Reflections I - George Manus - ebook

Reflections I ebook

George Manus



A reflection is an afterthought. While things are happening, we only think about the here and now. Its only afterwards that we have the opportunity to rethink, analyse, consider and REFLECT. In this book the author George Manus has reflected over this and that and also the somewhat unexpected. No less than 61 reflections have been written, some of them dealing with difficult topics such as CHANGE and SENSITIVITY, while others deal with more down to earth topics like a TABLE and a PIPE. Yes, he has also reflected on a GOLFBALL. Some of the reflections are based on self-experienced stories and events, whereas in others, George focuses on abstract topics.

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These “REFLECTIONS I” are for my daughter Nicoline 1963 - 1990.

Apart from a few which were put to paper at a later date, this collection was written in the period 1989 to 97.

At the time it was good therapy for me to turn accumulated thoughts into words and to put them down on paper.

The majority of them were at the time spontaneously dictated into my Pocket Memo and normally took no more than a few minutes to put on tape. From there into paper they went via my two index fingers onto the keyboard of my PC, while my Pocket Memo was played by manoeuvring it in my right hand.

Only now, within the last year, have I got the inspiration to finish the book.

As a consequence it is therefore now being issued in its 2. Edition, supplied with Jan Arnts colour reflections, inserted as “Between Space Freedom” or creative pauses.

Most of the “REFLECTIONS I” were dictated in Oslo, where I have lived most of my life and in Cabrera in the Eastern part of Andalucia in Spain.

Today my wife and I lead an active retirement life in the same area.

I thank Anne Schild for her help with the translation from Norwegian into English, Jan Arnt for his generous contribution with his art, Morten Løfberg for his vignettes and my friend Ole Praud for his invaluable consultancy work.

The South of Spain


George Manus

[email protected]

Table of Contents


Behind the Curtain






Does it really matter?



From the Point of view of a Golf Ball


Have I also become that way?






Much Ado about Nothing

My A4 Sheet:

My Home is my Castle

My “old” new PC

On the Way from.

On the Way to.




Seen from the Information Board

Seen towards the Information Board


Sensitive Hands



The Auto Repair Shop

The ‘’Bagatelle’’

The Beauty of Nature

The Car Dealer

The Ear

The Eyes

The Ferry-man

The Last Pheasant

The Lawyer

The Messenger

The Piano Bar

The Pipe

The Smile

The Soul

The Sub-goal

The Table

The Voice

The Wedding

The Wrong Queue



Trundling Trolleys


Visions with Words

Way up High

Continuation of “Way up High”

What is right and what is wrong?



Dear George Manus

Within the architecture works, the architect is using the concept BETWEEN SPACE FREEDOM.

The same applies in principal for all artistic work, that the space - pause - is to be inserted, so that the content can be experienced and digested.

The space should not be a void, but a contribution to the increasing inspiration and reflection.

I am attaching therefore some of my pictures, which is a part of a greater work with the title REFLECTIONS IN COLOUR.

As agreed you may very well insert them as BETWEEN SPACE FREEDOM in your fine books.

Best wishes from Denmark

Architect MAA Jan Arnt


December 1994

The date is of no interest.

The traffic is as always at this time, enormously heavy. A routine I haven’t been part of for a long time as I normally leave the office a couple of hours later when there’s no traffic.

Grey leaden rags form a wall in front of the windscreen. The wipers keep the rain away only to the extent that I can see the two red staring eyes fewer than 10 meters in front of the car.

It’s pitch-black outside and both lanes are filled with identical millipedes, barely moving.

Because I’m in the right-hand lane, I have a good view upwards through my side-window, and it’s this which provides the background for my observation.

At first I don’t notice anything special, but I find it somewhat strange that the driver of the big trailer is looking down at me.

The vehicle is a right-hand drive!

The guy is wearing a flat cap on his head and sporting a large moustache and side-burns.

I cast an eye forward to make sure the distance to the red cat’s eyes remain constant, then turn my head to the left once more.

It is as I thought, not having noticed it at first, I’m now looking straight at the letters framed in red, ‘’United Carriers’’.

Have already, because of the right-hand drive, drawn the conclusion that the vehicle is of British origin, this is now confirmed – London.

I automatically become aware of my British passport which, along with my wallet, is in my back-pocket.

Check again the distance to the cat’s eyes, which because of the weather and the poor visibility through the wind-screen look like two red crosses.

A thought comes to mind about whether it’s been nine or ten days since the referendum on the EU, before I have a last look up at my fellow countryman.

Since my queue has stopped completely, he glides slowly but surely away from me down towards the Vålerenga tunnel.


Jan Arnt 2017

Behind the Curtain

April 1994

How does one end up there?

Surprised by the husband’s unexpected arrival? The only safe place, behind the curtain.

Naked, with one’s clothes in a bundle under one’s arm, pulse rate 120. He’s the one who belongs in Business Class, you behind the curtain.

The first row of seats behind the curtain is the best.

No smoking, less engine noise, the best compromise.

An overview during take-off and landing, the curtain drawn back.

But when the curtain is drawn, it’s only when one is sitting in the front row that one has a full view through the gap which is always there.

One can’t stop oneself looking through the gap. The curtain itself is either blue or grey, or perhaps beige and one can’t just sit there staring at it.

Heads, rows of heads, protruding ears, or ears close to the skull. Bald spots, looking like little moons, not unlike the one we would have seen outside had it been night-time.

Some with drinks in their hands, some with newspapers and some with books or magazines. Some leaning back, sleeping, often with their mouths open. Not that one can see the open mouths, one only senses them. Everyone’s facing the front of the plane.

One senses it in spite of this, one feels that when it comes to a certain person, the mouth has to be open, when one sees the position of the head on the headrest.

Another advantage of being behind the curtain is that one can look unrestrainedly at the legs of the stewardess.

It’s not so obvious somehow that that’s what one is staring at.

One catches oneself at it though. But then they’re there almost all the time. One could dwell on the subject a long time.

A further advantage of the curtain since it has to be there anyway, is that the gap is vertical.

One sees it all. It’s easy to concentrate on the legs, without committing oneself, one doesn’t have to embrace the lot.

In other words, there is an advantage to sitting in the first row behind the curtain, but it has to be the aisle seat.

Great appetite

Jan Arnt 2017


April 1995

Once when I came to visit after it had happened, it was as if the whole place had died. Perhaps it was early in the morning that I noticed it the most.

I also missed the sound of those who had kept at it all night, those who had made one aware of the bird life.

In other words, they had left. For more than a year and a half no birds were to be heard.

Something in the ecology had probably disappeared when the fire, which looked like a river several kilometres wide, devoured its way through the landscape, leaving everything in its wake, dead.

Nor had it rained for more than half a year when it happened, so the growth had been poor.

But then, as if by magic, they were back again. First a few individual ones, easily recognizable, then more, until finally they’d reached their previous number.

After this magic incident one was once again made aware of how important birdsong is to one’s mental condition, just listening to it makes one happy.

Total silence can as one knows be pure torture.

Birdsong is in a way a true variety of the artificial background noise produced through loudspeakers in order to avoid silence, to make people feel comfortable.

Birdsong is in this case nature’s solution to the problem.

It seems certain that birdsong has its own meaning. We probably all feel that birdsong represents a form of making contact, a mating call, or a marking of one’s territory.

It is at least a form of communication and when one listens to all the different variations, one can ask oneself if it is for them the way it is for us, like listening to various languages. The question is whether their variations are more like dialects, or if they understand one another at all.

Most likely, they don’t understand one another.

We make a big distinction between the various species and their ways of expressing themselves and our level of appreciation vary greatly according to the quality.

There is something in the old proverb: “Every bird sings according to his beak”

They’re such ingenious instruments these golden-voiced creatures, who can hit the perfect note trilling the most beautiful tunes, for the most part to our delight.

We normally take it for granted that the birdsong is there, but if you’ve experienced what I have, to have it suddenly disappear from a place where it’s always been, you would have to be a very special sort of person if you didn’t miss it.

Long ears

Jan Arnt 2017


April 1995

I always have such a lot that wants out, but I almost always keep stumbling over something whenever I want to get started. All the thoughts that keep tumbling around in my head prevent me, from getting things out that is.

The problem is to get them stopped, get my thoughts into line and numbered.

Of course, that’s the answer, getting them into line and numbering them.

All in a row - preferably several side-by-side - yes, that’s exactly how I want them - placed in rows.

Then I can walk along the rows like in an inspection and, when I wish, I can pull out the thought I want and either give it an order to translate itself into words or reprimand it for a sloppy presentation.

What abilities must one have in order to control one’s thoughts properly?

One clue may be concentration and during a certain period of my life, I tried to develop this ability. It took place in connection with so-called autogenic training which I tried out at that time, to see if I would be able to improve my sporting results.

I don’t believe it ever helped my sporting performance, but that I, through the process of autogenic training, got to know forces I never knew existed, there’s no doubt.

I have never entered into the details of the process but as far as I can understand, it’s all about letting the brain control one’s muscles directly while the body remains completely passive.

This is where concentration comes into it.

Normally placed in a horizontal position, one uses one’s thoughts to get the different parts of the body to relax.

Rhythmic and monotone breathing. First the eyes, then the face, mouth, arms, etc. Having been successful, at this point no part of the body can be felt.

The brain, however, is crystal clear the whole time and this is where phase two can begin. One becomes aware that at this stage it seems like one’s thoughts are placed in an orderly row, that they in a way have settled down.

With self-possessed authority one then commands for instance the right arm to lift.

Perhaps the word command is not the right one in this case, request probably sounds better. Regardless, one repeats the request clearly to oneself at regular intervals.

Because the body has been completely set aside, pacified, a motoric contraction of the muscles takes place, resulting in the arm gradually lifting itself from the surface, controlled solely by the brain without oneself being conscious of using ones muscles.

It happens very carefully and the whole time in a series of small, jerky movements.

When one is conscious of the events, which one has to be in order to reach the current state, the process works as follows:

Imagine a wooden block lying on a table. A rubber band has been fastened to it and you pull this carefully. The rubber band “muscle” is stretched without the block moving at first. Then suddenly, as if the cup were full, it runs over.

The block loosens its grip so to speak, moves suddenly and then stops.

The rubber band “muscle” has become relaxed and the process begins again. The very conscious feeling as the arm lifts is fantastic. It’s as if one is sitting outside oneself but at the same time being completely in control. One is 100% aware of the situation and can adjust the distance of the arm from the surface according to one’s wish.

Then we get to the most exciting part. One tells one’s arm to stay in a certain position, which it does until told otherwise. Thus the arm can, at for instance 45 degrees, remain hanging for a quarter of an hour without one having the sensation of using force at all.

I find it unnecessary to explain what would happen if one in the normal manner tried to keep one’s arm in this position for that length of time.

Totally uninteresting many of you would probably say and who in the world would get pleasure from lying there with their arm in the air in such a way?

Well, the arm business is probably somehow understandable, but it is often so that when one enters into something, one wants to keep going, and so it was with me.

I find myself in a very special state of mind in the middle of the seventies, alone in room 610 at the Beau Rivage hotel in Geneva.

Like probably many others, I’ve always had a passionate desire to abolish gravity, in the sense that I would like to float in the air. Have periodically achieved this feeling of happiness in form of a dream.

Oh no, please don’t think I’ve lost any of my common sense.

On the Sunday morning in question, I find myself in a very special emotional state and start the process. Unlike all my previous practices of this mental hygiene, I choose this time, lying on my back, to let both arms press down against the surface I’m lying on, instead of having them lift.

I first reach the total feeling of peace which comes from completely disconnecting my body and then, after requesting a repeated pressing down of my hands at a steady rhythm, I observe to my amazement that my entire body is lifted slowly but surely from the surface.

At one moment only my heels are in touch with the surface apart, of course, from my hands.

I’m practically floating, without registering any conscious use of my muscles.

I still remember having a strange feeling that what I was experiencing was impossible, that it is physically impossible by normal use of one’s muscles.

I have a complete feeling of happiness, without really knowing why. I let my, at this moment, crystal clear brain explore every aspect of the phenomenon.

Make sure that I am actually floating above the surface. Try to analyse how it is possible, without finding an answer. I just lie there wondering.

This happened in the middle of the seventies and it was as if this particular event put a natural stop to this exploration of my unconscious forces.

Red is heaven and black is the mountain

Jan Arnt 2017


April 1995

Everything is in constant change, but what is it that’s changing? Is it us, or the things surrounding us?

At the moment I’m sitting at the airport in Geneva waiting for them to call LH5553, which will take me to Munich for a connecting flight to Oslo.

What has brought me here this September week-end is irrelevant to the story, so I have no intention of putting it down on paper.

No, what makes me reflect, is that just a few years ago, at a time when I was also on my way home from here, I was sitting on the mezzanine of the departure hall, looking at the information board and making my reflections about the various destinations. Then, as now, I had time to spare and thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit down in one of the soft imitation leather sofas and philosophize peacefully about life’s goings-on in general.

But what am I met with now? A wall of wood panels in front of what used to be a peaceful oasis. What’s behind the wall is, of course, none of my business and it’s not possible to imagine what it hides.

Somewhere though one has to be able to sit down and relax and, right enough, some fifty meters away along the mezzanine, at least twenty rows of connecting plastic chairs can be seen, something like two hundred seats in bleak surroundings. This is what triggers my thoughts on “change”.

Even if it’s been no more than three years since I last came this way, I’m now thinking of Geneva itself, there’s no doubt that the Switzerland I knew then, and from previous visits, is no longer the same. The order and service I’ve always connected with this country, I haven’t found this time.

It may, of course, be that I’m the one who has changed, that I’m looking at things differently, but I don’t think so. The exclusive shops along the main streets won’t have changed.

That sort of style will probably always be maintained. No, it’s more that I no longer get the impression of quality which I did earlier. It’s difficult to put one’s finger on concrete issues, but there’s something not quite right in the general scheme of things.

The Swiss have never been seen as especially spiritual, but it is as if everything has been taken down a notch or two. I must hasten to say that the year is 1997 and, as we know, the Swiss economy is no longer surrounded by its glorious aura of earlier years. I don’t know to what extent the recent exposure of the Swiss economic attitude during the second world war affects them, but there seem to be some overall scratches in the varnish.

People I’ve met this week-end express the opinion that it’s unfortunate for Switzerland to be staying outside the Common Market and that this, according to them, causing some of the problems they admit to having. Only a week ago I read that Swiss Real Estate has been opened up to foreign investment, something which up to now has been taboo. The reason is said to be the poor performance of the property market for some time.

Of course, there was a referendum, the Swiss are experts in such matters, on the Common Market issue, but that was then.

Had a new vote been taken today, one would, according to the information I’ve been given, definitely have wanted in.

What is it that causes the change? Is it that we human beings generally don’t have the ability to see things in a greater perspective? It reminds me of the Norwegian debate where the question, “what’s in it for us?”, always arises.

In my assessment, a totally twisted way of looking at the problem. It ought rather to be a question of, “what do we have to do in order to join”? That’s obviously not how it is, however. Everything has to produce a profit and not on a long-term basis either, but here and now.

If it’s always been like this, I don’t know, but it’s clear that one earlier had more time at one’s disposal. Things didn’t move as quickly as one expects them to today. The pendulum, however, keeps swinging back and forth, nothing new there.

Practical experience shows that many people even today realize that things take time.

Apropos of this, despite rapid development, there hasn’t been a big change within the air-transport. Here the rule about things taking time definitely applies, and I can’t remember being worse off fifteen or twenty years ago then today, as regards the time it takes to get from one destination to another by air. If anything, the time one has to wait seems to have become longer these days than before. Obviously there are more passengers to transport and the traffic has increased, but that doesn’t change the fact that for each and everyone of us the changes seem small.

Anyway, the commuter from Lufthansa has landed, exactly three quarters of an hour before it has to take off for Munich with myself on-board.


Jan Arnt 2017


October 1995

What does one do to make contact, or rather, what does one do to maintain contact?

One can’t make or maintain contact without one’s own initiative. Expressions like: “Talk to you later”, or: “I’ll give you a ring”, aren’t enough if there’s no follow-up.

In this context, the old saying: “Asked is had”, comes to mind.

Personally I find that it sounds terrible, but I believe there are many people who base their social life on this system of reciprocity.

Everything moves in waves or, in other words, in cycles.

There is also no doubt that we all experience life as far from static.

On the contrary, there is probably nothing more dynamic as life itself.

Time not only passes by, but leaves its mark, not least in the way we get older and do the best we can to adapt to this development.

Sad it is for those who call life a treadmill, those who haven’t grasped that life’s development is really life itself.

Back to the contact. If the opposite of contact is loneliness, then contact is worth fighting for.

Often there can be too much contact, which can easily lead to stress and discomfort, even though the intentions were good.

It is with contact as with everything else, the amount must be balanced, the golden mean found.

How often does one think about contacting this person or that, without actually getting around to doing it? Perhaps one shouldn’t feel so bad about what one doesn’t do in these cases. The thought alone is a form of contact.

If one looks at it from this point of view, it alleviates one’s bad conscience to some extent, but it’s not a proper solution.

All action starts with contact. Think of an electric switch being turned on; contact starting an action. This should, figuratively speaking, serve as a good enough explanation for the importance of contact.


April 1994

There’s always a continuation, a continuation of what?

I’m way up high again, thirty thousand feet, exciting thoughts.

A wonderful stay in Spain, nothing really negative. That’s not to say that everything was positive, but it’s a budding affair.

Up here once more, continuing towards what? A continuation has to be short, or long. For example this continuation, the trip to Norway. It seems, seen through my eyes right now, somewhat long.

A wonderful sunrise at seven or half past, being driven to the airport by Tom. The plane was on time from Almeria, landed in Madrid on the dot.

Avieco is evidently the most punctual airline in Europe at the moment.

Strange, Hjalle, whose name is actually Hjalmar, was going from Almeria to Oslo on Friday last week. It took two days. The start was, or should have been with the same airline, something like that makes inroads into their statistics.

Everything is a continuation. Statistics can never be corrected unless there is a continuation.

Short term continuation ruins the statistics. The law of large numbers only applies to long-term continuation.

Apropos continuation. Had one taken a charter flight, one would, of course, have been in Oslo in . . . no, I’d have been there already.

It’s twenty minutes past one. Iberia from Madrid to Geneva, then a continuation to Zurich in order to continue from there to Oslo. Expect to be there about eleven o’clock. Three take-offs, three landings.

I felt that something was probably wrong. Not three take-offs and three landings at all. We are talking about four take-offs and four landings. I forgot to include Geneva Zurich.

Continuation, does it have something to do with dimension? Micro, macro.

When I take out the map, I have to hold it correctly, the way one normally looks at it, not upside down.

We’re on our way north and Africa is down there, easier to read that way, but I actually need to turn the map around a bit.

Almeria Madrid is almost due north, but the continuation, Madrid Geneva, is in fact two whole latitude degrees to the right, eastwards.

It seems more precise when one goes into detail, macro, micro. I wouldn’t have been able to observe this, if I hadn’t opened the April 1994 edition of “Quanta Iberica”, Iberia’s flight magazine.

The close up map is on page →.

It’s easier to read the different place names when one holds the magazine the correct way. A bit more accurate, I guess we must be more or less above Toulouse in France.

It’s now twenty minutes to two. Micro, macro.

How do they feel, those who in ninety minutes circle the Earth in a capsule or a spaceship?

I seem to remember that it takes about that amount of time to circle the Earth once. If they’d been on one of their voyages right now and looked down, they would have passed this latitude twice and been on their third circuit around the Earth, in the time it’s taken from when I started out from Almeria this morning until now.

Continuation, one somehow has to believe that there’s something more.

England, Hadrian’s Wall, an outpost of the Roman Empire. A message is to be sent to the senate in Rome. Horseback, sea voyage, horseback. Weeks?

Several days at least. Continuation in those days.

One feels that there has to be something more, a continuation.

The engine rhythm is changing, about one centimetre left to Geneva.

Way up high,

Does it really matter?

September 1994

I want to make clear from the start, should anyone think so, that I don’t in any way elevate myself to the position of judge in this case – the case in which the limits for allowable sloppiness are set.

Sloppiness occurs in many contexts but here I’m concerned with sloppiness in the written word.

Hardly anyone in my class was worse than I was when it came to Norwegian spelling. One thing is to write grammatically correct – tragic to see how bad today’s standard has become – that’s not what I’m thinking of, however, but how to write so that the wished-for meaning becomes clear, which is something else altogether.

I’m back to my opinion regarding the significance of the “bagatelle” - the tiny detail – or in this case, more specifically, the importance of choosing the right word. In its simplest form it can be the significance of a misplaced comma on the full meaning of a sentence.

It is here, in my opinion, that the risk lies as regards sloppiness.

Then one may ask oneself; a risk of what or for whom and does it really matter?

Of course, it’s quite seldom that the consequences of an error in such cases are of a serious character, but anyway.

I must admit that it bothers me a bit, the sloppiness in this instance.

If it’s tolerated in minor cases, why shouldn’t it slip through just as easily where it could create major misunderstandings?

It also has something to do with myself as a person. I believe that if one is conscious of this problem, it will in many other instances also affect one’s personal attitudes and behaviour.

This latter was perhaps a bit ambitious, but you’ll probably agree with me that it has something, if you think about it.

I would never have voiced my opinion on this, if I hadn’t had a concrete example of what I mean.

As a member of Furuset rotary club for almost ten years, I have like everyone else held several “3 minutes”. These are normally based on one’s own thoughts or reflections, experiences or views.

They are never the subject of discussion and are thus only for the personal reflection of their listeners.

One of my “3 minutes”, held on 04.07.94 and dealing with my thoughts on the soul, was on request included, as a 2 page essay, in number 4 of the rotary club’s monthly newsletter in 1994.

By the way, I should point out that I’ve also held a “3 minute” about my reflections on the “bagatelle” and its, in my opinion, great significance.

Judging by the insignificant, but at the same time significant exchange of words caused by the minutes of my soul speech, my reflections on the “bagatelle” can’t have made a very big impression.

I have often thought that my reflections aren’t suited to the printed word, as I believe they have more impact when delivered orally, with a bit of feeling, but that’s a different story.

Now it’ll be interesting to see if you understand what I mean. It would, of course, have been better if you’d read all of “The Soul” first, but there has to be limits to what one will do for the sake of a tiny “bagatelle”.

Straight to the point, second page, first paragraph of “The Soul”, as printed in the monthly newsletter: