Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's up to us . . .

Did you know that it was Earth Day last week?  No, nor did I, not until some kind friends let me know . . . which made me sad.
Surely this is an occasion that we all should celebrate?

In fact, it made me conscious of a strange illusion we're suffering from at the moment . . .  the illusion that our planet is shrinking.
Or, to be more precise, the illusion that the space occupied by humans is becoming an increasingly tight fit.

As an example, you may have read of the dispute at Easter when an enthusiastic band of two thousand cyclists, 'The Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive', took to the winding Hampshire roads.

Opinions as to the rights and wrongs of the Sportive were strongly expressed . . .  there were those who claimed their right to cycle where they chose, those who feared for the safety of the ponies and wildlife, those who wanted a quiet weekend, and those who argued that the cyclists would deter the tourists.  Every supporter of every view competing with each other for space and attention.

Space . . . it's all a question of space, and our right, as we see it, to lay claim to any space available for whatever cause we happen to support.

But what if the space in question is not in short supply, but, instead,  is being hoarded away and kept out of use?

No.1 Knightsbridge is surely the most publicised block of luxury flats in London.  But at night it's dark.  The uncurtained rooms lie empty.  It's not that the lavish apartments lack owners, the majority have been sold.  But, in an overcrowded city where many are homeless, these flats have been sold as investments, not as homes.

The owners aren't standing at their windows, gazing with gratitude at their spacious view of Hyde Park.  Instead, they are far away,  doubtless gazing with satisfaction at the growing value of their property investment . . . their piece of London space.

What's the answer?
Have we the right to appropriate what we want . . .  mistaking universal space for our personal playground, or a slice of personal profit?

We seem to have forgotten that we're an integral part of a living planet, we don't own it.

Perhaps we should also remember that, as a species, we're newcomers.  Compared to the venerable age of the Earth, homo sapiens is an infant . . . a  precocious toddler who snatches at its toys and lays claim to all around it.
Isn't that a little foolish?

What's more, in this game of evolution it's Mother Earth who holds the trump card . . . she doesn't need us, we couldn't exist without her.
Along with the dinosaur and the dodo, the human species is dispensable . . . and disposable.

No, it's not a question of space . . . it's about revering this incredible Earth.  It's also about recognising our part in the web of life, and lovingly collaborating with the planet's intricate system for growth and survival.

Just look around . . . isn't it beautiful . . . isn't it extraordinary?
As for our future here . . . ?   That's up to us . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2014

No Badges

You wear your badges with such pride and I
Admire you unreservedly.  I share
Your consternation and concern.  I  care
About the principles you're standing by,
The causes you uphold so well.  So why
This caution, this reluctance to declare
Myself as one committed, and to wear
Those badges that the dedicated buy?
Am I a coward, skulking down the way
Of non-alignment, weak where you are strong?
Perhaps;  but in my heart I'd rather stay
Where questions lie unanswered.  I belong
Where I must argue with myself each day
This possibility:  I might be wrong.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Words . . .

Words . . . ?  Who needs them!

I've some beautiful and evocative photos to share with you this week, photos that speak more eloquently than any words.

So, if you agree, let's keep words to a minimum and feast on the nourishment of the pictures.

True, words have their place, but it's equally true that they can, at times, get in the way of our understanding and appreciation.

Wouldn't you agree that, at many of the most important moments in our lives, words are totally inadequate . . . and often unnecessary?

It would seem that whereas touch, sight and sound travel direct to the heart, words are routed via the analytical brain.

Words can leave us wondering . . .
"What did she really mean . . .?"
"What did he really say . . . ?"

For instance, just think of the countless  interpretations that can be put on a simple phrase, one such as . . .

"Of course I like your new hat . . . "

Surely a time when an admiring smile would be a much wiser option!

Words, as we know to our cost, can all too easily be misunderstood.

This would appear to come about in one or other of two ways.  Either as  the underlying thoughts of the speaker are picked up in the tone of the voice, or by the distorted judgement of the listener.

A compatible silence, on the other hand, can be both resonant and unifying.

As John O'Donohue puts it so tellingly:

"Let the words you speak be worthy of the silence you've broken."

So . . . may I suggest we sit back, relax, and allow our eyes to take their time exploring these pictures.

I can't offer us the birdsong, the scented air, or the touch of the burgeoning earth.

But we can absorb Spring's visual beauty . . . and share Chloe's joy as she explores the wonders on offer in the wood.

As you can see . . . there's not the slightest need for words!


A few hours after writing that final sentence I was walking along the pavement in the Spring sunshine.  A friend was making his way towards me and we stopped for a chat.
"Beautiful morning," I said.
My friend, who is slowly losing his sight and can no longer discern detail or colour, looked upwards, "Tell me," he said, "what's the colour of that blossom?"
Words were my only option.  Selecting them as carefully as I could, I did my very best to describe the beauty of the flowering cherry tree overhead.

Words . . . ?  It seems that we do need them after all!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

According to Jung

May I ask you a question?  When you looked at yourself in the bathroom mirror this morning, which eye were you looking at?

Probably you were just checking to see that your teeth were clean.  But, if you did look yourself in the eye, however briefly, did you register what it was telling you?

Listening to John Maxwell Taylor talking about his one-man play, 'Forever Jung', I was intrigued to discover that, according to Carl Jung, each of our eyes plays a very different role . . . roles that complement each other.

Should you be right-handed, then your left eye will be your 'essence eye' and your right eye will be your 'personality eye'.  Should you happen to be left-handed, then the roles will be reversed.

Nor is it that simple.  The moment we smile both eyes shine with essence and the distinction disappears.  Which would seem to be one of many reasons why smiling is so desirable!

You are not convinced?  Then humour me by standing in front of a mirror and trying this experiment.

First, if you are right-handed, place a hand over your right eye and study your left eye, your 'essence eye', in the mirror.
Don't anticipate what you might see . . . look at it quite dispassionately and notice what, if anything, it has to tell you.

Now, cover your left eye and repeat the experiment . . . again without any preconceived ideas.  Speaking for myself, I was startled to find how distinctly individual the two eyes were.

But what intrigues me is not so much the concept of each eye playing a different role, it is the thought that we are consciously offering two different persona to everyone we meet.

One of them is the presentable individual we like to offer on our CV.  The other is the essence that lies deep behind the selection process.

I wonder, do I greet people with my 'essence eye', or with my 'personality eye'?  Come to that, do I treat each person I meet in the same way?

If I find my head twisting ever so slightly, so as to present the right eye in preference to the left, does this mean that I am hiding the inner me and only putting my public profile on display?  If so, how much does that public profile differ from the essence that I am trying to keep hidden in the background?

Equally intriguing is a possibility afforded by this exercise, that of discovering just what it is that you are consciously offering me  . . . and just what it is that you are concealing!

John Maxwell Taylor made no mention as to whether Jung's theory applies to animals.
Let's put it to the test . . .  let's study Chloe.

There . . . if that isn't a strong and provocative 'personality eye' I don't know what is!