The Randomness of Bees

I was 17, and happened to be sitting next to that girl – Gail or something – who was generally considered by the rest of the class to be a bit weird.

Honey Bees, Beehive, Honey, Bees“I mean just look at bees,” she said to me.
This was a conversation opener, apropos to nothing.  We weren’t even doing a biology lesson.
“What about them?” I said warily.
“Well just THINK about it!” she exclaimed. “I mean how can anyone – ANYONE – argue that life is random, that everything just happened to evolve the way it did by a series of chances. So stupid!  Think about bees, Janet. (I hate it when people use my full name, but Gail wasn’t the sort to shorten it, the way everyone else did.) Think about the way they live… the patterns… it’s all just SO perfect.”

She drifted off into a blissful reverie, religious ecstasy temporarily quenching her evangelical zeal. Gail was a fundamentalist Christian.
I grunted and began focusing hard on my work.

The fact that I can recall that rather odd snippet of conversation fifty years later, though, goes to show the effect her comments made on me.  I’ve never forgotten that incident and as I continued through my life, my mind often travelled back to Gail and her bees.  Were we, and all that we share our planet with, really the result of some fluke of natural selection?  It merited consideration, certainly.

People, Doctors, Medic, ScientistIf you’ve just done the maths, you’ll have deduced that I was educated in the shiny black and white op-art sixties.  Science was at its zenith.  It was the new religion.  Scientists knew everything.  They could send rockets to the moon.  They could explain anything that needed an explanation.  Other points of view were rudely brushed aside as superstition or ignorance.  To disagree with the concept of life emerging from a rather fortuitous combination of chemicals, temperature, light and moisture in primeval swamps was almost heresy.  It meant you had to be a Creationist – someone who, like Gail, believed the beginning of the Bible contained a factual account of the beginning of the World.

Decades rolled by and I kept thinking.  I became increasingly disillusioned with the pomposity of the scientists who were more than happy to sweep inconvenient truths under their lab benches and persuade museums to hide away artefacts that didn’t fit their version of events.  On the other hand, I remained unconvinced by Gail’s merciful-but-actually-pretty-vengeful God and his six day fix on the bottomless void.

Fortunately for me, life is more nuanced these days.  The growth of digital information, multi-culturalism and alternative ways of thinking and being, mean that despite the continued persistence of some purists and fundamentalists on all sides, terms like Consciousness and Awareness and Intention have gained sway.

It’s no longer either/or.  Even scientists are discovering that we influence our lives, our bodies, our wellness and our experience through our thoughts and expectations.  For me, God has drifted away from being a strict headmaster with a hippy son to become a benign Intelligence, of which all Life is some kind of infinitessimal part.

Understanding the implications of quantum science removes the barrier between living and non-living.  We know, now, how much energy, how much LIFE there is in even the most apparently inert object.  Everything is, well, ert.

So OK Gail, I’ll give you that one.  There is no randomness in bees.  They are a pretty wonderful example of that Divine Intelligence playing out.

Solar Eclipse 2017, Totality, 2017And now, I’ve got one for you:  eclipses.  Is it random chance that when we stand on this one little planet, amongst a mass of celestial bodies, our Moon (which is, in astronomical terms, tiny but very close) can exactly block out our view of our Sun, which is far bigger but far further away?

If Life didn’t randomly evolve on this planet, then do the positions of the heavenly bodies need to be viewed as random, or is there a Divine Intelligence at work there too?

Can we listen again to the music of the spheres?  Can we begin to understand why the ancients built megalithic structures with such care and precision, aligning them to star patterns, compass directions and equinoxes?

We are all hard-wired to love pattern, to reach into it and to understand and reproduce it, whether we are humans or bees.

And there’s this….

 

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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.

Taxonomical with the Truth

Taxonomy is something I’ve been thinking about recently, because it very much underlies our current world view.  Everything is classified and sub-classified so that it can be put into a tidy little box, marked neatly with a (preferably Latin) name and declared separate from everything else.  We do it with flora and fauna, obviously, but that mania for neat, clear, unambiguous boundaries and definitions has become a mainstay of life in general.  It’s how we understand and make sense of things – their features, their purposes, their very existence.Oxford Museum Of Natural History, Oxford

At times, the classifications have to be tweaked.  Poor old Pluto is downgraded from Planet to Big Rock; some garden plant suddenly gets a new name and all the garden centres have to readjust their labelling.  And don’t even get me started on the labels they use and change around in medical and psychological diagnoses…  Basically, though, humanity clings to the concept that everything that is, can be labelled, and that this is a Good Thing.

Was it always so?  We know our Greek and Roman forebears were keen on this organised labelling idea, but if we go way back to the people who made those strange and wonderful structures that seem to evade neat classification and confound the theorists, I suspect a very different world view was in place.

Teotihuacan, Mexico City, PyramidWe are told by the experts that these creations were burial chambers or astronomical observatories or temples or meeting places or whatever the latest fragments of archaeology suggest.  They dig in the dark and assume that a few pieces of charred sheep bone or potsherds will allow them to make a classification.  The truth is, though, we don’t get it.  We, as 21st century humans, simply can’t see why so many people would work together and go to such enormous lengths to create massive, perfectly aligned and painstakingly constructed edifices such as the Giza pyramid complex, Gobekli Tepe, the Stonehenge landscape or Teotihuacan for ANY of those purposes.  The nearest (relatively) modern equivalents we can find are the great Gothic cathedrals of mediaeval Europe or intricate mausoleums, so, for want of better data, we decide that’s what they must have been ‘for’.

Deep inside, though, we know there has to be more to it than that.

What if our distant ancestors lived in a world where classification was considered counterproductive or, at the very least, irrelevant?

Think of all those folk tales and ancient religious texts where a name was considered to be a dangerous thing – so powerful that it was only to be used by initiates, and then only in the direst of circumstances.  That suggests that categorisation per se was not the way their minds worked.  Did these people see the world, and indeed the cosmos, as something so integrated, that to divide it into its constituent parts would be to destroy, weaken or pollute it?  Was it, indeed, a form of heresy?

What if, instead of saying, “Hey, guys, let’s build a gigantic temple to the gods here,”  or “Oh, this would be a great place to build an observatory,” those wise and distant people would perhaps work together to build something that was not this or that or the other, but something that was this AND that AND the other AND all that they could possibly create as a microcosm of the universe itself?

The current mainstream science-based world view is that everything is a fortuitous accident – evolution and climate, gravity and the tilt of an axis here or there somehow randomly resulted in all this.  As such, it’s very fragile, very likely to dissolve back into chaos and we need to impose order on it, if we are going to make any sense of it at all.

Earth, Globe, Space, Universe, WorldIf we can imagine a society where such a view does not hold sway – a society where the skies above us, the planet we inhabit, the plants, creatures and all of us exist as a conscious, intelligent, unified whole, with each aspect relying on the rest for its existence, there would be no need to separate and divide it.  On the contrary, all that could be done to celebrate its perfect symmetries and unity would be a job worth doing well.  I suspect that such a society would have a language based in something that expands naturally, like mathematics or perhaps musical notation, rather than words that label, define and confine.  Perhaps such a language, were it ever rediscovered, would help us towards an understanding of our mysterious ancestors, and our cosmos.

 

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.

 

 

Mama was a rolling stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

If The Elf Hat Fits

There’s a lot she doesn’t know. Of course there is. But plenty she does.

She knows that, just as her daddy was reading her bedtime stories, the evening after her third birthday, there was a ring at the door. She knows her daddy carried her downstairs and opened the door. She knows three men were there and one of them hit her daddy in the face.

Later, her six year old brother told her the bad men were angry because Daddy had stolen things and hidden them in the house. She didn’t say much about that, because it wasn’t something she could understand.

When the men had come back, even more angry, her mummy said it wasn’t safe at home and they had to go. They left Daddy and left their house. Her brother said Daddy had been naughty.

She was sad and angry and scared and very good at expressing her feelings. She talked a great deal about the bad men but not much about her daddy, and none of us could figure out how to explain in words that would be meaningful to her.

Sometimes, when she saw her daddy she would say, “You stealed things,” and he would agree, sadly, that he had. But that was all that was said.

She spent a lot of time thinking over the spring and summer and autumn.

By the winter, she had a new home and new friends and was going to preschool. The staff there had a funny joke for Christmas time. They said there was a naughty elf who stole things and hid them. She watched as the ladies searched for the items the elf was supposed to have stolen and listened when they told the children how cross they were with him.

She carried on thinking.

As Christmas grew nearer, her mummy asked her what she wanted to buy Daddy for Christmas. “A elf hat,” she announced, solemnly.

So that is what her daddy will get for Christmas. No doubt he’ll think it’s a cute and funny gift. No doubt he will wear it, to please her.

And she has, in her pragmatic and very literal way, found a cap to fit him… for now, at least.

A Man Who Looks on Glass

All those decades ago, when I was in primary school and singing along to rather dreary hymns in assembly, the words of one verse hit me as fascinating.  I think it went more or less like this:

A man who looks on glass
On it may stay his eye,
Or if he pleaseth through it pass,
The Heavens to espy.

Quite why ‘the Heavens’ should be lurking behind each pane of glass this man looked on, I wasn’t sure, but that property of glass – the way we are able to focus on its surface or to peer right through it to what lies beyond – stayed lodged in my mind as one of those Interesting Things about the world.

One of my favourite stories as a child was Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.  I could easily imagine her drawing-room mirror misting over, becoming treacle-like in consistency and Alice clambering excitedly into the looking-glass house beyond.  The fascination stayed with me, and when I settled recently to write a story, I decided to make one of the principal and most complex characters a glass maker.

Glass Float Handmade Blowing Craft MoltenObviously a bit of research was in order.  I’d been to visit a glass works and watched in awe as glowing globs of molten glass were removed from the furnace on long pipes and blown into huge, wobbling bubbles, ready to be shaped into all manner of marvels.  I knew it was made from sand and soda and various other substances, but I wanted some detail on the alchemy involved.

This is what I discovered.  Maybe you already knew it.  Maybe you had the kind of science teacher who moved beyond the dogma of solids, liquids and gases and explained such wonders to you.  To me, though, it was a revelation…

Sand is heated up and becomes liquid.  It transforms into glass.  This is an irreversible chemical change.  When the molten glass is removed from the heat source, it begins to solidify, but it never quite does so.

Glass, Structure, Abstract, Modern, ArtThat was the part that amazed me.  Glass is not a true solid!  It’s what is known as an amorphous solid, which means it is in the process of solidifying, but still has the properties of a very viscous liquid.  Scientists conjecture, it seems, about whether the cooled (and apparently solid-feeling) glass will ever complete that transformation – whether its molecules will every crystallise into a true solid.  The best guess seems to be that the process would take a very long time – longer than centuries.  Meanwhile, small groups of molecules within the glass are acting like parts of a solid, while others are still behaving as parts of a liquid.  They seem to slither and slide in and out of the two states without (if I can, for a moment, embue them with higher levels of sentience than we normally do) really making up their minds.

Now all that, I think, is rather astonishing.

For me, though, the most amazing part of my discovery is the way these characteristics mirror, if you’ll excuse the pun, the personality of my not-entirely-fictional glass maker.  The man I wanted to portray is a complex individual.  In many ways, he comes across as a normal, functional, middle-aged father.  There are facets of his behaviour, though, that entirely lack the solidity and dependability of such a person.  He is, in some respects, locked in the kind of volatility, fluctuating moods and emotional instability we would more normally associate with the most troubling aspects of adolescence.  If you can imagine the contents of a chrysalis, after the caterpillar’s molecules have liquified but before they have fully re-formed into the adult butterfly (a process I often used as an analogy for my poor, confused young pupils as they reached puberty and tried to fathom what was happening to themselves) that is the state of this character’s psyche.

Flower Honey Nutrition Eat Liquid Yellow EWithout knowing that such a state existed, I was writing about a man of amorphous solidity.  My character slithers, in a more or less involuntary manner, between thoughtful, rational behaviour and a devastating capriciousness and lack of clarity or consideration.  He brings down havoc and disaster upon himself and those around him and – even when all is lost – he is unable, for more than a few moments at a time, to take responsibility for all that has transpired.  Like those glass molecules, his thoughts waver and vaccilate constantly between states and refuse to settle.

How intriguing that my ever-present muse should lead me on this alchemical journey, in order to assist me in comprehending the complexities of the Glass Maker’s personality.

 

 

Home?

Box, Sheet, Saying, StorageHere I am then.  Back in the strange little 17th century stone cottage I own in beautiful Somerset.

At least, my body is.  My possessions are here too – many still waiting to be unpacked as I try to remember where on earth I used to keep them.  The rest of me, though, hasn’t quite landed yet.

These two lives I’ve been living this year are so utterly different.  When I moved to the East, I had to adjust instantly; there was so much to do.  Here, there is no urgency.  The days are not planned for me.  I don’t need to be in specific places at specific times.  I don’t have a list of tasks with completion dates.  I just have Life – and I can choose how frenetic or leisurely to make it.

Then there’s the space.  My house is tiny by most people’s standards, but after seven months of single-room living I’m finding it strange to have a separate room for almost every activity.  It feels almost decadent.  I will readjust, but I haven’t yet.

Oh and the people!  I am a solitary soul by nature – quite happy with my own company.  Living alone suits me well and there were many occasions when, at the end of a frantic day with the grandchildren, I could shut myself into the little studio flat and unwind.  They were always nearby, though, and while I didn’t see them every day, there were never more than two or three days without company.  Here there are friends, and no doubt I’ll see all of them soon – when the missing bits of me have landed…

So what is it that is really bugging me?

Home.  That’s what.

‘Home is where your heart is’, so they say.  Trouble is, my heart is one of the bits of me that hasn’t landed yet.  It’s scattered in several different places.

You see, the town I’ve been living in for the last half-year is the town I called home for over thirty years.  It’s where I gave birth to and raised my three children, where I taught hundreds of others, where I forged all the most significant relationships in my life.  It’s also the place I ran from when my job and my marriage and my wellbeing became so compromised that I knew I needed a new start.

I ended up here, convinced that I’d found what I grandly called my ‘spiritual home’.  Glastonbury is a powerful place.  People say it chooses you, rather than the other way about.  Certainly, over the ten years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen many arrive with plans to make changes and give the place what they decide it needs.  Within six months, they are scuttling off, tails between their legs.  Glastonbury chews that sort up and spits them out.  Me?  Oh, it tolerates me well enough.  It shares it’s history and beauty and energy with me.  It accepts that I refuse to join any of its tribes (Pagans, Sufis, Goddesses, Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Alternatives etc.) and quietly plough my own furrow, but it doesn’t welcome me into the fold.

In the East, there are tribes, too, of course – the famed ‘Essex girls’ with their madly manicured nails, immaculately tinted hair, fake tans and glitzy fashion; the overweight mothers, bulging out of skin-tight lycra and screaming obscenities into their phones or at their children; the young men with smart suits and fast cars, chattering into their bluetooth headsets as they scurry hither and thither, and the cheery but dreary housewives, who have always lived there and always will, and thank providence for their uneventful lives.  I feel a stranger amongst them, too.

I often wonder if there’s a place where I’d fit – where my tribe can be found.  Certainly there are places I’m drawn to – places whose beauty leaves me gasping, and this is certainly one of them.  Is that a sufficient reason to stay here?

Well, why not?

After all, if this strange year has taught me anything, it’s that my body and my possessions will happily settle anywhere.  Maybe my heart and soul just need to float for a while longer…

 

 

 

 

The tale of the parent – without a storybook ending

My body isn’t used to the time change yet.  We gained an extra hour this weekend, moving from British Summertime to Greenwich Mean Time.

That’s why I found myself wide awake early this morning.  That’s when I found myself half-remembering something from dreams and something from imagination, and I decided to try to turn it into a book for my two little grandchildren – a book in which everyone, even a parent, is fallible.

Not many people dare to write such books.  In children’s stories, even an erring parent usually comes right in the end.  He might be a loveable rogue or she may be scatty and disorganised, but these storybook parents – at least in stories for small children – always put the children first, always redeem themselves, always learn from their mistakes.

Sad Child Boy Kid Crying Tears Sadness MooI wish life was like that for real children.  I wish there hadn’t been so many children in my life who had parents consumed by addictions, parents who turned to crime, parents who ran off to enjoy a new, carefree life without the drudgery of parenthood.  I wish two of those children hadn’t been my own grandchildren.

This sounds harsh, I know.  But life for those children IS harsh.
I remember the child who told me, “If my dad had liked me as much as he liked whisky and beer, he might have stopped drinking it when I asked him to, and then he wouldn’t have died.”
I remember the boy who said, “I can’t wait to grow up and get a wife. We’ll have lots of kids and I’ll look after them properly and never put them in danger, because I know how bad that feels.”
I remember the child who whispered, “I think my new teacher really likes me, so I don’t ever want her to find out what my dad did, because if she does, she might think I’m like him, and then she won’t like me anymore.”
I remember the little girl who would come into class with bags under her eyes, telling how Mum had crawled into her bed when she got back from the nightclub and spent ages recounting all her drunken escapades.
I remember the seven-year-old who sat with wide, frightened eyes, saying, “I don’t really like Daddy as much as I did before. I still love him, because he is my father, but I’m quite frightened of him now.”
And then there’s the little boy who told me, firmly, “Mums and dads ALWAYS argue. They all do.  Me and my sister go and hide in one of our special places when they start shouting. We take care of each other.”

So how to do it?  How to let children with far-less-than-perfect parents know they are not alone?  How to empower them to cope with a life where there won’t be a fairy godmother to wave a wand or a Damascene conversion that will make everything wonderful again?

The answer, so my pre-dawn inspirations suggest, lies in Chemistry (or Alchemy, or Magic, depending how you want to describe it).  So the story – if I ever manage to write it – will show the pure and inexhaustible supply of Magic that lies behind and within everyday changes.  It will show how intention can bend and shift those changes in the structure of life and of lives.  The wayward parent may choose not to change, but the lives of those around him will change.  Small children will become wiser, stronger and resilient.  They will grow as the story unfolds and they will gradually move beyond their fears and forge a better destiny because of the painful experiences they’ve endured.

I just hope I’m up to the task.