A Trail of Breadcrumbs

Learn, Child, View, Thumb, High, LikeIt was over twenty years ago, and I’ve taught a lot of lessons since then.  None, though, quite as extraordinary as that one.

They were 5 to 7 year olds, only ten of them, all with speech and language difficulties and several with autistic spectrum perception.  We were doing a mental addition and subtraction activity and I was recording their answers on the board.

There was a wide ability range and a couple of the kids were exceptionally bright.  I was doing my best to stretch them, while keeping the less able group involved.

I had a hidden agenda, though.  There was one boy – a six-year-old – whom I was watching particularly carefully.  He was one of the highly intelligent ones.  He always focused on the task at hand, worked hard and was unfailingly polite and charming.  We’d been watching him for a few weeks, my teaching assistant and myself, ever since I’d confided to her that I felt I was losing my grip on this class.  To be honest – and I’m not a person given to paranoid delusions – I was beginning to suspect that this little child was intentionally sabotaging my lessons.

The activity started quite normally, but before long he started.

‘27 +13?’ I asked.

‘40,’ someone said.

I wrote 40 on the board.

‘No, it’s 41,’ he said.

I talked through the calculation, using my best patient teacher voice.

‘But you said 28.  28 and 13 is 41, isn’t it?’

Hmm.  This sort of thing happened all the time in my class these days.  Normally I’d have accepted that I’d made a mistake and wondered, yet again, why I was becoming so absent-minded.  Today, though, I was ready for him.  I pretended to be flustered.  There was no flicker of a triumphant smile from him.  Maybe he’d made a genuine mistake…

We carried on.  He did it several more times, selecting his moments with infinite care.  If I stood my ground, he backed down instantly with a polite, ‘Oh, sorry.’  If I hesitated or acted confused, though, he’d capitalise on it, wasting vast amounts of time in the process.

By the end of the session I was in no further doubt.  All the times a vital piece of equipment I was sure I’d laid out for a lesson had gone missing and was then found in the most ridiculous place – by him, naturally; all the lessons where he was endlessly under my feet and I was practically falling over him, yet he’d always have a perfectly valid explanation for being there; all the times when half the class ended up repeating some stupid little phrase over and over, while he sat, bent over his work and looking up in mild surprise at their behaviour;  all this and more was being orchestrated by a child of six with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum and severe speech difficulties.  It beggared belief.

Later that day I took him aside and asked him, point blank, why he was playing these mind games.

‘What’s mind games?’ he asked innocently, but the mask was slipping.  I could see a gleeful twinkle in those wide green eyes.

‘The little wind-ups you use in my lessons, like in maths this morning,’ I replied.

He gave a yelp of delight.  ‘So it’s YOU!’ he said.  ‘I thought it was you.’  And he smiled his concrete-melting smile.

He went on to explain that he’d been trying his ‘tricks’ on a number of key adults in his life for some time, waiting to find the one who figured out what he was doing.  I had, it seemed, passed the test.

So as his teacher I had two choices.  I could get angry, label him as a disruptive and manipulative pupil and apply sanctions.  Alternatively, I could be delighted that I’d come across such an audacious, brilliant and imaginative mind, give him the deepest respect and remember never to underestimate him.  I chose the latter.  Of course I did.  This was a once in a lifetime meeting.

From that day onward we became the best of friends.  Twenty years on, we still are.

That’s not to say he’s let me off the hook.  Far from it.

If he wants me to discover something, to move closer towards his level of comprehension, he will never simply tell me.  He uses the Socratic Method.  It’s the most effective form of education ever developed.  The student is given scenarios and placed in situations which require high-level problem-solving skills.

Hiking, Nature, Walking Trails, JeansI’m given a trail of breadcrumbs to follow, often a heady mix of physical and psychic, since he operates in both modes.  He ruthlessly ignores my questions or pleas for hints.   If some of the breadcrumbs have disappeared or been blown off course, I’m simply expected to work harder and faster to find the rest.  It’s exhausting and exhilarating – the kind of buzz people get from climbing mountains or running marathons, I suppose.  If I fail, he ups the stakes.  If I succeed he’s utterly delighted and we are able to communicate on a higher level than I’d ever have achieved alone.

I’m busily following one such trail at the moment.  Here, as an example, is just one of the crumbs he’s thrown me:

Phone, Communication, ConnectionAutistic people are capable of communicating and socialising. They have a naturally different method of accomplishing this. What exactly that method is I don’t believe is fully understood at present by either autistics or non-autistics. I don’t believe the correct words have been attributed to autistic matters to describe or explain them properly. I suspect at some point this will be achieved and hopefully will allow autism to be harnessed to its full potential and remedy the blindness of so many.

Wish me luck  🙂

 

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Long, long ago…

Fantasy, Castle, Cloud, Sky, TowerI’ve had this theory, for quite a long time now, that my life is based around a fairy tale… and just maybe everyone’s is.

Let me try to explain.

Imagine that, at the very start of becoming human and beginning this great adventure of playing at being physical creatures in a three dimensional world, our greater, non-physical, soul selves created a sort of master plan for human life to play out in.  Let’s imagine they (we) came up with a set of archetypal storylines, each involving a journey – an adventure of some sort with heroes and villains, difficult choices and wise ones who just happen to appear at the right moment.

Now imagine that, no matter what else we forgot about our origins and our true purpose, however muddled and confused we became by religions and sciences and politics and cultures, our greater selves would find a way to ensure that these vital blueprints for living out physical life could not be forgotten.  They would be hardwired into us.  Every generation would feel an innate urge to share them and pass them on to the next.  We would not be able to lose them.  Is that possible?

Heroesjourney.svg

Diagram from Wikipedia

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and many others have written about the mono-myth, the hero’s journey or whatever they chose to call it.

Here it is at it’s most basic.

I suspect, though, that there are several variations – a collection of mythic journeys – and that, maybe in our pre-birth planning stage, we selected one to work with, in just the way you might select a video to watch, a book to read or a game to play.

Here in the West, the remnants of these blueprints are gathered in the collections of Hans Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and (in the USA) Mother Goose.  The same storylines, though, exist all over the planet.  They are in folk tales, soaps, Hollywood movies and Shakespearean dramas.  There’s always a twist in the tale, an unexpected choice, a reversal we weren’t expecting, to keep us interested, but the themes remain, because we need them to.

I won’t tell you which story is mine.  It’s a bit too personal.  You see, you know the story too well, and if I were to reveal its name, you’d know my life.  My character is on a long journey, seeking for something.  Various other characters and situations appear and distract me, lull me into a false sense of security.  Then, all of a sudden something happens to remind me of my quest, and I feel angry at the wasted time and set off again to continue my search.  There’s nothing trite or trivial about this journey.  It’s not even just a matter of life and death; it’s more than that.  It’s my soul/sole purpose and I need to get on and complete it.

I wrote about this theory at greater length, although probably not particularly well, in Life: A Player’s Guide, because I knew then – back in 2012 – how important it was.

Since then I’d forgotten.

But something happened this week to bring me back to it, so on I’ll go, hoping that now I finally have all the gifts, all the helpers and mentors and all the luck to complete my quest and reach a happy ending.

 

Trying to Re-Member

There’s a group I attend from time to time here in my town.  Each week they provide cups of every kind of herbal tea you can imagine, biscuits or cake, and a speaker.  The talks range over many areas and subjects, but they must always be positive.  That seems to be the only rule.

Abstract, Background, Pattern, ArtisticI’d never heard of that night’s speaker, but his subject was ‘The Eight Elements’ and partly because I’d been pondering on elements for quite a while and partly because he was speaking as a follower of Krishna – a Truth quite new to me – I decided to go along.

The gentleman stood calmly before us, looked around the room at the sea of faces and announced, with total certainty, “I’m not the only person in this room who has been to the breaking point.  I’m not alone in having reached a point in my life where everything I lived for, everything I believed, everything I cared about was swept away, leaving me lost, broken and utterly alone.”

All around the room, heads nodded slowly, solemnly, mine included.

The talk was excellent.  Krishna’s take on the elements was oddly familiar and linked in well with the Egyptian, Greek, Shamanic, Medieval and alchemical ideas I’d been reading and thinking about.  What I was left with above all, though, was that idea of the breaking point – the need to go through what feels at the time to be a crisis, a disaster, a destruction of all you’ve held dear.  It is the tower card in the tarot – the card I used to fear above all others, back in the days when my life was settled and sorted (although very far from perfect).

I thought of the many friends and family members I’ve seen hit that point, whether through a sudden incapacitating illness, a financial meltdown, a job loss, a relationship breakup or what’s commonly called a nervous breakdown.  Often – as in my own case – it’s a mixture of several of these.  Like the body of Osiris, we are broken up, hacked into pieces and scattered in the waters of Life.

Shell, Broken, Empty, Close, LeaveThere follows a time of the most awe-ful emptiness.  We shut down.  We exist from moment to moment, day to day, with no clear idea of how or why we are still functioning.  This is the time we need to hide away, to withdraw from everyone and everything, knowing at some instinctive level that we require peace, and that healing will eventually flow from this.

Despite the kindness and ministrations of others, there’s ultimately only one place that healing can come from.  It comes from within.  It comes from our soul-selves – the part of us that is, and has always been, whole and complete.  Slowly and painfully, we begin to re-member ourselves – to put ourselves back together.  This time, though, we will be different.  We will have shed the limiting beliefs that we are not complete without money/ health/ family/ possessions/ career/ home/ friends or whatever we relied upon for stability and identity in the past.  That’s not to say we won’t regain or rediscover some of these, but they will no longer take centre stage.

Now we will have re-membered who we truly are.  We will recognise that we are whole and complete in ourselves.  We are not – primarily – parent or employee, partner or owner.  We are infinite aspects of the great I AM and as such, we have no limits.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.”

Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet

 

Having Fun

Munich, Oktoberfest, Ride, Carousel, FunRight now, at this point in my life, I’m having fun.

Should I feel guilty about that?  Would I be more worthy if I focused (as many wonderful people I know do) on wars and famine and the-state-of-politics and all the other worrying aspects of our world?

I dare to say it: no.

My life – all six-and-a-fair-bit decades of it – has had it’s share of disasters, problems, heartbreaks and despair.  I’m now – in hindsight (which is a much cosier place to view from) – thankful for all those difficult and testing times.  They’ve etched lines on my face, turned my hair white and allowed me to understand myself and others far better than if I’d had a safe, comfortable time reading the papers and keeping the house tidy.  (I do neither of those things.)

At this point, I have no major problems in my life and I have the most inordinate amount of fun.  If you’re about to say, “Oh don’t say that, you’re tempting fate”, you are missing the point.  In those terms, I don’t believe there is any such thing as ‘fate’ – or, for that matter – a vengeful deity of any kind, which must be appeased and bowed down to.  I don’t believe that I have a preordained ‘lot’ that will come to me, whatever, or can only be avoided if I follow the rules, or store up good karma.

I believe that I create my life.

Now the devil’s advocate will be saying, “So if that’s the case, how come you created all those heartbreaks and disasters, huh?”

I don’t mean that I create the whole shebang consciously and meticulously (although I have come across a few people who are just about able to do that).  However I am coming closer to a conscious awareness of the process.

Since I started to see myself as moving through a thixotropic aether (see my last post for details if you have no idea what I just said there) rather than a vacuum which happens to have a bit of air in this particular portion of it,  I’ve altered my way of viewing life.  It’s great!  I’m loving it.

The Sand Dunes, DuneThe way I considered it was this:  Quicksand is thixotropic.  The more you bash and flail and struggle, the more unyielding it becomes.  If, though, you very softly and gently relax, flow with it and – causing as little resistance as possible – swim slowly and carefully towards the edge, you can gradually escape.

The thing is, if my whole life is a journey through this substance, just crawling out once won’t help that much.  There isn’t, in this existence, a place of safety, where no perils or challenges can possibly occur; physical life just isn’t like that.  I could argue that it’s one big sea of quicksand.  Once I know how to deal with that, though, it stops being a problem.  I can drift gently through it.  I can get used to the way it pulls and sucks at me.  I can stop seeing it as the enemy and just resolve to move lightly through it, not taking it too seriously, not resisting it.  I can start to enjoy it’s texture and the whole adventure.  It was my choice to be here, after all.

So I’m not living in some kind of fool’s paradise.  I know just how it all works.  I know the hazards and dangers, but that is not going to stop me enjoying myself.

Like I said, I’m having fun.

The Cornflour Test

Hand, Hands, Smudging, Create, ChildrenIt used to be one of my favourite science lessons – cheap, easy and fun: give the kids a bowl, some cornflour (I think Americans call it cornstarch) and a jug of water.  Tell them to try mixing the cornflour and water slowly and they’d get a nice, smooth liquid. Tell them to hit the mixture with the spoon or try beating it vigorously and it would splatter them with goo and/or become a slimy solid.  ‘A non-Newtonian liquid’, I’d tell them; ‘a thixotropic substance’   from the Greek thixis, “the act of handling” and trope, “change”.

So why am I reminiscing about my teaching days?  Because it’s just occurred to me (with a little help from my Guides) that our lives are – like the cornflour goo – thixotropic.  The way we handle them changes the way they work in exactly the manner described above.

 

20170222_150446As regular readers will know, last year I started up a very small cottage industry with one of my sons, making steampunk-style miniature figures, gadgets, dolls’ house rooms and jewellery.  He set up an online store.  I started a blog to link to it.  It all looked very promising and there has been plenty of interest.  Sales, though, have been almost non-existent.  The stock was piling up and we were getting disheartened.  20170119_085337So, encouraged by my other son and daughter, I’ve spent the last few weeks madly learning new tricks (difficult for an old dog) – attempting to master Instagram, creating a new business page on Facebook, approaching museums, shops, magazines… and generally running myself into a state of anxiety and frustration.

Yesterday I stopped.

I turned off the social media and tuned in to my Guides.  “What am I doing wrong?” I asked.  “I’m trying to create my own reality.  I can’t push any harder.  Whatever I do, it’s making me feel bad and it’s not having any appreciable results.”

I felt the smile they sent me.  Into my mind they placed the memory of that science lesson.

“I’ve been bashing the goo, haven’t I?” I exclaimed, as realisation flooded in.  “That’s why it has blocked up.  I need to slow down, to go with the flow, to drift lightly and follow all the synchronicities that come along.  As simple as that.”

‘As simple as that,’ my Guides agreed.

So maybe old dogs can learn new tricks after all.  I may never master the intricacies of Instagram, but in future I will apply the Cornflour Test to the way I move towards my intended goals.

Acashic Technology?

Space Telescope, Mirror SegmentsWell I decided a couple of months back that I needed to keep myself informed about current and future technology, as it all seems to be moving so fast and I don’t want to fetch up as one of those little old ladies with a mind stuck in the last century.  It isn’t a subject that enthuses me particularly, but – like occasionally scanning the news headlines to see what the politicians are up to – I vaguely think I should keep at least a toe-hold in 2017.

So I subscribed to Peter Diamantis’ handy weekly summary of what’s new in the world of tech – flying self-driving cars, solar powered wonders and the like.  (Here’s the link if you’d like to subscribe.  It’s free.)  This week, I read the following there:

In recent months, researchers at Google Brain, OpenAI, MIT, Berkeley, and Google’s DeepMind have all reported progress on creating a machine learning system that creates machine learning systems. At Google Brain, the team designed a piece of software to design a system to take a test used to benchmark how software is able to process language, surpassing all previous results from human-designed software.

Hmm.  So should I be panicking here?  Racing around saving the world from artificial intelligence the way Will Smith did in I Robot?  That boss robot kind of had a point, didn’t she?  Looked at in terms of pure, cold logic, isn’t the human race, er, somewhat flawed?  How long before the machines notice that?

Actually, though, I’m not bothered by AI, nanotechnology or any of the other weird and amazing things I’ve been reading about.  I’m not bothered because I believe – totally and absolutely – in the Akashic Field.

Atom, Molecule, Nucleus, Science

Is this a diagram of a solar system or an atom?

My theory goes a bit like this:  No matter where we look in the cosmos, we find that things – stars, planets, plants, people, creatures and any stuff you can think of – are all made of the same basic components and behave in the same basic ways.  That isn’t coincidence!  It works that way because there is a basic, all-embracing blueprint that governs the way the cosmos works.

Helix Nebula, Ngc 7293, Planetary Fog

And I don’t even need to comment on this one.  

Despite our brilliance and technological wizardry and general amazingness as a species, we are hard-wired into the over-arching Akasha – the ‘Way It Works’ that governs all physical matter.

Caveman, Primeval, Primitive, ManCertainly we invent new stuff that works better or more efficiently than old stuff.  We’ve been doing that for quite a while now.  (Yes, of course I think the old ‘primitive cave man’ idea is total rubbish, but that’s quite another subject.)

My point is that no matter what we develop, it’s made of the same basic matter – the self-aware consciousness of All That Is – and it is completely and irrevocably linked in to everything else that IS.

Obviously there will be choices made which do not benefit the world.  Just think how the wheel – that most brilliant of inventions – was used as an instrument of torture in the middle ages, for example.  All creations can be used for what we term ‘good’ or evil’.  The tension between the two is exactly what we are here to explore:  Can we make better choices?  Can we use this or that invention to the benefit of the rest of the cosmos?

It’s great that the ethical questions are asked.  That’s exactly as it should be.  And of course there will be new inventions and new discoveries about the past and about places far away.  And the more that is invented and discovered, the more it will be understood that – right at the nub of it all – it all springs from the same blueprint – the amazing, beautiful Akasha that forms everything.

 

Not very

Mural, Girl, Balloon, Heart, GraffitiI can’t remember when our last meeting was.  If you don’t know it’s going to be the last time, you don’t take particular note of it, I suppose.

I remember my last meeting with his mother.  It was in the hospice.  That meeting is easy to recall, because we were both all too aware that she’d have moved beyond her body within a few days.  We had a rather surreal conversation about this and that – mostly her plans for the funeral and what she wanted me to do to help care for her little boy.  I kept asking whether she was tired and would prefer me to leave and she kept saying, ‘No.  I don’t want you to go yet.’  But eventually she was tired and she did need to sleep and we hugged and cried a bit and said none of the things people usually say when they are parting: ‘See you soon’, ‘Keep in touch’, ‘Take care of yourself’.  It was an adieu moment, not an au revoir.

When I last saw her son – the little boy who had grown up to be a man and who had become just like one of my own children to me – he DID say, ‘See you soon.’  I distinctly remember that part, although I can’t quite remember where we were.  He was waving me off on a bus or a train or something.  He’d been anxious, awkward, twitchy – more so that I’d seen him before.  He’d kept wheeling around and looking suspiciously about him, as if he expected an assassin to come lurching out of the crowd.  He’d looked awful.  There was an unhealthy pallor to his skin and much of his hair had fallen out in untidy clumps.  Alopecia, he told me.  Stress, the doctor had told him.  It might grow back or it might not.

He didn’t see me soon, nor I him.  The months became years – probably six or seven.  I feel I should be able to remember.  Each time I suggested meeting, there was a flat ‘No.’  If I pestered for a reason, I’d get, ‘Can’t do it’ or ‘Too stressful.’

Last week, I suggested it again.  He’s been coming out, I feel, agonisingly slowly, of the deepest slough of despair, social anxiety and depression.  His texts and emails have been far more chatty and even shown flashes of the old sense of humour.  He accused me of being paranoid about something, adding, ‘And yes, I know that’s rich, coming from me.’

He didn’t say ‘No’.

True, he didn’t come anywhere close to saying ‘Yes’, but he was far more concerned that he wouldn’t be able to commit to a meeting until the day itself, and that as we live far apart, I might have a wasted journey to London.

I told him I love London – in small doses – and that I’d enjoy a day trip there in any case.  I told him I’d plan a trip to the British Museum, another old and much-loved friend.  I told him that if he felt able to join me, that would be great, but I’d have a great day in any case.

You don’t get sighs in texts, unless they’re intentionally written in those silly little arrow things (<sighs>) but I could feel his as he replied, ‘That’s up to you but I don’t want to get your hopes up.’
London, Lantern, Big Ben, RiverSo my coach ticket is booked.  Next Saturday I’ll begin the 3 hour trek to London.  I’ll be caught (as happened so often, when his mental state waxed and waned throughout his teens) somewhere between assuring myself that he’ll be there, in order to manifest the reality, and stoically preparing for a pleasant day wandering through the delights of the museum, just in case.

Whatever happens, though, I’m jubilant.  When I asked how likely he was to be there, he replied, ‘Not very.’  That’s a long way past ‘Not at all’.  There will be other chances, other days.  Just as his mother begged me, all those years ago, I’ve never given up on him, never thrown in the towel, and nor has he.  I’m proud of us both for that.

Still with the money

Money, Coins, Euro Coins, Currency, EuroMoney, per se, doesn’t interest me much.  I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, not because I was taking some kind of ideological stand, but because there was nothing I wanted or needed.

There have been times in my life when money was in short supply; there have been times when it was relatively plentiful.  Now it is neither of those things.  I live a frugal but comfortable life.  I earn considerably less than £100 a week, but that pays for food and occasional outings.  I get a pension which covers the household bills.  Money comes in and goes out and it isn’t an issue for me.

I am concentrating on it now, not because I want it, but because I’m still trying to work out what it IS, exactly.  It seems important to know.

Sunrise, Dramatic Sky, SeascapeThe closest thing I can think of to money is water.

While it flows freely, as mine does, it’s fine.

When it starts to build up, it gets stagnant, leaves a bad smell and causes problems.  People tend to get rather obsessed with it at that point.

Too little money – like a drought – often leads to dreadful suffering.

A sudden influx of money is also – like a flash flood – potentially dangerous.  I once met a man in his early forties who told me he was in the ‘fortunate position’ of not having to work.  It turned out he’d had a large cash settlement as a result of a workplace injury and was living off that.  When I heard of him some years later, he’d become an alcoholic, through sheer boredom and lack of focus.  The money was gone, yet he was in no fit state to look for work.  Obviously I’m not saying the money caused his problems, but he’s not alone in having failed to cope well with sudden wealth.  There are many stories of sports and music stars, for example, whose lives have taken a similar turn.

So to round off my analogy, money – like water – is essential for life, yet potentially deadly.  Is it, in the way our world has developed, a form of energy?  As we all know, energy needs to be kept moving if it is to benefit anyone.  Is that the way money works?

I can easily think of ways to give £10 or £100 which would bring great pleasure and benefit to others and make me feel good, too.  If I had £100,000 or a million or two to dispose of, though, it becomes more complicated.  How would I decide on the ‘best’ way to use it?  Who or what ‘needs’ it the most?  How would I compare charities or research projects with one another?

Money, Grow, Interest, Save, InvestYou may say this is idle musing, since I don’t have anything like that sort of cash, but some inner compulsion is driving me to wonder how we can make money work properly.  I feel there’s a way to allow it to flow so effortlessly that – like Tesla’s energy coils – it just keeps going.  I’m imagining some project – or maybe even a society –  in which, once it’s been set up, the wealth becomes self-perpetuating.  No one takes more than they need; everyone has enough, and there’s always more being generated.  It doesn’t involve exploitation of people, animals or the planet.  It feels possible – close, even…

Once I’ve figured it out, I’ll start playing the lottery, maybe.

 

What Price?

Money, Dollars, Success, BusinessThis has been puzzling me.  Maybe you can help me work it out….

I’m not even going to touch on the conspiracy theories or give any opinion on the character or behaviour of either of the protagonists here, because that’s not what interests me.  What I want to figure out is the part money plays in the story.  (Also I know it is far more complicated than I’m making it.  I just want to solve my puzzle.)

Once upon a time there were two men (as I understand the story) who were developing electricity in amazing new ways, so that it would be available to all.

Thomas Alva Edison, Inventor, 1922One was called Thomas Edison.  He was a smart, hard-headed businessman as well as a brilliant innovator.  He needed investors in order to develop his amazing stuff.

The other was called Nikola Tesla.  He was clueless with money and no good at working with people but also a brilliant innovator.  He too needed investors, for exactly the same reason.

Edison wanted to develop a business empire, selling electricity and electrical products to people.

Tesla wanted to develop free electricity, so that no one would have to buy it ever again.  He’d worked out a way of doing that.

So let’s imagine you were an astute investor, back then, with lots of money in your pocket.  Which of these men would you invest in?

It’s not a hard choice to make, is it?  Edison wins hands down, because his investors will get great returns as everyone clamours to buy his products.  Tesla doesn’t stand a chance.  You invest in his company and you get free electricity forever – but so do all the other people: the ones who didn’t invest anything.  There’s no profit to be had in something that is free.

That means the world is stuck with power stations that run on fossil fuels or nuclear power, and we are all still having to pay for our power – as is the planet.

Flash, Tesla Coil, ExperimentNow let’s imagine an alternative universe in which the investors all went for Tesla’s ideas.

No one owns electricity.  It’s as free as the air we breathe, even in places where people struggle to survive.  There are no bunkers full of nuclear waste that can’t be safely disposed of, no pollution in the seas around Japan, no coal or oil-fired power stations belching out fumes.  Suddenly electricity is not a commodity. It isn’t bought and sold.  You can’t own shares in it.   You can’t wage wars over the fossil fuels to power it or build pipelines where you shouldn’t.  It’s simply energy, like a thunderstorm or a forest fire.

We live in different times now.  What if crowdfunding had existed back then?  Ordinary people hand over their money to pay for some kid’s operation or to refurbish a hostel they will never see.  In my tiny country £46.6 million was raised in one night last week for Children In Need.  Billionaire stars turn philanthropist and give away their fortunes.

If Tesla were here now, asking for investors, would he find them?

Light Bulb, Idea, Light, Dim, Bright, OnSo this is my puzzle:

Have we changed, in those few short years since Edison won his battle?

Is the pursuit of money, ever so slightly, losing it’s grip?

Are we treating it more, now, like energy, allowing it to flow freely rather than stockpiling it and having to make a profit from it?   And if we use it that way, how might our world change?

 

 

Meant to Be

wp_20161014_13_31_43_proLife throws up challenges every so often.  You’d noticed, obviously.  How we deal with those challenges is what matters, though.  Today I want to tell you a story of someone who dealt with his in the best way.

The final straw was when the meat safe broke.  My son was a chef there.  He went to management to check that they were happy for him to throw the meat out.  They said no.  They said it would be fine as long as everyone kept the door shut as much as possible.  He protested.  He wasn’t prepared to serve the customers meat that hadn’t been stored at the correct temperature.  There had been a few such battles, with him arguing for quality and them for profit.  Tempers were frayed.  They ordered him to carry on using the meat.  He quit.

So there he was, suddenly, out of work.  His partner was having to pick up all the bills, he wasn’t having any luck finding other jobs.  Things seemed bad.  This was a challenge.

On a bright spring morning, we set out together.  I’d arrived to stay for a few days and he’d offered to show me around the town they’d fairly recently moved to.  To both of us, it felt that something good was about to happen.

“Would you like to see the museum?” he asked.  “It’s pretty good.”

Obviously we’d been chatting about work and the sort of things he could turn his hand to, but it wasn’t until he paused in that museum and stared in pure delight at a gorgeously detailed model of an old city gate from the Middle Ages, complete with carts and horses, market stalls and all manner of tiny details, that the germ of a plan began to form.

“That’s what I’d really love to do,” he said, longingly.  “I bet there’s only one or two people in the whole country who are commissioned to make those models, but wouldn’t it be a fantastic job?”

I laughed.  “That’s exactly what I always wanted to do, when I was a kid,” I told him.  “Yes, that would be the perfect job for you.”

So that’s how it begins, isn’t it?  We put the idea out there.  We coat it generously with positive wishes and intention.  Then we wait for the Universe to start swinging into action.  The Law of Attraction may sound a bit of a New Age cliché, but it works…

“Not sure where else to show you,” he said, as we came out of the museum and rain started to fall.  “Oh, that building over there has just been converted into little workshops and craft outlets.  Do you want to take a look?”

We went inside.

“There’s not much on the ground floor yet,” he told me.  “We’re probably better going upstairs.”

But I’d noticed a sign to a dolls’ house shop, and I’ve always loved dolls’ houses…

It was shut.  Reluctantly, I turned away, but at that very moment the owner arrived and opened the door.  The tiny shop was crammed with all manner of miniatures and both of us were entranced.  We were the only customers, so a chat to the owner was almost inevitable.  We told him how we loved the things he’d made himself.  We asked about who his suppliers were and how he found them.  We explained my son’s predicament and I spoke of his talent for creating tiny models.

“Go to trade fairs,” he said, shortly.  “Talk to stallholders.  Find what they’re not making and do it.”

We thanked him and continued looking around.  Eventually I chose a few minuscule treasures to take home.  As I went to pay, the owner said, “Been thinking.  Steampunk.  No one’s doing that.  It would sell.”

And so the Universe was starting to spill the beans.  Matt and I looked at each other.  Why not?

So that (in case you were wondering) is how my new hobby of making 1/12 size Steampunk figures came about.  Matt, meanwhile, set to work creating room settings for them, filled with cogs, chains and devious devices.  We toured the trade shows, scoured the internet and charity shops for interesting items to use and re-purpose.  He stocked up on wood, while I bought up a selection of little porcelain dolls, and a cottage industry was born.

Today our online shop went live.  A few of the figures are ready for sale.  My son is busy photographing and listing the rest of the items.

I know all will be well.  The synchronicities of that day made it inevitable that it would.  I’ve put a photo of one of his rooms at the top of this post, and various figures appear in the last post I wrote.

Oh, and if you’d care to visit the store, or know anyone else who would, here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SteampunkDollsHouse?ref=hdr_shop_menu