If you think you’re living in the real world, you’re mostly mistaken.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” ― William Blake
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m fascinated by, amongst other things, the nature of reality. It’s fairly uncontroversial to say that our perception of the world is shaped by our experiences, the survival imperative, and by the capabilities and limitations of human sensory organs ( see my notes on Deviate, by Beau Lotto, and Liminal Thinking, by Dave Gray). …
and the pros and cons of magic wands
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl
“Do you believe in magic?”
A friend asked me this question earlier this year, and my immediate response was that yes, I do believe in magic, in the sense that there are events, feelings, connections and coincidences that happen that we can’t explain. …
It’s not just the wheels on the bus that go round and round. It’s life.
Seems we humans like to represent ideas as cycles, or spirals. In fact, even the things that at first appear to be cycles are really spirals — the seasons form a cycle, but winter 2021 will not be the same as winter 2020 (thank heavens, some might say…). Time moves on, so in the same way you can’t step in the same river twice, you can’t live through the same winter twice.
Here are a few cycles for your delectation, including one I made up myself. …
Regenerative reciprocity: a love story of Earth and humans
Eco-warriors sometimes get exhausted. Often, it seems that there is too much bad news, and not enough good. And even the silver clouds, such as the election of an eco-sympathetic US president, can have dark linings.
So I’d like to share a book and a documentary that I have read and seen recently that cheered me up, and might offer balm to the battle-weary green soul.
I listened to the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, reading the audiobook of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. She reads as beautifully as she writes, and you can often hear the smile in her voice as she describes her favourite wonders of nature. …
When everything is going to hell, we still get to choose whether we are for peace, or against it.
I drafted this blog post a while ago, and slated it for today. I have just re-read it, and given what is currently unfolding in the US, wondered if it felt relevant. I believe it is — and may even be more relevant than I could have dreamed.
I realise this message may not sit well with those caught up in the emotional drama of the US election — and I count myself among you. I spent most of yesterday in a simmering state of fury and frustration which I am finding it hard to pin down, but for now I would say it’s a combination of indignation that the process of democracy is being so egregiously assaulted, disgust for the individual who is the perpetrator of that assault (and assaults on so many other values that I hold dear), and concern for the future — for the safety of my American friends, for the environment, and for the rest of the world, because all of us will be affected to a greater or lesser degree, even in the best case scenario, and like Umair Haque and Van Jones, I’m not that optimistic about that scenario coming to pass. …
Practical pointers on how to find your purpose
I’ve written before about life purpose, as finding a sense of purpose has made such a massive difference to my life, helping me to discover and unleash capabilities I didn’t know I had.
But how do we find a sense of purpose? If we don’t have a clue what our purpose is, where do we start looking? Or maybe we could pick any one of half a dozen purposes — how do we figure out which one is The One?
First, I don’t think we need to stress too much about this. For most of us, and certainly for me, I don’t think there is just one single purpose for an entire lifetime. Purpose is likely to evolve, or even change completely, according to our age and circumstances. …
If transformation was easy, everybody would be doing it.
“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
Escape, by D. H…
Neuroscience and the shift in consciousness — featuring Iain McGilchrist and Jill Bolte Taylor.
“If I am right, that the story of the Western world is one of increasing left hemisphere domination, we would not expect insight to be the key note. Instead, we would expect a sort of insouciant optimism, the sleepwalker whistling a happy tune as he ambles towards the abyss.” — Iain McGilchrist
In case you’re not familiar with the footballing phrase, “a game of two halves”, it has become a cliché in British soccer commentary, and means games which have a different character in the two halves. …
Wise words for turbulent times
In this craziest of years, here is a story that I hope will be balm to some troubled souls, maybe especially on the far side of the pond, given RBG, ACB, DJT, and COVID.
There was once a farmer in ancient China who owned a horse. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours told him, “to have a horse to pull the cart for you.” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
One day he didn’t latch the gate properly and the horse ran off. “Oh no! This is terrible news!” his neighbours cried. “Such terrible misfortune!” …
How to woo the muse of inspiration
I’ve been thinking about emergence a lot recently. It’s the theme of the event that I’m curating, TEDxStroudWomen (which is now going to be virtual and livestreamed, so you can attend, no matter where in the world you are — tickets now on sale here!), and is also, I absolutely believe, going to be essential to the shift in consciousness that we need if we’re going to do anything more than dabble around the edges of our current existential crisis.
Emergence, in this sense, is a feature of a complex system, which in turn is defined as a system comprising many distinct elements that interact with each other, for example: financial markets, cities, and natural ecosystems such as forests and oceans. I am particularly interested in the subset of complex systems known as complex adaptive systems, which Wikipedia defines…