Monday, January 08, 2007

The Middle Ground 

It is inevitable, I suppose, that reading blogs will generate comparisons in my mind between other bloggers’ lives and my own. After all, I choose writers whose words resonate with me in some way, as I suppose most of us do – writers and photographers who respond intimately to the richness of their surroundings, often evoked in wonderfully subtle cameos; deeply personal writers who explore their own inner worlds - or even more powerfully, those who combine both, with reflections on outer and inner worlds springing from each other; writers seeking to reach out and connect; is it any wonder these so often produce a powerful response in me?

Perhaps it’s just a case of the grass on the other side of the fence being greener; nevertheless I sometimes feel I’d fit better into some of the lives I read about than I do into my own. I feel nascent talents lying idle and undeveloped while only my lesser skills (or those that are of lesser value in my own perception) are called into play.

Is it jealousy? A kind of envy, perhaps, but perhaps too it’s a more subtle feeling than that. It starts with recognition of a kindred spirit, but immediately following the joy of recognition comes the sharp pain of awareness of the divide which so often separates us. No; however much we might share in values, attitudes, hopes, fears, these lives are not mine. My path is my own unique way in the world; I might just as well feel disappointment or regret that I wasn’t born an eagle or a dolphin, as seek to bend the pattern of my life to the shape they have created.

Start where the client is, as a change consultant once said to me. Or as Popeye would have said, I yam what I yam. Right Here is where I am (even though I often ask myself the question: What am I doing here?)

I realise I’ve been subconsciously censoring writing – perhaps even censoring thinking – that isn’t in some way aligned with the ideals which are represented in aspects of these others’ lives and writing. I love nature; I love the outdoors; I value harmony, cooperation and mutual support; I love wild remote places; I value a reflective, even introspective approach, I take pleasure in dialogue, listening, understanding, coaching and so I read many blogs which reflect these things. Yet the reality of the way I live my days is very different. An urban, largely indoor lifestyle, with superficial relationships and a focus on doing rather than being. A life about which I rarely write, other than to bemoan it.

The two worlds – the ideal as illustrated in others’ accounts, and the actual - feel poles apart; a source of chronic dissatisfaction or dis-ease. I nearly said ‘are’ poles apart, but I suspect the separation exists largely in my own perception. When I started writing this, I had in the back of my mind the notion that there is a way to explore the middle ground; a way to bring the values I claim to espouse into the routine of daily living; a way to build a bridge across the chasm which separates these worlds. Once in a while, I manage to do just that. More so in the earlier days of this blog; much less frequently of late. For the moment though, right here and now and feeling the pressures of the day mounting, calling me back to the world of busy yet superficial doing, that middle ground has dipped below the horizon again. I still believe it's there, but I can't quite see it. Not directly; in the time it has taken to write this post it's vanished out of sight.

A few months ago, I went on a ‘Bikesafe’ motorcycle training day with the Police. More than any other, there’s one piece of learning I took away from that day: Raise Your Vision. Look ahead; look around; look beyond the patch of tarmac immediately in front of you. It strikes me that the lesson is transferable; raise your vision not only to the tarmac further ahead, but raise your spiritual vision also. That’s where the middle ground between actuality and desire is to be found.

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