Samhain/Halloween Musings & Reflections

2-1October 31st. Samhain. Hallowe’en. Yesterday was Diwali, and for those of us in the UK, our ‘Black moon’ of 2016. Autumn is well and truly here and winter is fast approaching. Lots of celebrations going on whatever your faith, and yet this year, more so than normal, I’m finding I’m not feeling much like celebrating.

Instead, I find myself waking up this morning looking out of the window at golds, oranges, browns and yellows on a particularly misty, but pretty day with questions, questions, questions running through my head. I’ve come to recognise that now as a sign of “Uh-Oh, things they are a changing again”, and you’d think by now I’d have gotten used to it, but no, it still has that butterfly effect on my innards as mild anxiety and self doubt arises. If I’m brutally honest with myself, the truth as I see it is things are really always changing, life is a constant state of flux, but like most I still try to cling on to the familiar, the safe, in an attempt to reassure and feel some level of understanding of life, people and everything.

So what questions have I woken with rattling round my head, I hear you ask, after all, that really is the purpose of this post, to share the questions that are going to bug me today. So without further ado, (and through a very third dimensional prism)….

– I’m wondering if we could see ourselves through others perceptions of us, would we recognise ourselves? Or are our self perceptions disjointed relative to other peoples?

– Would we like what we see? Or would we feel guilt and shame?

– If we were to find our views disjointed from others, then are we self-deluded or do they just not “get us”?

– What judgements do we make about ourselves that others don’t? What do they see (good or bad) that we miss? What bits of us do we keep hidden or do they not notice?

– How much of our own self view is just a construction born out of a need to protect ourselves and how much has substance?

– Where do we fit into their lives, and where to they fit into ours?

– And how much do the answers to all this really matter?

And finally, my reader, what do you think?

I have a feeling, today is going to be a loonngg and heavy slog.

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And did the earth move for you, Darling?

archimedes.jpgAnother Un-Newsletter, this one from Oct ’03.

(BTW, I’m moving next week & starting a new job – normal(ish) service will be resumed when I’m all settled)

 

And did the Earth move for you, Darling?

“Give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum strong enough, and single-handed I can move the world.” – I vaguely remember being quoted this from Archimedes, or some other classical Greek scholar, during one dull afternoon in an ‘A’ level physics class by Mr Gill, our then physics teacher. Vaguely, because I was either wishing I was out on the games field playing rugby, or was having a fantasy about whichever one of the girls in my drama class I had a teenage crush on at the time. Whatever I was thinking about, my attention certainly wasn’t focussed on physics, and given that at the time I spent a disproportionate amount of time pre-occupied with one of those two subjects, I’d hazard a guess now it was either one or the other.

But fulcrums and levers did recently pop back into my head though, while fitting a new cistern to my downstairs toilet – (I still have that little-boy fascination with all things with moving parts and was fiddling with the flushing mechanism).

And it got me thinking….

While I have no wish to go up against almost 2,500 years of the collected knowledge of mechanics, physics and engineering, from Archimedes, Brunel, through to Einstein and Hawkins (and particularly Mr Gill – I got in enough trouble with him after arguing about tea-cups, lasers and the law of entropy – buts that’s a whole other story). It also occurred to me that it is more than possible to change the world individually. There is a much simpler way of doing it.

To change the world – turn your focus inwards, change your inner world by put your own attention to your own thinking, values and motivation and with the right intent, and your outer world has a habit of fitting in around you. It’s that simple. I’ve experienced it myself and observed it in others. Ok, I accept that by doing that, your unlikely to ever tilt the world off its axis, but then who would want to anyway? It would only cause cataclysmic tidal waves and Armageddon-like chaos anyway.

But in changing yourself and focussing your attention on what really does matter to you, then real, lasting change, is very achievable, and you don’t need a lever, fulcrum or funding from NASA large enough to bankrupt the entire global economy either. And what’s more you’ll notice it has a domino-like effect, and has lasting impact on those around you too. Try it sometime, you might be surprised at the results. It’s not about just thinking something different, although that can help, but manifest those thoughts into actions, something tangible and do and be different.

The original quote, does conjure up some amusing images in my head of a skinny, elderly man, wearing a toga, with a long grey beard and bad teeth, in deep space, nonchalantly pulling on a lever, while we all are thrown around down here though. But maybe that’s just a visual of God, and not a Greek philosopher after all.

There is, of course a third method of making the earth move for you – pass my cigarettes, I feel the need for a post-coital smoke coming on.

Hollywood or Bust

Holl.jpgAnother Un-Newsletter, this time from January 2005.

Hollywood or Bust

One of my real passions in life is movies. For me there is something really magical about being transported away for an hour and a half and to have a story unfold before my eyes. One of my other passions, probably for no more than nine months when I was about eleven or twelve was fantasy role playing (Dungeons and Dragons!). Yes, I confess to being one of the weird kids for a brief time, who sat on the floor near the lockers, rolling unusual shaped dice and talking in a strange coded language about hit points or swords of slaying (+2 vs the undead). I’m sure all schools in the ’80s had a group of boys like that, it was endemic, and I was one of them. At least until a tentative and shy interest in girls started to stir in me. I very quickly learnt that trying to talk about that sort of thing with them is a sure way to get a very condescending look, closely followed by huddled whispers with their friends and conspiratorial sniggering as they walked off to the chemistry labs, the odd disembodied phrase like ‘Simon le Bon’, ‘Spandau Ballet’ or ‘A-Ha!’ filtering back down the corridor.

While I’ve all but lost that pubescent obsessive interest in convoluted and over-complicated statistics, a small part of me is still that nerdy kid who loves movies like the recent re-telling of the Lord of the Rings saga. Consequently, for Christmas I was given a book by Sean Astin, who played one of the Hobbits (Sam). It was about his experiences and memories of firstly making the movies and secondly the after effect and euphoria that impacted his life at the box office success.

And it made interesting reading. Firstly, by the sheer scale of the task that they’d all under taken and secondly the level of commitment, dedication and professionalism of everyone involved. Then, they finished filming, left New Zealand and got back to Hollywood, and the tone of the book changed. He began describing the superficial and phoney rounds of publicity and Oscar nomination lobbying. I started to feel my toes curling at the artificiality and ‘loviness’ of it all and thoughts like ‘God, its not the real world’ and disembodied words like ‘shallow’ and ‘content-free’ came to mind. But I stopped myself, reminding myself that actually, yes, it is the real world, just very remote from the one I, and most of us live in. This led to other thoughts along the lines of just how remote to us is it really? And caught myself realising actually not as remote as we’d like to pretend it is. It made me feel a little uneasy. At times, while we don’t like to admit it, we can be just as superficial, phoney and shallow as any Hollywood star. The times when we justify things to ourselves, clinging to the stories we make up about why things are the way they are, rather than the way we think they should be. Keep an eye out for yourself when you do it….

It’s really in our Genes

download (1)Another couple of Un-Newsletter’s, this time from February & March ’05.

It Really is in our Gene’s

Have you noticed a phenomenon with internet searches in that whatever you are looking for, you always find something else as well, which isn’t quite what you were originally after, but somehow infinitely more interesting? I’m sure there must be some mathematical inverted correlation around the likelihood of finding what you searched for and what you actually click on. Either that, or the internet simply allows us to indulge in that all too common human pass time of procrastination to levels never experienced by our forebears.

It was after having one of these search experiences that I stumbled across something about the Physicist, Dr Erwin Schrödinger (the cat-in-a-box man). Apparently, a while before the discovery of DNA, he was addressing a group of Biologists and theorised that, the building blocks of life would need to have both some sort of blueprint which defined how a body should be structured, and also have the means from which to build it. In other words – something that is both the foreman and the builder in the factory of our bodies. It seems he was right – when DNA was discovered and later decoded, that’s exactly what they found.

It dawned on me that it really is embedded in our make-up to not only be the architects and designers of our lives, but the constructors of them as well. Our inclination to look to teachers, managers, parents, partners, politicians, priests or Uncle Tom Cobbly and all to give us guidance and direction is just us copping out and allowing others to run our lives for us. An easier way to live perhaps, but it’s going against the grain. The reality is that we are built to be the pilots of our own lives, not have them steered for us.

So, where in your life do you let your “DNA” choose your path? Who do you allow to “genetically engineer” you? Where do you take control, creating your own structures? And where do you allow others to dictate how your life should look?

Hmmmn, I wonder if he was around now, Schrödinger would be able to resolve the internet search engine thing too…


It’s Still in our Gene’s

Last months Un-Newsletter generated probably the most feedback I’ve received to date; in terms of both quantity and diversity. So following on from last month I want to expand a little more.

One reply in particular from a personal acquaintance (who was playing devils advocate with me), implied I was inciting social anarchy with the things I’d written and conclusions I’d alluded to.

The implication was basically, that if we all go off and do what we want, how we want and when we want, then how do we live together? In a society we need structures which has leaders and followers, and a hierarchy with a set of rules to follow. Without this we’d quickly regress into a state of chaos where ‘might is right’ and every man (and woman and child) was out for themselves.

I can certainly see from my friends’ perspective, that this may appear to be the case, but continuing the theme from last month, there already is a set of rules that healthy genes follow. Within the natural order of life, our cells, and consequently genes and DNA are programmed to reproduce life – that is their purpose, not to destroy it. There are times, I accept, when those cells can ‘go bad’ and become destructive (cancerous ones for example). But when healthy and working properly, their purpose is built in to sustain and maintain life. What’s more, within that system, there are specialist cells which help us digest, protect us from invaders, or take oxygen into our blood stream for example – what is in fact a hierarchy of diverse and specialist cells, all working together for the good of our body.

The selfish ‘might is right’ mentality, from my point of view at least, is one of the destructive patterns as it simply isn’t sustainable.

But it leads me to ask myself, and also put the question to you, what choices and actions do you make in your life that are sustaining, and give life? And which ones do you make that are self destructive and ‘cancerous’?

 

A Cobweb of Choices

imagesAnother Un-Newsletter. This one from October 2004

A Cobweb of Choices.

Earlier this week, I stepped outside my front door first thing to put out my wheelie bin and it really hit home that Autumn is now upon us. It was chilly and the morning dew was glistening in a cobweb on the tree in my front garden. It reminded me of a dreamcatcher, with a tiny sparkling jewel at each junction, catching the morning sunlight.

I crouched and watched it and its little resident for a while as it deftly made his way across its’ home to remove some debris that had stuck to it in the night, like a house proud housewife from the ’50’s. I briefly grinned to myself imagining it with a tiny dustpan and brush, busily sweeping away and tutting under its breath at the mess. But its’ progress across its web wasn’t in a straight line, it took roundabout route, pausing from time to time to stop before it again headed to its destination.

It occurred to me that our journeys’ through our lives are more akin to that spider in its web than perhaps conventional wisdom of life being a linear series of events one after the next, toppling like a line of well positioned dominoes, would have us believe.

But imagine for a moment your life existing as an infinitely large cobweb with you at its centre, each step you make is a choice, and each choice brings you to a new “jewel” and another set of directions to head in. Even choosing not to choose a strand and pause for a while, is in itself a choice, in fact the only choice that we don’t get to make in our life is that choice isn’t optional.

Given that the only choice we don’t get to make is that we have to make choices, and each choice in itself creates a further set of strands of choice – How do you make your choices in your life? Are you even aware of all the options you may have at each junction? Do you choose consciously? Do you take the most direct route to your destiny? Or do you choose to perhaps collect a few extra “jewels” along the way? Are you fully aware of the possibilities you step away from when you step towards each new set of choices?

As the world turns slowly magnolia…

downloadAnother Un-Newsletter:

As the world slowly turns magnolia…

Isn’t it strange just how deeply satisfying hitting something with a big hammer and watching it fall to bits can sometimes be?

Today, I found myself up a ladder, around the back of my house busily chipping away with a big hammer and cold chisel at my old bathroom window frame as I was fitting a new one. I briefly wondered to myself if Michelangelo felt this good when he was chiselling away at the block of marble that was later to become David. Having said that, any attempt I were to make at sculpture would almost certainly look more like something Picasso might sculpt rather than Michelangelo.

I’m in the process of re-decorating my house, ready to put it on the market,  so I’ve slowly been de-personalising my house as prescribed by all the interior-design-cum-property-value-guru’s its in vogue to have on TV at the moment in an attempt to make it as appealing to as wide a market as possible, in the full knowledge that anyone who should purchase it will immediately re-decorate in their taste anyway.

In a way though the destructive smashing of things, is all part of the creative (or re-creative) process – taking something to bits only to reconstruct it, or something else, hopefully “better” in its place.

But as I slowly eradicate all the “me” in my house I see it becoming a bit more bland and a bit more mundane brush stroke by brush stroke, I realised that in some respects, in an attempt to make ourselves as appealing to as much of the world at large as possible, we often in effect brush over some of the best bits of ourselves in a nice shade of mundane magnolia, busily trying to fit into the world at large, to be accepted.

So next time you are in the office, look around at the people you work with and ask yourself, what bits of them they keep under a smooth sheen of vinyl silk and perhaps more importantly, tomorrow morning when you’re in the bathroom looking in the mirror, brushing your teeth, ask yourself what best bits of you do you keep hidden from the world at large and wonder what you, or the world would be like if you shared that with us all……..

Sept ’04

Your Place in the Multiverse

multiverseAnother Un-Newsletter from the early 2000’s.

Your place in  the Multiverse

It was about 2.30am this morning when I found myself in a taxi rank outside of Reading station, after a great evening out in London. Behind me in the queue was an undergraduate from Reading Uni, complete with “skater-boy” look and obligatory bum-fluff on his chin, probably studying either philosophy, psychology or theoretical physics and obviously more than a bit worse for wear and desperately trying to impress the young girl he was with, with his knowledge of string theory, worm-holes and sub-atomic particles. I even chuckled to myself when he brought up Schrödinger’s Cat, and in his semi-inebriated state got it all wrong – not that she noticed, or was in the slightest bit interested – could almost tell she’d got to the point where he’d pulled, as long as he he shut his mouth and didn’t bore her silly with his inane drivel, but he was probably still too young or drunk to figure that out for himself.

I eventually climbed into my taxi, got home, and after waking up, spent most of the day nursing my own hangover, giving myself plenty of time to ponder the events of the day before and much more besides and I found myself mentally wandering down an avenue extrapolating some of the things he’d said, mixed with my own idea’s, thoughts and whimsy’s of the moment.

It occurred to me though, that in many ways, we already exist in the multiverse he was describing, but perhaps not nearly as spectacular or exciting as Science Fiction may have us believe – its estimated that there are over six billion people alive on the planet at the moment. And that means over six billion different points of view, opinions, perceptions and personal prejudices out there, in effect we all exist in our own little personal version of the universe.

When I try to comprehend that sort of figure and that many diverse ideas out there I find my brain turning to mush and I give up, it leaves me feeling very humble, insignificant and in awe of life. When you couple that fact with when two or more people do get together and something clicks, “two or more worlds collide”, and you make a connection just because some of those ideas and feelings coincide, it’s a really special moment, and makes me realise just how precious and fragile life is. Especially when you consider most people spend most of their lives living in “their own little world” it makes it all the more special.

But it begs the question – What did you do today to reach out beyond your own little multiverse, connect with someone and make a difference to them today? And what will you do tomorrow?

Sept ’04