Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who’s in control? 

“...the general tacit assumption in thought is that it's just telling you the way things are and that it's not doing anything - that 'you' are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don't decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us.


"What I mean by "thought" is the whole thing - thought, felt, the body, the whole society sharing thoughts - it's all one process. It is essential for me not to break that up, because it's all one process; somebody else's thoughts becomes my thoughts, and vice versa. Therefore it would be wrong and misleading to break it up into my thoughts, your thoughts, my feelings, these feelings, those feelings... I would say that thought makes what is often called in modern language a system. A system means a set of connected things or parts."

From “Thought as a System”, quoted in the Wikipedia article about its author, physicist David Bohm.

I have become wary of my thoughts; they lead me down paths I don't want to explore, take me to places I want to get away from. Some are traps - thought-paths that take you down a slippery slope into a deep hollow impossible to climb out of; some are circuits with no start and no end, forever covering the same old ground; some are paths laid down by others - I merely follow where their feet have already trodden.

It is hard to think of something new.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Life on the farm 

I had a training session on our new document management system this afternoon. As is the usual practice in these circumstances, we were working in a sandpit area, not with live data. It should have been cleared out, but some wag had left this piece of wisdom behind, causing the trainer to enquire (in the nicest possible way) what was amusing me…

Feeling trapped in this cubicle...

10. Being told to 'Think outside the Box' when you're in a friggin box all day long.
9. Not being able to check e-mail attachments without turning around to see who's behind you.
8. Fabric cubicle walls do not offer much protection from any kind of gunfire.
7. That nagging feeling that if you press the right button, you'll get a piece of cheese!
6. Lack of roof rafters for the noose.
5. The walls are too close together for the hammock to work right.
4. 23 power cords, 1 outlet.
3. Prison cells are not only bigger, they also have beds.
2. When tours come through, you get lots of peanuts thrown at you.
1. You can't slam the door when you quit and walk out.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Life of a Day 

I found this lurking in a forgotten folder on the hard drive of my laptop at work. I may have posted it before, I can't remember. No matter; it bears repeating.

The Life of a Day
"Like people or dogs, each day is unique and has its own personality quirks which can easily be seen if you look closely. But there are so few days as compared to people, not to mention dogs, that it would be surprising if a day were not a hundred times more interesting than most people. But usually they just pass, mostly unnoticed, unless they are wildly nice, like autumn ones full of red maple trees and hazy sunlight, or if they are grimly awful ones in a winter blizzard that kills the lost traveler and bunches of cattle. For some reason we like to see days pass, even though most of us claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a long time. We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will start for real. Meanwhile, this day is going by perfectly well-adjusted, as some days are, with the breeze scented with a perfume made from the mixture of fallen apples, corn stubble, dry oak leaves, and the faint odor of last night’s meandering skunk."

~Tom Hennen ~

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Survival. It’s what we humans are best at; if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Sure, we do other stuff as well, but when push comes to shove, it’s survival which has the stamina to, er, survive and hold out when other motivations have dried up.

It doesn’t have to be a sabre-tooth tiger breathing down your neck, or a guy with a knife, even if the knife is purely metaphorical; the survival principle drives action minute by minute, day by day, year by year as we survive one task, one interaction, one project to the next. Do what has to be done, do what can’t not be done; get through the next minute, the next hour with my self-image intact, and maybe there will come a time when at last there are no imminent threats to survival of who I think I am – no deadlines to meet, no promises to keep, no commitments to honour – and there’ll be space.

Yeah, right. That time will only come when I’m on my deathbed. But surely humankind should have evolved past this survival stage by now? Should have moved to a higher plane? Or does survival of the fittest mean that the survival motivation itself is the greatest survivor, its future guaranteed by its very existence?

Perhaps it’s just as well, given the threats which face us as a race.

I wish I knew just what this weight is which oppresses me so. Looked at objectively, I have no real pressures, no threats; I face no risks, no challenges. So why this constant feeling of struggle, of pressure; feelings of inadequacy, always running to stand still?

It doesn’t make sense.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The centre 

I doubt that many visitors to this blog, if indeed there are any such left, are unfamiliar with whiskey river. I could just post a link, but I want to make sure I don’t lose these words. So much wisdom, even wrapped up in a single word; I want to be able to return to this and know that I can find it again.

"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere."

- Thomas Merton

Turning aside 

Thanks once again to Joe Riley and Panhala for gently taking my hand and redirecting my gaze to see the view in an alternative frame of reference:

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

~ R. S. Thomas ~

Sunday, September 02, 2007

In and out 

Just passing through; here in body, although not really in spirit. Too rushed, too preoccupied, too many essential things to be squeezed into this short space between returning from holidays and setting off to Amsterdam and back by bicycle.

We covered 1600 miles of driving in the last 16 days, staying at 10 locations, the furthest being the Isle of Skye, off the north west coast of Scotland. I fell in love with Scotland; I’ve visited a few times before – four in all, 2 work related trips and 2 climbing trips - but never had time to soak up the true character of the place. I hope when I return from Amsterdam I can still recall enough to set down here some of the insights I don’t want to lose.

For now though I have to prepare for the ride. Just one day back at work, then we set out on Tuesday morning, pedalling to Harwich to take the overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland, arriving in Amsterdam on Thursday, doing a swift about turn and then reversing the journey, getting me back here next Saturday evening, all being well.

One last appeal then before I go – the purpose of the ride is to raise money for the BBC’s Children in Need charity. At the moment, we’re only a quarter of the way to our target of £10,000; all donations, large or small, are equally welcome and can be made online.

See you in a week, hopefully not too saddle sore! If anyone is interested, you can follow our progress here.