Returning to OZ

This post is a continuation from the last one I wrote, so in case you’d like the back story, you’ll find it here.

I’d considered enrolling on a course to find out all about radionics – the mysterious alternative therapy my grandfather OZ had practised, before I was born.  But that would mean waiting until the autumn, and my curiosity had been stirred…

‘Just by chance’ (regular readers of this blog will know I consider all events to be meaningful and never random coincidences!) these thoughts coincided with a particularly nasty flare-up of the IBS that has plagued me on and off for the last ten years.  So why not find myself a radionics practitioner and try it out for myself?

I’ll preface this by saying that I am NOT going to become all evangelical about this treatment.  I’m aware that it has been banned in the United States, will be considered pure rubbish by many and could well not suit others.  All I know is that my grandfather, some 50 years deceased, had seen fit to reach out to me to make me aware of this modality.  No doubt he has many other important things to do in spirit, therefore I’m aware that he must have a very good reason to alert me to its existence and value to me and our family.

I sat with the list of accredited practitioners before me.  As it’s a remote treatment, it didn’t matter where they were geographically, so who to choose?

Pendulum, MetaphysicalPrompted by the website, I dowsed over the list, to find the right person for me.  Sure enough, one name jumped out.  I emailed the lady and, a few days later, we were in contact and working together.

Was she the right choice for me?  Absolutely.  A down-to-earth, plain-speaking, no-nonsense lady with a background in alopathic and psychological healing who turned to radionics because it did what – in her opinion – other treatments didn’t.

She was clearly used to some initial scepticism in her clients.  “I work with the subtle bodies as well as the physical,” she told me.  “Does that mean anything to you?”

I assured her that it did, and I was delighted to hear it.  The more she told me, the more convinced I became that this had been a great choice.  I also kept thinking, ‘OZ knew all this.  He believed in all the things I believe in.’  It made me feel so close to him.

I’ve had four sessions with my practitioner now.  She’s working in subtle ways to fine-tune and help my body to heal.  One one hand she’s telling me she has sent healing to strengthen the connection between my etheric and astral bodies, on the other, she’s telling me to avoid the brand of soya milk I’d been using because she’d dowsed that it contained GM soya which was irritating my intestinal tract.  (I hadn’t told her the brand I used, but when I checked, she was right!  The company had recently reversed their policy of only using non GM products.  I swapped to a still non-GM brand and within two days felt much better.)

I tried to get a dear friend, with some severe mental health challenges to try radionics, but he didn’t feel it was right for him at this point.  My daughter, though, is very eager to see whether it will help her to deal with the PTSD which still causes problems for her, and so it moves on down the family line.

Interestingly, when she and my grandchildren came to stay with me last week, the children both commented – for the first time ever – on OZ’s portrait.
“Who is that man?” asked the 7 year old. “I like him. Sometimes he smiles at me.”
“Yes, he’s nice,” agreed the 4 year old. “He winked at me yesterday.”

Neither of them saw anything strange in that and although when you look at the drawing ‘logically’, his eyes are staring to the right, we only need a slight shift in focus to connect with this ancestor who has stepped in for a while to connect with, and help heal his family.

 

 

 

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It’s All Electric…

Yes, I’ve had conversations with ‘dead’ people from time to time.  I certainly don’t seek them out, but there are times they need to share information, and the fact that we are currently on opposite sides of the veil doesn’t seem to matter much in my case.  I’ve never heard from OZ before, though, so the fact that he’s now keen to chat is rather intriguing.

I call him OZ because those were his initials.  In life (well, his most recent one) we didn’t see much of each other, despite the fact that he was my paternal grandfather.  He is a shadowy figure in my memory.  I have one clear image of him bending down, laughing and holding out his arms to welcome me into his home as a very small child.  I hear a soft, gentle voice with a mid-European accent.  I have old black and white photos of him cradling an infant me in his arms or standing proudly in family photos.  I have his writing desk and a much-loved pastel portrait of him as a young man, which hangs in my living room, but that’s about it.

His origins were shadowy, too.  He was a barber-surgeon (amongst the tools of his trade was an amputation saw, which my ex-husband now uses for joinery!) and as far as I know, he grew up in Bohemia, or modern day Czechia/Czech Republic in a small mountain town very close to the German border.  As a young man, he emigrated to London and married a policeman’s daughter.

When I was a child we visited his home often enough, but my brother and I were always left outside in the car, as apparently OZ was too ill to cope with children.  I often wondered whether he wanted to see us as much as I wanted to see him.  The snippets of his life I managed to pick up fascinated me.  I heard how he’d take my dad and his brothers foraging in Epping Forest, always knowing which mushrooms were safe and delicious.  I learned from Dad his way of using hands-on healing to cure migraines.  In fact, I learned so well, that I was one of the few people Dad would trust to touch him when he was suffering from one.  Apparently I ‘had the touch’.

My mother once told me of a strange healing machine she’d seen OZ use.  She said he would turn lots of dials and knobs on some electrical contraption and could even cure people at a distance.

Oz died when I was 8 or 9.  I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral.

I’ve always felt we’d have got along well.  Like him, I’m the family weirdo – a bit of an embarassment to the rest with my interests in all things numinous and metaphysical.  Maybe they kept us apart for a reason…

 

So anyway, last week I received an email from a friend who is deeply interested in diet and its effects on the body at all levels.  One phrase in the email stuck in my mind: “It’s all electric – PH.”  I thought I’d written back, asking for clarification, but apparently the message wasn’t sent.

A few days later I was listening to an hour-long video talk from an American sound healer.  It was basically a sales pitch for an upcoming course she’ll be running; the usual stuff, with long, rambling introduction and minimal amounts about the modality itself, because she wants you to buy into the course.  There were nuggets of information in there, though.  She was talking about subtly altering the resonance of the electrical field around the body.  “It’s all electrical,” she said, pointing out that we even use electricity to jump-start a body after a heart attack.

‘So THAT explains the tingling/fizzing I get in my hands when I practice distant or hands-on healing,’ I thought to myself.

I don’t use a tuning fork or Reiki symbols.  I just feel into that elecrical field and let the fizzing pour into it from my hands until it feels right.  Sometimes it feels too ‘acid’.  Sometimes it’s very weak.  I don’t do much.  I just let it flow until things feel like they’ve stabilised.

Recently my daughter, who is a relaxation and massage therapist, has found that many of her clients ask if she’s doing Reiki on them, because the energy she sends out through her hands feels therapeutic.  I laughed when she told me and said she must have inherited her great-grandfather’s healing hands.

 

Well it seems I was right.  Just as I’d had that mental jolt of the phrase ‘It’s all electric’ being given to me twice in a week and had that thought that it connected to the healing my daughter and I can do, I found my head moving until I was eyeball-to-eyeball with OZ’s portrait on my wall.  He was looking at me.  He was saying into my head, “Yes.  That’s it.  That’s exactly how it works.”

Cure, Medicine, Pharmacy, Health-CareThe next day, he gave me the name of his mysterious healing method with the machine: radionics.

I checked it out.  No idea how the machine itself works, but the concept and methodology sound ridiculously familiar.  The UK association offers two-day courses explaining the basics of radionics.  But, warned the site, you can’t attend unless you are an experienced dowser.  Well that won’t be a problem!  I’m off to book myself a place on the next course, and I can be sure OZ will be there with me.

 

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.

 

The Day the Muses Died

France, Oise, Chantilly, CastleThey’re not truly dead, of course, those Muses.  They are immortal – even the ones who consider themselves to be human.  They’ve gone though, for now at least.  Another one left this morning.

Have you noticed?  Are you missing them too?

There was a time when they reached so close, touched our thoughts, answered our tremulous questions and inspired our imaginings with a generosity of spirit and a wisdom so deep and wide that we felt nothing was secret, nothing was hidden from us.  All we had to do was to wonder and they would be there with a sign, a comment, a synchronicity that proved to us that we were heard and supported and – yes – expanded by their inspiration.

We were such a sensitive, anxious bunch, back then in the years surrounding Y2k and 2012.  Was the world going to end?  How would that look?  Were we ‘birthing a new Earth’, some kind of parallel planet where we would be gods?  Would there be the fires, the floods, the earthquakes and famines that had ended previous ages?  Did we really have to go through all that again? Reawakening, rebirthing, rediscovering our true selves… re- just about anything you could hold a candle up to.  What did it all mean?

We needed answers.  We needed to know the things religions had never seen fit to share with us, the things science hadn’t addressed, the things Hay House and Gaia and the Shift Network tantalisingly offered to sell us, if we had enough $$$$.

That was when the muses arrived.  They were quiet, gently spoken.  They answered our questions with courtesy but rarely initiated the conversations.  Each utterance was filled with a Knowing of divine proportions.  I would listen with reverence, take their words and wrestle with them until I could make some sense of what I was learning.  Then I’d pour those words into my books or my blog or my coffee shop conversations with trusted friends.

Now, save for a very few, they have gone.  Did they answer all the questions we needed to ask?  Perhaps.

I miss them, that’s for sure.  But maybe they shared all the Knowing they needed to before moving on to other missions.  For those we know as fellow humans, those ‘other missions’ may be happening in some part of their greater selves which is not currently visible to us at all.  For those who came to us through channelled voices or spiritual guidance – well – we can’t even guess.  All I know is that during those magical years, the Muses gave us precious gifts, and I will always be so very grateful.

The Quietness is sad and deafening, at times, but I take comfort in the thought that, like the legendary Arthur, who sleeps beneath Albion, ready to awaken when he is needed, they will return when the time is right.  “Assume it’s temporary,” one of the Muses told me once, and another – the one who left today – instructed me to “Trust the Silence.”

I will.

Stasis – Unlimited

Glass, Heart, Window, Shot, Hole, BulletIt’s been ages since I last did a course.  I chose one of those science-meets-spirituality online ones.  It struck me it would be a good way to settle back into my life, after all the disruptions of last year – allowing someone else to lead me, gently, into my old ways of learning, musing and wondering.

So there I was, following the course leader’s instructions and working my way into an altered state.  All fine and good.  Next, we were to ask questions and allow the heart to provide an answer.  The yes/no queries worked perfectly, but then we were instructed to ask our hearts, “What do you need from me right now?”

Clear as a bell, the answer came back:  STASIS.

Sorry, what?

Space, Ship, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, ScienceAn image of those spacecraft pods you get in sci-fi films flashed into my mind, the ones with rows of people suspended somewhere between life and non-life waiting to be brought back to themselves before landing on some far-distant planet.

To be honest, I didn’t get much from the rest of the module I was studying.  I was too busy thinking about stasis – wondering if it had some other meaning I wasn’t aware of; wondering how and why it applied to me; wondering why my heart would wish me, or itself, to be in that state.

The next question we were supposed to ask was, “What do you want me to know right now?”  We were told that the answers would be brief – a short phrase or even a single word.  My heart is clearly less loquacious than its bearer.  Another single word answer: UNLIMITED.

Since then, I’ve pondered on these odd messages.  I checked ‘stasis’ for other meanings.  There are medical ones to do with veins and something about ancient Greek tyrants, but I settled on ‘a period of inactivity or equilibrium’.

(Yes, my heart is doing that glowy, expanding thing that means ‘yes’ as I type this.  I’m simply learning its way of communicating, the way I did with my pendulum, when I first started dowsing.)

Heart, Castle, Love, Symbol, RomanticMy heart has been through a great deal over the last year – all those dramas and emotional upheavals, anxieties and accomplishments, terrors and triumphs.  It needs, now, a period of stasis to recover, to rest, to relax.  It needs me to wrap up in a blanket, light the log burner and spend these winter days regaining my equilibrium.

After that, our potential together is – unlimited.

 

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 4: Socialisation and Communication

Image result for vitruvian man

Time to look, I think, rather more closely at the Leonardo drawing I’ve been using as my analogy for the two ‘populations’ of humanity: The Vitruvian Man.

Fitting comfortably within the circle, legs and hands spread, stands the neurotypical – the type of person who might commonly be referred to as ‘well rounded’ or even ‘normal’, in that he represents the larger portion of humankind.   He also fits within the square, incidentally.  He looks exuberant, relaxed and in control of all he surveys.

Now turn your attention to the ‘square filler’.  He has a more formal stance – feet together, arms stretching out at right angles to his body and not quite able to reach to the edge of the circle.  In some way he is restricted, held back from fully accessing all parts of the circle.  He represents, in this analogy, the autist, the highly sensitive person, the one labelled by the experts as disordered or dys-something-or-the-other.  Before we dismiss this individual as a more limited version of the circle filler, though, take a look at his left foot.  This person has a toe-hold in a realm quite inaccessible to his companion. If we think of the circle as our familiar world view, notice that there is space not bounded by it that lies to left and right below its surface.  Our square filler can reach into that space and access areas invisible and inaccessible to the neurotypical population.  It is one of those areas I’d like to examine today.

Read any formal definition of autistic perception and phrases like ‘difficulties with socialisation and communication’ will predominate.  Can I challenge that?  Can I venture where my Vitruvian’s big toe is pointing and replace the word ‘difficulties’ with ‘differences’?

Children, Blue, Play, Background, GreenI first began to understand that there were different methods of communicating and socialising when I worked in special education.  I was at the classroom window watching several children aged between 5 and 7, all with some degree of autistic perception and virtually no intelligible spoken language.  Despite that, they were each taking roles within an imaginative game.  It had a definite storyline.  Each of them knew what to do – when it was time for one person to bring the tricycle taxi to the playhouse door, who was going to ride in it, where they were going and so forth.  I tried to figure out what was happening.  Was it that they had learned to understand each other’s spoken language?  No – there was virtually no speech – just laughter, shrieks and sound effects.  There was also a great deal of looking.  As they watched one another, I realised, they were communicating.  I was watching a bunch of little kids communicating telepathically with each other.  That realisation changed my life.

Having keenly watched the development of my grandchildren, I firmly believe that all infants begin life with considerable and wide-ranging telepathic skills.  This telepathy works both ways.  They can pick up the thoughts of others (not necessarily verbal thoughts alone, but states of mind, concepts and emotions) and can transmit their own to people with whom they have established a telepathic link.  Thus not everyone knows why a baby is crying, but the mother or sibling often will.  I believe the process of this ‘linking’ is in some way related to quantum entanglement, so that time and space are not relevant.

This is by no means the only example of alternative methods of communication and socialisation.  Last year I read an article about an isolated tribe who communicated via dreaming.  If a decision needed to be made, the tribal elder or shaman would ask the community to explore the issue in their dream state.  The next morning a consensus would have been reached as a shared dream had allowed them to come to a conclusion.  The anthropologist studying this group reported that shared dreaming was considered by the tribe to be a normal, important aspect of social life.

Buddha Statue, Stone Statues, SpeakNeither of these forms of communicating would be considered likely or legitimate by our mainstream culture.  We live in a society where spoken and written language has been the primary means of communication for many centuries.  The language we use in the West depends heavily upon taxonomy – classification.  Thus a child learns that a Great Dane, a dingo and a Jack Russell are all dogs, but a fox isn’t.  It’s far from straightforward.

It is said that if spelling were as fluid now as it was in Shakespeare’s time, dyslexia would be almost non-existent.  We only have dyslexic people because we have a rigidly structured written language.  We only have dysfluent people because we have a precisely articulated spoken language.  Square fillers generally have challenges coping with social communication via word-based language.

Circle fillers think in words.  Others, though, think in patterns, gestalts, pictures and concepts that have no direct linguistic equivalent.  For these thinkers, word-based language is a problem because of its limitations.

Just about every member of our population has at some point complained about the inadequacy of words to express subtle or complex ideas or concepts: ‘I can’t find the words to express…’  ‘Mere words cannot convey…’.  To make up for this, the circle fillers have added in a range of subtle verbal, facial and bodily expressions to augment the words they use.

By contrast, the square fillers find aspects of this system challenging.  They have a quite different way of communicating naturally, which would seem to involve thinking and telepathically sending or receiving gestalts, concepts, images, patterns or even colours.  They may have adopted word-thought and word-speech as a second language, but it is not one they find easy to use.

As we move into the next section, I’ll go deeper into autistic thinking and communication.

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 2

Society, another way

I’m trying, in this series of posts, to identify the key differences between two aspects of the human population.  To avoid the usual derogatory associations that beset people who are medically or educationally labelled as different from the majority, I’ve borrowed Leonardo’s wonderful Vitruvian Man (which he borrowed from Vitruvius) and used the two overlying figures he depicts to represent these types of people.  Image result for vitruvian manThere are those who fit neatly into the circle.  They are those commonly called neurotypical.  Then there are the others – the people who, we are told by the experts, have differently wired brains.  These are those who fit the square.  There wouldn’t be a problem, unless someone tries to fit a square into a round hole.  In the previous post, I used that analogy to consider how our society is structured in such a way that it attempts to do exactly that.

Now, though, I’d like to consider other ways of structuring societies and see whether there could be a more comfortable space in them for our ‘square fillers’.

As I mentioned last week, a triangular power structure has held sway in the West since written records began.  Humanity is far older than writing, though, so by thinking back to a time before scribes and civil servants organised us all, we may find something different.

Despite the earnest efforts of social anthropologists, archaeologists and academics, very little is known, and far less understood, about our distant ancestors – the people who migrated vast distances across Africa, Europe and beyond.

For millennia, the hunter-gatherers moved gently across the landscape.  They would take refuge in caves or build temporary shelters, but they often needed to follow the food supply, so movement was their natural way of life.  A tribe which is constantly on the move and living a hand-to-mouth existence has no need of leaders or experts.  Consequently, I think it safe to assume that their society would have been structured very differently to ours.

In order to safeguard the youngest, oldest and otherwise vulnerable members of their group, they would have to form a protective framework as they moved. The pace of the group would, then, probably be slow and steady.

Mountains, Ridge, Climbing, Open SpaceCertainly there is safety in numbers and it isn’t hard to see the advantages to the group of travelling in this way.  Fairly obviously, though, there are certain shortcomings.  What this culture would need is for certain individuals to move slightly away from the central group and to perform a different function.  The hunter-gatherers would need outliers.

An outlier is someone with a relationship to the general group, but somewhat apart from it – on the periphery.

If you think, for example, of a herd of migrating animals, the general mass remains together in a central hub but certain individuals purposely take themselves to the edges and beyond.  Theirs is a more exposed and potentially dangerous situation, but they serve the valuable purpose of scouting for possible hazards or useful food sources that would be missed by the main group.  Without the outliers, the entire colony would stand less chance of survival.

If you think about it, the skills these outliers develop will be very different from those of the rest of the population.   Imagine a group of humans on a long journey, with most crowded into a central group and a few staying on the edges and heading off to scout around.  Who would have the highest levels of sensory stimulation – a member of the mass or an outlier?  Clearly it would be the outlier.  He or she would need highly developed senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch in order to be alert for danger or sanctuary, while members of the central group would have little sensory stimulation beyond the sound, smell and sight of their fellow travellers.

By contrast, an outlier would not need to be particularly involved in everyday, low-level interactions with others, since he or she is on the fringes of the group and only needs to communicate about matters of urgency.  The central group, on the other hand, would need the ability to engage in ‘small talk’ and general chatter to maintain a peaceful co-existence.

As will no doubt have already occurred to you, the characteristics of an outlier in a migratory group resemble some classic features of autistic perception – heightened senses, often to the point where they can be uncomfortable or even painful, and limited social and communication skills.  In other words, those with autistic perception could be ideally suited to the role of an outlier.

(I wonder whether the fascination so many ‘square fillers’ have with trains and other modes of transport is some deep ancestral memory of this role.  Fanciful, perhaps, but possible?)

Next time, I’ll consider the status of the outlier in those nomadic societies, and what might have happened to them when peoples began to settle.

 

Am I where I want to be?

Yesterday someone sent me an email.  If the photo the sender attached was to be believed, it was a smart, squeaky-clean young American.  He told me I’d been accepted as a member of an organisation called the Association of Spiritual Writers or some such.  Can’t remember the exact wording, as I deleted it pretty quick.

For a start, I hadn’t applied to join any such group.  For an end, he quickly moved into an unabashed sales patter, telling me that in order to get top price ticket sales at my talks, I needed to enrol on his training course, which would maximise my earnings.

Sorry to disappoint you, young Sir, but I have not the slightest interest in making money from spiritual writing or talking.  Sharing ideas, having dialogues, learning and discovering, yes – those things are hugely important to me, but that’s where it stops.

It made me think, though.  Do I have what I want now, in the autumn of my life?  And the answer seems to be that yes, I do.

I own a very small, sweet, though slightly damp and crumbly, old cottage in a beautiful part of England.  I get enough money from my pension to pay the bills and live each month and although I don’t run a car, have expensive holidays or buy luxury items, I have all I need to be comfortable and to give a little to charities I care about.

I still do some private tutoring, charging less by the hour than I pay a handyman to chop and stack my logs.  I’m fine with that, too.  I do it because teaching was my first love and I enjoy keeping contact with it and helping children who would otherwise be struggling.

I spend vast amounts of time making 1/12 scale miniature figures and room settings by upcycling mass produced and junk items.  It’s a brilliant hobby for me.  I can be creative, inventive and gloriously messy.  It involves constant problem-solving that keeps my mind active.
People say, “You must have such patience,” but for me it’s a kind of meditation.  I do my deepest meditating when I’m hand-stitching a minuscule white shirt or sticking tiny tufts of hair on to a wig base.
I display and sell the fruits of my labour at craft sales, get smiles and lovely comments and have fascinating conversations all day.  I make modest amounts of money – which I pass on to my son and his partner, as they are saving up for a deposit on their first home.

Strangely, at almost every sale I’m approached by some smartly dressed young man who eagerly tells me how I could make masses more money from my crafting by doing this on Instagram or that on You Tube.  I smile, thank them politely and carry on doing what I do.

I’ll happily trade the lack of stress, deadlines and problems for the lack of wealth and material goods.  I’m happy, I’m still learning every day and I have a wonderful life.

 

 

 

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  🙂