the bear, the raccoon, the duvet and the rustle

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Crisps, some hard boiled ‘sucky’ sweets for the journey. A packet of biscuits, half eaten; mini cookies actually (very nice). Some chocolate; bite size for quick application whilst driving. These were the contents I could recall were in the bag.

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

That stage between sleep and wakefulness is a curious one.

I’m in a cabin in the woods. It’s the early hours of the morning. I lie still and listen.

There’s something in the kitchen of our cabin. It sounds like it’s working its way through these contents? Delicately but confidently. An animal picking through our carrier bag with food.

I lie as still as I can. What to do? Make a noise? Scare it away? What if it’s an unscarable animal? Are there such creatures? At 4am, or whatever, there most certainly are! I do the brave, manly thing and ease the duvet closer to my chin. It’s a well known fact bears don’t like their food duvet wrapped.

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

My imagination runs riot. I could take on a squirrel, I thought. But then, what if I freak it out? I’ve been in a room with a spooked bird before and it’s frantic. What does a squirrel do when it’s scared?

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

How big is a raccoon? They have them hereabouts I think? Are they quick? I’ve never seen one up close and panicked.

I can hear my breathing and the rustle. Nothing else.

It stops.

I listen intently for the animal making it’s means of escape. But nothing. I’m hoping for a clue as to the egress point. But nothing. I listen more. But nothing.

My alarm goes off. 7:15. I awake.

Our bag is how we left it. No crumbs on the floor. No torn packets. No animal droppings.

It wasn’t a dream, but… there are leaves on the ground outside my cabin window I notice. The window between me and the kitchen.

Imagination is wonderful isn’t it? At 7:30 am it is anyhow. Less so at fourish.

here’s the scenario…

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Top deck of a London bus.

Man comes upstairs and moves to sit next to another man in front seat. Seated man looks up at new passenger who is requesting he move his bag. Seated man looks over shoulder. Behind him there are only six other passengers on the top deck. Seated man looks incredulously at new passenger. “Really?” can be heard.  New passenger, now sitting, asks already seated man, if he wants him to sit at the back?  Already seated man mutters inaudible. Newly seated man shuffles closer, settles down and opens his newspaper. Already seated man stares at cheek of newly seated man like he’s trying to burn through his face with just the power of his stare.

We’re funny sometimes aren’t we? People.

the ultimate expression?

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I watched Jesus Christ Superstar at Regents Park Open Air Theatre last night. We were lucky to be in the front row, where the lead actor sang solos right in front of us. His face maybe six feet from my face.

Pain, anger, terror all etched on a blood stained face. Every emotion every torment, every hope of his character leaking from his teary eyes. Every anguish, every struggle, every fear trembling in his voice. His sinewy body straining in desperation, twisted in unrequited love, taut with vulnerability.

It left me wondering “Are those who perform in musical theatre the most human of us all?”

short human platforms

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A number of station platforms on my journey are too short for the train.

Each evening the train manager announces which carriages will fit. Passengers in carriages unable to alight are advised to make their way through to an alternative carriage.

The infrastructure is no longer fit for purpose. Stations and platforms built many years ago, now insufficient for the train lengths demanded by busy commuters. Worse, I suspect the train operators might like to add more carriages, as traffic grows and so infrastructure becomes increasingly inadequate.

Having infrastructure unable to cope with growing needs is a problem elsewhere. You only have to own a phone to know that. Or drive around the M25.

Our world is changing fast. The military use a phrase, now prevalent in business and leadership. VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It describes the rapidly changing, unpredictable, uncertain world we live in. The inexorable expansion of stimulus, the pace of change, the ‘always on’ information flow, the societal pressures to perform, to excel, to achieve, to compete. All add to the stresses on our own human infrastructure. Sometimes it too comes up short. Unable to accommodate the sheer volume and inordinate complexity of the experiences we have, travelling on our own train of modern life.

Anxiety and mental illness is on the increase. Reported happiness increasing in some quarters but decreasing in others. Loneliness in the young growing. Society across the globe increasingly fractious, disruptive, searching for something absent.

Maybe our human infrastructure is struggling too with the modern demands of our busy world? Maybe our platforms are too short, our carriageways not wide enough, our bandwidth clogged?

Time perhaps to invest in self?

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.

the spectacle of spectating


I’m spectating today.

Many of us do this. Watch other human beings do things. Sport. Competing. These are common environments to spectate.

I’m not aware any other species does this. Just watch.

Is it to admire the abilities of others? To observe excellence?Do we aspire to their level of capability?
Maybe it’s about the experience? The thrill? The enjoyment?
Maybe it’s a throwback to learning? Learning to hunt?
Maybe it’s about the other spectators? A social thing? Being with others, enjoying the watching?
Maybe it’s tribal? We are part of a gang of like minded watchers?

What do we get from this watching? This voyeurism? And why is it only human beings who seemingly spectate?