15th May- A Mood

OK – so I’m disgruntled! Actually, it’s one of my most creative moods and one which, if I am grumpy enough, forces me to action. In this case nothing more drastic than writing- something, in fact, I long to make more time for – so praise be!

Years of built up disgruntledness seem to be coming to the fore today. I’ve been putting up with so much for what seems like so very long – for what I conceive of as passable payoffs. Sometimes these payoffs feel like ‘marvellous opportunities’. But then I’m reminded of a previous life when I felt the same,  but I was forced to give up – willy-nilly – anyway. And, in the end, thank God, or maybe thank Gaia.

I can’ t be sure – maybe I am indeed on the brink of coming into my own ….or maybe ‘my own’ is already here, quietly unrecognised. Quietly unvalued. I place too much faith in others, in ideas.

‘It’s not the despair, the despair I can handle – it’s the hope!’ (Clockwise)

So let it go.

I think my greatest trials are sometimes related to the undervalued feminine. I am more grateful to Joyce Fletcher than I can say, and also to Shaman Dawn Russell. What, really, is the feminine way of operating? Both these people know something about it and both know how to identify and value it. With many of my heroes as male,  that is food for thought. What is feminine power? What are feminine ways of working? How can we know when we are so deep in our one sided paradigm? Is it discipline? Competition? Success? Winning? Or is it something far more collaborative, woven from many strands, nameless, faceless – supportive of the collective.

What is the alternative to the warrior for a woman? The grower? The nurturer? The weaver?

And feminine rage – what is that ?

A Gradual Undressing- a poem

melty 3As she takes off her winter dress

A gradual undressing

Her pristine blankets draw back

Layer by layer

To reveal here sapphire-blue glacier,

There snippets of summer-green dress

Bedecked with yellow Alpines

And lazy, early bees.

EveningAt times dramatic

Avalanchine unrobing

A grand gesture

To shock and awe.

Then back to the slow strip-tease – just that – Hour on hour, day on day, a melting away,

Her rivers begin again to flow.

 

another

Myself a speck in folds of ermine

Skiiing where she permits

I marvel at the change in her

Permitted a side seat in the witnessing of

This glorious unrobing.

 

14th March, 2017

Murren

Our Silent Nights

When we first moved to East Challow in July 2015, it was characterised by 2 animals. With Lambourn nearby and the Uffington White Horse just down the road, the place felt imbued with the spirit of the horse.

The other animal interested me even more, with its associations with wisdom, darkness and the underworld: the owl.  It was our closest neighbour and seemed to live in the minuscule amount of scrubland next to us, hooting practically down the chimney. I heard it every night and even saw it once or twice on my summer evening walks, swooping so close over my head that I felt the wind displaced by its wings.

We live on a new development – a brownfield site I am glad to say – developed out of the old Nalder and Nalder site – a manufacturer of threshers and other agricultural equipment. It’s well developed or so we felt, having seen quite a lot of overcrowded housing developments in our search to buy. However the Wantage area is earmarked as part of the Science Vale, for extensive development. 20,000 new homes are being built and, although I have not pored over the plans, walking around the area it becomes quite clear that much of this development is on green field sites, and is going up fast. The area has changed quite extensively since we moved in and one of the casualties it would seem is our Challow owl. It’s a guess – based on observation – that the hunting grounds that were intact just 18 months ago, are less viable and the owl has had to move on. The term refugee owl came to mind last night – how do owl communities deal with immigrant owls- I wondered as I lay listening, again, last night, to the silence where once there was the neighbourhood hooting.

My husband says that owls do move around. And occasionally I do hear the hoot – far off now – but rare. I could be wrong. I joined BBOWT because they wrote to me about protecting owls, thinking I should leave this to the experts and assuage my nagging worry that way. But the fact remains – where once we had an owl as a neighbour, now we do not.

Politically this is interesting. Living as I do in a South East England which is groaning with overpopulation of humans I am deeply unsure as to whose politics really speaks for non-human life. The more kind hearted and humanitarian we are, the more we will need to whack up housing. Which side in the Brexit vote, for example, had my owl’s interests at stake?

I am becoming more convinced that very local action is what really counts and that it needs to be up to us. Excuses, excuses – I find this is hampered by having a full on full time job and a family and although I had intended to get involved in the local planning group this felt more challenging when push came to shove on a January evening after work. And then what? If I can live in a new build why would I want to stop others? What hypocrisy! There is hope though, if we apply Permaculture principles  – especially the idea that it is the contact at the boundary point – the edge – between 2 ecosystems (or people)  that is the most fertile. Maybe by simply getting stuck in and having conversations  – by shrinking my working life to make space for community life – maybe we can find ways of finding both and rather than the either or I am seeing at the moment.

In the meantime it seems the owl won’t leave me alone. It’s been many months now – and the silent nights still keep me up with their deafening absence of owl hoots. In the end, I am part of our landscape, and maybe, in the end, after all, I am that owl.

All New Edges

29th January 2017

Some things are going on hold 10 days or so. My half started blog ideas such as ‘Why Food really is Love”, for the fatties like me failing on my New Year’s diet, and my  long intended “Cosmology and Astrology” blog exploring the actions of Chiron’s cycles– these slip back. I cite these as a shopping list of ideas to come back to. The most alluring for me is an exploration of what the proper feminine alternative to Mindell and Castaneda’s don Juan’s ‘warrior’ archetype might be. The warrior is alert, stalking, patient, disciplined. I think the feminine is far more cyclical, gentle and natural to me – and yet just as effective in its own way. Life is burningly, achingly, interesting. All the things I have seen as my failings are suddenly about something else – and a thing I wish to explore – my femininity.  And, given our society’s need to balance in favour of the feminine, this feels a legitimate and valid  – even a needed – exploration. Wow – promise silently exhales, hardly daring to breathe.

But for now I am crossing edges in new ways that are both challenging and needed: I am learning about stuff that matters to other people (and you can be sure there is valuable, and maybe even surprising, learning there). Yesterday I learnt about Lightsabre fighting, Sith v Jedi. This took me to an edge I noticed. It’s not my thing at all, yet, in the end I had fun! We walked back to our friends’ house to Wassail apple trees under the evening star – resplendent Venus at the brightest  I have ever seen  her,  her red brother Mars a compact warrior up to her right. Today I am writing with music so as to not be on my own (I never do this) and on Wednesday I am flying across the Atlantic with my newly qualified Day Skipper husband to support him as crew in a 40 foot sailing yacht in the British Virgin Islands, relying on my ICC training aged 13 and 14, my husband’s knowledge and many ‘how-to’ books. It could be a bumpy ride for the next few days without solid ground much under my feet and I can’t even begin to imagine what this experience might be like.

So I am signing off here as I cross into new territory –utterly blank –  as a creature of the earth off to explore sea and air.

Gender Bias? (this is an untagged blog that doesn’t quite fit on Catching Edges…but never mind!)

I heard an article on Radio 4 as I drove back into work on 3rd January after the Christmas break – that unconscious gender bias was still alive and well in the work place with the usual baffling statistics wheeled out of the very few women at the top of the business game. It seems that although there are some super women out there, most of us simply don’t ‘fit’ the business mold, or don’t get it, or are rubbish at being noticed or climbing to the top. Could it be simply that women work in different ways – ways that are not currently noticed or valued much – by either sex? Joyce Fletcher undertook a brilliant study in 1990, whose potentially far reaching effects have in no way been exhausted yet, into what she found to be a more typically feminine style of working. She called the book ‘Disappearing Acts’ (1990, MIT Press) because this style of working was so easily disappeared by business and even by the practitioners of this style of working, which she called ‘relational’ practice (see my previous blog for Anthesis). The characteristics of this style of working tend  to be collaborative  and task focussed. These people  also ‘naturally’ empower and enable others as much as possible.  They are worth a lot to business!

I am not saying that all women are ‘relational workers’, that all men are not, or even that all business disappears this style of working.

What interests me is what we value and why.

Right now, income and status are our consensus measures of success – we all know and accept that the economy is the primary driver of  our international decisions and has a world stage importance that eclipses just about anything else – making for a self-perpetuating cycle. There is a connection between this one sidedness and the unconscious gender bias being discussed on that Radio 4 show. The stuff we don’t value is disappeared by definition – we don’t even see it – why would we? This includes alternative ways of working and alternative measures of wealth. Take a look at Marilyn Waring’s thoughts in Who’s Counting, directed by Terre Nash for the National Film Board of Canada, for a powerful deconstruction of the how the economy – and especially GDP – works. She points out all the incredible work and activity that is ‘of little or no economic value’ to a country, including volunteering, home making and raising children. We might add to that non-human life that does not serve as a resource for humans. This trajectory leads to the sort of situation we find ourselves in now.

My sense is that anything less than an entirely radical shake up – an inversion of all we currently value – is not going to be enough. I hope I am wrong. But sometimes a shock is needed. I know this will be a deeply controversial thing to say – but as long as we chase eg closing the gender gap as our ultimate goal, we are accepting a one sided valuing.

I’m far from being the first to call for a new system of measuring that takes us beyond money – we have the NEF, various business reporting methods such as integrated reporting or triple bottom line reporting,  Natural Capital Accounting, Bhutan’s happiness index (my personal fave) and local currencies such as the Bristol pound keeping money local and close to the natural resources we trade using it. So things are changing. Only their impact has not reached  most people.

One short term action we can all take, and I have started by taking myself, is to de-couple income and status from our measures of success in our personal and work lives.  This shakes things up interestingly,  liberating   us from the tyranny of one-sidedness in the way we measure ourselves and others. It allows for an entirely fresh and refreshing perspective and it can be undertaken entirely privately! It doesn’t mean we should not chase that payrise or promotion – we have not come that far yet! It  just means remembering when we get it, that it does not make us any more or less valuable or important.

And maybe this action is enough. Small, collective, task focussed action – rather than grand heriocs –  brings me back in mind to where I started!

Turtles and Sadness

Turtles are vying for attention. Baby turtles at the edge of the sea. Tiny. Crossing an edge – the shoreline – from land to sea. They feature in my Mother’s tapestry. They featured too on David’ Attenborough’s Planet Earth II last night – following the full moon to the sea. The light reflected in their tiny, ancient and yet new, eyes, glistening with age old intelligence. How do they feel when they see that Moon? Is it a surge of Adrenalin? Excitement? Love? What draws them to it. A promise of safety? Does it promise Mother’s arms? How does that ‘rightness’ feel? And how does it feel when they are distracted by other lights? When does it feel not right? Like as a child when you put your shoes on the wrong feet or your pants on backwards. It feels a bit wrong but you don’t know why. When do the turtles know their betrayal? Is it when they are gathered in the storm drain? Or exhausted after propelling themselves far longer than nature intended, past hungry crabs at the edge of the beach, across roads, away, away from the sea? When do they know they have been abandoned? That the promise was a lie? That they are lost, abandoned by the light? And how bad is that betrayal?

What can we really do to stop this?

We simply must!

 

Krishnamurti for Monday morning

“Our life is a series of demands for comfort, for security, for position, for fulfilment, for happiness, for recognition, and we also have rare moments of wanting to find out what is truth, what is God. So God or truth becomes synonymous with our satisfaction. We want to be gratified; therefore truth becomes the end of all search, of all struggle, and God becomes the ultimate resting place. We move from one pattern to another, from one cage to another, from one philosophy or society to another, hoping to find happiness, not only happiness in relationship with people, but also the happiness of a resting place where the mind will never be disturbed, where the mind will cease to be tortured by its own discontent. We may put it in different words, we may use different philosophical jargons, but that is what we all want—a place where the mind can rest, where the mind is not tortured by its own activities, where there is no sorrow. – “Krishnamurti, The Collected Works vol VIII, p 328