious of anyone who calls themselves a “Master” in the sense of having fully grasped it. It’s too fundamental. Confucius wrote that he’d need another fifty years of life to begin to grapple with it and I’m with him on that one.
My hostess’ Father died some twenty years ago. I don’t know how much time if any he spent here but he hangs heavily over it as do the lighter living spirits of the many who have splashed in that pool. I can see them and hear them as I consider next year, the Year of the Wooden Horse. And atrocities, austerity, abuse and all, I’m with Josh Ritter when he sings “Don’t let me enter the year with an empty heart.”
*North Western Seaboard May – for details email firstname.lastname@example.org