Monday, 21 November 2016
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
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.