There’s nothing better than curling up warm & cosy on a wintry day. Better yet if the day is profuse with rain. These are the times you just love to be snug & warm against the elements. But a vantage is always necessary on the outside world, or else some other physical reminder that the weather is grim, some signal of difference. A shaft of bracing air periodically dusting your face – while the rest of you is huddled amidst blankets – will do. Or the more immediate & famous occurrence: the window offering a morning view of a stormy sky, accompanied by the sonic reminder of rain on glass pane. A complete cocoon wouldn’t offer the sensory experience of ‘juxtaposition’, and therefore will prove inadequate. There must be a small archer’s gap in your parapet.

Every now & then I daydream about constructing the experience. Outside the university café there is an artificial lake, and I particularly remember one grey & drizzling day when I sat near the café with a coffee (undercover of course). I imagined floating a bed into the middle of this lake. There I would lie snug while water & rain mingled just past my nose. I wrote a poem about the idea. The poem was clichéd & didn’t do the image justice.

Similarly if I see a grand view, I imagine having a house poised somewhere in the elevated landscape. I create fantastic bay windows where one might recline in warmth & watch such things as mist pool around distant cliff & troughs of land. I don’t anticipate such positioning would be inspiring in any artistic sense; I simply think it would be comfortable, nice.

The most simple explanation for that just described would be to say that warmth (with a vantage on, & proximity to, wetness & gloominess), & security (with a vantage on, & proximity to, vastness & wilderness – scope), both of these things offer us a sense of human mastery while still allowing enjoyment of a brief immersion in natural power. (Being caught out in the rain isn’t so great when it will probably kill you. Climbing a mountain is difficult if you have to pitch a tent & kill a snake to survive. We want to enjoy these aspects of existence, but, you know, comfortably.)

But staying in bed reading books while it rains outside also offers us a glimpse of ourselves as more than products of our social roles. The grandeur of the chaos outside, balanced against the solid warmth & security of the individual inside, foregrounds a strong (warm / happy) sense of the individual. & it allows a vision of happiness, because ‘oneness’ with the vast chaos is suggested – annata / ‘no-self’ bringing about paradoxical freedom from any constricts of ‘the self’ – but at the same time your relative positioning makes you feel secure in your own skin, symbolically represented by the blankets, or the four walls.

There’s a rarity to such occasions too. There are demands on our time. Meteorology still isn’t exact – we can’t plan effectively for a rainy morning in bed with a good book. And not many of us live in mountain retreats. Hence we value the experiences anecdotally like gold. The experience of ‘juxtaposition’ is the real currency of feeling.