Thursday, December 27, 2012

Generation Gap

Perhaps I'm slightly envious of you;
Perhaps I wish that I could be contained
Within that very private world that few
Can understand, or reach once they have gained
Their teens.  By some strange paradox, you live
Within my world whilst I am little more
Than shadow on the edge of yours.  I give
The food and care that you are asking for,
I help with homework, make-believe I'm wise,
But only now and then communicate
My own uncertainties, or recognise
The bogus image of the adult state.
Yet sometimes, off my guard, I catch your eye
And know that we're both children, you and I.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Towards a Birth Day

Can you feel it in the air . . . can you sense the angels gathering to tell us that we're moving towards a Birth Day?

I was thinking about this as I walked down the garden path yesterday.  Brilliant winter sunlight was shining through the trees, and it struck me that, in addition to moving towards a Birth Day, we're also moving towards the light.

The curious thing about moving towards the light is that you can't see where you're going, all you can see is the light . . . which dazzles your vision.
On the other hand, if you turn and walk away from the light you can see perfectly . . .  all the shadows, all the pot-holes.  
Moving towards the light, you need to trust . . . you've no idea where you're going.

As we grope our way towards the light, towards this Birth Day, I can't think of any passage that better sums up our present position than a speech from "A Sleep of Prisoners" by Christopher Fry.

If you would like the added pleasure of hearing the author read his own words, then just click HERE:

*           *          *          *          *          *          *

The human heart can go the lengths of God . . .

Dark and cold we may be, but this

Is no winter now.  The frozen misery

Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;

The thunder is the thunder of the floes,

The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong

Comes up to face us everywhere,

Never to leave us till we take

The longest stride of soul men ever took.

Affairs are now soul size.

The enterprise is exploration into God.

Where are you making for?  It takes

So many thousand years to wake . . . 

But will you wake, for pity's sake?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First say, "Please . . . "

I hadn't expected to send you another letter on the subject of orbs.  But may we consider this fascinating subject once again?
Not only have I some incredible photos that I want to share, but, if it doesn't sound too far-fetched, I  would also like to explore the concept of a relationship with orbs.

What are orbs?
I don't know.  With every orb photograph I take, it's my sense of awe and wonder that expands, not my knowledge.  True, I can now identify three different types of orbs, and know that some move more swiftly than others.  But, when it comes to the nature of their being, their role in creation, for me they remain a powerful and intriguing mystery.

There is, however, one thing that I've learned during what I can only call our six-year relationship.

Let me explain.
Not long ago I was invited to a Beethoven concert at The Royal Albert Hall.
After a brilliant rendition of the Fifth Piano Concert, the pianist and orchestra left the stage.  As we've already discovered, orbs are attracted by music and strong emotion.  Surely, I thought, taking out my camera, there'll be plenty on display after such a moving performance?

I took three photos . . . not an orb in sight.
This was hard to accept, I was disappointed and puzzled.
"Please . . ." I pleaded under my breath . . . and took a fourth photo.

When this amazing orb appeared on my camera I was stunned.
A muttered, "Thank you . . . " seemed the only appropriate response.

I'm not suggesting that the orbs literally heard my mumbled request (although maybe they did). The change was brought about by my shift in attitude.

This message was endorsed last week when a friend invited me to a concert at The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, the historic chapel at The Tower of London.  It was years since I'd been to The Tower, I'd never been to the chapel.
"Don't forget your camera," said my friend, "there are bound to be throngs of orbs!"
Her certainty left me a little anxious . . . I  just hoped that my camera was listening and that the orbs would collaborate!

The chapel was beautiful and historic, the concert truly memorable.  Once it was over I took out my camera.

Maybe the occasion, and my friend's expectations, had left me over-confident.
The singing had been so beautiful . . . surely no orb could resist?

Was it also possible that I was seeking for the orbs through the mind, whereas I needed to be searching through the heart?

Whatever the reason, to  my shocked surprise, the first few photos produced absolutely nothing.

Recalling my recent experience at The Albert Hall, I belatedly muttered, "Please . . . ".
Then, once again, pressed the shutter.

In the resultant photo you can see a cluster of shadowy orbs circling above the heads of the departing concertgoers.

I was grateful . . . but, I must admit it, a little disappointed.
I had expected more of the orbs at The Tower of London

The concert over, we left the chapel and made our way slowly across the courtyard.  Faced with such a magnificent, iconic view, I reached once more for my camera.

I wasn't thinking of orbs, I was thinking of Tower Bridge in the moonlight, so I was totally unprepared for the shock that the orbs had prepared for me.
The sky was alive with them!
(Unfortunately, this reproduction doesn't do the photo justice.  In the print I've had made you can count well over twenty orbs - many of them way in the distance over the river.)

But the final surprise was still to come, and it came when I returned home.  I'd never thought to check the photo I'd taken on arrival at The Tower.  Only when downloaded onto the computer did I discover that the earlier photo revealed a welcoming committee of orbs gathered to greet us!

Let's enjoy this amazing sight . . . brilliant orbs, spinning in the night sky, outshining the distant lights over The Thames.

We don't need to ask why, or how . . . we do need to be grateful.

So, under what conditions have I found that orbs reveal themselves in a photograph?
It would seem that orbs cannot be summoned to order (you can't bully an orb!), but they do respond to a polite request.  And, whilst they are clearly attracted by music and powerful human emotions, they retain an infinite capacity to surprise.

Perhaps, in our relationship with the infinite wonders and mysteries of creation, we ought to say, "Please . . . " and "Thank you . . . " more often!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The yellow brick road

I wonder, have you been watching 'Supersized Earth', Dallas Campbell's documentary series on television?  In the course of three programmes, billed as an exploration of how we've engineered a man-made world, Dallas Campbell has been laying out the changes that have revolutionised our planet over the past forty years . . . the expanding cities . . . high-speed travel . . . agricultural innovation.

Whilst I gazed incredulously at the towering buildings, and at the density and acreage of intensive farming,  it was the programme on contemporary travel that left the strongest impression.

I wonder, have you ever paused to think that, at any given moment, a million of the world's population is airborne?
As you read this, a changing swathe of mankind is eating, drinking, and working on laptops high above us in the skies.
It's quite a thought that the equivalent of a large, bustling city is constantly carrying out an active, productive life out of sight above our heads.

We travel . . . we certainly travel!  In the twenty-first century we acknowledge no boundaries, no limits.  Suspension bridges sway between mountain peaks . . . railways cling to ravines . . . rockets propel us into space.  The world is ours to conquer.

I should be impressed . . . I am.  I'm awestruck.  But I can't help wondering whether we've become obsessed with travel.  Not only do we refuse to recognise limits to our exploration, but we are equally adamant that speed should be the prime factor.  Travel has evolved into a competition . . . a competition to get us to any and every destination faster than ever before.

Long ago, at a time when man's speed of movement was literally limited by horse-power, Puck vowed to put  'a girdle round the earth in forty minutes'.
Is this our aim?  But what if the girdle we've created is turning into a strait-jacket?
The more we tighten the girdle, the more we shrink our planet.  Is it our aim to reduce our magnificent world to  a theme park . . . and then, like over-indulged children, go in search of other planets to conquer?

Is this what travel is all about?  To rush from A to B, trip over each other, and then rush back again?
It may sound a fanciful question, but could all this effortless, high-speed travel distort our concept of life's journey?  Are we tempted to believe that we can tunnel beneath our obstacles, hover above our problems and, given the wherewithal, always opt for first-class service?
You couldn't get away from the reality of a rutted road in a stage-coach.

When I think of representations of life's journey, do you know what comes to mind?  It's a favourite film of my childhood.
Do you remember 'The Wizard of Oz'?  Do you remember Dorothy, Toto, and her trio of companions stepping out bravely along the winding, yellow brick road?

For all its fantasy, surely this is a far more down-to-earth analogy of our progress through life than a trip to Paris by Eurostar?  It's a journey of individual steps.

Secure in the support of her ruby red slippers, Dorothy follows the twists and turns of the yellow brick road.  In fact, such is its winding nature that the final destination is far from certain . . . unlike our prime requirement for contemporary travel.

Of particular importance is the fact that the road is made of bricks, not tarmac.  It is full of features and incidents, progress is made one brick at a time.

Is your life more like a brick road than a seat in a supersonic jet?  Mine certainly is!  And have  you noticed that no two bricks are identical . . . the road can be well laid and smooth, or, alternatively, it can be poorly constructed and bumpy.  But when we are making our way along a brick road, as distinct from cocooned in an aircraft, our feet are in contact with reality, each step is different, our speed is our own.

As an additional bonus, we even have time to notice and appreciate any wild flowers that might find a foothold in the cracks between the bricks.

So . . . could it be time to abandon high-speed travel in favour of the civilities and courtesies of the yellow brick road?  Time, perhaps, to step aside every now and then, smile at our fellow travellers and even say, "After you . . . "?

As Dorothy discovered, you don't need modern technology to transport you over the rainbow!

As for those ruby red slippers . . . you know when you're wearing them . . . I know when I'm wearing them . . . and surely nothing else matters?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A call for cool heads

Please don't dismiss the following suggestion by thinking it bizarre . . .  give me a moment to explain.
Here's the suggestion:  might a route to world peace be found through the installation of automatically-controlled windows?

Ludicrous and unlikely as this idea may seem, let me illustrate my point.

The other day I was attending a debate.  The hall booked for the occasion was of recent construction, it was very modern in design and fitted with state-of-the-art technology.  Amongst other things, this technology included automatically-controlled windows.  When the temperature inside rose, so the windows opened.  When the temperature dropped, the windows closed accordingly.  It was a system that allowed for uniformity of temperature and, in addition, spared those inside the need to think in terms of ventilation.

But there proved to be a totally unexpected benefit, as those participating in this debate were soon to discover.

When we speak of a heated argument producing a lot of hot air, are we thinking literally?
This particular occasion proved that 'hot air' means precisely what it says.

As the debate raged, and speakers on opposing sides grew more and more heated, so the temperature inside the hall rose.  The argument was reaching a climax when one particularly impassioned speaker leaped to his feet to make a decisive thrust.
"There is absolutely no doubt . . . " he declared emphatically.
But we weren't to discover where this absence of doubt lay.  Instead, there was a totally unexpected contribution to the debate.  It came in the form of a whirring and a creaking.  The whirring and creaking grew steadily louder, culminating in the slow and dramatic opening of the windows above our heads.

Even had our attention not been diverted by this unlikely intervention, we were no longer able to hear the speaker.  After struggling for a moment, he abandoned the futile effort as his words were completely drowned by the windows'  slow, grinding mechanism.

The intervention had provided us all with time to pause, time in which to reflect and literally cool down.  It was not surprising, therefore, that shortly after the speaker resumed his speech he was once again interrupted.  The hall had cooled  . . .  it was time, the windows decided, to shut!

In the course of the debate, the windows demonstrated their slow and deliberate opening and closing procedure no less than four times.  They introduced the cathartic element of humour, something which had been markedly lacking before.  They deflated pomposity and encouraged cool and rational debate.

It's only an idea, but what if international leaders were to meet under similar conditions?
What if cool heads and rational debate could be guaranteed by automatically-controled windows, windows that would provide the regular introduction of mind-clearing, restorative fresh air?

You see, it isn't quite the bizarre idea we originally thought!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Polite Notice

Why did I have to slip as I was hurrying out of a building in the West End?  Why did I have to fall backwards, hit my head on a marble step and fracture my skull?

It could be that there were two reasons.
One  . . .  to fully appreciate the kindness and support of those I love.
Two  . . . and this is every bit as important, to realise for the first time the incredible service provided by the NHS in London.

This is my 'thank you' to the NHS.
Inadequate it may be, but it's a 'thank you' from the heart.

I need to express my gratitude because every single one of the many people who came to my aid was kind, considerate, compassionate and utterly professional.
I was in their care for twelve hours . . . I was humbled by their goodness.

 First of all, my gratitude to the three wonderful paramedics from the Fulham Depot who, after comforting and treating their sick and anxious patient, transported me with the greatest possible care to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Did you know, I didn't, that a code of behaviour for all staff greets the patient on arrival at this particular Accident and Emergency department?
The staff were there, a notice tells you reassuringly as you sit awaiting your summons, to be helpful, friendly, and to provide the best possible care".
I can testify that they live up to, and exceed, their written commitment.

First in a wheel-chair, then attached to a saline drip on a trolley, I was wheeled carefully and efficiently from cubicle to cubicle .  . . never without a reassuring comment, never without solicitude.

The fourth cubicle proved to be the one where my trolley would rest for two hours.  I had time to look around.
On the wall to the left of me was a notice.
Not just any old notice, this was very specifically a 'polite notice'.
How did I know?  Because it said as much.
"Polite Notice," it said, politely.
"Only 2 visitors per patient are allowed in this cubicle at any given time please.  Thank YOU."
How could you possibly be more courteous than that?

Lying there on the trolley, traumatised by my fall, I lost count of the number of kindly, capable doctors who came to question me . . . doctors male and female, doctors of many nationalities, some doctors unaccompanied, some with a trainee in tow.  It was very impressive.  However, as each one wanted to ask exactly the same questions, it was also a little exhausting.

The final doctor to arrive was accompanied by a trainee who was taking copious notes.  I felt personally responsible for contributing something worthwhile to his notebook.
"Your giddiness," said the doctor, "describe it for me.  Was it more like being drunk, or perhaps like being sea-sick?"
It seemed the moment for honesty.
"I'm sorry . . . "I said apologetically, "I'm afraid I've never been drunk."
There was a pause . . . then the doctor's lips twitched.
"Neither have I . . . ", he admitted.

A comprehensive series of tests culminated in a visit to the CIT Suite.  Here, after a short wait in a queue of similar, trolley-bound patients, I was greeted by kindly and efficient technicians who recorded five different views of my head.  The scans completed, I was returned to what I now looked upon propietorially as 'my cubicle'.

Many doctors had examined me, but one had taken overall charge.
'My doctor', in addition to being highly efficient, was charming and kind.  She was also graced with a sense of humour, a welcome attribute that revived my battered spirits.
Nor was this all, it was entirely thanks to her exhaustive phone calls, all undertaken in the course of a very busy day, that I finally obtained an invitation to be examined by an ENT specialist at the Charing Cross Hospital.

Had I only known this wonderful woman for six hours?
In that short time she'd become a treasured friend . . .  I felt unexpectedly saddened when it came to bidding her farewell.

After an ambulance ride to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Charing Cross Hospital,  another good, kind and knowledgeable doctor awaited me.
Here, after being given yet more exhaustive tests, I was finally told I could go home.

It was seven in the evening . . . having been fearful of spending the night in hospital, this opportunity to go home came like a gift from the gods.
But there was a proviso.  The nurse took my blood pressure . . . it meant nothing to me that it was a hundred and eighty-five, but this, I was told, was high.  There was to be no discharge until I'd brought my blood pressure down to a hundred and sixty.

Oh yes?
Despite the copious helpful notices on the wall of my cubicle, there was no advice as to how a patient could reduce her blood pressure.  Certainly not whilst lying on a trolley in a crowded and noisy Accident and Emergency Department on Bonfire Night!
I tried meditation . . . I tried shutting my ears to the noise . . . shutting my eyes to the passing trolleys and bulging curtains.
What if I couldn't get it down?
No, I told myself, I mustn't think like that.  But the thought persisted . . . what if I couldn't go home?

The nurse returned in half-an-hour . . . my blood pressure had dropped a mere five points, it was nowhere near enough.
"I need to get back to my cat . . . " I pleaded.
"Try to sleep . . . " suggested the nurse, closing the curtain behind him as he departed.

At nine-thirty my blood pressure was taken once again.
Anxiously, I studied the nurse's face.
"All right," he said, with a smile, "you can go home . . . " and he handed me my prescription.

Slowly, rather shakily, but with great thankfulness . . .  I pulled on my blood-stained coat.

But, before I close this letter, there's one more person at The Charing Cross Hospital who deserves my gratitude.  He wasn't one of the staff, but he certainly played his part in my recovery.  I'd like to send a heartfelt 'thank you' to the rotund casualty who, raising a tousled head from his pillow, gallantly gave me a jovial wink as I was manoeuvred past his cubicle in my wheel-chair.
We were all in this together, his gesture indicated, and were we down-hearted?  Most definitely not!

For a woman with blood-encrusted hair, not to mention the twelve hours of stress and anxiety etched into her face, what better tonic could have been devised to raise the spirits?

So . . . to all of you, to all of the wonderful and highly competent people whom I was so fortunate to encounter after my accident . . . may I send a heartfelt and very Polite Notice?
A Notice of Gratitude.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


My mind has seen you;  though my eyes are veiled
In doubt and search for you in vain.
My heart has found you;  though my feet have failed
To tread the secret path to your domain.
In dreams I've known you;  there, where myths arise
Revitalised to make their message new,
Your world meets mine, abandoning disguise,
And, in the stillness, surely that was you?
It's said that only those of saintly mien
Are privileged to meet you, face to face.
I can't believe the lost, the might-have-been,
May not reach out to touch your horn of grace.
For you are hope and, should hope be denied,
The promise of redemption will have died.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Rose for Remembrance

May I use this letter to say 'thank you'?  It's a heartfelt and wide-ranging 'thank you'.

Let me explain.
Earlier this week I was collecting for this year's Poppy Appeal.  I collect every year, but this year's session was memorable in a way that it's never been before.

First of all, although I know they'll never read this message,  I want to thank the throngs of people who literally queued to stuff coins and notes into my collecting tin . . . some even thanking me for being there.  When the two-hour session came to an end, the tin could barely accept any more money.

 I'm grateful to all of them . . . to those who bought poppy wrist-bands, poppies for their cars, silken and metallic poppies and, to the large majority who bought the traditional poppies . . .  emblems which I carefully pinned to their jackets, whilst wondering a little anxiously just how long my insecure pinning would hold!

As I stood there, sticking pins through the petals, I was reminded all too keenly of grief . . . and suffering . . . and of amazing resilience.

I was reminded of what the poppies symbolise and how, each year on Remembrance Sunday, a dense cloud of poppy petals descends slowly from the ceiling of the Albert Hall . . . one petal for each of the fallen.

There is a poignancy and a passion to the Poppy Appeal.

I was also conscious of the fact that the word 'remembrance' can in itself seem restrictive.  It's a word that appears to limit these events to the past.
But warfare is still with us.
During my two hours of poppy-selling, how many people lost their lives fighting for a belief, a government or a despotic leader?

Half-way through the session a surprising incident took place.
Making his way along the busy pavement came a stranger.  In his out-stretched hand he carried a long-stemmed, white rose.
Walking up to my stand, he smiled . . . solemnly handed me the rose . . . then turned away and was once again swallowed up into the crowd.

I couldn't believe it . . . it was such an unexpected gift . . . such a beautiful rose.
With care, I propped it against a box of poppies.

Now, several days later, sharing this story with you has caused me to pause and think.

Are we, perhaps, finally emerging from the long-held belief that bloodshed can solve discord and bring unity?

Are we awakening to the liberating knowledge that peace . . . a brilliant white peace, harmonising and uniting all shades of discord . . . can only come when we search for common ground?

Horticulturists use dried blood as a fertiliser.  Dare we hope that we might now see white roses of peace rising out of the bloodied battle-fields of the past?

The rose came home with me . . . as did my poppy.

Who knows what the future holds, but perhaps we should start to plan . . . to plan that, however uncertain the future, we'll grow white roses rather than blood-stained poppies.
When we pause to remember the fallen on November 11th, surely that's the vital question that humanity needs to ask . . . the question we all need to answer?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A post-card from Chloe

Hello, it's Chloe here!

My Mum is letting me send you this post-holiday post-card.  Between you and me, I think she's got a bit of a conscience.

It's true that my Mum means well, but she does make some very unfair decisions.  Were she writing this post-card I know you'd get a very different explanation for our woefully curtailed holiday.

But I'm an honest cat and, paw on heart, this is the true story.
Tell me what you think.

When a hard-working cat goes on holiday, when she behaves perfectly at the hotel and everyone says how good she is, when her beauty is the subject of general admiration . . . why should her Mum whisk her off home again after only three days?
Wouldn't you agree that it's just not fair.

Let me illustrate what I mean.
See how good I am in the hotel lounge . . . no unseemly scratching . . . no miaowing . . . not a sign of bad behaviour.

And don't I blend in well with the furniture . . . ?

Then there's my exemplary behaviour in the hotel garden . . . I'm  alert . . . interested . . . thoroughly well-haved.

Surely no cat could do better . . . ?

And, as I would advise any potential climbers, it takes more than three days to become adept at climbing box trees on Box Hill.

 You go up with zest . . .

 . . .  but you come down with extreme caution . . . there are rabbits on Box Hill and no self-respecting cat would want to make a fool of herself.

As far as food is concerned, three days is nowhere near long enough to teach the helpful waiter how I like my chicken cooked.

Nor is it long enough to explain to the kindly chambermaid that my Mum drapes rugs over the bedroom chairs because I like rugs, not because I might scratch the chairs.

In planning a holiday that lasted for only three days, did my Mum appreciate all these vital facts?

Then, to compound her thoughtlessness, look what happens next.
When, despite my vocal protestations, we finally arrived back home, wouldn't you have thought that she'd have spent some time consoling me,  and apologising for what I'd been forced to abandon?

Not on your life!  There she was, back on her computer . . . out shopping . . . talking on the phone . . . her distressed cat's sense of deprivation and shock completely ignored.

So, please, after you've read this post-card, will you speak out on my behalf?
Will you tell my Mum that three days is far too short for a holiday?

As you can see, there's only one thing left for me to do . . . to close my eyes and dream of Box Hill.
But it isn't the same . . .  you can't smell the rabbits in a dream!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Seventh Sense?

Do you read 'The Independent'?
The reason I ask is because it recently published a fascinating article by James Geary entitled:
'The wit of the wise beats any number of sermons'.

The article fully lived up to its title.  It was both witty and wise . . . and it got me thinking.

If you've a moment to spare, may I share my thoughts with you?

Did you know, for instance, that the word 'wit' comes from 'witan', the Old English word for wisdom and understanding?

Contrary to what some people might tell us, wit is not the resource of the shallow and the superficial, wit is a tool of the wise.

Thinking about this . . . reflecting on the potency of wit to make wisdom memorable, not to mention its power to sugar the unpalatable . . .  I realised that there's a broader picture to consider.

Wit doesn't stand on its own.  Like everything else in creation, it stems from a source and it gives rise to consequences.

What is the source of wit?  Undoubtedly, a sense of humour.
And the outcome?  The pictures on this page need no words of mine to convey the highly infectious outcome.
Come on, now, admit it . . . when you look at these pictures don't you have to smile?

But can we call humour a 'sense', in the way that sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell are senses?
I think we can.  If intuition is entitled to be known as the Sixth Sense, then surely the sense of humour can rightly lay claim to be the Seventh Sense?

Let's look at the essential qualities of humour.
It both lubricates the mind and nourishes the heart.  It is, at one and the same time, totally unnecessary and absolutely essential.

Humour is divine inspiration at its finest and least predictable, whilst laughter - that extraordinary sound that rises from the stomach and can bring tears to the eyes - has rightly been called 'the divine disinfectant'.

And this is where we can move from hypothesis to fact.  Laughter is not only a disinfectant, scientists agree that it boasts strong healing properties.  Did you know that laughter has the capacity to release healing endorphins into the system, endorphins that ease stress and promote well-being?

More than that, we can, if we wish, fool our bodies into releasing these endorphins.
You don't feel like laughing?
No matter, just raise the corners of your mouth into a forced smile and that will immediately trigger the dormant endorphins into beneficial action.

Can you imagine what a dark and arid desert we'd occupy were it not for the blessing of The Seventh Sense?
No, neither can I.

 Humour is surely creation at its finest . . .  a touch of divine subtlety that transforms  and redeems a weary, fractious world.

Given the wisdom of wit,  Genesis might well have written:  ' . . . God chuckled on the seventh day.'

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


If I ask whether you can remember any past lives, will you immediately stop reading?
Please don't, because I've something incredible to share.

Put any doubts you may harbour to one side . . . sit back and watch as a four-year-old's past memories stream effortlessly through his fingers.
You are going to be as amazed as I was . . . just click here.

And the moral of the story . . . ?  Keep practising . .  . !
Your efforts may not be rewarded in this lifetime, but just think of the pleasure you'll be giving to future generations!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breaking News!

This thought has probably occurred to you, but it struck me the other day that there's one particular caption which, if it comes up on a news website, is guaranteed to capture universal attention.
The caption?
'Breaking News!'

The news item in question may relate to something very trivial . . . it may only apply to a small number of people . . . but it's 'new' news.  That fact alone entitles it to leapfrog every other item of news that has previously held prominence.
What could possibly be more important than the fact that it's new?  In fact, the very definition of the word 'news' would seem to indicate that an item is no longer valid once its age is in question . . .  logically, there can be no such thing as old news.

What does this make us, I wonder?  Are we so shallow that our interest can only be held by a new excitement?  Come to that, the phrase isn't just 'news', it's 'breaking news' . . . a qualification that implies some kind of eruption or damage.
Why this urge to break?  Wouldn't it be much wiser to mend and strengthen the old and familiar, rather than succumb to this constant desire to break open the new?

Those last three paragraphs are the start of a letter I was about to write to you exploring this theme.  I intended to wax lyrical on the virtues of sustainability, conservation and established values.  Then, quite unexpectedly, I came across a quotation.

What it said has caused me to think again . . . and I rather suspect that your letter is going to be very different from the one I'd planned!

May I share the quotation with you  .  .

"Life," it says, "does not accommodate you:  it shatters you.  
Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be  no fruition."

I have to admit it, the universe of which we are a part is not a place of make-do-and-mend.  Creation started with a Big Bang and, ever since, the nature of life has been to continue exploding.
From the moment the waters break in the womb, precipitating the baby's arrival, life is a series of breakthroughs.
Look at the effort demanded of a baby chick to break its way out of its shell . . . or the energy needed from an oak sapling if it's to successfully burst through the husk of the acorn . . . or the power required of the fragile butterfly if it's to emerge intact from the restrictive cocoon.

To evolve from one stage of development to another is not, it would seem, a question of slow and steady progress followed by a gentle emergence.  It's a story of 'breaking news'.

'The seed', we are told, needs to 'destroy its container'.
Let's look at the procedure, and see how this is demonstrated in the natural world around us.  An organism's inner growth may start at a gradual pace, but don't be fooled.  In order for it to emerge in its new state, in order for it to evolve, there's a need in the final stages for destruction and disintegration.  Components once essential, but now no longer necessary, have to go.  This is brought about by violent and explosive activity which, understandably, produces a period of considerable stress.  The pre-birth period is not an easy time, nor is a final breakthrough guaranteed.

Do you see what I'm trying to say?
If our world is undergoing a time of stress, a time of tension and confusion, could it be that we are pushing at the restrictions of our container?  Are we about to emerge as something finer, more highly evolved .  . . more sensitive to the nature of our planet?

Who knows?
Look out for 'breaking news' . . . and, in the meantime, keep pushing!