Dreaming the Impossible #21days ofWriting – Day 19

Today’s topic is thanks to Twitter Aficionado, pragmatist and recent Author, Krystyna Gadd – 5th piece of fiction in the series and one of the longer posts. Again, I’ve take a small liberty with the title. But I hope it works.


Seamus unlocks the bottom lock, then the top and the middle one. Same routine every day. He pushes the door open and bends to pick up the mail. Shuffling through the bills as he heads to the kitchen, there is one big blue envelope, hand written address. He smiles. His sister. He opens it with a knife and there inside is a “Happy Anniversary” card, blue with sliver letters and hearts on it.

Karate, you big bear. 3 years today – we are so proud! It’s a magic number and you bring magic. So this next year will be extra special, promise. Keep chopping. Love Batfink & the Babies”  There’s a photo of Siobhan, his niece and nephews grinning at him.  He puts the card on the counter and pins the photo on the kitchen pinboard, muttering “daft cow” affectionately.

He switches on lights, puts the coffee machine on and puts bags in the bins. He washes his hands, puts on the radio and begins the morning routine. Checks the deliveries due in today, takes cakes from the fridge and sets them out on the counter, pulls out onions, carrots, coriander for the soup. Goes about his chores.

Impossible Dreams is three years old. A medium sized, bright, café in a “nice” part of town, rescued from a failing boutique clothes shop, run by the snotty and bored ex-wife of a local businessman. The shop had been part of her divorce settlement. Her resentment ran through the very fabric of the dresses and fancy tops she sold. Very soon no-one wanted to shop there. When Seamus saw the premises, he wanted to bring hope to it.

His redundancy money came in handy. Working with recommended trades folk and his own good eye for design, the café is now a bright, simple haven for anyone who dares to dream.

Open from early in the morning with the head-to-workers, then the mummies and the oldies and the freelancers, to late at night, when there are knitting circles and writing clubs, chess clubs and various meet-ups. Seamus finds he spends a LOT of time there. The idea came to him as he drifted off to sleep one night – so good it woke him up. Drawing on the last 5 years of pain, Seamus wanted a place where people could bring their dreams. One wall of the café is a great big painted oak, with hundreds of leaves hanging off it – each leaf has someone’s dream or hope written on it. When their dream comes true, they are asked to return to the café and take the dream off the wall for someone else’s to go up. They get a free coffee and are asked to tell their story on the website, or a video to Facebook or Insta.

People like Seamus’s idea.

In the first weeks, the tree looked really sad. It took ages to convince folk to put up their dreams, but now three years on, the tree and the café both flourish.

He knows Noosh and Geordie will be turning up soon, so he does what he tries to do every day and goes over to the tree to look at what it holds in peace. Seamus is a big man – 6 foot 4 and broad. These days he has a big red beard – something that in his  Corporate life would have been unimaginable – he unconsciously smooths his beard as he reads the leaves.

Some dream of being lighter, fitter, physically transformed. Some dream of love. Some wish for health, for wealth, for happiness. One man dreams of a very specific stamp for his collection. Another dreams of Olympic qualifying. There was a dream of an Ironing board for a few days. Someone dreams of being the opposite sex. A child wishes to go to Harry Potter World and be in Gryffindor. There are dreams of travel – one lady longs to return home to see her city, currently war-torn an unsafe; a man wishes to find his lost-love in New Zealand; someone is seeking to walk the West Highland Way. Another to drive Route 66. There are dreams of being famous, of being footballers or singers, dancers or actors, of winning prizes and accolades. Old Mrs McLean wished only for a cup of tea with her now-dead husband. Impossible dreams come in many guises, Seamus has learned. (He gives Mrs McLean free coffee often, figuring that particular dream really won’t be redeemable). Some wishes have been up there for the full three years – the leaves discolouring now and slightly curling. He wonders if he should re-write the dream on a new leaf, but somehow that seems wrong. He worries about what will happen if the café fails – where will these dream go?

Thankfully, a lot of dreams-come-true have happened and the Oak daily gives up a leaf or two a day as people come in to tell their stories. Somehow just putting the thing down on a leaf and pinning it to a public place seems to get customers motivated to go do what needs done. It’s quite a wonder to know.

There is one dream not on the tree. Seamus tries to convince himself that he has no dream now, that everything is fulfilled with the café – but his lonely heart has whispered each time he looks at the tree, recently: put a leaf up. It’s over five years since his husband, John, died, a crazy tumour that took him mercifully fast. Seamus died too that day and has slowly been reborn. He had never really talked about his private life at work, so his marriage and sexuality took some by surprise…It wasn’t that he was ashamed or anything, he was just private and focussed on his job and team.  So when it happened, his bosses were so busy processing that this man-mountain was not the Very Alpha Hetro they thought he was, they couldn’t see the extent of the pain he was in. This big capable, funny, quiet, assertive human. They had him pegged. He’d helped with the pegging. When the pegs came loose, it all went to hell.

It took six months for it all to fully hit him. When it arrived – the grief, the unstoppable sadness and the sheer terror that you could just lose anything overnight, no matter how beloved – the wheels fully came off. He thought he was coping – but grief took Seamus to darker places than he knew existed. He doesn’t remember much of that time. The sleeplessness, the anger, the fraughtness, the striving to be “fine”. He swears they made him redundant out of kindness. His sister swears they were “Feckers who don’t know how to give a shit”. Seamus prefers his story… he suspects hers is also true. His friends in the Company were sure he had a case against the business. He was too tired to fight and too glad to go. It took him months, and therapy with the tiny powerhouse Elsbeth, to get himself even daring to believe there might be a future.

He shudders. Not going back there today. And to prove he’s moving forward to picks up a leaf  from the small pile in the wooden box and writes “love” on it. He hesitates. Doesn’t pin in. Notes they are running low on leaves.

As if on cue to distract, Noosh bangs on the door, grinning and waving at him. He unsnibs the lock and she breezes past, with a “morning Seamus!” pulling off her shoulder bag and coat all at the same time, so she looks like she might get tangled. She’s already launching into a tale of What Happened With My Bloody Flatmate Last night and asking him what needs done. His meditation is over. It’s time to work. Geordie arrives a couple of minutes later and he’s straight into the kitchen, changing the radio station and starting food prep, Noosh talking at him as she wipes down the specials board. Seamus smiles to himself as he goes to check the till and the paypoint. He starts to makes the Gruesome Twosome their morning coffees. There’s a knock on the door and it’s the milk delivery. He checks it and asks Noosh to put it in the fridge. The second knock is from someone new. The bakery delivery is normally from the very efficient, rather bland Alan. This is not Alan. Seamus moves from behind the counter to open the door to a tall, brown haired man with a tousled, trendy haircut.

“Is this Impossible Dreams?” He asks
Seamus says “yes”
“I’ve heard about you.” Brown-Hair says cheerfully
“Oh?’
“The dream tree thing. I asked Alan if I could deliver today – I saw you on Facebook” He smiles excitedly, big green eyes, and open, honest face.

“Is it your anniversary?” Brown-Hair asks, nodding at Siobhan’s card on the counter.
“ The café. It’s three today”
“Ah. Magic number”
Seamus doesn’t know what to say.

“Well, I’ve got your delivery” and off he goes to the van.
As Seamus checks the order, Brown-Hair wanders over to the tree and starts to look at it.

“Wow. This thing is… incredible”
Seamus nods “Amazing, isn’t it? People put all sorts up there”
“Oh look. There’s a leaf here – on the table – someone’s not pinned it up”
Seamus colours and feels the ground sink.

Brown-Hair reads it “Love.” He says aloud. He looks at Seamus. “Can I pin it up?”
Seamus finds his mouth is dry. “Er. You should put up your own.” He says abruptly. “I don’t know whose that is”
He finds a leaf on the counter and heads toward Brown-Hair. As he hands it over, practically throwing it at Brown-hair, their fingers touch.. Seamus gets a bolt through him.
Brown-Hair looks shocked too for a split second, then composes himself “Do you have pen?”
“There.” Seamus says roughly, pointing, then turning, troubled.

Brown-Hair writes on the leaf and pins it. Seamus deliberately doesn’t look to see where he puts it on the tree, busying himself with coffee for Geordie and Noosh.

With her perfect timing, Noosh comes out with the Specials Menu. “Hello!” she says “You adding to our tree?”
Brown Hair nods and walks toward her, hand extended “Hello. I’m Dylan” he says “I’m the new baker’s boy”
Noosh giggles “Are you now? Well..” She shakes his hand, “..no offence to Alan, but you are already more fun.”
He laughs and Seamus feels his heart quicken.

“See you tomorrow then?” Seamus thinks Dylan’s saying this to him,  but can’t be sure.
He nods again, finding himself unable to speak.
Dylan goes and Seamus heats up the milk, burning himself on the steam and swearing.

Noosh is standing at the tree, having a good look.
He goes to give her the coffee and she looks at her boss, slyly.
“So Dylan has a dream.” She sing-songs
Seamus ignores her, heading to the kitchen to  give Geordie his coffee
She calls after him “He dreams of dating a café owner, Shay. It’s written right here”
Seamus stops in his tracks. Sighs. Keeps moving to give Geordie the coffee.

“Y’all right, boss-man?” Geordie asks
Seamus nods. “ I think I’ve got something to do, Geord.”
“Whassat then?”

Seamus crosses the café to the tree. He picks up the leaf from the table and pins it randomly near some leaves. Noosh, close to him, watching, sipping her coffee, approving.

“Did you do that on purpose?” She asks
“What?” Seamus responds, suspiciously
“Pin your leaf to Dylan’s?”
“Oh shit” says Seamus.

 

Reflections

My love of writing fiction continues – it feels gratifying and satisfying and I’m cautious about representing a gay man, as a heterosexual woman writing, and I trust it is ok enough.

Finding your voice – #21daysofWriting – Day 14

 

Today’s topic is brought to you by Gina Chapman, who is an all-round good egg & Twitter -type.

When I started all of this, I didn’t know what writing would fall on what date. That a post on “voice” would come on the day of a controversial European Election was definitely not part of the plan.. and yet here it is.

Over the past few weeks and particularly the past few days, the “voices” I can find and hear seem less-than-satisfied. I hear anger. Fury. Hatred. I hear people yelling at other people, sometimes on the same “side”. I hear voices of anguish – depression, loneliness, anxiety – our mental health under siege. I hear fear, loathing, despair. I hear brave voices, kind voices who are exhausted because they are shouted down by louder, less kind, more entitled ones.

I hear sensible, informed scientific voices given no credence or space. I hear the very things I thought I and everyone knew – the earth is indefatigably round – questioned and “disproved”. I hear the denial of rights, the dehumanising of each other to the point we are objects, rather than living, breathing, marvellous, daft, dumb, clumsy, striving beings.

It feels like a shit storm.

I want to switch off, curl up, knit for the winter, watch old movies with cups of tea, drink a LOT of gin, go walk in the hills… do anything to escape the madness. But it’s not going to be that way, for a while….buckle in, good people, we are in an epoch of change…Finding your own voice in all of this may require some care.

I can feel my natural hope and optimism being tested. The stoicism I try to find – the thing in me that says I can and will endure, and that to endure in a good state requires certain things of me – can be hard to locate at times.  I have to work at being kind when I can be, without being a pushover. To call out BS with what grace and humour I can muster – and stand within the reaction that comes back (no-one likes their BS being called. Including me.) without getting vengeful or hateful… it takes practice… sometimes I am vengeful and hateful – I tend not to spread that around, when it comes. There’s enough of it about. Keeping my own council is often better for everyone.

In times of such negative emotion it can feel like an act of rebellion or naivety to seek something more affirming to counter the crap. Words like cheerful or happy, joy or fulfilment, contentedness, love – these words are still seen as trite, unimportant and right now, they don’t get a lot of space. We need to find them space.

Reclaiming and living these words, actively, daily might just be the counter-cultural shower we need to wash away some of the current shit. So if I give myself permission for shameless joy and daft laughter, which starts someone else off. If I grin into the wind as I cycle & someone else grins back. If I take such pleasure in that first mouthful of raspberry brownie that I HAVE TO SHARE THE BROWNIE. If I take the bin out for my bonkers old neighbour because it’s a kind thing to do & no-one walks out of that deal worse off. If I send love to my friends who are feeling hopeless or chewed up, in a more useful, active way than “U Ok Hun?” and try to listen or nudge them to a thing that might help or away from the thing that doesn’t. If I vote in a way that represents the things I most closely believe will be better for me and the environment I occupy. If I politely push back at invitations come to Some Big Place to observe a “manel” bestowing mono-cultural wisdom on the less-well informed or say I don’t want to Chair one at some other Big Place and that statement gets traction. If I do these things and a hundred, thousand other things that make stuff better and less hateful and more harmonious…

If I actively participate in not participating in the brouhaha because I don’t do well in those spaces and my voice would weaken… if I write from my heart and put that into the world, with hope and belief that where we are at right now “this too will pass”. If I do these things…I’m not part of the problem, for now.

So maybe it’s not about finding voice, but finding when actions really do speak louder.

 

The Truth About Collaboration

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So the truth is there is a way to work collaboratively, co creatively and constructively with others.
Even with people who have vastly different approaches/ preferences.
And the truth is this way can’t be defined in a top-10-tip list.
And collaboration needs worked at hard for the results to show.
And it’s the less-easy path, because self-interest, self-protection and self-centredness is pretty easy to access.
Including and involving others, trusting, sharing? Ah, now… that’s a lot more complicated.

When I want to work collaboratively, it is this:
I need enough clarity, purpose & articulation to make sense.
Know why I’m doing what I’m doing…and ensure folk know that.
State my case.
Why I think what I think & stand within that….
But not stubbornly. Not blindly or narrowly.
I have to be able to give, to yield, to be as wrong as I am right.
To be interested in others.
I have to not be a petulant child.

This is Relational Practice as I understand it.
It is stuff the oils & fuels change in organisations.
The stuff in between the process and procedure and formal mechanisms and rules.
It’s thinking with clients.
It’s working with ambiguity & knowing that not-knowing is transitory, but necessary.
It’s loving the questions.
It’s not fearing new solutions.
It’s not single handedly designing a 24 week organisational solution to be delivered like an Amazon Parcel.
It’s building in consultation, iteration & experimentation.

It’s sharing findings for bigger, more expansive outcomes, rather than tightly holding small fiefdoms.
It’s uncovering answers together… because somehow going slower makes us faster.
It’s pulling existing knowledge into being & building on together that so it’s better and stronger.
It’s getting over yourself to the space beyond you.

It’s encouraging technology for progress and positive outcomes
It’s about quiet time in the crazy.

It’s putting heart and soul in & knowing that cannot be quantified, but seeking the data to explain how it worked & articulate it as best we can & repeat if we can anyway

It’s about power.
The power we think we have.
The power we exert.
The power we deny we have.
The power we are clueless about.
It’s about how kindly or thoughtlessly we use that power.

It’s not dismissing anyone.
It’s not elevating anyone either.
Everyone is important, therefore no-one is
Everyone is different, therefore we are all the same.
It’s about respectful opposition
And about humour in tough circumstances.

It’s about sitting in tough & tender conversations.
If we prefer the tough, it’s facing into the tender.
If we prefer tender, it’s putting yourself in the tough stuff.
It’s about stretch.

And about dignity.
Not denying your femininity / masculinity. Knowing you have both.
I have the capacity to be assertive & strong & directive & agentic.
I have the capacity to yield, to be soft & open & commune.
I can be certain.
I can be afraid
And these are right, proper at times.

And at the heart, it is about love.
Love of self.
Love of others.
Love of the possible & the unknown.
Love of the impossible & the known.
Living with what these give & what they take.

It’s about a hundred stories of hopes crushed & fights fought and getting up and cracking on anyway.
It’s human spirit in all it’s heartbreaking, excruciating beauty.
It’s human nature that tests things of beauty to breaking point.
It’s the terrible things we do to each other to make ourselves feel better & the terrible things we do to ourselves at others’ behest.
We are so clever… we are so dumb…..

And when I look at all of this…. the richness and the depth and the complexity of it all….
I think it is unsurprising that we turn from work that is relational, social, emotional – We go for simple narratives and binary decisions.
and it leads us to a post-truth world, where rational data co-exists with “alternative facts” and “he-said/ She-said” is the basic narrative – a stuck one. An adversarial one.
Here, there is such certainty, it undermines certainty itself.

So how about we sack-off certainty and seek to collaborate, co-create and work through relationships with a little maturity and grace?
Hard work as it is.
Try it. Today. See what happens.

Working in Less Obvious Ways.

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I’m over it.

To be honest, I’ve been over it for days – the news, the TV, watching the politics and the games and the claims and the counter claims. The inauthenticity of pre-prepped speechifying. Entire massive hulking gnarly issues conveniently disappeared. The egos. The stubbornness and blindness. The platitudes and clichés. The energy it takes to sense-make in the midst of all of this.

My deep need to hold to a change narrative that involves kindness, inclusiveness, tolerance, creativity and collaboration….My lived experience that true lasting change doesn’t happen without some of these things. How very sorely tested that belief feels right now – like I’m a dreamer, an altruist, a hypothetical tree hugging cloud-starer who doesn’t understand real power and politics.
Only I do…. I just don’t have the appetite to play that game. That mean, selfish, self-serving game.. which at the same time seems necessary…. And if I’m not in the game, how can I ever affect it?

It’s a puzzle.

What I’d say to my clients is: step back. Look after yourself for a while. Stop engaging with the poison around you, it will soak into your being. Go find some anti-venom. Find connection. Love. Kindness. Stuff that sustains you. Find purpose. Get folk round you who you trust and enjoy. Get stronger. Refocus. Return with renewed, different vigor. Work from there.
There is more power and courage in walking a different path, than re-treading the old ones. If you feel that stepping away is woose-ing-out, take heart..it’s only that way if you stay gone – the world needs you here. Stepping away might be just what you need… but come back. Gentler, stonger, heartfilled, joyeous, detoxed.

Physician, heal thyself.

So I’m taking my own advice for a bit. Turning off the telly. Listing to music which lifts or soothes. Seeking out those who nurture and refresh me. Walking the dog. Having silence around me. Cooking good food. Attempting to run a little faster. Putting time in on my travels to see the world through less-tainted eyes.

In a conversation recently, there was an element of: lucky you. That you can do that. In your job. You can just potter about & mull on stuff.
Nope. That’s not how this works. Running a business is rarely a part-time thing, if you want to make an actual living out of it. I’m carving that time. Intentionally. Trying to hold some regard for myself and others around me.
This is the work – my work – in all of the madness.
To look after myself and those around me.
My reach isn’t National.
I hold no power to put money in your pocket
This work could so easily be written off as unimportant….
But it’s not. It’s more vital now, to counter hate-filled, venomous, broken-ly furious narratives that take us down paths of division and separation.

I’m here and I’m part of this…. So I’m working to do the best I can… in less obvious ways, perhaps, but I believe they have power.

image courtesy of Brutallyhonest.org

After the Laundry, The Ecstacy?

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I don’t know where to begin.

this is not a “normal” fuchsia blue blog post – It feels more personal.

When you wake up and hear something that you cannot compute, mentally or physically… The UK is leaving the EU. We are choosing to leave our rather odd home for 43 years, presumably to downsize…
My first response was kind of horrified. No no no no.. what? What? I mean… What? And then I was so angry I could spit. Deep visceral fury at the TV. At authority. At those who voted to Leave –I’m muttering about idiots, biggots, using delicious swear words, harsh and blue with venom injected right into them … you name it, it came. And the worry – my business. The markets tumbling dramatically…My precious fuchsiablue. Wee and wily, not globally important, but the thing that sustains me and folk I love and cherish. Now under threat through nothing I have done…. It left me livid, speechless and confused.
And the white male voices given microphones, feeling my own prejudice and bigotry run free… knowing I’m not immune from looking at another and wishing them elsewhere…..
My faith in humanity leaking away..
My urge to run home, North, where social justice and a less bitterly phobic angry narrative seemed to run.
My need to talk to others.. to sense make.. help me. Help me sense make?
A sense of powerlessness and redundancy…. I want to take my teddy and go off in a huff.
How confusing. The day before I’d blogged about love. Where was mine? Where was my compassion? My generosity?

Then last night I went back to the After the Ecstasy, the Laundry blog post I wrote in the aftermath of the Scottish Independence Vote. The vote had gone the way I expected. I wasn’t in shock. I was working from a more calm, rational place. What I said then, I hold to now.

Today feels different. Today I’m moving away from the personal affront, getting over myself and looking at what happened in a different way.

I think the vote to leave was inevitable, in many ways. I think people who have been disaffected, who have not been heard, represented, cared for, listened to and spoken for get really tired of being in that place – or really pissed off about it. I think there are amazing MPs and local authority folk who try to get them heard. I think there has been a sneering arrogance at the highest eschelons of politics for too long. I think humbleness, humanity and the notion of being a Public Servant has been too far away from the thinking and the actions of those who are more concerned about to leaving a personal legacy.

I think the parallels with some of what happens in Corporate / big organisational life are painful.

I think it is a case study in the need for diversity and inclusion in thinking and action. I think it’s been missing for too long. I think the hate-filled bile that I occasionally heard was the existing power system setting itself up to reject that diversity and inclusion. Diversity would challenge the power status quo. The power status quo REALLY likes things as they are. Diversity needs to be labelled as “bad scary threat”. .. but the paradox is that power had to align itself to the powerless to get the job done.. and now of course, the powerless have more of a voice and …oh.. that’s a challenge to the Status quo….
Yup.. we are about to live in even more interesting times.

I’ve lived in interesting times before in my life. What I learned was a few things:
No sudden moves. When the world around you appears to tilt on its axis, inaction is often the best course of action. Go slowly. Wait and watch. Think and reflect. Do bits of stuff and see what happens, but don’t make Big Plans and Try to Make Stuff Happen. That’s not how it works. Life is a series of conversations and unfolding circumstance. The recovery after the big stuff tends not to happen fast. Go with that.

If you want to alter what’s happening “Out There”, Start Here. With yourself. First. Work on your own responses. Work to be better, kinder, less of a git and encourage others to do so too. The rage and the fury etc? know they are there pay attention to them, and work to do better. And I mean that – pay attention to the bad stuff.. don’t’ brush over it like an inconvenience – That’s part of what just happened here. It leads to long-term disaffection and disconnect.

Don’t walk away. Stay with the situation, even when it gets tough. Put folk around you that remind you of the daftness of any given situation. Have a place to rage or cry or bang the table… then get up and keep going… contribute as well as you can to change, to the world you want.. that stuff.

And look after yourself. This referendum stuff has been bruising…. If you are bruised, you need salve, rest and a lot of fresh air… go do that, rather than raging at the telly.

I don’t know how this goes. But I know I need to work with what comes.
Think I found some of my love.
Interested in where you are at. x

I Want To Know What Love Is…

Love begets love

Love begets love

There were times last week where life, circumstance, folk just seemed unfathomable to me. It started with a sense of helplessness, anger and redundancy as I processed the Orlando shootings – trying to fathom what happens? How? How does it get to the point where your anger and fear overtake you and you walk into a place where people are dancing and laughing and you kill them?

Then there was the odd spectacle of a flotilla of boats on the Thames, having some sort of braying, binary argument, declaring In or Out of Brexit – which might of bypassed me, but I was in the office & Twitter was awash (pardon the pun) with folk going: WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING? And I was struck with the divisiveness of the “debate” – the nastiness and disrespect that seemed to be in the air.

And the very next day there was the murder of MP Jo Cox, which somehow stopped me in my tracks in a way I can’t fully explain – maybe it’s because she’s my age, that I recognise some of her traits in my friends – I felt the wrench of kids left without a Mum, that it happened an hour from my door, that it was brutal and senseless – in daylight, in full view which somehow felt like an assault in itself – whatever it was, I was empty and bereft that evening… my words drying up.

In the face of his wife being shot and stabbed to death in the street, Brendon Cox put out a statement about Love. That his children would be bathed in love. That they would not succumb to hate. I have a soft and sentimental heart at times… his compassion made me cry.

Love. The antidote to poison.

But how? How do you love? How do you find that in you and sustain it in the face of so much toxicity? I’m assuming if you are a person with a faith or religion, you can turn there to find guidance and seek the means for love and compassion. But religion, it seems, is no guarantee of forgiveness, love, care for others….and anyway, I’m irreligious…how do I find the means to nurture my own compassion, my love, my kindness, the best of my humanity?
And where the hell is the place for something like Love in the work I do? Surely that’s not business? You can’t go around spouting love at folk – you’ll be rejected and ostracised, surely?

I’ve been pondering on some of this week.

Like many things, for me, it starts in the everyday. In the last week, I’ve tried to pay attention to Love. I’ve put the hours in. Where before I was noticing hate – brutality, difference, division, I’ve been working to notice love, care, that which unites. Sometimes, it’s not easy.

Turns out I don’t have a “definition” of love – it’s multi faceted for me, and shows up, often as a feeling, a sense – a softening of myself, physically and emotionally – a willingness to join someone in their experience and be joined.
Turns out I can’t love Donald Trump.
Turns out I can’t find my compassion for everyone.. or I possibly could – but that would be like love on an ultra-marathon distance, and in someways I’m still trying to love to 5k without stopping.
Turns out I want to work on that a little – stretch the distance my compassion and love can go.
Turns out I can be judgey and cross – dismissive at times of the things I can’t understand or decide I have no time for.
Turns out the news on TV doesn’t help me find my own sense of love and kindness.

It struck me at one point that folk who appear hate-filled might not know love. Like I’m not sure I know how to BE properly hate-filled. I’m not sure I know what that feels like – to hold some proper deeply-held sense that someone is disgusting or ugly or utterly without merit and they are to be despised, or damaged… I don’t think I know that, understand that, really
Like the urge to worsen the situation for someone weaker.
Like the urge to troll and bait and abuse.
Like the sense of such offence at someone’s skin tone or gender or religion or sexual preference that you actually hate them… I just don’t get it. What IS that? IS that a thing? Really? Or is that surface stuff – may I present my hatred to you – and underneath it all something else is true?

And if this gap is true for me…. then I figure there must be folk out there who don’t know how to BE properly love-filled. To not get that big auld dappy-daft feeling, the warm n fuzzies that make your week go better. To see someone you adore so much that you feel lighter, brighter, better just being in their vicinity.
The urge to give someone more and cheer them on and wish them nothing but good things
The urge to protect them and respect them and hold them in highest esteem.
The recognition of beauty.
The deep sense of wonder and delight.
Laughter that is infectious and connecting
The want to sit with someone who is experiencing hurt or fear or that overwhelming inadequacy thing that sometimes hobbles you… and not try to fix them, not assume they are broken, but show them the care, the kindness, the love that they currently cannot show themselves.
The fact that love can be tough – it shows tenacity and massive resilience in the face of death and destruction. The fact that love can be tender, daft, intimate, powerful.

Some folk may not know this love stuff? In that case, can we work on it? Develop our capacity to love? Is that how this works? Can love beget love? Can it really overcome hatred, or should we be working with the hateful to get them to access their love? Or both?

I don’t know the answers. I have so many questions. But as I write about hate, my body grows tense and taut and I feel fearful and sad and scared. And as I write about love, I can feel myself soften and smile and I gather the faces of folk I love, respect, care for, cherish, adore around me and I sense I’m a much bigger, better person as a result.

Maybe that’s our homework – to write and broadcast more about love….
I don’t know… what do you think?

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images are from Hugh McLeod from @gapingvoidArt

Optimum Tension

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“The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshipper or lover. The daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.”  – Einstein

 

Liam the Bike mechanic is talking us through the intricacies of tuning cycle gears.
He points to the tiny inhibitor screws on the gear derailleur (thing that changes gears on the back wheel of a bike….yes..I had to look up my notes) and explains that loosening or tightening these screws affects the movement of the mechanism across the gear cogs. (forgive my lack of detail, I got the gist)
He demonstrates by tightening one small screw and moving the pedals, clicking gears up and down….he points to the hesitation and resistance in the gear shift – to me, it looks taut and the chain jumps snappily from cog to cog .
Then he loosens the screw massively and the gear shift flops idly, chain rolling without precision onto cog after cog and back down.
The trick, he tells us, is to find good tension.

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