Autumn then.

Art, blogging, daily living, illustration, Life, poetry, United Kingdom
purleigh-footpath2

I do love a shadowed footpath – Purleigh

Autumn then. Nothing quite like the march of time to remind us of our transient nature. I love the seasons here in England – the definition of different states of nature as the year progresses. And they do progress – have you noticed that? Whatever we do, however clever we think we are, time has the last word. Every time. I think about death alot. I always have, since being 6 or 7 years old. It doesn’t make me anxious. Losing someone I love to it makes me feel anxious. I don’t want that to happen. But it will. That’s what being alive has taught me. It doesn’t last forever. Be kind to those who love you the most because its easy to be careless with them. More than anyone else. Prioritise. Give attention where you want it to go. Remember there is never enough time. It’s not morbid, it is liberating. Cast off the shackles of ‘should’ and decide where you put your love. Today. Do it today. Do it now

watercolour

Biscuit comes to say hello, Purleigh dog walk.

 

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre,
Which will last to the end of the world.
My patron is Elphin…

I know why there is an echo in a hollow;
Why silver gleams; why breath is black; why liver is bloody;
Why a cow has horns; why a woman is affectionate;
Why milk is white; why holly is green;
Why a kid is bearded; why the cow-parsnip is hollow;
Why brine is salt; why ale is bitter;
Why the linnet is green and berries red;
Why a cuckoo complains; why it sings;
I know where the cuckoos of summer are in winter.
I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;
How many spears in battle; how may drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharaoh’s people;
Why fishes have scales.
Why a white swan has black feet…

I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
I was reaped and placed in an oven;
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive.
I am Taliesin.

 

 

From tales of the Mabinogion, Celtic oral tradition, by  Anonymous

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All illustrations my own, please do not use without permission.

Images available via sites on menu – ask if there is anything not there that you would like.

Taking my own advice

blogging, daily living, Life, photogaphy, trees, wellbeing, zen

purleigh footpath

Further to my post about Shinrin-yoku, I decided to unyoke myself from my p.c. and treat myself and Digger to a well deserved break in the day. The sun was high, the sky was blue and the wind was refreshingly gentle as a breeze.  Digger is an old dog, so that breeze is a pre-requisite to a walk in the summer.  I keep valuing his presence more and more as his age becomes more and more apparent to me. I treasure my time with him – such is love!  I was considering this and more as I reflected on my life and times.  I have had a complicated relationship with love – I crave it’s presence and sumultaneously feel I somehow have an inadequacy deep within me to fully appreciate it.  I am so glad to have my family around me- but their presence is peripheral – I like to know they are there, but am happy they are living their lives their way. I have been this way forever – to the chagrin of my mother who would demand far more time from me were I to be complicit. Paradoxically I learnt my self sufficency from her – as youngsters my parents encouraged independence , valuing it above any expression of warmth and love. My parenting has been totally informed by my perceived lack of early sustenance- as young children mine could be under no illusion that the singular aim of life is to love! Both of them now would probably complain I wasn’t authoritive enough – oh the sad absurdities of parenting!

Enough – my aim of this post was to share my experience of a simple walk . The glory to be found in the ordinary is daily worth revisiting. I was considering this after hearing a radio 4 programme promoting an upcoming project ‘Accounting for taste ‘wherein the producer/presenter Matthew Sweet  is wanting us, the great unwashed, to share what we consider to be unique in our homes – the thing that makes home ours and ours alone. I like listening to this sort of thing – connecting to ordinary lives , and I thought about my own environs. I live in a very ordinary semi- detached home in a very pleasant suburb of a Midlands town in U.K.  My house is not extraordinary in any way whatsoever, and yet if you walked into it, you would feel us. We are all there , family moments imbibe each room, mementoes collected, stones given to one another as gifts of love, paintings by the children on fridge a decade after having been produced, percussion instruments littered around, bongo drums to pick up and mess with, artworks collected over decades , photographs by my brilliant photographer husband and books. Lots of books. My own tributes to my dogs, dead and alive  are in the form of knitted statues – definitely unique! You get my meaning – our lives are full of meaningful and lovely memory that makes us unique, but none of them have any value really to anyone outside of the family, and that is fine. I am o.k with that. I love our ordinary. I celebrate it. One of the character traits of my youngest son that makes me most comfortable is that he gets this already – in a world increasingly desiring us all to be part of something ‘special’. Life is special. Life is enough. For decades I sought meaning beyond that , and yesterday felt healing. I understood that everything is of and from the same happening. Some things started their lives at different times on that happening timeline. I was telling Digger this so that he knows too. Bless. The pictures show where I was, two minutes walk away from the front door, a public footpath takes you away from the cares of the everyday world. Nice.

 

purleigh footpath2purleigh footpath3

If you want to link up with Matthew Sweet for his upcoming programme at Radio4 you can link up by using the link Accountingfortaste 

 

 

Hold on to your hats U.K!

blogging, daily living, government, Life, people, politics, society, United Kingdom

 

whiteI was shocked and stunned by the result our country delivered on the E.U. referendum. The build up to the vote was not our finest hour. Frankly , we look pretty hideous at the moment . The thing is – I don’t quite believe it.  I don’t believe that the voters wanted this result – is that arrogant?  I think the whole affair has been mismanaged – in fact I was anti a referendum for this reason – we have a government to govern. That is the point of them – to argue out in a reasonable manner the pros and cons of policy.  I think the public are astute, but the populace cannot , by definition , read and inwardly digest the intricacies and complexities of economics and social policies via the media. It cannot happen. There will be a small minority who can unpick all the necessary argument and come to a judgement secure in the knowledge that they have equipped themselves with the available information from all sides and critically examined the opposing argument. The vast majority are too busy surviving, or too lazy or disinterested.

Now we are in this position the various factions are running about like headless chickens because they didn’t believe this could happen either. Big mistake.

However, what is important now is that cool heads manage the coming months. Britain will survive because there is no choice.  We may have to build some bridges , and that work will be done. Most people I meet are honest, well meaning, and committed to making life better for themselves and for their companions. What is essential is our humanity to others is not compromised. None of us live in a vacuumn and if compassion is at the forefront of policy making as well as daily living , there will be nothing to fear. Fear is the only outcome when the politics of the far right starts to seep into our daily governance and our daily lives.

We need to recognise the danger that the far right brings , remembering the recent past atrocities that shaped our modern politics. It always appears unthreatening in the build up to taking power, and morphs into monstrous totalitarianism almost imperceptibly.

Compassion is the key. Retain it in the heart of politics and daily living and that monster has no oxygen .

Get yourself a superpower and change the world.

Art, blogging, daily living, illustration, Life, United Kingdom, wellbeing

kindsight.jpgKindsight is my new name for a human superpower.

It is the magical property that inhabits the living. The force that overcomes the sour, the hardened, the exhausted and the weary.

It is our saving grace.

In a world that appears to value money over everything, kindsight is the antidote.

It is the superpower that we see performed in the everyday, in the chaos of what it means to be human.

It is the difference between animal and artificial intelligence.

It is the practice of compassion in a busy, consumerist, exhausted world.

It is the application of compassion in your life. The life you live today. The life where you wake up tired and the toaster isn’t working and the children are bickering and the dog has just peed on the floor. It is the practice that overcomes your battle weary state of mind and prevents you from throwing a two year old tantrum. Because the dog didn’t know what it was doing , and children will always bicker before the school day begins, and toasters break.  You put on those metaphorical glasses and begin your day with kindsight – you don’t yell at the kids – they begin their day without the humiliation of a scolding, and the dog is blithely unaware of its ageing and incapacitated bladder.

 

Kindsight changes you.  Kindsight changes everyone.  In a secular world , compassion becomes ever more necessary .  We tore up the rules, and so we have to write ourselves a guide book , because isn’t that what religion has given human beings for the last couple of millenia?  In different guises, under different theologies, guidebooks to help us live co-operative, meaningful lives.

 

Kindsight is the superpower that you give yourself.  It is a sort of cyclical transformer. The more its used the more powerful it becomes.  You know that yourself – you’ve witnessed random acts of kindness from strangers – and paradoxically, strangers are often those most willing to show it.  Why aren’t those closest to us willing to show the same levels of compassion. It’ s our families and our colleagues that often suffer the worst sides of our selves.  It’s because it’s hard to show kindness when we’re stressed and tired. And we’re often stressed and tired.  That’s why kindsight is the superpower that will change your life. It’s a gear change – that’ s all it is.

 

With the benefit of kindsight we can change the world.

Savour

Art, daily living, Life, photography, poetry
savour

Enter a caption

My capture of a wonderful morning sky earlier last month.

Oh,and a reminder to attend.

 Against Entropy

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

— John M Ford

 

The Nonsensical Rhyme of no Reason

Art, blogging, Life, Thoughts, United Kingdom

 

life

These are disordered and disorderly thoughts that are pressing themselves to share with you, and have been doing so for some time. I have been distracted – illness, family , restlessness – the ordinary consequences of being human.  Half a century has passed since I landed here – and strangely I feel as new and strange and unfamiliar as that birth must have seemed to a tiny creature unused to light and air .  For some odd reason I laboured under the delusion that some sort of sense would ultimately dawn upon my consciousness, there would unroll some measure of meaning amongst the maelstrom of existence. I don’t think I am going to discern it if there is. So I continue to hop through the pattern of my days, bringing to them any sense of fulfilment and pleasure and meaning I can.  Probably as you do too. Anyways, I present these in no particular order, and offer them with no promise of enlightenment. I just like them, and thought you might too.

 

Live your ecstasy amongst the dog eared maps of desire,

Search for the glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask

Amongst the extraordinary in plain sight.

 Existence is eternal but life has end.

 

The Ways We Touch

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets
the bone.

Miller Williams

 As here, so is everywhere.

Be safe, be kind.

Smooth

blogging, earth, Life, philosophy, United Kingdom

sun god worshipperWalking the dogs this morning,  I was considering the complexity that belonging to the human race involves.   I am feeling ‘smooth’ this morning, an expression used by our housemate over breakfast and one that sums up my current frame of mind. Smooth.  That may not appear that surprising to any of you readers out there ( are there any?)  but it is. Because all of my life I have lived with a realism that results in a constant battle of dealing with an imperfect world. I tend not to catastrophize events in my own life, which is  a plus, but the negative aspect is that any joy is tempered by the knowledge that somewhere a war is being fought, or torture is continuing to be applied in areas of the globe I know nothing about. So it is.

It was serendipitous then, that I ventured upon this short video by Cognitive, which expresses so well the importance of realism in everyday life, in the politics , in the economics of living in the 21st century.  We have no excuse for not looking clearly at the challenges we face as a species, and today the Rosetta space mission is attempting to land Philae on a comet;  once settled, Philae will begin to reveal secrets about the solar system and maybe even give us clues about the origin of life. We have to hold close the hope that is the catalyst to any investigative project, and while we hold it, simultanteously understand the difficulties and hazards that are the barriers to success.  Our actions will govern the sustainability of ourselves and our co-habitants of the planet, and it is why we need to be realists in our own endeavours, whether that be managing a family, directing a company, guiding a country, or running a space mission.  Realism has to lead to fortitude, and hope has to be our guide.

http://www.wearecognitive.com/videos/rsa-animate-smile-or-die

Dogwalking With Van Morrison

photogaphy, poetry

Dogwalking With Van Morrison

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Dogwalking With Van Morrison

October sun; blinding,high,
reveals night-shift silk
spun and caught in carpet
of crisp Autumn fall.
Van’s vision,and
I’m feeling his sense
of wonder.
Dog shares ecstatic
suspended moments,
appreciating too, the master’s
fiery vision bright;
and misses a squirrel
fancying it’s chances,
one too nonchalent
to care , sensing engagement
elsewhere.
Pete’s seen squirrels before;
he’ll see them again.
What matters is the now,
nose down in
unmentionable odours
too potent to ignore.
I did walk the dog this morning, though this time it was Digger, not Pete  as sadly he fell and never recovered the fall, breaking his back after sliding off a rock.  It was a loss, but we couldn’t help but feel it was the best way for a dog to go – living  a life full of joy and freedom, chasing after something that had caught his nose.
The photo too tells of  a different Autumn, a holiday in October taken in the Scottish highlands. Where better to be amongst the colours of Autumn. Off up there soon , cannot wait!

Mopping and mowing in the social space with William Golding.

blogging, books, literature, United Kingdom

nightingaleRecently I have had a phrase dizzily scootering around my brain – the ‘aboutness of being’- which has recklessly abandoned itself for examination and there is neither rhyme nor reason why. Except this – the fact that I understand there is no earthly impetus for me to consider the abstraction of consciousness points to the question itself. I am not alone and I know I am not because I read words that reflect a similar preoccupation with not merely how we think, which in itself is fascinating, but why we think about the abstractions that occur to us. Why do we look for meaning and purpose? Is it merely a by product of a brain that is at its evolutionary point, wherever that is on a timeline which has some way yet to go? Or is the impulse to understand consciousness an act of creativity in and of itself? Is it necessary for a satisfying life? Or necessary only to some to fulfil their lives. We are not all the same, although we share common tendencies, so what I may demand from my consciousness is clearly different from what my spouse or my children demand from theirs. Not to mention the 7 other billion I share the planet with. Oh and that is only mentioning the human lives,because how do I know what conciousness looks, feels like to my dog?

So now you know what I think about after a cup of coffee has been introduced into the system, and to help me think about the ‘aboutness of being’ I am going to introduce one of my favourite novelists , ‘William Golding’, who investigates and describes in a far more articulate manner than I can. As a school girl I read ‘Lord of the Flies’ and found the story full of momentum and interest ; but it was much later that I discovered the relief of reading a master novelist at work. I say relief because it is the closest expression I can find; I was a young adult who was continually seeking the companionship of shared insight, shared experience and it was in his works that I could feel understanding, resonance and even validity. As members of a singular species we want to affirm our existence, and one of the ways we do that is recognising that the way we think and feel is not specific to ourselves. While we desire individuality and uniqueness we also desire companionship,
shared values, shared feelings. I had been married to a man for twelve years before I faced the truth that one critical facet of our relationship was missing- recognition. When I met my second husband it was a powerful sense of coming home,inexplicable and astonishing at the time, devastating and demanding levels of courage and understanding not just from the main players in the drama , but affecting everyone in our little world.

Recently I read an article by a scientist that questioned whether we needed to consider our ‘aboutness of being’, or another way to put it would be whether the practice of examining theory of mind was pertinent in modern era.
‘ ” As we learn more about the detailed mechanisms in the brain, the question of ‘What is consciousness?’ will fade away into irrelevancy and abstraction,” he said. ‘(Desimone , Article in The New Yorker.Oct 1 2014 Attention by Alan Lightman.

That isn’t how I see it, or how Golding saw it either ( nor Bryan Appleyard via whose feed I found said article).

I am in the process of re-reading a selection of essays Golding wrote decades ago called ‘A Moving Target’, which is divided into the two sections of “Places” and “Ideas”. It is the second section that I refer to here. In his essay Belief and Creativity he discusses the difficulty in discovering,retaining and using an authentic voice. In being identified as a successful novelist Golding fights the entrapment of the role of novelist.

“To some extent we are all victims of a similar fate, The teacher may create his own image for the purposes of discipline and find himself unable to creep out of it. In the end, he may consent and become the image entire, at last the parody of a schoolmaster, don, lecturer. The actor, the politician – since our global television suburb is not so much bookist as imagist – must think first of an action, ‘How will it affect my image?’ Watch the box and see it happen. Constrained by the necessities of his trade he will adjust either his action or his image so that another figure of fantasy mops and mows in the social space. That space, our divided but communal awareness, is so full of the image, the real unreality or unreal reality, it is a wonder men can breathe. Perhaps we cannot. Perhaps it is our fate as human beings that none of us knows what it is to draw a lungful of psychically unpolluted air, to look and to examine innocently the crowded impressions on every sense with which our individual selves cope, suffer and enjoy as the essence of being. “

How pertinent is that paragraph today, in the world of cyber space – a world that did not exist as Golding wrote these words.

“From Aristotle onwards – even from Hecataeus and Herodotus – the glum intellect of man has succeeded in constructing bolts and bars, fetters, locks and chains. …We have had great benefits from that same intellect but are having to pay for them. I say we have erected cages of iron bars; and ape-like I seize those bars and shake them with a helpless fury. . ..The simplistic popularization of their ideas ( Marx, Darwin, Freud) has thrust our world into a mental straitjacket from which we can only escape by the most anarchic violence. These men were reductionist, and I believe – peering from the middle between the bandages (of mummification) saying not what I ought to think but what I find my centre thinking honestly in spite of itself- I do indeed believe that at the bottom the violence of the last thirty years has been less a revolt against the exploitation of man by man, less a sexual frustration, certainly less a process of natural selection operating in human society, than
a revolt against reductionism, even when the revolutionary, or it may be the terrorist, does not know it. “

Golding explains his own development in attempting to shrug off the prism of explanation via a third party ( i.e. through the accepted ideologies of the day) and think for himself and writes the best put down of Marx I have encountered, succinct and humorous.

“I have no doubt that Marx said this somewhere. He seems to have said most things according to those who have examined his work closely; but the crude system extracted from the corpus of his work omitted this unpredictability. I could, by including it, account for the fact that Marxism always got the future wrong and excelled in predicting the past. The whole of its illustrations of human conduct was what the French have called l’esprit d’escalier, – an expression drawn from a common experience – the brilliant retort that occurs to us after an argument when we are going down the stairs. “

He describes the approach of the novelist as one that is trying to communicate via a world he can create himself restricted by the innate constraints of that form.

” I fumble. I practice a craft I do not understand and cannot describe….. The little, lighted awareness that we call a conscious person is indescribable and incommunicable yet needs neither description nor communication since we all know it and how it is. If we cannot agree on that it is impossible to agree on anything. We are it. It is our burden and pleasure. The awareness is not a point, a position without magnitude, but an area. Awareness, like belief is a matter of position in that area. …another dimension must be added to the area and I do not see how I can present you with a three dimensional surface. Yet the area is moving through the third dimension of time. .. You read as the novelist must write,one word at a time….we ought to be up to our eyes in mystery and astonishment, and we have only just begun. …it is possible to live astonished for a long time’ and it looks increasingly possible that you can die that way too. My epitaph must be ‘He wondered’….Let
us return. What man is, whatever man is under the eye of heaven, that I burn to know and that – I do not say this lightly – I would endure knowing. “

William Golding sheds some light for me on how to consider my own position , reminds me of the necessity to think, and to evaluate where my thoughts stem from to identify their validity. He is a glorious companion to share the perturbations and complexities of being human in a ‘naughty world’. I want to stay in wonder, to die curious.

Unnoticed and necessary.

Life, LOVE, photogaphy, poetry, United Kingdom

 

 

IMG_1530watercolour version

Purleigh, Essex.Anne Corr Digital watercolour.

 

Variations on the Word “Sleep”

 I would like to watch you sleeping,
 which may not happen.
 I would like to watch you,
 sleeping. I would like to sleep
 with you, to enter
 your sleep as its smooth dark wave
 slides over my head

 and walk with you through that lucent
 wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
 with its watery sun & three moons
 towards the cave where you must descend,
 towards your worst fear

 I would like to give you the silver
 branch, the small white flower, the one
 word that will protect you
 from the grief at the center
 of your dream, from the grief
 at the center. I would like to follow
 you up the long stairway
 again & become
 the boat that would row you back
 carefully, a flame
 in two cupped hands
 to where your body lies
 beside me, and you enter
 it as easily as breathing in

 I would like to be the air
 that inhabits you for a moment
 only. I would like to be that unnoticed
 & that necessary.

Margaret Atwood