Another Look at Reality

In my last post I floated the idea that even if we were able to somehow travel back in time and communicate freely with people from a bygone age, there would only – at best – be certain aspects of shared experience.  This, I argued, is because ‘truth’ or what we term ‘reality’ is a subjective interplay between a person’s mind, brain and the objects and events that form to produce each person’s perceived world.

‘Aha,’ you may say, “If that were the case, how would you and I share a common view of a scene before us?  Even a short discussion would prove that our vision of what lay around us was identical.  We could even take photographs to demonstrate it!’

Well certainly we citizens of the 21st century share a common perception of the objects and events around us.  Perceptive reality has strong links to social cohesion and the ‘training’ we were given in infancy. 

Fantasy, Fairy Tale Forest, Girl, ForestOur culture has a slightly strange take on sharing our World View with new arrivals.  A rich mythic tradition is passed on to our children – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, giants, goblins, elves and trolls appear in huge numbers of their storybooks and the bedtime tales we share with them.  Talking animals and fabulous beasts abound.  Then, as the children mature, these wonders are, one by one, consigned to a scrapheap of untruths.  Those stories, they are told, were ‘just pretend’.  Now they are expected to cast away such childish delights and focus on a world that can be seen, prodded and proved to be ‘real’. 

“So are dinosaurs real?” asks the confused child. “What about dragons?  What about Father Christmas…?  Why did you lie to me?”

Parents and carers struggle to justify their actions.  They are doing as their parents did.  They are rearing their young in the way our society dictates.  Once they reach the age of 7 or 8, even the child who knows she once saw fairies in the garden or glimpsed a fiery dragon from her window has put such things aside and conformed to the accepted and shared idea of how reality looks and feels.  Mostly.

Stonehenge, England, Uk, MonumentOf course there are still different perceptions within our common perceptual framework.  If we imagine a hypothetical twenty people standing and regarding Stonehenge in the 2020s, all would probably be in agreement as to the size and bulk of the stones, the green of the grass, the colour of the sky, strength of the wind and sound of the passing traffic on the A303.

One observer, though, might be hugely excited at the sight of a military aircraft flying over the scene – an aspect of the experience missed totally by others.

Another of the people might be high on a hallucinogenic drug or have what is currently called a ‘mental illness’.  That person might be seeing quite different colours strobing and wheeling around the stones and hearing sounds or voices the rest of the observers would not be aware of.

A third might be a synesthete.  He or she might be tasting or smelling the colours and textures in a manner quite alien to the rest.

Perhaps two or three members of the group might have psychic sensitivities which allowed them to see spots of bright light or hazy halos surrounding certain stones or perhaps glowing crystals buried deep beneath the ground.  They might even perceive shadowy figures from other times.

Winter, Snow, Landscape, Trees, SnowfallAs is the custom in our age, more or less all these visitors would take out their phones and photograph the scene before them.  If they then compared the results, all the images would show the grass, the stones, the path and so forth, yet some would include mysterious orbs or thin coloured arcs of light.  Depending on their personal World Views, these would be variously interpreted as aliens, angelic beings, reflections of light from mundane sources or pieces of dust on the camera lens.  Each, of course, would be entirely correct, according to their World View.

I would further suggest that if the group of 20 people were standing around Stonehenge in c2500BC, their perception of what lay before them would be markedly different to that of the 21st century visitors.  Their common take on ‘reality’ would link to their shared prior experience and social conditioning and their society almost certainly perceived the world around them in markedly different ways, with senses responding to stimuli in a manner that we could not grasp.

Clearly, I have no way of demonstrating this.  Those ancient people standing on a wind-blasted plain in southern England left us no written record or clues as to what was going through their minds and how their world looked to them.  They simply, for their own reasons, created a massive structure that survived into our age.

Fortunately for the curious among us, not all World Views are as poorly recorded.  Next time I’d like to take you to a culture that has been meticulously documented by its people, in a language we can read and understand.  In certain ways it is markedly similar to our own, but in others quite, quite incomprehensible.

Perceptive Reality – A Time-Traveller’s Guide

The restrictions of the past year have made it an ideal time for the armchair traveller – or time-traveller, often, in my own case – to indulge in flights of imagination and contemplation.

Stonehenge, Stone Circle, EnglandI will happily spend many hours watching documentaries or reading about archaeological discoveries and documents from other times and places and wishing I could see the temples and sacred places as they appeared in their zenith.  That alone, though, would be no more than mere sightseeing, which to my mind is a fairly empty and pointless activity.  How often I’ve stood and gazed on some great and ancient construction – Stonehenge, the temples of Malta, the Orcadian landscape around the Ness of Brodgar – and yearned for an understanding of the circumstances, the significance, the reason for their construction.

Yes, I can read the guide books, digest the various expert theories, wonder at the brilliance of the technologies that created them, but I lack the World View of those who built and used these structures.  So, of course, do the experts.  They can make educated guesses but might I be so bold as to suggest that in a time when religion is fragmented, science, business and technology are the closest many have to gods and upheaval is everywhere we look, 21st century people are not best placed to frame any possible mindset that could explain the concepts and ideologies behind the enduring wonders of the past as we gaze upon them?

The Roman Empire is an exception.  We have no problem understanding that.  It is so close in morality and intent to our own recent past that we can comprehend their purposes, intentions and ideals with very little difficulty.  Their buildings, military and societal organisations make perfect sense to us.  I will often flick through film and TV drama choices and note that the majority of people in our culture apparently find pleasure and entertainment in watching the murder, death and the anguish of others as much as Romans did in their amphitheatres.

Just as, according to the infinite monkey theorem, a monkey spending long enough at a typewriter keyboard could theoretically type the text of Hamlet, so an infinite number of World Views are bound to throw up some close matches.  That’s not to say we have any sort of continuum that leads logically and developmentally from Rome to here.  This has nothing to do with evolution.  World Views come and go, for reasons I hope to consider in subsequent posts.

(Let me just suggest in passing that any society which believes itself to be at the pinnacle of human development has enough pride to be heading inexorably towards a fall.)

I believe a World View is something more than Zeitgeist, too, although there are more parallels with this idea than with the evolutionary one.  I’m not denying the spirit of a particular generation as being easy to recognise in retrospect.  The 20th century alone threw up several of these.  For me a World View is something deeper, more pervasive and far longer-lasting than a decade or so’s trend.  Perhaps it is the spirit of a Great Age…

Peru, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred, Scenic, SiteThe societies who constructed the Great Pyramid, the Stonehenge and Avebury landscape, the polygonal-walled buildings of Peru or the structures of Göbeklitepe, for example, would have technologies, ideas and concepts of the world so radically different to our own that endless scrabbling in the dust to unearth pottery fragments or the contents of spoil heaps will give us little or no idea of their beliefs and intentions.

Each generation of antiquarians and archaeologists has a view on the purpose of the structures, that view arguably having more to do with contemporary interests and fixations than that which provoked the original constructions.  Thus an ancient site may have been variously viewed by later visitors as a geoglyph,  a landing site for spacecraft, a centre for human or animal sacrifice, a temple for religious worship, an astronomical calendar, a tomb (big favourite, regardless of whether or not there are human remains), a place of pilgrimage or for rites of passage.

So could I, as a time-traveller with many months or years at my disposal and a Babel Fish stuffed firmly in my ear, ever learn to understand the World View of the culture who created one of these enduring monuments?

Probably not.

I suspect that the only point at which our understanding would meet would be in the physical as I perceive it and that, of course, is not where their World View resides.  I might learn vast amounts about their technologies, their methods of construction and the way in which their societies are organised, but the all-consuming beliefs and reasons for constructing such structures would not, I fear, be apparent to me.  Our views of reality would differ so fundamentally that there would be little common ground.  It is very possible that the structures themselves would not reveal to my senses the experiences those who created them would have.  There could be sounds, sights, emotional and spiritual experiences freely available to them which to me would remain hidden.  I recall being quite convinced of this when standing in the chambers of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.  I could see the walls, the carvings and the colours but there was so much almost palpable unavailable experience there just beyond my ken.

Seth, through channel Jane Roberts, explains the reason for this, with his customary clarity and eloquence:

Your many civilisations, historically speaking, each with its own fields of activity, its own sciences, religions, politics and art – these all represent various ways that man has used imagination and reason to form a framework through which a more or less cohesive reality is experienced. 

And that is the nub of it.  Reality is perceptive, not as our scientists fondly believe, objective.  My own Guides put it rather more bluntly:

Reality is barely existent.  There is only thought.  

In future posts I hope to explore aspects of different World Views and their varying perception of ‘reality’, as it is a subject I find fascinating.

A Window into Consciousness?

There have been two concepts – probably closely related – occupying me recently.

One is the idea that the ‘stuff’ around us, visible and invisible, is all conscious.  That’s a fairly large idea to get my thoughts around.

The second is a wondering about perception – what it is, where it is and how reliable it might be.  I think that’s where I’ll start.

Planets, Sun, Earth, Galaxy, Sky, SpaceHere I sit, pretty much still apart from my fingers moving across the keyboard of my computer, whilst knowing that I’m being held in position by gravity to an oblate spheroid (aka The Earth) spiralling through space at an eye-watering speed.  My perception in no way matches that reality, yet I put it aside and carry on with my daily life.  Why am I not aware of travelling so fast?  Good grief, I get travel sick in a car going round the M25.  Is it something I’ve adjusted to?  And if so, when – at birth, in the womb, at the moment of conception?  None of those seems right.  It’s as if the physical mechanics of the universe and the physical reality of life on the planet don’t mesh.

Of course, as we all know, even physical realities don’t mesh.  There’s a macro reality for the universe, with a set of rules that seem to work fairly well; there’s a micro reality down at the quantum level, that works quite differently but, again, seems to follow its own logic.  The TOE that should be able to combine them is oddly elusive.  And somewhere between the two, there are our perceptions of what-is-going-on which seem quite often to be at odds with both of these realities.

We are a pragmatic bunch, us humans.  Most of the time we are more than happy to bumble along accepting trade-offs – the compromises we make with the world about us so that we won’t be confused and troubled by the way things are.  It’s comfortable to see the sun rising and setting, rather than ourselves spinning around it, or to look out to sea and see a straight horizon rather than a slight curve.  It’s convenient to see a desk or a dinner plate as a solid, static object, rather than as a combination of extremely active (and conscious?) subatomic particles blinking in and out of our reality.

So these are some of the simple concessions we make, despite knowing the physics that gives the lie to them.  Sometimes, though, our perception can get completely messed up, without us having the slightest idea why.  Spare a few minutes to watch this little video.  It may not be the slickest production around, but – if you watch it through to the end – it packs quite a punch and deals a rather crushing blow to our reliance on our senses.

‘Optical illusion’ somewhat underplays what is going on here.  Our eyes and brains aren’t just playing a little trick with us – they are forcing us to believe a completely false set of perceptions.  Certainly it’s harmless enough, but doesn’t it make you wonder about all the other ways we are being lied to by our senses?

I’m not suggesting a Matrix-type scenario, with some evil force going out of its way to fool us for its own nefarious ends, but I am seriously considering the possibility that the everyday world around us is not at all the way it seems according to our sensory perception.  If something as simple as a sheet of card can mess with our minds that way, what else is going on?

I think the only answer is that we have – collectively and individually – a set of perceptual constructs which give us the parameters within which we can view the world.  There are common agreed mass perceptions and personal ones.  That’s why some people see danger and menace where others don’t.  Some see the world fragmenting while others see the dawning of an age of true enlightenment.  Some see ghosts, aliens, the fae…  In other words, perception is subjective.

So if there isn’t any objective truth out there (or in here) what, exactly are we perceiving?  Why are some things the same for all of us, while others differ so much?

Sky, Astronomy, Moon, LandscapeIn The Seth Materials, channelled by Jane Roberts in the 1960s and 70s, we are told that there are Units of Consciousness – CUs – which are the infinitessimal building blocks of physical existence.  (Seth states that to a CU, an atom would be the size of a planet and that scientists have yet to discover them.)  These Units are particles of electromagnetic energy – incipient consciousness, which is volatile and imbued with infinite possibilities.

Now for the really exciting part.  “No objective reality exists but that which is created by consciousness,” Seth tells us.  “Consciousness always creates form, and not the other way about.”
So here we are, us conscious beings with thoughts and ideas of what we are perceiving, and swirling around us is this mass of conscious electromagnetic energy, just waiting…  These CUs coalesce around our thoughts, ideas, emotional responses, reactions and events to form matter.  The stronger and more intense the thought, the faster and more convincing and real (if I dare use that word) the manifestation.

Clearly ideas and beliefs we share have enough intensity to hold true for all of us.  Thoughts of a more indeterminate or nebulous nature, held to be true by some, yet refuted by others, will not result in matter/reality perceived by all.  For some people, though, they will be as real as any dinner plate, any desk, or the sun setting outside my rectangular window.

 

I’ve got sunflowers on a cloudy day

Sunflower, Bud, Blossom, Go Up, BloomThey’ve not flowering quite yet, but the buds are forming.  I can see them still – just – if I reach up on tiptoe.  These are strong, sturdy plants, growing by inches every day, almost as I watch them, and they make me feel so PROUD.

Why?

Because the person who gave me the seeds, back on my birthday in the early spring, is one of the people I’ve watched and nurtured since childhood.  There are quite a few of these brilliant, shining young people – my own kids and grandchildren as well as pupils and youngsters I’ve mentored or just been there to listen to, on the right day.

Oh yes, they’ve caused me plenty of headaches along the way.  Sometimes I’ve had to watch patiently (and often very impatiently) as they ventured off into dangerous friendships or relationships, harmful habits and addictions or endured heartbreaking, life-changing challenges.  I’ve tried to get the balance right – deciding when to intervene and when to allow them to make their own choices, when to offer suggestions and guidance and when to keep my mouth firmly shut.  Sometimes I got it wrong; sometimes I got it right.  Sometimes I helped; sometimes I was a confounded nuisance.  What I’m most proud of, though, is that I hung in there, even when the going was really tough.  True, I’d sometimes retire to a safe distance while the fireworks exploded, but I always made it clear to them that I’d be there if they needed someone to talk to, someone to scream at, someone with a shoulder to cry on and that nothing they told me would shock me enough to make me pull away.

I hope my firstborn won’t mind me sharing this.  There were times I despaired of ever reaching her.  She was sharp-tongued, harsh and so materialistic that I often wondered how we could share a blood tie.

I once spoke to a very gifted psychic who said, “Oh, your daughter!  That bond between you!  That closeness and connection is so wonderful.”

I stared in amazement.  “Sorry, no.  I wish it were true, but that’s not the way it is.  I really struggle to connect with her on any level.”

The psychic pondered for a moment.  “No,” she said.  “It’s true.  Maybe further down the time line, but I promise you it will come.  There will be a time when you are so close.  She shares your values.  You have rubbed off on her and you will be so proud to be her mother.”

Many years later, when she became a mother herself, she started to change.  She retrained as a relaxation and massage therapist.  She was a wonderful parent.  Still, though, I could see the ruthless, hard, brittle personality traits and at some level I sensed that something had to give.  There was a storm brewing.

When it finally broke, my daughter’s life splintered and cracked beyond all recognition.  Horrified, I rushed to help.  I was fearful, and not just for her.  I worried that she would vent all her fury and spite on me and I wondered whether I was strong enough to take it, because I loved her so deeply.  She didn’t, though.  Slowly and gently we worked together to rebuild her life, to protect and nurture her children and to move her into a new and unknown future.  The spite and anger dissipated.  I watched in wonder as she worked so courageously through the pain and anguish and was transformed in the process.

Materially, now, she’s far worse off.  She has a very modest home and has to work ridiculously hard to keep even that roof over her children’s heads.  Spiritually and emotionally, though, her growth has been miraculous.  I watch in awe as she reaches out to help others and to improve their lives.

image 0As well as working as a freelance reviewer and a therapist, she has opened her own online shop, selling beautiful resources to promote mindfulness, calm and happiness for children and teens.  I am incredibly proud, so I make no excuse for promoting her new project here.

I’m proud of all of them, these young people whose lives I’ve touched and I’m so happy when they come back to me and show me how their lives have changed and the progress they’ve made.

I’m looking forward to the days when my sunflowers bloom and pour so much beauty and light into my life and I’m grateful to the lovely young person who put them into my life.

 

 

 

The Impossible Dream

If I had to fall back on accepted logic, I’d say that what happened last week, in terms of dreaming and waking experience and the link between the two, is impossible.

Fortunately, I don’t.

‘There are more things…in heaven and earth…’  And in my philosophy, they are dreamt of.

I’ve written before about some of the odd, precognitive dreams I have from time to time.  Last week, in the latest, I was given a salutary lesson on why I should never ignore them.

Each of us is at a unique place in our journey.  We have read books, had conversations, listened to the wise and received guidance in myriad ways, all of which places us at a certain level of awareness of those ‘more things’ Hamlet was speaking of.  Once we have accrued this level of knowing, we try to move back into comfortable oblivion at our peril.  We simply can’t un-know our knowledge.  That is what this dream experience taught me.

So what happened?

First, some background:
Several times a year, I need to traverse England, from my home in the south-west to be with family living out near the east coast.  I don’t drive and the public transport infrastructure here is expensive and poor.  After much experimentation, I’ve found a slow but steady and inexpensive method.  It involves catching a very early coach (there is only one a day) from my town to Heathrow Airport, where I have time for lunch and a rest, before catching a second coach to my destination.  It takes around 8 hours all told, but it’s comfortable and I can read en route.

Bus Stop, Public Transport, BusThree nights before I was due to embark on one of these journeys last week, I had a dream.

I’m with a woman.  We are travelling together and although we are companions and get along on very familiar terms, she is the guiding figure, in some way.  We have luggage.  We have made careful plans.  We are sitting on a bench and nothing particular is happening around us, but suddenly she turns to me with an expression of shock and says, “We’ve missed the coach!”

We stare at each other with a mixture of disbelief and horror.

I could FEEL these emotions at a very deep and conscious level.  I heard her voice and tone with absolute clarity.  These are the aspects that separate this type of dream – the precogs – from normal everynight dreaming.  I woke knowing I’d had a precognition and I felt rattled.

A brief word about precognition and the future, before I continue to the (almost) inevitable conclusion:
There are, as my wise friend and teacher William has taught me, an infinite number of possible futures for any event.  They range from the virtually impossible to the virtually inescapable and cover all points in between.  A precognition is a foretaste of what is – at that moment in time – the most likely outcome.  It is not written in tablets of stone.  It is still possible to make changes and alter the future event, given sufficient intention and effort.

What I should have done, then, was to check and re-check my travel plans until I found the glitch that could result in missing the coach.  The guide-lady in my dream was providing me with an opportunity to do this and to avert the problems which would follow.  Instead, I merely thought through my plans and convinced myself that as I had only to rely on an alarm clock and a half-mile walk to the coach stop, I had no reason to worry.

So on the day of my journey I got up in plenty of time, prepared myself for travelling, put my folded ticket into the top of my bag and walked the short trip to the coach stop.  I arrived at 6:20, congratulated myself on being ten minutes early and sat on the bench to wait.  At 6:25, I casually took out the ticket and unfolded it, to check what time I’d be arriving at Heathrow.  That was when I saw it:

Coach departs opp. town hall 6:15

Exactly that feeling of disbelief and horror from my dream swept over me.  As in the dream, nothing changed around me, but I knew I now had a huge problem.  I’d been so sure of the 6:30 departure time, I hadn’t bothered to check.  My dreamtime companion wasn’t there in body, of course, but I suspect at some level she was watching to see how I’d get myself out of my self-inflicted problem.

I won’t bore you with all the details of my ensuing journey.  Suffice it to say that every connection (bus, walk, train, second train, race across the length of Heathrow terminal 3) was made with minutes or sometimes seconds to spare.  The mobile website I bought my train ticket on went down just after I’d paid so that I was almost refused entry to the platform and I finally reached the bus interchange at Heathrow seven minutes before my second coach left.

Train, Crowd, Transportation, PassengerThe oddest thing was that all the time I was engaged in this nightmarish journey, it felt as if it was playing out in these very specific ways to teach me a lesson.

“Yes,” I thought ruefully, as I stood squashed against poker-faced commuters on the train out of Bristol, “I needed to learn this lesson. I will make my connection, but none of it is going to be easy.”

Somewhere, in a dimension I couldn’t see, but could just about sense, the guide-lady from my dream watched and smiled, not unkindly, and nodded.

The guides may not be as accessible as they were once, but they are still here, always checking that I have held on to all they taught me, and chiding me gently if I try to put their wisdom aside.

As William told me, when he was just 12, “What’s important is the journeys – all the changes and where we go through and the different trains are the main thing.  You know that really.”

 

 

 

In Your Heart

Heart, Herzchen, Love, Romance, LuckHere we are in March, getting on for a quarter of the way into 2019, and I’m getting a feel for what this year is all about – for me, anyway.  This seems to be the Year of the Heart.

When I first moved to Glastonbury (known in some circles as the Earth’s Heart Chakra, although I didn’t know that at the time,) ten years ago, I’d neatly packaged my heart away – stuffed it deep inside myself and decided that just surviving from day-to-day would be a major achievement.  In those early days, it was.  I’d been – I felt then – betrayed, abandoned and let down by just about everyone and everything I’d given my heart to and for the first few months, those betrayals just kept coming, thick and fast.

I remember renting a tiny annexe behind a shop with my fast-dwindling savings, rooting around in the short-dated reduced items at the supermarket and having no income, no prospects and no friends here.  It was a true dark night of the soul which lasted well into 2009.

Heart, Broken, Nature Love, Shape, LeafEventually I stopped wallowing in self-pity and reached out to others for help.  I found a lovely, intuitive life-coach who helped me to heal my dried-up, fragile, damaged heart, to begin to love myself and to expect and accept the love of others.  That turned my life around.  Soon I felt resilient, hopeful and learned to put out to the Universe for what I needed and wanted.  Paid work, new opportunities, acquaintances and friends soon appeared.  By the end of 2009, I was in a better place than I could ever have imagined and life was good.

It was around New Year of 2018 that I agreed with the Universe that I was now stable enough and ready for the next phase – for new challenges.

They arrived.

It was not an easy time.  I needed to stop sitting in front of my computer pondering metaphysical conundrums and to get up and deal with very physical problems.  It was all lower chakra stuff – root survival and safety for people I loved, followed by the gut-wrenching sacral issues connected to parenthood and the deepest emotional ties.  Depression and anxiety ricocheted around my family.  Gradually issues of power and control surfaced.  I worked to establish and maintain a safe and fair life for those who had lost everything, helping them to regain their inner sun.  It took bravery and resilience I didn’t realise I’d built up, but that’s the way life works.  We don’t get the challenges until we are ready to cope with them.

Then it was back to Glastonbury – back to the heart, in every way you can imagine.

Two people very close to me have had their lives changed by heart disease in these past few months.  In both cases it was very sudden, very unexpected and is throwing up massive challenges to their lives.  It brings up issues of mortality, of independence and dependency, of life-changing choices and ways of managing day-to-day.

At the same time, a friend and I have been working our way through Gregg Braden’s ‘Human by Design’ book and some workshops based around this.  It’s all about using the heart’s intelligence – the ‘little brain in the heart’ – and aligning it with our mental processes.

Dock, Pier, Sunset, Dusk, Sky, CloudsThen, as the final piece to the puzzle, I realised (as I said in my last post) that my ‘muses’ – the spirit guides, channelled messages and special intuitive humans I’d come to rely on for answers were closing the doors.  I tried one last time to contact Koimul, the Spirit Guide/s who helped me through so many difficult times.

JAN YOU CAN PICK UP ALL YOU NEED IN YOUR HEART

I was told. And when I asked why they were all moving away and leaving us alone, I was simply told,

YOU HAVE ALL YOU NEED FROM US

When I asked if they would return, there was no answer.  The crystal pendulum swung in a wide, empty circle, indicating that there would not be a reply to that.

So we lovingly took our leave of one another.  Now I need to trust that my heart and heart chakra are ready and strong enough to move me on through the twists and turns of this new chapter in my Game of Life.  They are, or I wouldn’t have brought myself here.

 

Musing in Miniature

This isn’t a covert way of publicising my tiny cottage industry.  You’d need to head over to my other blog for that.  It’s just that most of my days at the moment are spent transforming, upcycling and creating tiny objects of various kinds from what most people would regard as junk, and it gives me an absurd amount of joy and satisfaction.

reject purchaseBack in the summer, I picked up this little 12th scale (that’s one inch to one foot) figure from a reject box at a miniatures fair.

Not difficult to see why he was a reject.  He wasn’t, at first sight, the most promising of specimens, with his vacant stare, twisted legs and stringy hair, but I knew his day would come!

In some strange way, discovering the hidden potential in what others consider rejects is what has always given me the greatest pleasure.  I remember the scruffy, fidgety boy I once taught who auditioned for a part in our school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.  I remember my pure delight as the clearest, most beautiful voice drifted across the room.  The head teacher and I glanced at each other and smiled – Joseph!  True, he took up many, many hours of rehearsals – far more than one of the bright young hopefuls who had expected the part would have done.  True, I had to tape the complicated words of Close Every Door to Me to the floor of his prison cell, because he’d never have learnt them, but it worked perfectly and the pleasure of watching that kid revel in his hour or two of fame has stayed with me forever.

It was the same with the shy, quiet, dumpy little girl who produced a beautiful piece of writing.  Before I handed back the class’s work, I read out this one piece and they were all staring round the room, wondering who had written it, mouthing, ‘You?’ to the high fliers and looking puzzled.  That simple act, and then handing the work back to the young author with the words, ‘Superb work – well done’, was enough to raise that child’s self-esteem and status within the class to a ridiculous degree.

upcycled doll by Jan StoneSadly, my little porcelain doll had no esteem for me to raise, but when I decided I wanted to make a replica of one of my idols – Nikola Tesla – he was the one I chose.  I looked beyond his defects to the long face, the high cheekbones, the firm chin and the centre-parted hair.  The face was removed as easily as a spot of nail varnish and painted anew, the hair was cut, styled and recoloured.  A tiny shirt, trousers and jacket were cut out and hand stitched.  The dodgy leg was re-wired and, once dressed, Mr Tesla looked as proud as a small piece of porcelain, foam and wire could hope to.

room box by Jan StoneAnd now, when I look at him sitting calmly in his experimental station, gazing at the coils and equipment I’ve been patiently wrapping in copper wire all week, I feel proud too!

This is what we all do – take something rough and unfinished and inject enough energy into it to allow it to transform it into something so much better.

 

Mama was a rolling stone

I just counted up.  I have moved home ten times in the last two months. Even when I have been at my own place, I’ve had four different people to stay during this time period.

Luggage, Packed, Travel, Trip, SuitcaseNow I know that, I don’t feel quite so stupid for waking at 2am, trying to figure out where I was and who my coughing fit might be disturbing in the next room.  (No one, luckily – I was having one of the rare nights alone in my own home.)

For a mildly sociable but relatively reclusive sole dweller such as myself, the varied company and changes of routines, diets and house rules has been bewildering and exhausting.  Seeing friends and family, visiting and checking on those I’ve been forced to ignore during the hardest parts of 2018 has been a pleasure, but one muted by the confusion and aching throat that is the lot of the soliatry being suddenly thrust into day-long chatter.

As well as covering a geographical area that stretches from London to Liverpool and Wessex to Essex, the family and friends I have visited espoused, between them, a political spectrum ranging between socialist and fundamentalist Conservative-with-a-big-C, with greens, centrist small-c-conservatives and rampant liberals scattered around.  I mention this because, within these past two months, there has not been a dinner table or sofa in Britain where politics has not been at the heart of almost every discussion.

Normally, such conversations can be difficult. Suddenly, though, I find them all of one voice.  From the most ardently politically correct Liberal Democrat to the high Tory, the words have been the same.  All of them despise and reject the politicians – every single one.  They are united in disgust and fury at the farce that is Brexit.  They are bemused and horrified at the prospect of a new election, since there is no one they can countenance voting for, despite wanting earnestly to exercise their right to do so.  They are stunned by the ludicrous, self-serving, power-hungry bunch of clowns who slump around Westminster, on huge salaries and expense-accounts, jeering and jibing at each other like a gang of school bullies, but without a single useful idea in their heads.

London, Uk, Westminster, EnglandI found myself wondering why we, as an entire nation, have so abruptly woken up to this.  We voted for these – our leaders – and heaped power, prestige and money upon them.  Now, quite suddenly, it has become glaringly obvious that they possess no skills,  no specialist knowledge, no creative thinking, no debating skills, no charisma, no wisdom beyond that of any Tom, Dick or Harriet in the street.  The message is clear:

They are no better than us.  They have lost all credibility with the people and they do not, in any meaningful way, represent us.

I feel unqualified to broaden this to the political situation in other countries but my limited knowledge does suggest that the UK may not be altogether alone in this…

So why?  I kept pondering.  Why would all these politicians suddenly be engaging in such a public display of self-destruction?  Why are they metaphorically leaping, lemming-like, over the White Cliffs of Dover?

If we broaden our perspective and take a more metaphysical view of this situation it becomes clearer.  We have outgrown them.  We have, and this is quite a scary thought, reached a point where such a system of leaders and mute followers is no longer necessary.  We have learned a valuable lesson.

A few years ago, the politicians decided to let the people – all of us – make a choice.  They made it sound simple.  They told us they trusted us to vote on whether or not to leave Europe.  They’d done it to the Scots just before, in an independence referendum, and the people of Scotland had voted to stick with the status quo.  They assumed that, when we stopped and thought about it, we would do the same.

Flag, United Kingdom, England, LondonSome of the politicians, though, expertly exploited the racial prejudice and economic concerns of certain down-trodden and less-educated members of society.  Others created bogus claims of assumed huge financial benefits of leaving, painted these in catchy slogans on the sides of a bus and travelled around the nation lying to the populace in honeyed tones.  The rest of the politicians did very little.  They mumbled vaguely about uncertainty and hidden costs and trusted to the natural conservatism of the people to leave things as they were.

It all, of course, went horribly wrong.  No one knows what to do.  They have revealed themselves – what passes for both government and opposition parties – to be entirely unfit to govern and we the people have proved ourselves unfit to make such far-reaching choices without being fully and honestly informed of the implications of each option.

Perhaps we need and deserve a country run by a council of wise and experienced elders – the kind of people from industry, health care, diplomacy, education, the emergency and military services, banking, social work, conservation and the like who currently get given CBEs and OBEs for their services to the nation.  Perhaps we need to vote for such people to hold office, based on their record of expertise and success – in terms of wide benefit and happiness – in their specialist fields.  Perhaps we are ready to dispense with the bickering and taunting and arguing that plagues our political system and allow free debate amongst those who know what they are talking about.  Perhaps party politics has had its day.

In any case, I’m glad now to finally be settled at home, and looking ahead to a new year of musing on whatever comes my way.

I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, safe and joyous 2019.

 

 

Your point being…?

Another of those long, rambling conversations I tend to have with Life, usually around 3am.

I’m saying something along the lines of, “So you’ve thrown just about everything at me this year, turned me upside down, inside out and catapulted me from highs to lows and back again.  Could you just run me through the purpose for all that one more time?”

And Life sits there, smiling calmly and replies, “Do you need to have a purpose?”

That pulled me up sharp.

Do I?

It’s a huge, broad, sweeping question, isn’t it?  For me, it touched a raw nerve.  I’m a people pleaser – the sort who always feels happiest when I’m making things better for other people.  It’s what I’ve always done.  That’s been The Purpose.  This year more than most, I’ve been on a mission to do just that.

Oh yes, before anyone feels the need to throw in that ‘love yourself’ maxim, let me assure them that I’ve done the work on that one too.  Took me quite a few decades and the help of a very skilled life coach to get there, but I do now always add my needs into the equation.  Despite that, though, I’m at my best when I’m working flat out to sort out a difficult problem and make life better for someone dear to me.

Such work has totally consumed me since February.  And now – uh – my work is done.  Yesterday I found the vision board I’d drawn back in the spring.  It showed my little family safe in a new home, reunited with all their possessions, after having had to flee for their lives, settled and smiling and happy again most of the time with a comfortable house and tidy garden to enjoy and new friends calling round to visit.

Image may contain: plant and outdoorImage may contain: people sitting, plant, tree, outdoor and natureAlmost single-handedly, and while helping to heal some of the emotional pains and fears of three traumatised people, I’ve transformed their garden from this… to this.  Even finished it on my daughter’s birthday!

So now what?  Is Life about to hurl me headlong into some new drama, so that I can once more prove my own worth and stamina to myself?  I suspect not.  I suspect that I’ve brought myself to this point so that I can stop and wonder whether I need to have a purpose.

Is just being enough?

 

 

Equinoxing

Equinox Sun Moon Landscape Mystical CloudsI revel in the magic and symmetry of the equinoxes – those two occasions in the year when darkness and light occur in absolutely equal quantities.  They mark a shift, a subtle but important tipping point in the year.  Here in England, the Autumn Equinox that falls today is the time when we shift from more-light-than-dark to the reverse.  From tomorrow onwards the days will be shorter and the nights longer.  They won’t equal out again until next March, when the spring equinox heralds the start of the long summer days to follow.

And so, today, I find myself equinoxing – pondering the wonder and timefull/timelessness of this seasonal ebb and flow and the perfection of this perfectly poised day when neither night nor day holds sway.

For me, the six months since the last equinox has been a time of special significance.  In late March, I was packing my bags to move across the country to be with my child and grandchildren at a time of great need.  Now I’m starting to pack again, ready to leave them in their new home and return to my own home in beautiful Somerset.

Here in the East, life simply goes on from day to day.  Few people remark on the changes beyond a shake of the head and a comment on how the nights are drawing in.  Back in Glastonbury there is no shortage of people wishing to mark each nuance of the natural year – from robed and garlanded goddesses, through drum-bangers, chanters and pipers to those who will joyfully strip off and cavort in the buff around sacred groves and hills.

Me?  I’m somewhere between the two.  Equinox is a time to stop, to take stock, to consider the lessons, blessings and memories of the past six months, when Summer ruled.  It’s a time, too, to contemplate the darker months that lie ahead; long evenings curled up beside the log burner with candles twinkling and a good book, peace and quiet after the frenzied activity of the summer and a chance to dream myself into the next phase of this amazing little drama that is my current ‘life’.

Equinox greetings and blessings to all.