Being Grommit

Image result for wallace and gromit imagesI hesitate to write this, because there are so many people out there much better qualified to talk about it.  Still, it’s come into my head and it’s lodged there like an ear worm and won’t go away until I write it, So I suppose I’d better write…

There’s a huge amount of non-sense spoken about sensitivity and highly sensitive people, so perhaps I can add a modicum of sense, or maybe just more nonsense.

I wouldn’t generally count myself among these people (which is why I don’t feel particularly qualified to write about them) but I seem to have some kind of magnetic attraction to them.  They keep showing up in my life.  Once they are there, they tend to stick around.  Whenever that happens with people in our lives, it means we have something to teach or learn from each other – probably both.

So let me give you a very personal, no-holds-barred snapshot of how it feels to be a neuro-typical individual, living and working amongst highly-sensitive people.

They’d like to fit in with the rest of us.  They really would.  It would make their lives so much easier and they know this.  Some of them elect to go down the route of medication aimed at suppressing their sensitivity, dulling their responses and turning them into rather sad but apparently average people.  Many, many more prefer to self-medicate, using recreational drugs and/or a mixture of caffeine and alcohol to render their daily lives (or at least parts of them) more manageable.  Both of these seem to me a tragic waste – partly because of the unpleasant side-effects and partly because all these substances mask the true essence of who they really are.  Nevertheless, I understand the reasons behind the choices.  For those of us living and interacting with these people, we’re faced with a double problem of trying to understand their innate differences from our way of being and to deal with the challenges faced when dealing with anyone who is drugged up.

I frequently feel hurt, offended, rejected and dismissed by those I care about and love who live within this spectrum of being.  As a ‘typical’ person I crave affection – and some occasional expression of this, attention – such as responses to messages or to be looked at once in a while, reassurance that I’m getting things right, and trust.  I’ve discovered, slowly and painfully, that I will only get any of these by explaining my needs very carefully, providing detailed instructions on how I would like the person to react and then being satisfied with what they are able to provide, even if it does feel more like a rehearsed trick than a genuine, spontaneous action on their part.

Does that sound terribly harsh?

If we look at it from their perspective, they do NOT lack emotions and feelings.  They have them in such abundance that their fragile human bodies are just about incapable of containing them.  They probably dealt with this as newborns by screaming endlessly, as children by throwing tantrums or head-banging, as adolescents by almost total withdrawal from society and family and immersion in music, video games or self-harm.  During that long, painful process, they have learned to suppress almost all emotion, except fear and anxiety, which just won’t go away.  They care and want to please as much as anyone, but it’s deeply scary for them, and any tiny steps they can take should be welcomed with deep gratitude by those of us who can’t even imagine what it is costing them.

They know and feel and see things we don’t.  They’ve learned that in our society, people who know more than others are usually considered clever, so they can easily become so supercilious and self-opinionated that I want to punch them.  They’re frustrated when we don’t get what seems ludicrously obvious to them.  I find myself thinking, ‘Good grief, here you are, treating me like a five year old, when you can’t even walk into a shop and buy a pack of underwear.’

So why is it like this?

In my opinion, all of us are – first and foremost – pure consciousness.  You can call it soul or spirit if that works for you.  We have all chosen to bring a portion of this pure, rarefied consciousness into physical bodies – to be born as humans.  It involves a fair bit of give and take to do that.  If you think of the consciousness as Light, there is only so much we can squeeze into a human body.  Most of us have been happy with that trade-off as it means we can experience physical existence and use this unique way of (human) being to grow in a way that can’t be achieved otherwise.  Image result for wallace and gromit images

Now think of the way consciousness works.  There is an innate wish to push the boundaries – to go farther, faster, higher than anyone else has done.  Consequently, ever-growing numbers of conscious beings are trying to squeeze more and more Light into the frail, delicate human bodies they are being born into.

It means the fit is not great.  They can’t bed down into their bodies so easily and some of the Light isn’t properly held in.  I keep getting this mental image of Wallace frantically screaming, “Grommit – these are the Wrong Trousers!” in the wonderful Aardman animated film!

Image result for wallace and gromit imagesAnd I often feel like poor old Grommit, frantically trying to avert disasters and melt-downs, and help my enLightened friends, students, relatives and acquaintances to fit into the crazy trousers-of-life they’ve entered, while assisting them to understand that yes, the world DOES need the Light they’ve brought with them and that their brilliance is an absolute gift to all of us.

So stay with us, all you wonderful Wallaces.  Try your best to function in those trousers.  We Grommits will keep trying to help you in every way we can – because that’s why WE incarnated.

 

 

Savant

Fire, Open, Hot, Old, Paper, BurnSometimes all I need to organise the thoughts tumbling randomly around my head is the right words to express them.  Once the thoughts can latch on to words, they can be verbalised and shared.

So my Seth reading this week has focused around what he defines as the two methods of obtaining knowledge available to us humans:  There is the ‘reasoning mind‘ (human mental activity in a space and time context) and ‘immediate knowledge‘ (what I’d term access to the Akashic Field).

I noticed two things in particular in his complex and brilliant explanation.  Firstly, despite existing ‘out of time/space’ Seth himself does NOT put down the reasoning mind.  On the contrary, he says it is a unique and brilliant process, which makes us human.  He adds that we only have a reasoning mind because we don’t know everything.  It is our lack of knowledge that makes us attempt to reason things out, and our achievements have been, and continue to be, truly remarkable.

The second thing I noticed is that in his book (written in the late 1970s/ early ’80s) he makes surprisingly little mention of the human ability to access the immediate knowledge he speaks of.  He explains how a spider spinning a web or a beaver building a dam are not following ‘blind instinct’ as science would have us believe, but without the ‘reasoning mind’ to get in the way, they are performing creative acts based on the overarching ‘immediate knowledge’ that is available to all of consciousness.  Fantasy, Castle, Cloud, Sky, TowerWe humans connect with it in infancy (before reasoning takes over) and in dreams, he says.  However the enormity of what we experience in dreams is too much for the reasoning mind to process, so it either forgets or turns the fragments of knowing into symbols which it can process.

Would it be different if Jane Roberts were still alive and channelling him today?  I suspect it would.  I suspect that humanity has undergone subtle changes in consciousness over the last 40 years.  As a teacher/tutor for most of those years, I watched with wonder and delight as each new intake of children contained increasing numbers who were still very much in touch with – and able to access – ‘immediate knowledge’.  The authorities often labelled these children as having syndromes and disorders, so difficult was it for the educational psychologists to understand that there were other ways of knowing beyond reasoning.  I, on the other hand, have always loved working with such kids, learning from them and picking up from them ways to get back in touch with the immediate knowledge which exists beyond time and space.

Light, Staircase, Lighting, ArchitectureThen, quite suddenly, Seth used the word ‘savant’ and another piece of knowledge fitted into the puzzle.  The word has usually been applied (and was used in that context in his book) to non-verbal autistic people who demonstrate incredible skills or feats of memory – super fast mathematical calculations, drawing whole city sky-scapes from memory, playing an instrument without any tuition and so forth.  I smiled, remembering the 8-year-old aspie I once taught who had ‘memorised’ an entire two page list of phone numbers he had seen once in his home, and had run up a huge phone bill for his parents by calling all these people for a chat!

So I’d argue that – since around 1980 in particular, but in smaller numbers before that time – we have been fortunate enough to share our lives with a group of people who are managing (not without difficulty and stress, I might add) to live physical lives yet to keep open a link to the ‘immediate knowledge’ that is Akasha or The Cosmos, and is entirely limitless.

Let me finish with a Will story:  A few weeks ago, my brilliantly ‘connected’ aspie friend Will had told me that he sometimes feels he ‘knows’ things about people he passes in the street.  He’d not been able to verify his knowledge, so more-or-less dismissed it.  However it just so happened that we were contacted by a gentleman in the US who asked whether Will could identify a medical condition he was suffering with and give him some guidance on what caused it.  Not only did Will correctly pinpoint a condition affecting this man, he also formed a mental image of what he looked like.  When I later Googled the man and found and sent Will a photo, he said that was markedly similar to what he had seen.

Curious, I then sent him the name of a friend of mine – someone he has never met or heard me speak of.  Within minutes, he told me she had black, shoulder length hair, described the decor in her home, told me she had mobility problems which particularly affected one side of her body and identified that she was having particular stresses at this time with her children.  Everything he said was 100% accurate.

THAT was ‘immediate knowledge’ – no reasoning involved.

 

 

A Journey into Consciousness

Scientists now say that energy and matter are one.  They must take the next full step to realize that consciousness and energy and matter are one.
Seth – Dreams, ‘Evolution’ and Value Fulfillment Sept 25th, 1979

Computer, Quantum, Science, SpaceAre we there yet?

Quite a huge leap for us isn’t it?  Especially, I’d guess, for scientists.  By and large, they don’t seem to like Consciousness very much.  I suspect that’s because Intelligence gets in the way.

But I digress.  Already.  Before I’ve even started.

Re-finding that Seth quote yesterday, I discovered that – while it had gone right over my head the first time I read it – I was now ready to look it squarely in the eye and at least attempt to see what it was showing me.

I’ll start by travelling, figuratively, inside my body.  Here I can locate a cell.  It’s very small.  I’d need a microscope to see it.  However I know it’s there.  At this very moment it’s busily doing whatever it is that cell is supposed to do, in order to keep my body working.  The cell is matter – definitely; it’s part of me.  It is also energy; if I could look deeper, I’d see all the electrons and photons and so forth whizzing around it – pure energy.  And is it conscious?  Yes.  I’m happy to accept that ‘my’ consciousness is spread around my body, not lodged in my head or heart, for example.  I’m also aware of the concept of Cellular Consciousness, as proposed by Bruce Lipton, which is gradually taking hold in some areas of science.

Right, so my cells are conscious units of matter/energy – every single one of them.  Are they conscious of the entity I call me?  Maybe, dimly.  They certainly work very hard to keep me in shape, to repair me when bits get injured or protect me when I’m ‘under attack’ from other conscious bits of energy/matter.  Perhaps somewhere in their consciousness they have a blueprint of the organ they are part of – the lung or kidney or nerve.  Possibly their consciousness extends to the physical body that contains all those organs and substances – the one encased in skin – the one I’m accustomed to define as ‘me’.  Or not.

Where shall I go next?  I’m tempted to start scrabbling around hunting for the consciousness in my pen, my mug, my keyboard.  They all have matter, after all, and thus energy.  And I think I’m just catching a glimpse of the consciousness inherent in them, but to find it, I need to head off somewhere else first.

Let’s go here:

Oh I love fractals!  They make it all so easy.  So that – if we think in terms of pure consciousness – could have been me heading into my body and finding an organ, and then a cell, then delving into that cell and finding other stuff that is also a perfect replica of all the rest.  Similarly, the ‘me-body-thing’ could have been somewhere in the middle of the zoom and ‘my’ consciousness would be out there in something far vaster and wider.  Am I aware that I am a part of that something?  Maybe dimly…  Maybe a bit more so than I was a year ago.

Like the scientists (and others) I get ensnared in Intelligence.  I start out wondering how conscious something is, although I never ask ‘how matter’ or ‘how energy’ it is.  That’s because I’m linking consciousness to thinking and knowing.  I may know things a cat doesn’t and think things it can’t, and vice versa, but I’m no more or less conscious than it.  When I can shake off the intelligence thing and accept that consciousness simply IS, it becomes far easier.

Man, Winter, Snow, Sitting, WoodI’m all caught up in ‘I think, therefore I am’.  But where am I when I stop thinking?  When am I, where I stop thinking, for that matter?  It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, I’m no place and no time.  I’ve moved beyond them and beyond my physical body, yet ‘I’ am still conscious.

Regular readers won’t be surprised to find remote viewing popping in here.  I’m quoting it because it’s a state in which logical/intelligent thinking seriously gets in the way.  My viewing partner and I find that frequently.  Sensations arrive from the location or object to be viewed, whether that is in the past, present or future, but then the mind starts to suggest something like, “Ah, well if I’m viewing a railway station that must be the platform, or the buffet…” and then you lose it.  When the intelligent mind has nothing much to latch on to (the location of a specific person a week into the future, for example) the viewings tend to work best.

In a recent post from Ask The Council, I was given answers to a question about how RV works.  Here’s a small portion of the reply:

The Council says when you are able to do remote viewing, you are very connected to your higher spiritual self. They say because we are all one, in a spiritual sense, someone who is able to view remotely is theoretically able to know anything about anyone, anywhere.

The Council says remote viewing works as we become more than our human selves. With the belief in remote viewing and by trying to accomplish this, you open up part of yourself that’s ready to see what you choose to view remotely. Because we are all connected and all one, when you view remotely you are really looking at an expanded version of yourself that includes others you are connected to.

Theory Of Relativity, Albert Einstein

Is ‘c’ the speed of enlightenment/consciousness?

So Consciousness:  We have it at cellular level and beyond, and those of us ‘evolved’ enough to be able to, can expand it outwards to where time/space/physicality is no longer a barrier and connect with those with whom we have a conscious connection.  Beyond that, of course, we’re connected to everyone and everything – even my mug and my pen…

 

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?

 

 

The Symptoms of Normalism

Distribution, Normal, StatisticsNot easy, but I’m trying, for a moment, to look at my tribe – the people who regard themselves as ‘normal’ or ‘neuro-typical’ – from the outside.  I’m trying to see us from the perspective of those Version 2.0 people who are wired differently.  (I’ve reverted to my ‘Version 2.0’ label because not all of them are on the autistic spectrum as it is normally described.  Many are – but there are others, variously called ‘sensitives’, or ’empaths’ or those with various diagnoses or descriptions of differentness, and I wish to include them all.)

Disclaimer:  I use the term ‘Normal’ throughout this article in a somewhat ironic sense.  I personally consider terms like ‘normal’ and ‘disordered’ to be chauvinistic and symptomatic of what is wrong with common assumptions in our society.  Also, I am a person with ‘Normalism’ and I love words.  I can’t imagine life without their richness and beauty.  This post is just a thought experiment, okay?

 

Probably the most difficult aspect of Normals to comprehend is the disparity between what they say and what they actually feel or think.

“No, it looks great on you, honestly.”

(‘It would actually suit someone twenty years younger much better, but I understand you’re going through a bit of a mid-life crisis and if it makes you feel good to wear it, that’s fine by me.’)

“Oh it’s nothing.  Really not worth reading – just something I scribbled off last night.”

(‘I poured my heart and soul into these words, but I’m terrified you won’t understand and will dismiss them as trivial or stupid, so I’m pretending it’s not important to me in order to shield myself in advance from any critical comments you may make.  Anything hurtful you say will still upset me deeply, though.’)

“Well who’s the teacher’s pet, then?”

(‘I feel envious of the praise you received for that assignment and my inability to produce anything that good.  I am therefore attempting to make you feel uncomfortable.  It is my hope that my negative reaction to your success will encourage you to try less hard in the future, thus letting me gain more approval from the teacher.’)

Professor, Mathematician, Scientists“It’s important for you to get an expert opinion.”

(‘You are inferior.  You are incapable of reaching a satisfactory answer, due to the prejudices and fixed ideas lodged in your brain.  There are far better individuals than you whose prejudices and fixed ideas come for other individuals with letters after their names.  These people know what is best for you, despite not knowing a great deal about you.  I know this because I learned it from experts.’)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m aware as I write this that I live in southern England, an area particularly renowned for this kind of double-speak.  Northern Brits, Americans and Australians, for example, would readily assert that they are far more inclined towards plain speaking, calling-a-spade-a-spade and otherwise using spoken language to express what they feel.  Really?  Try, for just one conversation, to avoid any sarcasm, any ironic aside, any well-meant but artificial compliment, any indication that you sort-of agree, despite the fact that you don’t, or any self-depreciating statements that are not in total resonance with what you feel.

Silver Leaf, Lunaria, SilberlingYou’ll argue, perhaps – you Normals – that without such social niceties, speech would be brutal, hard and cold.  People would be offended.  They might take against you.  They might (this is the greatest fear) not flatter and praise you in return.  Normals require an almost constant drip-feed of approval.  Without this, paranoia sets in.  That’s why Normals struggle in their contact with the other tribes.  The Asperger guy is not going to tell you that you look good, that it’s great to see you, that he’s glad you came.  You’re there; he’s there.  No more to be said.  Normals are needy, though.  They want that stuff.  They’ll cheerfully relinquish honesty to get it.

In a previous post I mentioned the 7 year-old Version 2.0 child who came to me distraught after a quarrel with his friend.  “She told me she was sorry,” he said, “but I can see into her heart and that isn’t the feeling that’s there.”
It wasn’t the quarrel that had upset him, but the fact that his friend didn’t respect him enough to share her heartfelt feelings. She insulted him by feigning an apology.

If the Version 2.0 people can ‘see into someone’s heart’ (all this is explained far better in the previous post, written by The Snacking Sage and in Suzy Miller’s important book ‘Awesomism’), nothing but honesty will do.

The small child who asks, “Why are you sad, Mummy?” and is told, “I’m not sad, dear.  I’m fine,” by a mother who attempts to conceal the truth because she doesn’t want to worry him will – obviously – worry all the more if he knows he’s being lied to.

Looking Up, Hope, Black White, PortraitThere are more of these Others – these Non-Normals – than might be imagined.   They are way-showers.  They can teach Normals – if we’ll truly stop chattering and listen to their silence – to discard the fake conversation and to return to the openness that is a natural by-product of telepathic communication.

Yes, I can see that there would be difficulties and challenges, but ultimately, aren’t we all yearning for greater transparency?  Aren’t we, after all, sick to death of being lied to and cheated by those in authority, by multi-nationals who mislead us for their own profits, by those who claim to be acting in our ‘best interests’?  It’s worth considering that there are many individuals who are similarly sick of the lack of honesty in ‘Normal’ social interaction.

This is only a personal viewpoint, but I suspect the ‘shift’ that occurred around 2012 involved a fundamental change of mindset amongst humanity – a desire to move beyond ‘them and us’ towards a fairness and openness based on personal responsibility, not the imposition of rules by a corrupt leadership.  That could work, if only we could communicate heart to heart.

 

“What’s Important Is The Journeys”

English: Footpath to Workhouse Lane. This is t...

So I have found another new route – my own personal trek through the myriad criss-crossing paths, just to see where they lead me and what I discover along the way.  I’m careful to vary my travels, to avoid retracing my steps.  I bypass the more obvious well-trodden roads, to scramble instead through almost-forgotten overgrown footpaths and bridleways.  I’m careful not to follow any track for too long; I’ll branch off sharply if I find that happening.

Not for me the ramblers’ group.  I’ll happily stop and pass the time of day with those I meet along the way, listen to their wisdom or local knowledge and thank them warmly before heading onwards.  Should anyone offer to guide me, though – to lead me to my destination – I’ll smile politely and decline.  Some of them, I’m sure, have perfectly lovely journeys planned, but this is my trek, no one else’s.

Eriboll - Strath More road - geograph.org.uk -...

Well yes, that’s a metaphor.  Too cold here at the moment to be rambling anywhere.  My journeys take place in this battered old computer chair with a log fire crackling away cheerfully beside me.  I simply want to convey that I choose my own path and am, in the late autumn of my life, content and comfortable to travel it alone.  A handful of people – mostly those who read these ramblings – have some idea of the journey I’m on.  Almost everyone else in my life – all relatives and almost all friends and acquaintances – regard me as strange at best, deranged at worst.  That’s why, to be honest, I left home (in my late fifties) and headed to a place where I would be, if not understood, exactly, at least tolerated.

I’m happy in my own skin.  I’m comfortable writing blogs and books that few will read and still fewer will understand.  I wake up each day knowing I have work to do – ponderings and wonderings and explorations of ideas.  I’m metafizzing with excitement as I find a new quote that fits with a recent thought or see ideas I can recognise and relate to in someone else’s words.  Would I swap all the richness of this life to be normal?  Hell no.

Let me be absolutely clear, here.  I am NOT deriding or criticising people whose lives revolve around celebrity gossip or the storylines of soaps.  That is their path and it’s totally right that they follow it.  Trainspotters and war gamers, Manchester United fans and ballroom dancers, shopaholics  and chocaholics, churchgoers and landscape painters, hypochondriacs and bankers… all of these people and many, many more make our world richer and wider and filled with variety.  I salute them all.

Every single one of us, I believe, has a higher Self – a consciousness more magnificent than we can fathom from this perspective.  In each case, those Selves have carefully chosen a Life to live.  They have elected to become totally engrossed in a human existence in order to try out new experiences, using feelings and emotions they want to develop and expand for the ultimate good of All That Is.  From that perspective, no one is worthier or stranger than anyone else.

We encounter each other in these odd little lives and act out our parts, re-acting to the others and building the great work of art that is an individual lifetime as we do so.

It’s magical.

It’s expanding the Cosmos.

If someone else (or even everyone else) is puzzled by the path I am taking, that very puzzlement is enriching for both myself and them.  In terms of Life-with-a-big-L, there are no wrong turnings, no wastes of time, no blind alleys.

“What’s important is the journeys.”

 

 

 

 

 

Wish you were here…

On the 17th July last year, I spent my first night in my cottage.  There was nothing much here – just me and an ancient futon (long since free-cycled).

The studio, with damp. peeling wallpaper removed

The studio, with damp. peeling wallpaper removed

The furniture didn’t arrive until the next day. I can’t say I slept much that night, but still it was a momentous time for me.

The studio now

The studio now

I never managed a house warming party.  The place was full of workmen until well into the autumn, and by then I was so exhausted and crushed by the whole adventure that parties were the last thing on my mind.

So, I decided, this first anniversary would be the perfect time to celebrate.

Upstairs landing.  Note the large hole in the ceiling!

Upstairs landing. Note that large hole in the ceiling!

Obviously, I’d invite friends – people who helped me with the move, people who took me out for a coffee or a meal when all became too challenging, people who made encouraging comments about the changes and kept me going when miracles seemed a little thin on the ground.

Replastered landing, with my knitted enchanted forest leading down to the tutoring study

Replastered landing, with my knitted enchanted forest leading down to the tutoring study

Then I decided to invite all the neighbours.  They’d put up with months of scaffolding, yelling, banging and clanging without a single complaint.  They must have been curious to know what was going on inside but with typical British reserve, few called round to look.

Next, I wanted to invite back the tradesmen who had made such incredible changes.  After all, such people rarely get to see the finished article.  A room is plastered or a shower plumbed in, but to see those rooms decorated and finished would perhaps be of interest.

The kitchen when I moved in

The kitchen when I moved in

And last but not least, although you’re scattered around the world, I’d love to have invited you, my dear supportive WordPress followers.

The kitchen - now

The kitchen – now

Your likes and comments have been a source of such great pleasure and encouragement since the very start of my LIME story.  I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for a virtual tour of the place, and  you won’t get to meet all the wonderful, warm-hearted friends and neighbours who joined me last Friday, but thank you so much for staying with me on my journey through time to reach the point where I can say the cottage is (mostly) in a fit state to enjoy.

I heard some fascinating stories from neighbours…

There was the time the Chalice Well stream, which still flows beneath the front of the building, suddenly overflowed in the middle of the night.  An elderly couple lived here then and were woken to the sound of rushing water filling the living room.  Apparently the water board engineer was unwilling to do anything at first, since it wasn’t his company’s water.  The neighbour who told me the story described how, in very forthright language, he told the engineer that since his van bore the word ‘water’ and this was indeed that substance, he should put these good people out of their misery and fix the leak at once.  Apparently there have been no problems since.

I was told that the little rubble stone garage that lies in a tiny lane of colour-washed cottages just behind my garden used to be a betting office, while the cottage opposite it once sold paraffin.

The downstairs bathroom then

I discovered that badgers have a huge sett in the garden of the house opposite and can often be seen padding past my fence at night.

Same bathroom now

Same bathroom now

Visitors arrived with jars of home-made jam, cordials and honey, plants and flowers, along with friendship, congratulations and kind words about the renovations.

It was a glorious day and I felt so grateful to have such kind and caring people gathered around me.

Now that I’ve proved to my own satisfaction that miracles can and should be expected, and more-or-less finished my repairs and decorating, I’m free to focus on the other passions in my life – the writing, the metaphysics, the teaching and the living of this glorious physical reality I find myself in at this point in my consciousness.

The alcove now

The alcove now

The alcove in the iving room - then

The alcove in the iving room – then

A Brief History of Truth

light body

For many decades, a great number of people have expended energy trying to tell me the truth.

People get so worked up about truth – cling to it, evangelise about it, live by it and die by it.  I think I’m fairly relaxed about mine.  It isn’t as if it’s going anywhere or I need to prove it to anyone.    It just sits, very comfortably inside me as I go about my life.  When I die, I’ll simply take it with me, because it fits there too.

My truth has changed over the years – that’s what the life experience is all about, after all; it allows us to consider and hone and reshape our truth.

I’m going to run through the evolution of my truth in this post, not because I think it’s better than anyone else’s, but because it’s there, and may provide you with a useful comparison for your own.

As a little child, I started with a truth I’d been given by those around me.  It never felt quite right, but when you’re small, you are told to accept what adults tell you, because they know best.  This truth said that if I was ‘good’, I’d go to a place called Heaven when I died, but if I was bad, something not-so-good would happen.  The adults were a bit hazy about that side of things, but I was left in no doubt that it was in my best interests to be good.

I dumped that truth, finally, when I was about 12.  I’m not saying it’s wrong.  It’s a truth that serves millions of people all over the planet.  It just isn’t my truth.

My next truth was a direct result, I suppose, of growing up in the sixties.  Like many of my contemporaries, I became interested in Eastern religions.  I recognised the truth of reincarnation.  I adopted the truth of tit-for-tat karma.  My truth became a desire to build ‘good’ karma for the future and, when I saw people around me behaving in ways I considered to be bad, I’d tell myself they were storing up bad karma and would have to work through that, either in this life or the next.

It took me a few decades to drop that truth.  Again, it serves many, many people, and that’s just fine, but it isn’t my truth.

My next truth could be described as a more nebulous ‘New Age’ way of thinking – ‘What goes around comes around’.  It involved being as pleasant as possible, in the hope that  good deeds would return to me in spadefuls if I hung on for a bit.

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

Perhaps you’ll have noticed the Santa link in all these truths?  In their various ways, they come back to the same idea – there is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour.  In some way or another the good behaviour will be rewarded, while probably the badly behaved among us will meet their comeuppance somehow, even if the righteous don’t get the satisfaction of watching it happen.

Maybe it helped that I worked for so many years in that crystal clear microcosm of life, the primary school.  Behaviour there was clearly and rigidly divided into good and bad.  There were rewards and punishments aplenty.  If anything should have convinced me of those truths I’d rejected, surely it was this place.

The trouble was, I didn’t see any ‘bad’ behaviour.

English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, th...

Oh I saw acts of vandalism, bullying, emotional cruelty, violence and plenty of blaspheming on a frequent basis, but every single one of the perpetrators was acting from what seemed to them a reasonable viewpoint.  Their behaviour represented the best they could manage, given their experience and outlook.

People bullied, because others had bullied them and it felt like the only way to gain any semblance of self-worth. (Note that I’m not saying it was a ‘good’ way to act, just that it was the best they could manage at that stage in their lives.)

People swore because it provided a release for feelings – ones which might otherwise have resulted in physical damage.

People attacked property as a way of ex-pressing (pressing out of their bodies) frustration and unhappiness.

They attacked others – verbally, emotionally or physically because they couldn’t find any other ways of releasing the emotions seething within themselves.

Many a child ‘acting up’ in my classes was astounded to hear me say, “I’m sorry.  I know you are trying your best to get me to order you out of the classroom.
“I know it’s because you’re desperate to avoid the task I’ve set you.  I understand that you’re frightened you might fail and be laughed at by the others, or told off by me.
“The trouble is, I need you to stay here and master this skill, if I’m to do my job properly. So if the other children will promise to honour your efforts, and if I promise to support you, please will you put the chair down and come and have a try at the work?  You’ll feel so much better when you’ve managed it.”

Throughout our lives, we ALL come up against situations and make the best choices we can, given the circumstances surrounding us.

That leads to my truth as it currently stands.  There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  I have no right to judge the behaviour of others.  I will make choices that feel like the best choices to me at that time.  So will all my fellow humans.  In that way, I will constantly be gaining experience – which is why I’m here – and so will they.

When I end this physical incarnation, I will have the opportunity to add the experience from this lifetime to that of all my other lives.  This will be valuable and will expand my being.  Should I wish to gain some different experiences, I will be free to start a new incarnation and expand still further.

It works for me.

In Praise of the New Educators

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

Over the year – exactly now – that I’ve been blogging, I’ve written several posts about the New Energy (or Version 2.0, as they are called in LIFE: A Player’s Guide) children and young people now populating our planet in ever-increasing numbers.  I’ve decided it’s time to celebrate the adults who are finding new ways of working with them, since recognising that the old teacher/pupil model needs a radical rethink.

At the weekend, I was sent an email by my friend  Astrid Witt, who is a visionary teacher in a secondary school in Germany.  She also – somehow – finds time to host free, cutting-edge interviews (in perfect English!) for educators and parents on her site What The Experts Know.  I’ve listened to many amazing and inspiring world class speakers there, including Astrid herself.

With her permission, I’m reproducing a story she told in her email:

Yesterday I was teaching a maths class to ninth graders introducing a new concept and after rephrasing my first explanation a second time it became somewhat  clear that the majority of the class didn’t get it. The noise level went up and I clearly felt that it was not only their frustration level rising but I too was getting exasperated with them for not getting it. Stress was building up…on both sides!

What happened then was the result of a level of cooperation and  mutual trust I had dedicated myself to build with that class for the past 15 months… A boy raised his hand and asked me to step down from the blackboard and pass on the chalk to a student in the class who claimed to have understood me.

Now, before I started changing my paradigm of what education should accomplish, this would have ruffled my feathers big time. After all, the traditional part of my teacher training had taught me to be the authority that knew it all and knew it better and that demonstrating this authority was vital to keeping order in the class. Instead I simply felt grateful that I could pass on the baton and share the responsibility.

The student, lets call him John, grinned with delight from ear to ear, the class immediately hushed to silence. Within another 5 minutes he explained the concept from a much more “primitive” perspective … and was rewarded by many “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” from the rest of the class. Suddenly they understood … They felt happy, and as a result I felt happy .. much happier than if I had insisted on being the authority not to be questioned… and them not understanding what I had explained “so clearly” 🙂

As Astrid went on to point out, it takes a massive amount of courage and humility for educators – be they parents or teachers – to step away from being the powerful authority figure and to accept that there are other ways of working with their students.

Online Educa Berlin 2007 - Opening Plenary, No...

I was deeply inspired by her message, but by another of those synchronicities (yes, they’re still coming thick and fast!) another friend sent me this Ted Talk, the very same day.  Even if you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, It’s certainly worth hearing Sugata Mitra‘s stunning explanation of the traditional education system at the beginning of the talk.  Definitely food for thought…

I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting we should hand education over to computers.  There is a crucial role for adults in guiding and educating even the most evolved and conscious ‘Version 2.0’ children.  However I truly believe it is changing from the old ‘top down’ model towards a partnership in which everyone has a stake – something to teach and something to learn.

I’ve yet to find a suitable title for my role in working with the children at GLOW (Glastonbury Learning OtherWise – the educational resource for home educated young people I co-run).  Facilitator?  Mentor?  Catalyst?  We certainly don’t see ourselves as teachers.  GLOW’s ethos (and name) comes from Plutarch‘s declaration that:

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled; it is a fire to be kindled.”

We simply light the imagination of our awesome young people and sit back to enjoy the glow!

I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to escape the education system and move into other ways of working with the young.  However I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who work to change and expand the system from within.  For that reason, I’ll finish with another reflection from Astrid Witt:

Instead of creating those moments of tense silence and subdued emotions (or stubborn defiance in children) that happen when someone (mis-)uses their power, you could be gifted with a deeper mutual understanding and discover a new level of communication that helps both sides! And it has a wonderful side effect of truly empowering those who need to learn to take responsibility for themselves.

For Training Purposes Only

English: Training Français : Formation

Well it must have been.  I mean, why else would I have had a day like that?

The only way I can make sense of Tuesday is to assume it was some kind of check-up prepared by the aspect of my greater self that likes to drop banana skins on to my path and then watch to see whether I slip.  I don’t bear this part of my identity any grudge.  After all, how else is it to check whether or not a particular life-lesson has been fully learned?

The great thing is – I think I passed.  A series of situations that would have caused steam to issue from my ears and the air around me to turn a vivid shade of blue just a few years ago, had a very different effect that day.   I think it has to do with my determination to enjoy life, or at the very least to work out why particular challenges are appearing and to find ways of overcoming them without taking it personally.

So, The Day:

I’d had a very enjoyable long-weekend in a lovely corner of Wales.  Tuesday was my travelling home day.  I’d not planned anything else and was in no particular rush.

Arriving early at my departure station, I noticed the blissful smell of bacon emerging from an attractive little station café.  I hardly ever eat a cooked breakfast, but it was gone 10 am.  Brunch would just about be in order, and I had a long journey ahead of me…  I was consequently rather pleased when the station manager explained that the 10:36 train to Newport had metamorphosed into a rail replacement bus which would take me as far as Shrewsbury, and it wouldn’t leave until 10:52.

English: River Dee. The river Dee near Llandderfel

Brunch was delicious.  I finished in good time and sauntered out to discover that my ‘bus’ was in fact a luxury coach, with only three passengers.  Taking the front seat and adjusting my personal air con, I settled back to enjoy a scenic tour of the Welsh borders with panoramic views.

True, it was gone midday before we reached Shrewsbury station, but I had seen some spectacular valleys and even caught a glimpse of Charles Darwin’s birthplace.

Shrewsbury Charm

Forty-five minutes to kill before a connecting train to Newport was due, but I’d never been to Shrewsbury before, so I had a short amble about, admiring the castle and other interesting buildings.

When it arrived, the train was already full.  I was very lucky to find a seat, even if it was one of those flip-down ones, next to an automatic door and right outside the toilet.  True, I had to stand up and juggle my bags whenever the drink trolley passed through, but at least I wasn’t having to stand all the way.

I settled down to read a book and off we went.

We hadn’t reached the next station when the train came to a halt.  There was some static on the PA system, then the train manager’s voice telling us that a freight train in front had failed and we’d be stuck there for a while.

Twenty minutes passed.  Then the voice again.  The freight train, it transpired, had ‘failed completely’.  A new engine would have to be sent to move it.  This would take about an hour.

Southern trains toilet UI conundrum

Shrugs and wry smiles were exchanged around the little vestibule where six of us were clustered.  We took turns to explain to passengers from the carriages how to operate the complex series of buttons on the toilet door.  The snack trolley came along, distributing free chocolate or dry roasted nuts.  There were no drinks left, but people shared what remained of their water with thirsty fellow travellers.

The hour passed, as did another, and finally we were on our way.  The strange thing was that although the freight train had failed completely, we hadn’t.  Everyone remained cheerful and calm.  I texted humorous updates to a friend who happens to be a train fanatic.  He texted back instructions on how to claim a ticket refund, which I shared with others.

The train manager had called ahead and arranged to have enough Welsh spring water available at the next station for everyone on board to be given a free bottle.

At every station more people piled on and our vestibule was shared with a bicycle, a pushchair and more people than I could count.  I tried to give my seat to a heavily pregnant young girl, but she smiled and declined, squatting on the floor and entertaining her small siblings to keep them quiet.

English: Newport railway station in Wales.

Finally we reached Newport.  I collected the necessary form to claim my refund and enquired after the next train to Bristol.  Ah, they told me, terribly sorry, but it had been cancelled.  There would be another in about half an hour.

I just laughed and wandered off to stand in a sunny spot on Platform 4.

So it was that exactly four hours later than I should have done, I boarded a train to take me back to Bristol.  Only an hour and twenty minutes on the bus, and I’d be home!

I was completely happy and strangely proud, knowing that once, in a similar situation, I would have been focusing on what should have happened, how inconvenient it was, how annoyed I felt.  The day could have been spent in a sea of frustration, anger and indignation.  Instead, I’d stayed in the moment, found positives to focus on and accepted the whole experience as an opportunity to show myself how successfully I’d mastered this life-lesson.  The training had been successful!