life’s guest house

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This being human is a guest house.  Every morning is a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…

Welcome and entertain them all.  Treat each guest honorably.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Rumi

Each thought, each feeling that arrives in your awareness, greet it, thank it for its wisdom, its desire to speak to you. Each is a messenger. Each a mentor.

Do not turn them away or shun them. Do not hasten to compost them. Be curious about their story. Enquire of their intent; how they seek to serve you. Each has a purpose, each a meaning. We’re usually just too busy to notice. Too dismissive of this errant thought, this unwelcome sensation in the body, this repeating voice.

They seek to help us grow.

bigger life, smaller life?

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Just seen a stretch limousine followed by a Smart car.
Amusing somehow; big and small.
But, as Harry Hill might say, “Which is better?”

Some things, it seems, we have a desire to go large on. Generally we aspire to own a bigger house or attain a larger salary. Indeed some things seem only to come in one desirable size. More leg room on a plane for example – I’ve never heard anyone seek less. Nor do you hear of people praising a smaller heart; having a big heart is a positive thing.

Some things though come with an aspiration for smaller. For little. Many aspire to a smaller waist and maybe a smaller appetite. It’s rare to hear someone say I really want an extra few inches around my middle.  I’ve never wanted a bigger spot on my chin. A smaller inbox might be desirable; more emails anyone? And, as if in counterbalance to the heart, a big ego is often deemed a negative thing. A smaller ego might be seen as preferable.

Sometimes our size preference shifts. Occasionally we downsize, go smaller. Maybe retire to a little house with less maintenance? Or a smaller job, with less pressure?

We all used to aspire to a smaller phone, now it seems we seek a larger one.

Bigger or smaller seems to apply to much stuff in our lives but not so much to our lives themselves.

Do you aspire to a bigger life, to smaller thoughts, to bigger feelings?

Why not? Why don’t we assess these things in similar size ways?

Now that could be smart.

 

learning from the man crèche

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Waiting for a train, reading a notice board on the platform. It’s a real curiosity generator.

It seems, just within a mile or two of this platform, I can join a talk on the Inter City story hosted by the local Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. Who knew such things existed, or that experts travelled to tell the story of the creation of this brand?

I can donate £5 to buy a brick to help extend the local primary school – perhaps a reflection of the slow decay of government as the inexorable demands for funding grow in all quarters and increasingly cannot be met?

I can get my bike serviced with options ranging from a ‘tune up’, through a ‘full monty’, to a ‘strip and rebuild’ – there was a time a full monty might have been all in, but now a strip costs more.

I can join a debate on Georgian Kitchens and Cookery, hosted by the Local History Society – is that a debating topic? I’m not sure I’d have much to argue?

But the notice that most intrigues me is the Man Crèche.

The term crèche might normally be equated with children and I love this notion that one exists for fully grown men. The poster asks, “Is he getting under your feet?” It goes on to suggest, “Leave him with us. We’ll look after him.” Apparently, “All he needs is his pocket money.”  There are poker nights, curry nights and, most intriguingly, a pie night which incorporates a gravy boat challenge. I’m hooked by the gravy boat challenge. Games for men. Opportunities for men to play with men. How fabulous.

Ideas that shake up norms. That challenge our thinking, question convention. These are useful. They generate new possibilities, new thinking, new learning for us.

Taking a word like crèche and juxtaposing it with another people group. Juxtapolicious!

 

the joy exposed through presence

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We’ve been for a walk this morning. Through woodland, around lakes, past meadows.

Nature is glorious.

A little red backed beetle scuttling across the path in front of us, speeding on his way at a pace seemingly unfit for stoney terrain and his diminutive proportion. A swan family with six brand new cygnets wafting gently across the water, staying close, staying safe. A robin resting on a gate post, observing our approach with head cocked, inquisitive and remarkably trusting. A heron majestically soaring above a copse, with just the odd beat of its wings, on the search for an impromptu meal. Cowslip reaching up through long grass and nettles to peek at the sun. A long since fallen tree, performing a new role in its deadened state, home to moss, fungus, a myriad of insect life. Water on a lake, gently gliding left to right, the merest ripple inspired by an unfelt breeze. A lively chiwawa, out for a stroll with its owner, racing ahead, standing proud and telling us what’s what, with a big dog syndrome beyond its stature. Little fluorescent blue dragon flies flitting in staccato jerks beside our path. An unseen fish, stealing a morsel from the watery surface, leaving an expanding story of ripples. A coot, nesting beneath a swooping bough, preening and tidying, busy and private.

Being present in our world is such a privilege.

contrary to contradiction…

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The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.

Oscar Wilde

I don’t claim to be wise, but it amuses me when I contradict myself.

For example, I sometimes catch myself behaving in a way which flies in the face of what I’ve just said. Or saying something that contradicts what I’m doing.

For example, the other day, to allow a group of people to explore learning, we folded our arms, then unfolded them, to fold them again the other way. We were exploring the process of learning and I asked them to reflect and then share their process of learning. I explained there was no judgement. I then asked them to repeat the folding but said, ‘Now fold your arms the wrong way.’ I noticed my use of ‘wrong’ and smiled inside.

We are funny aren’t we?

We are multiple. More than one. Made up of parts. Light and shade. Simple complexity. Surface depth.

for fear of repeating myself…

groundhogday

“I might have told you this before…”

I say that quite often.  Or something similar.  Usually I’m about to tell a story.  A story that makes a point, or enhances a previously made point. Or maybe it’s a story to support or refute the point you just made.

I know the story. I’ve said it before. I just can’t recall whether I told you. Or someone else. Or if it’s just a story I tell myself. One of those ‘in head practice’ stories. Or, one of those conversations where only I’m present. Me talking to me.

Usually I go ahead anyway.  Mostly people are polite.  Sometimes they say, “I know, you’ve said before.”

I’ve been on the receiving end too. Someone tells me a story. One they’ve told me before. Maybe twice before. Or five times. They tell it with gusto. Like it’s new. Sometimes the context is different. Mostly it’s not.

It’s as if we like our stories. Like a good book, we’re happy to read them several times. The story is what matters. The person we’re telling, not so much. The context and relevance, not so much. If those things mattered equally, we might remember. But no. The story comes out again. The story is what matters. It’s as if actually we’re telling ourselves. We telling and listening. The other person is incidental in this transaction.

What about our life story? Is that a story we tell ourselves? Over and over? Is that a story we share with others? Over and over?

Is that a good book?

 

trapped in a void, with a pending yogurt imperative

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Our office has access control. We carry cards which we touch against pads to open doors from corridors, stairwells and lifts. Public areas in effect. Mostly we carry these cards on lanyards around our necks.

This morning I was in early to do a ‘breakfast briefing’ – you know, describing what a sausage is. 😄 Language makes me laugh sometimes. Anyhow, I digress.

My porridge instruction was to be on one floor, my office on another. I carried some materials, a cup of tea and various facilitation aids up to the room my croissant warming was to take place in.  I left everything on a table and set off back to the office to print something.

On the stairs, a realisation dawned. My lanyard and access card were on the table. I was trapped in the stairwell. A humanless void between the areas of work. I was alone. Caught in the connecting arteries of office life.

I knocked on a door and peered helplessly through the narrow glass slit on one side. It was early though. Few people were around. My tapping went unanswered. Suddenly I heard the ping of the lift arriving two floors up. In sad desperation I bounded up the stairs hoping to meet someone I could beg to grant me escape from the void. I arrived just in time to hear the click of the door, closing, as they had already entered the human space, leaving me in the soulless vacuum. I trudged back down to my tapping door.

I smiled at my ridiculous situation and my preposterous attempts to escape the void. Why is there nobody around to save me? How will my willing breakfast briefers ever discover good yogurt to fruit compote ratios?

The lift on a floor above pinged again.  I turned and took several steps before ruling out another fruitless jaunt upstairs. Peering through my tapping door once more I finally saw my rescuer. An internal passer-by responded and freed me from my humanless void.

Nobody starved. Breakfast briefing was restored.

My moments alone though, trapped in contactless oblivion were curious. My panic, my irrational behaviour, my helplessness, my sense of isolation.