Friday, March 23, 2007

The Miracle Question 

- Suppose you were to wake up tomorrow morning, and overnight there’d been a miracle, and the source of your concerns had vanished, how would you know? What would be different?

- I’d feel a sense of purpose; I’d know why I was getting up – I’d have something that I both needed to achieve and wanted to achieve.

- What would tell you that this was different from other days?

- I’ve already told you; I’d have a sense of purpose.

- Don’t you have a purpose now?

- Only to stay alive. Yeah, I know, that sounds terribly defeatist and I don’t mean it quite the way it sounds. But at the moment my purpose is to get to the end of the day having done everything lined up for me to do, without upsetting anyone, without having any arguments, without feeling guilty…

- That’s a lot of “withouts”; what about some “withs”?

- Well, that’s just it. That’s exactly what I’d like – to have some positive outcome rather than just the lack of negatives.

- Surely the show was a huge positive?

- Well, it should have been; to anyone else it would have been. And in many ways it was – yet running right through it all was an underlying fear of not being good enough, of making a mistake, of fouling it all up. Success was getting to the end of each night without being seen (or heard) to be not up to standard.

- You feel under judgment the whole time?

- Exactly! And if not someone else’s, then my own.

A fragment from my journal, from a few weeks ago. I was reminded of it when I read this line, a quote from Carl Jung, at Dan’s place:

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”

"To kindle a light in the darkness of mere being"; the more I think about it, the more meaning those words have for me…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Green Energy 

I’d been walking for about 14 hours, and covered about 35 miles since dawn. We’d seen almost four seasons of weather in a single day – a beautifully warm summer morning had given way to a prolonged hailstorm, turning to sleet on the hills then rain. The Scouts’ challenge walk – 40 miles in a single day - was on a section of Offa’s Dyke, in the Welsh borders, through farmland, woodland, then up onto the heights of Hay Bluff, which is where the weather struck.

I’d stayed with a lad who was having trouble; he really should have stopped at the 25 mile checkpoint – he could have done so with honour; plenty of older, more experienced walkers decided in the miserable conditions that they’d had enough, but he was determined and pressed on. The ground grew steeper though, and he was getting slower and slower, in real difficulty. I even tried giving him a pick-a-back ride for a while, but my physique isn’t up to it. It was a slow, slow few paces forward, wait for him, few more paces and so on to get to the next checkpoint.

Once I’d found another leader there who could take care of him, I sorted myself out - took my boots off, wrung out my sopping wet socks, put them back on again - and set off once more. In the wait, I’d become separated from the group I was with, but I had a map and knew where the route lay, and in any case I enjoy walking alone.

Now it was evening. I’d just struggled up a steep muddy section of path made all the more slippery by the passage of many dozens of pairs of boots before me, all constrained to the narrow fenced track between a wood on the left and field on the right. Eventually I came out onto a road near the top of the hill. It was a glorious evening – I remember a shapely hawthorn silhouetted against a golden sun low in the sky – but after the concerns and exertions of the day my energy was all but drained. The view was wonderful, but the next couple of hundred yards lay up a dauntingly steep section of tarmac road. I moved forward, but my steps were just a shuffle; at this rate it’d take me half an hour just to cover that short distance.

But now that my pace had slowed, now that I wasn’t striding purposefully forward, head down, my goal in the forefront of my mind, I had more time to become more closely aware of my surroundings. The energy of the sun seemed to command the entire scene; looking over the fields it dazzled my eyes, and even though it was evening, its warmth on my skin was still strong. Looking away from the glare, I turned instead to the greenery all around at the sides of the road. In late June, everything was at the height of its growth; I visualised the greenery eagerly drawing its life from the sunlight, capturing and containing that energy to fuel its own growth. Wildflowers and grasses, briars and nettles, every green thing was thick with an abundance of lush bright green leaves, bursting out from the hedgerows to reach half way into the middle of this quiet country lane.

And as I sensed this green energy, it felt as though it was too much to be contained within these green cells; it felt as though an excess of energy was streaming out of these plants, forming an aura around them – and as I shuffled forward, I imagined this energy from either side of the road joining up behind me to form a wave propelling me forwards. I almost felt I could lean back into it and feel green hands supporting me, gently driving me on.

And so I came, barely noticing it, to the top of the hill. From there on, it was literally downhill all the way, and I almost floated down, still pondering the wonder of that green energy.

Thanks to Christy for the comment to my previous post which reminded me of this. It must have been about ten years ago. One of those significant little happenings that lodges dormant in the memory, to be triggered just when you need it…

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Worlds apart 

I wish I could write something to explain why I have so little to say here nowadays. But then, if I could, I wouldn’t need to, would I?

Outer activity masks inner paralysis; body goes through the motions, driven by as much of the lower orders of mind as is necessary, whilst the higher orders lie in a weary stupor and spirit has gone awol.

Writing which never strays from the purely factual recounting of activities remains shallow and dull and I’m not going waste your time with it.

Descriptions of purely inner musings are self-obsessive and irrelevant to anyone else, so I’ll try and spare you these too, although a few (such as this) do creep through.

Interest lies in the place where outer and inner worlds meet and overlap in a generative way; when the outer world stimulates an inner reflection leading in turn to a new perspective on the outer world.

But the link is broken. The two worlds are disconnected, each runs on its own track, independent of the other. This I observe, dispassionately, and wonder vaguely how to re-forge the connection.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Alien perspective 

My only purpose is to provide for my family.

I’ve been mulling that one over, and I can’t argue with the empirical truth of that statement. Not my primary purpose; my only purpose. All my behaviour reflects that. It does, after all, have a sound evolutionary basis – ensuring the continuing success of my DNA. Everything else is incidental. I might wish it were otherwise, but that’s the way it is.

But suppose, just as a way of opening up thought processes which otherwise remain closed, suppose I didn’t have a family? What would my purpose be then?

I can barely comprehend the question.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Urban warrior 

Today was the first time in nearly 10 months that I cycled the 15 miles to work. It was always my plan when I got my motorbike that I’d still cycle occasionally, as otherwise I don’t get any serious exercise. But somehow, when faced in the morning with a choice between 45 minutes of relative pleasure or 70 minutes of hard graft, every time I’ve chosen the pleasure. What a surprise. Not. Last week though, I picked up a screw in the tyre of the motorbike; the puncture is non-repairable (and I discovered that motorbike tyres are very expensive) and I had to wait a couple of days for the dealer had to order the new tyre in, so it seemed a good opportunity to remind myself that I haven’t altogether given up pedal-powered cycling.

Perversely, I found it became more enjoyable as I got into heavier traffic nearer the centre of London. Urban cycling, where bikes can out-pace and out-manouvre cars (and yes, I DO stop at red lights – unlike the majority of cyclists) gives one a definate sense of superiority over sedentary motorists.

Getting here was hard work, but okay – but I still have to get home…

I appreciate there are probably no other lunatic urban cyclists reading this blog - but if you do happen to fall into that category, this is an excellent article on how to survive. In the quiz at the end, I scored off the scale in the "Road Warrior" category :-)

I want one! 

Having not used my film SLR for 2 years, I discovered at the weekend that something in the autofocus mechanism is intermittently stuck. Only about one time in six will the lens focus; the rest of the time it just emits a pathetic little whine and offers me a worthless fuzzy mess. Of course, it still focuses manually, but the whole system seems more and more like a rather expensive doorstop.

So I’m drooling over this picture.

Launched today, available in June. It would be very much a luxury though, and isn’t seriously on the cards. But I can dream...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar Eclipse