Loo views

Loo views

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Mind forged manacles


So many people say to me that they wish they could change their lives as I have done. I was so deeply unhappy with the life, the job, the existence that I had, that I had two choices: to end my life or change it. I chose to take the risk of living a different life and ended up swapping a house for a boat, a career for freedom and support for self sufficiency.

And I am not special. We are all free to make whatever life we choose. But so many people who say they want change immediately follow that up with the reasons why they can't. "I have a dream but...' But I have a mortgage, but I have dependents, but I don't have the money, but, but, but. But these excuses not to change are merely mind forged manacles. We are all free. It is our choice whether to exercise that freedom. As far as I know we only have one life. It is our choice how we live it and how much we live it. A quote from one of my favourite films rather neatly sums it up; from the Shawshank Redemption: 'Get busy living, or get busy dying!,'

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Work as morally good?

I have been really interested in my friends and family's reaction to my returning to the work force. (Yes, the interview went really well and I have a job at Alrewas Hayes wedding venue at a much better hourly rate).  Without exception, I have been showered with pleased congratulations.

Why?

I set out last year to see if I could live on very little money and so be free from work and live life to the full instead. So far I have failed in that endeavour. So, if anything, I would expect those who know me to be commiserating with me rather than congratulating me! Except I wouldn't because of what I see as the new Puritanism in our society.

It used to be unless you were working on saving your soul by prayer and charity etc, you were cast out of polite society and headed for hell. Now it seems, if you are not working at a job, you are heading in the same direction! Work has become the new salvation. If you work hard enough, you can climb ladders to the heavens of promotion and home ownership. If you are worthy, then you will get a socially acceptable career. If less worthy, then just a job. But even cleaning mucky toilets in a marina as I did previously, was treated as having more worth than adventurous exploring, living life idly and having a laugh.

As with the old Puritanism, having a laugh and enjoying yourself is regarded with deep suspicion by our capitalist society. In the old days Christmas and all the other festivals were cancelled for the fear of people having too much fun. These days, apart from a work sanctioned couple of weeks off here and there, you are expected to keep your nose to the grindstone, day in and day out, sacrificing free time, sacrificing time with the kids and your spouse, sacrificing time to muck about.

And the reward for all this slaving for the great god Economy? You can be enslaved to a mortgage company for around half your adult life. You can buy stuff like tellys that will then fill your life with advertising to encourage you to buy even more stuff. And when you have loads of stuff, the odd foreign holiday and a house you can sort of call your own despite the fact that the mortgage company actually owns it, then you have reached this capitalist heaven.

Then what? I am not at all surprised at the number of people who either keel over or become deeply depressed or anxious when they reach retirement. They have been sold this dream of advancement but then when they are no longer of any use to the machine, they are spat out onto the scrap heap. And having lived a life with no fun, no idleness, no mucking about in it, they find it very hard to know how to pass the acres of time they now have on their hands.

So yes, I am pleased to be on the way to being financially solvent again. I am particularly pleased that the arrangement I have made means I can still go cruising for 4 months of the year and only sell myself for the other 8. But, I see no moral good in the mere fact that I am employed again. I do not see my worth as a human being connected in any way to how I keep the wolf from the door. I certainly don't see someone who has managed to claw their way to the top of the career heap as any more praiseworthy than a person of the road, living on the goodwill of strangers.

There are ways of judging the worth of a person but do we really want to set the moral bar so low as to judge them on the job they have, or don't have?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Slipping back or moving forward?


It has been pointed out to me recently that I have been conspicuous by my absence on my blog. It is mostly because I set it up as a cruising blog and being winter, I'm stuck here on my mooring at Fradley and so don't have much to say!

However something happened yesterday that is worthy of a muse. Two years ago I walked out of a job at a wedding venue because I felt I was being bullied by my boss. We did not part on good terms and although I enjoyed most of the work I did there I did not miss his management style!

Since then I have worked at a marina, taken time out to cruise and most recently set up Bonny's Buddies Dog Sitting Services. But money is tight and a little more wouldn't go amiss. Yesterday, I received a phone call from said ex boss, completely out of the blue. He said they all missed me and he wondered if enough water had passed under the bridge for me to consider returning to the fold!

My general philosophy in life is not to go back. Once I have moved on from a situation then that is it. I try to learn what I can from it but then move on. However, I am in a much better place than I was 2 years ago, emotionally, physically and financially. And I feel the power now rests more with me as I have no doubt that he needs me more than I need them. I also recognise that the circumstances in which I left makes it feel for me like unfinished business.

So I am attending a meeting with him on 20th. I am very clear in my mind under what terms I will return and most important is that I will not be available between April and August as my cruising time has to be protected! So watch this space. Whatever happens I have to admit that it's nice to be wanted!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Feeling Special


I woke today to the sound of the rain teeming down and the wind whipping up the wet leaves. Bonny still needed her walk though, so off we went through water logged paths with the rain blowing in our faces. As I slogged along I suddenly realised how special I felt.

This is not a familiar feeling to me. When I was born, I was fifth down and although I am sure I was loved, I wasn't the only one. Two more came along after me and then off I went to boarding school where feeling special or unique wasn't encouraged! Once grown up I looked for a man who would love me more than anyone else. Someone who would see me as their most special person. I never found him. So no children either for whom I would have been number one.

I became a Christian mostly I think because of the promise held out that 'God would love me as if I was the only person to love'. But at the same time I was told he loves everyone equally and that didn't, in the end, fill the hole in my being. My careers in both the police and Church, were in their different ways fulfilling, but loads of people were doing the same thing and so that search for value, for uniqueness went on.

Moving onto the water has gone a long way to meeting this need. It's not just the fact that not many people give up a land based existence to live on a boat, but my whole focus, my way of living has changed. I am no longer focused on making money in order to buy things in order to feel special and secure. I don't feel the need to fill every day with doing but can happily cope with empty spaces in my day, in my life, without panicking or feeling I haven't earned the right to breathe today. I don't rely on the state or faceless companies for my day to day needs, but generate my own power, fetch my own water, sort out my own waste and make my own way in the world.

I have come to terms with being alone and now find active pleasure and satisfaction in it, although I'm not sure I could cope nearly so well if I didn't have Bonny. And although I still love the sound of my own voice, (hence this blog and Facebook) I no longer need the applause to bolster my ego.

So, back to my walk this morning. Why did I suddenly feel special? Well, I could hear the sound of traffic on the A38 and I imagined how my day could have been, used to be, the day millions of people are facing.

Getting up in the dark, (for many getting children to school or nursery too early to be good for them,) then facing dangerous conditions on the road as everybody is trying to get to work as quickly as possible, despite the driving rain. Perhaps trying to cope with the stress of being held up in a jam whilst the clock counts down to being late. Then a day at a job that brings little satisfaction, little chance to express my creativity or uniqueness, a slave job that only brings money and nothing else and yet takes up the majority of my waking hours. Then risking life and limb to get home in the rain soaked darkness, to then do the chores I haven't had time to do in my over filled day. A bit of mind numbing telly and then to bed to do the whole thing again tomorrow.

But now my reality is to walk Bonny in beautiful, if wet, countryside and then return to the boat to stoke up the fire, make a cuppa and settle down to write this. We will have a couple of more walks and I have a few chores to do but there will be plenty of time to stare at the rain and cuddle the dog. I don't have to face the traffic, or the dark. The pay off is that I am not earning money and my savings are dwindling but whilst I can still eat, the need to feel lucky, to feel blessed, to feel special is more important to me than the security money would bring.

As I thought all of this in a split second, whilst hearing the drone of traffic, I felt very special and very lucky indeed!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The end of the world as we know it. (Or what Trump and Brexit have in common).


I have believed for some years that this age, the age of modernism, is ending and a new age is coming. I think that the times we are living in now can be compared to our teenage years, where we reject the ideas and rules of the authorities we have grown up with (parents, school, church etc) and try on new identities and new values as we search for who we are going to be as adults.

As anyone who has been a teenager knows, some of what we try on for size can be pretty out there! We believe passionately position A one day, only to swing to position B equally fervently. We try new looks that make us blush with shame in later life. We may break the law, experiment with substances or pick fights. We may fall in love with highly unsuitable role models. But who we are as teenagers is not the end result, but a vital transition into being our own people.

So it is with these times. Voting for Brexit and Trump is not, I believe, the identity we want to keep, but a necessary revolt against the old authorities. We, particularly in the western world, have largely lost faith in big institutions, whether they be big politics, religion or economics (and for good reason!). We see the stale corruption in all these authorities who we once trusted so implicitly and we are rebelling, just as teens rebel. I don't believe we want our world shaped in the values shown by Brexit or Trump but these choices are a necessary transition to whatever is coming next.

And just as when we rebel as teenagers and our parents, school etc attempt to crack down on us to make us conform, so the dying institutions are doing the same, hence the rise of fundamentalism in religion, in government and in capitalism. Power is not lost lightly and so we are living in painful times as the old order passes and the new is yet to rise.

If you believe that humanity is evolving then there is great hope in these times as, once we have passed through this adolescence, the next generation or the one after will model a better way to be a human adult in this world. If you believe we are travelling in the other direction then these times are surely a sign that the end of the world - for humanity at least - is coming. I choose to be optimistic.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Bonny!!!


We have moved again due to Bonny disgracing herself, if only for a short time. We were really enjoying the mooring at the wetland nature reserve and had had long walks. At tea time Bonny was outside the boat on, what I call, her tether. It is actually just a length of cord with a flag on the end. If she is dragging it around, she thinks she can't run off, particularly if I have told her to stay near the boat and if she is in a bush I can see where she is, thanks to the flag.

I had popped inside to get her supper but when I brought it out, she was nowhere to be seen! I grabbed her lead, shut the boat and walked to the bridge where there is an entrance to the reserve. There she was, haring down the side of the hedge, dragging her tether behind her, chasing a squirrel. I told her sternly to 'Come Here!' Her response was to turn on to a side path and run off into the undergrowth! Being that there were countless acres of undergrowth and every danger her tether could get caught up in it, effectively trapping her, my blood ran cold. Chasing her is never a good option as it just sends her crazy, so I stopped at the head of the side path and waited.

Within a couple of minutes I could hear the sound of frantic barking so I walked down the path just in time to see my little terror dragging herself out of a bog! She saw me and I could see her trying to decide whether to run to me for comfort or run away because she had been naughty. I turned and walked away from her, back towards the boat. Running through my mind were all the times this had happened in the past and the countless hours I had spent trying to get her to come home. There was only an hour or so of daylight left, if she ran now, we were in trouble. I glanced behind to see her following me, albeit in a very hesitant way. I walked slower and slower until she had almost caught up. I told her to come and she stopped and then buried her head in a bush so she couldn't see me approaching! This is her way of giving up. I quietly put her lead on and very nearly wet myself with relief! The whole incident took no more than ten minutes. In the past it would have taken several hours!

Exhausted Bonny
I couldn't stand the stress of staying another day there in case she managed to go off again, so this morning I cruised to Curdworth and turned in a pencil thin winding hole. We then wandered down to Fazeley Junction, where we watered up, before cruising back to Hopwas. There may be huge woods here but at least she is better at staying near the boat where we usually moor. I feel the need for a day off so we shall stay here tomorrow and return to Fradley on Monday.

Friday, 28 October 2016

All better

Fishers Mill Bridge
I am completely restored! We had a lovely afternoon, exploring Hopwas Woods and then another romp this morning. Bonny was allowed off the lead in the woods, with squirrels everywhere. She was hysterical with excitement but still managed to retain enough self control to come whenever I called her back.

Then, after a restorative cuppa, we cruised through the woods, past Hopwas and down to Fazeley where we turned right onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Just a few miles up is Fishers Mill Bridge, one of our favourite moorings as it is right beside a huge watery nature reserve. Having checked the fridge, I've decided to extend our mini cruise by a day so we can stay here for a day or so and return to Fradley on Monday.

It is miraculous what just a day cruising can do for my mood. All those worries that threaten to overwhelm me when I am stuck in one place, just melt away when I'm moving. All that matters is the water in front of me, my propeller keeping clear of obstructions and my ability to operate my boat safely and with consideration to others. I will have to remember how flimsy my worries are during the winter as I won't be going anywhere for at least two months when we are locked in due to stoppages.