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Between longing and regret

Consolations of the Forest, Sylvain Tesson

I live here in the realm of predictability. Each day goes by a mirror of the one before, a rough draft of the one to come. The passing hours bring variations in the sky’s coloration, the comings and goings of the birds, and a thousand almost imperceptible things.
from Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson (translated by Linda Coverdale)

A quiet start to the year’s reading: a journal of six months spent in the Siberian wilderness. Tesson’s account of his life in a log cabin on the shores of Lake Baikal is full of vodka, cigars, reading, and drinking sessions with Russian fishermen. Strangely, I liked him more once he was master of two dogs, Aika and Bek.

And here too the days are passing with rhythm and predictability. A new balance — waking early, writing in the quiet of the darkness, watching the moon wane — and sleeping early, dreams full of Twin Peaks. Here’s Tesson on his dogs:

The dogs twine constantly around my legs; in me they have found someone who responds to their affection. They neither rely on nor delight in their memories. Between longing and regret, there is a spot called the present. Like jugglers who ply their trade while standing on the neck of a bottle, we should train ourselves to balance in that sweet spot. The dogs manage it.

It’s soothing to embrace the repetition, to know always what one should be doing, to be balanced in the sweet spot of the present.


  1. ‘Between longing and regret, there is a spot called the present’ – it lingers with me. Thank you for introducing me to this book. I found your blog through Denise – Chez Danisse – and I’m enjoying reading my way through your archives 🙂

    • Hi Kate — lovely to have you here. I found your blog through pinterest — and probably via Denise — over the weekend & enjoyed a good long read too. Thanks so much for saying hi. And yes, ‘between longing and regret’, it sounds like it’s something to meditate to, doesn’t it? Or at least somewhere I’d very much like to spend more of my time 🙂

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