Weird days ahead so BYO weird

Don’t be absurd” I said, but then look what happened! That was a strange lesson in things getting a whole lot stranger than you thought possible. I’m alluding vaguely to politics and violence in the world sphere. The weather has been weird where we are – storms like tantrums that thrash and destroy and suddenly weep themselves out. I’m always looking for a sign in the world, it just seems to be that every single one says the same thing – weird days ahead.

Not the new normal

This isn’t a prediction about what might be the ‘new normal’ (sorry – no answers!) or how there’s some magical reset anywhere in sight to take away the weird and give us back our global sanity. Nope. The news is that being rational and reasonable is going to take more work. Each of us will have to make a choice each day on how to deal with what happens.

We won’t know what to expect. The increasing pace of random attacks, weird anti-truth-ness and agonising political hypocrisy are escalating.  All we really have in our control is the decision on how we will act. How we might embody our values person by person. How can we be kind, tolerant, assertive, truthful?

When did the truth become an enemy?

I work in marketing, I’m no stranger to influencing audiences and the ‘massaging’ of facts by our cousins in advertising, but the truth used to be a bedrock, not a moving target.

In the past six months it has seemed as though the political mainstream in the western world has been gaslighting us all so that we get used to anyone asking for ‘honesty’ on issues is considered weird. That’s not helpful. That’s not working towards equality or freedom or happiness. Actually it is verging on taking absurdity and weird right on into the realm of madness.

This is not a great topic. I don’t like that it is going on, but I feel powerless to address it in any way except through personal action. I feel like I am teetering on the edge of madness, and depression. It has put me off writing and blogging, it has weighed on me when I make plans for my future and it drains my sense of value.

Weird inspiration

So what I’m thinking here is that the normal stuff – all the skills and expectations I have from the past few decades – are not that useful anymore. I need to engage with the new weird world on a new level. Isn’t it obvious – I must bring my own weird. That’s right, one sometimes must fight fire with fire. This is not the same as ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ that way is utter chaos in this instance. No. I will allow my weird free, I will bring whatever I can to our table to protect and defend the forces of good. If you want to join the rebellion in support of honesty and goodwill, please do. Tea and biscuits supplied, BYO weird.

Travel resets the wonder button

Republic square PARISThe recent hiatus and travel provided some time to experience the broader world and consider the themes of happiness, belonging, compassion and so on from a perspective outside of my normal (narrow?) day to day. Being exposed to centuries of foreign culture for weeks at a time was thrilling and at the same time the flood of details was enormously overwhelming in person. That’s what’s nice about armchair travelling or documentaries – the focus is supplied, the details are managed, the experience is curated for you by the book editor or narrator. In person, the reality is that you’re in queues, desperate to find a loo (or to find the right change to use the loo), hungry, and/or transfixed by the fact that each street has different ornate light posts (or some other mindboggling thing that everyone else is able to walk past but you want to scream to the world “LOOK AT THIS!”).

It is of course an evolutionary survival mechanism that all animals have developed a way of filtering information to only that which is most likely of value to them. Humans have loads of biologically initiated filters. For example, we are good at depth perception and spotting movement (as for a long time we were a prey species) once we got the hang of tools we’ve worked to our strengths ever since. We create more tools that work mostly by combining our sight with our hands (every thought about the inputs and outputs of a computer?) rather than, say, through sound and other frequencies of vibration. Because we build all the things we use, we tend to reinforce our own preferences and strengths, we also send ourselves the message that we’re increasingly successful by this filtering. So to travel to somewhere completely different, where comparatively few things were familiar, was to bypass the existing filters and be opened up all over again to confusion, curiosity and wonder.

Wonder is exhausting.

Great, but exhausting. Confusing too, and when you come home you go through it all over again with things that you used to comfortable with and now you’re not that sure about. That’s also amazing (and exhausting). Before you know it the day-to-day of going to work intrudes and you find yourself back in the harness of being a wage slave, but this is the gift of travel. It is possible (necessary) to remember that we have a choice about the way we see and experience the world. It is not just fun to go somewhere else, it helps train our brain in remember that our filters aren’t truths. For us to find ways to solve the problems we’ve created in our worlds, the most useful thing to do is to think differently about it.

You would probably like to punch the next person who suggests to you that you “think outside of the box” about something causing trouble. I know I’d love to. It is useless. If we could, we would! So instead let’s share ways of learning to shift our perspective, and one of the critical steps to that is to realise what things actions or ‘realities’ we’re taking for granted, what we’re valuing and filtering for, then we can put those assumptions aside and invite in some wonder. A recent article talked about how cities, by their man-mad nature, reinforce some of our mental models and that this creates a (another) blind spot in how we face challenges. Especially ecological challenges.

The difference between watching a documentary about a city and being lost in the metro there is an experience of being ‘reset’, of being a beginner, a foreigner. How valuable it can be to know that you know nothing. We can be the best kind of stranger to ourselves and to others by sharing perspectives and becoming more than the sum of our filters. Let’s get wonder-ful together.

Hoarder’s regret

Hoarders regretHoarding is one of those compulsive behaviours that is hard to battle. It makes so much sense when you’re in the grip of it, and this digital age gives hoarders easy access to so much more stuff and to so many more reasons to hoard. Sorry, not reasons – justifications. Our reasons are hidden and lost so much of the time, they’re the last thing we want unearthed.
Stuff is the most obvious symptom, but it certainly isn’t the only thing. Food is also very common. Books I have previously confessed to also. Bits of string. Obviously. So handy. Photos – another thing made easier to duplicate and hoard in this digital age. Money. Like Scrooge McDuck there’s an urge to pile up coins and notes somewhere safe against a future of doubtful resources. Hmmm but what if something happens to money? Best diversify and hoard precious metals or gems too. And it is now, at this far shore, where the hoarding mind spins into another space and realm. What if those thing are no longer precious? Plush toys, pocketknives, fishing hooks, lenticular placemats of unicorns, all this and more becomes important. Potentially life saving.
I’m lucky. My hoarding is driven by this wildly irrational fear of the future. Others cling more strongly to the past, or are caught in a time-vortex around a particular event. So many flavours to it, and we all wish it were otherwise and can’t imagine any other possible way to face a day.
The future is a fascinating beast. She swirls and morphs moment by moment, drawing everything thing into an unknowable melange that defeats all but the most gifted of divinatory oracles. And so a future arrives, needs unravel and find the hoard … wanting. The hoarder misguessed, mistepped, invested heavily in screws when widgets took precedence. Oh the pitiful tragedy of a hoard unusable.
Here’s a lesson. Nothing stashed is worth anything. TV shows of antiques and rare finds that earn a fortune to the collector are a rarity worth mentioning. Reality is the regret in having to eventually pay someone to take it all away. Unless you use it, for the original purpose you purchased it for, before the mice and mould and age weary it beyond hope or you simply forget you have it. You won’t listen. No hoarder does. You’ll entomb it in plastic and seal it in tubs and catalogue and cross reference the resources. But it doesn’t help.
The future demands nothing of us than the bravery to live in right now. Everything else is a case of hoarder’s regret in the brewing.

Bliss of being

Do you feel the bliss of being? Are you in love with the play of light and the feel of the earth as you move through the days of your life? Or do you feel that you’re missing out on something and if only you knew what it was you’d never rest until you found it? “Just tell me!” I’ve heard people plead, “I want to be happy, tell me what to do, I’ll do whatever it takes.”

bliss of beingActually, we’ve been talking about this topic for a long time here, it is why the quincunx model is so important, why we spent time witnessing our behaviours around debt and provisional living. All those topics are connected. They are all part of the incandescent line of who you really are – the part of you that is always enough. It is the part of you that knows the bliss of being, the part that is always already free.

As human beings we get caught up in the human parts of our lives. Our intellect is in charge, driving us this way and that that way, lashed invisibly to our powerful and cunning egos we are so busy in the four senses of the world and their pleasures that we lose touch with being. We look down on “just being” a bit. After all, why go to all the effort of evolving this giant brain if you’re not going to use it all the time? (Exacerbated by all those ways we have of proving how clever and giant that brain really is – MENSA memberships and official measurements of IQ and the university system and so on.)

The burden of the brain

So what’s the drawback of the valuable brain? Well because your amazing, unique, wonderful giant brain will never bring you bliss. Instead it brings with it all of the side-effects of thinking; constant thinking, over-thinking, worry, anxiety, living in the past by re-living events and conversations, trying to double-guess events and reactions that haven’t and may never happen, living in a future that is not certain (when I lose weight, when I have more money, when I have time).
Let’s come at this from a different direction for a moment, and use time as an example. We’ll use ‘human time’ and ‘being time’ to illustrate the difference. Humans used their giant brains to invent clocks so we could keep appointments. That’s handy and lets us get a lot done in an organised and efficient way. Independent of clocks, there is ‘being time’.
If you’re one of the lucky people who has ever shared your life with a pet or an infant human (or indeed a wild creature) then you’ll know that they live completely in ‘being time’. If you’re very lucky indeed and you’ve connected with them deeply and at their level, you’ve probably experienced the bliss of being.
In ‘being time’ you’re able to encompass thinking, but not react to it, you’re able to exist in that brilliant, fluid stillness that we in our impoverished spoken language just call “now”.
Once we give ‘being time’ a name, your giant brain tries to take over again and it interferes with experiencing the now by thinking about what it is that you’re doing while you’re being. Notice those thoughts too and let them go. What you’re after while you’re in ‘being time’ are gaps between thoughts and, if possible, letting those gaps become longer because it is only in those gaps that your being can blossom up into bliss.

The bliss of being

There is a vast something inside you that is brightly alive.

Let’s not give it a name today that will just set your giant brain off again. This aliveness is the source of true bliss in your life and it is always with you.
For a long time I thought that buying (and stockpiling) books would make me happy (at some point in the future) by filling a hole I felt inside of me. I thought that if I knew more, I would feel full but it wasn’t a hole, it was the ‘giant brain’ and the ego keeping me distant from Being. That’s how central it is to us, we know that we need it and yearn for it constantly in the background of our busy lives, our worries, fears and cluttered rooms. We can find freedom from that hurting chasm by re-uniting with our own being, with our aliveness in our center.

It is one thing to know this, but the magic is in feeling it. Seek and ye shall find.

Release the year

Here we are in the time of year that for our culture is filled with the rituals and habits. You may be considering some resolutions to help guide your way through the routine months ahead, and you may be reflecting on the year that has passed. The push to reflect, the urge to re-invigorate are powerful, and rather than fight it or deconstruct it, go with it. Use this energy and focus to your advantage.

Wheel of FortuneAre you judging yourself on this past year’s performance. Let that go. Are you writing lists and setting goals and ‘pushing the envelope’ of what is available to you? Do you maybe have a (or more than one) spreadsheets on the go to track and align and leverage and synergise?

I empathise. I really do. It is all too easy to get swept up into the brighter, better, stronger, fitter, slimmer, smarter future the new year is promising. This confusing push is impossible to ignore as it permeates our popular culture and spins around us until we’re dizzy.

Should I be putting my attention on earning more? Should I be able to find time for yoga, as well as seeing my friends?  The finite 52 weeks of the calendar year spread out in front of us and we can’t help but hold expectations of what they might bring. What treasures we’ll unearth in them, how we will master the flow of the year and return to this position in 364 days triumphant! Sound the clarions!

It doesn’t work that way, does it?

Let us be honest here, we are among friends. Life brings things we do not expect. It rolls along and we gasp and grasp as we can at what passes by or comes within reach. We steer our way, not from the front, but from facing backwards and watching all in a small and distorted mirror. Rejoice in this knowledge and free yourself from the pressure of perfection.

Rituals, when they lose their relevance, become routine. Routine breeds habit. Habit is the solace of the domesticated. Your soul remains wild. Let your soul dance with the wheel of fortune this year. As the tempo and rhythm change, so can your steps and your attention. Howl a little at the moon when she calls to you, for in your soul is a part of the universe that is untamed, that remains wild, that sings of passion and freedom. This year we will find that part of ourselves, and love it, and let it light our way no matter where our path takes us.

So as you navigate the resolutions and the parties and the remorse and the routine, look for the hub around which your own wheel turns. Your center, your simple truth. What is important to you? Be honest here. This is your fortune, your personal treasure. What few things are essential to your life? Everything else will turn around them.

Next week we’ll talk more about finding your center, honesty and the wheel of life.

(Thank you to everyone who contributed topics and questions for 2015 – what an eclectic and intriguing mix of challenges are in there. We will find a way to talk about all of them.)

Image credit: i Gatti tarot deck

Worry knot

Back in July we first talked about provisional living  and making choices.  At that time those concepts lead into a long talk about consumption and debt.

a hand drawn celtic knot in the roundLet’s spiral back to our beginning for a pass at the topic from a different angle.
There’s another powerful way that provisional living and avoiding choices haunt us and that is through worry.

Worry is an old word originally meaning ‘to strangle’ but those edges are now softened by time and use. We modern types resonate with the sharper ‘anxiety’ (maybe we prefer the strong sounding Latin root).  Worry strangles my day when it appears because it has a ravenous appetite for eating up my confidence, contentment and ability to make a decision. Maybe you have felt that.

Have you agonised over a decision, well beyond the rational weight or need of the implications? You probably have spent time chasing down all of the possible consequences of each permutation of action and attempted to double and triple guess what it most likely and how best to juggle the outcomes and payoffs. It can go so long you lose momentum to actually make the step, or the opportunity passes you by. Worse still, you can finally come to realise your health is suffering, you’ve become worried sick.

You’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in Australia and both the U.S. and the UK (I stopped looking after that, it was too depressing). That’s a lot of people with a knot in their guts over things that are on their mind.

Some of the things that connect our worry to the earlier discussions is to do with the addiction we have to comparisonitis. We lose touch with enough and drift into judging our situation against what we perceive others to have or to be. This outward focus of our energy and attention is draining, it blocks empathy and kindness (to ourselves as well as to others) and it is guaranteed to help us lose our way.

In worry we get lost in a maze. In comparing ourselves to others, we let go of our own thread and our path and step into a wilderness of subjective judgments based on guesses and hearsay. We do not know what is really going on for anyone else. We can’t know what battles they’re facing, what burdens they carry or what pain they’re hiding. It is too easy with social media to compare your own inner turmoil with the show reel other people promote.

When worry starts to get you into a knot, be kind to yourself and bring your attention back to your own reality. That’s not as easy as it sounds, but there are techniques that are easy to learn. Interestingly enough some of them correspond to spiritual practices and we’ll explore that terrain in the new year.

In the meantime, if you’re in Australia and you would like some help with your worries, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

How can I help?
Suggestions are welcome for blog topics for 2015. Comment here or email me directly.

Image source

Your incandescent line

Three Moire of mythology measuring the thread of a life

There’s a lot of lines you need to know about in the world. Probably more than you realise.

There’s the line you shouldn’t cross in relationships or conversations, the line in the sand that defines an issue’s boundary, the lines that make the boxes we’re meant to stay within or think outside of (no one seems to be able to make up their mind on that one), lines on the road, lines to queue in and there is the dreaded end of the line.
So many lines! Lines that become bars to hold us in. Are all lines about rules, taboos and forbidden zones?

Thankfully not, there are some good news lines too, although we hear less about them. Think of dropping me a line, a line of reasoning, in the line of duty or your line of sight. Lines can sometimes be threads too, think of fishing lines and life lines from boats.

There’s one more, vitally important line that is good news for you. It is a kind of thread too. Mythologies tell us that it is a thread measured out at your birth by the Moirai.

This is your life. Right now.

There is no brighter future, you’re holding your own thread in your hands right now. Together we can share the choices we make, the twists and insights we experience. This line is all there is, it is enough, it is the only thing you truly own and one day it will reach its own end. Until that day, let’s live as if we know it is flowing through our hands.  Cherish the feel of the thread. Imagine it, maybe yours is silky, or rough rope, or high tensile cable.

This is your line and it is unique. It is your portion of life, to do with what you will, to enjoy and to share or destroy as you decide.

You probably prefer that your life’s line is rich in love, in shared experience, in fulfilment. Not a sad, drab or dark line (although we all have these threads), but a line aglow with vigour, with ardour and purpose. An incandescent line, thrumming and intense, joyful and bright.

If you’re searching for connection, throw yourself a life line, and let it be incandescent.

Image credit

Good housekeeping

A woman empties a pail of bathwater and a baby into a stream

We’re caretakers here. We get to enjoy our time and we leave everything behind when it is time to go.

Every human child from today onward that will ever be born, will be born right here on this single planet, Earth. What they will have for their lives and their children, is partly up to us, from what we build, and partly from what we consume that can never be replenished.

What should they expect from us?

Do good housekeepers use everything until it breaks? Is it really ok that we allow our leaders to exist on a three-year re-election cycle that doesn’t respond well to polling on any issue where short term extravagance needed to be weighed against long term (generational).

You get to make a choice on how much you care about what kind of an ecosphere we’re bequeathing to future generations. It is one of the core aspects of what sustainability actually means (remember that the next time you hear a public figure using the word and you’ll immediately be able to fine-tune your bullshit meter) and also one of the basic skills (delaying gratification) needed in order to mature into adulthood.

So what’s in it for you?

Great question.

Answer: Nothing.

No gold star, no pat on the head, no special tax breaks. Nothing.

This is part of our duty if we want to be citizens of this world. The world, and our species, stretch in time both behind us and ahead of us. We are part of a bigger body of life. All the future of our species (and many others who live here too) are asking of those of us alive right now, is that we keep good house. Don’t trash the place, be considerate of the neighbours, enjoy what we can while leaving plenty for others to share. Any reasonable person would consider it common sense.

Our duty exists whether or not there is a brighter future in it for us personally. We may or may not accept it or like it, but that’s how it is. We can stay as children and wait for someone else to clean up for us, or put our shoulders into the task ourselves. Take a breath or two before you react to that idea. Human life isn’t all about progress and sharing doesn’t mean going without completely.

Later on we’ll get into more of what sustainability might mean day to day, but for right now, while we’re thinking about the values and meaningful lives we yearn for, it is timely to remember that liberty is always bonded to responsibility.

Someone who had a very concrete experience of freedom was Victor Frankl. If you’ve not yet read his famous book (Man’s search for meaning) please consider doing so (it is both short and non-academic). Despite the situation it discusses, I can almost guarantee that it will make you feel more positive and think about life’s challenges with a deeper sense of personal resilience. let’s give him the last word today.

Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Image credit.

You are already home

We’ve come to the core, possibly the most important element that there is in reconnecting to your own soul, your own freedom. It is a bit counter-intuitive, because initially it will seem like it has basically nothing to do with you personally, but if you can stick with it is a big one. There’s nothing bigger in our world. Literally.

Earthrise photo taken by Bill Anders of Apollo 8 1968It is, of course, the Earth.

Our precious planet is so vast and accommodating, perfectly suited to us and so amazingly varied but even that sentence shows a human point of view. We are just one of the multitudes of creatures who belong here (and only here), we consider it ours, but we belong to it. We were born of this world, not just on it. I find this endlessly wonderful but I understand if you’re asking ‘What’s in it for me?’

Imagine you knew, deeply and without question where your loyalties always fell? Wouldn’t that make things clear? What if there was a really simple equation that could always inform your decision making at a fundamental level?

The Earth is a single, finite planet. For all the rah-rah of astronomy in the almost infinite reach of the space we’ve been able to explore through our amazing technologies we’ve found maybe a dozen that maybe might do the trick. If we could get to them, which we can’t (the best candidates are between 20 and 1200 light years away). And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty leery about signing up for a one-way ticket to even a hotel no one has reviewed, let alone a planet no one is confident can support weeds or insects.

What you can get from this is that the Earth is special. We all enjoy a nice Sci-Fi, just remember that the Fi part stands for fiction. The reality is that we are lucky lucky lucky to have this planet. More than lucky, without this planet nothing about us makes sense. We’re formed by this gravity, we’re formed of this chemical mix, and we find only a small range of temperatures and chemicals safe. So how does this help you? YOU BELONG HERE. The needs of the planet are your needs.

Pretty simple.

Anything that damages the planet is not in our interests as a species. Economy, culture, sport, fossil fuels, wildlife, tourism, smartphones, all of it, everything you can imagine is a fully-owned subsidiary of planet Earth. Look at that amazing photograph. Taken on Christmas Eve, 1968 by Bill Anders as the lunar orbit brought the NASA ship into sight of the Earth.

“For the first time in history, humankind looked at Earth and saw not a jigsaw puzzle of states and countries on an uninspiring flat map – but rather a whole planet uninterrupted by boundaries, a fragile sphere of dazzling beauty floating alone in a dangerous void. There was a home worthy of careful stewardship.”

What a lovely line there at the end, “worthy of careful stewardship”. I think that’s a much more graceful way to explain sustainability. No matter how many ways we describe the intricate interdependencies of related ecosystems, that single image sums it up so perfectly – there is nowhere else. It is all there, in that one ball. We are all in this together. Sustainability isn’t an ‘ism’ we should be into because it is cool or underground or a way to achieve carbon emissions, it is because it is the unarguable reality of a closed system. There’s nowhere to throw anything ‘away’ when you look down on the blue-green sphere.

To an individual human the Earth is so huge, so humbling. Our technology gives the impression that we’ve shrunk it, that we’ve tamed it and controlled it and put it to use for our betterment. Try walking somewhere. Try growing your own food. Try to swim to that island you can see. It is hard. We’ve created a tension between our physical and technical relationships to the Earth. They are out of synch. If you get back in touch with your personal, physical reality to the Earth, it can be so freeing. You know, deep into the core of yourself, that you are one of the stewards of the Earth. We all are, we’re born into that relationship. You know that there’s nowhere ‘away’ for (for example) nuclear waste to go – we simply bequeath that problem it to generations on from ours.

You and I, we’re part of this world. Our bodies come from the alchemy of our ancestors and the Earth. Physically and spiritually we are of this place. It is miraculous and obvious and comforting. In the words of Marshall McLuhan  “There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.”

I find that incredibly liberating because it reminds me that everything else is a form of consensus reality. I can choose if I participate or not. When you start with what is real – the planet and the gifts of air and water, when you live from those as your basis, the relative value of everything else is easier to gauge.

So take your shoes off and feel some dirt beneath your feet. Look up at the stars and the moon tonight and be glad for your beautiful blue bubble that holds you tight as you do.

Follow the wind

Back in our nod to debt grief we asked a core question “Do we have power to release ourselves?”

We yearn for release, for freedom. People have done so through time, it just feels like there’s a stronger sense of entrapment in our wealthy modern world than there really should be. We are not politically oppressed, we are fed, can vote, we each enjoy a quality of life that surpasses that of even royalty just two generations ago. Why then are our quality of life surveys so constantly negative?

This is a haunting question. How can we release ourselves?

I’ve been looking for a choice for us to consider and I was told it would come from an unusual source. I looked and listened and scribbled notes and got nowhere waiting for a teacher to give a hint. Then, while down at the waterfront watching kites, a little toddler said “Follow the wind” and she faced into the breeze and closed her eyes in total bliss. A-HA!
Woodcut of Zephyrus from Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493In that moment she gave us all a reminder of what it is to be free. She reminded us that our shackles are mostly illusions. She saw through to the core of the situation and with her sharp sword of insight she sliced the knot in two.

Well that’s how it was for me, let’s unpack it together.

Freedom is not living in some vague, future utopia that will appear one day without any effort from us. It isn’t a ‘better’ that we can just buy. It is hard to say what it really is anymore because for most people freedom has begun to sound like an advertising slogan or an empty rhetorical stick that a politician uses to make a complicated important issue into a knee-jerk response. Our hearts are gummed up with this foul misuse. At best, we visualise a long holiday, but without the boredom.

But children know what it is. They don’t need to reference a dictionary meaning. They don’t fret about their own value or what curiosity will cost them. We know that freedom is not the same as being childish, but here’s a tantalising clue to lead us back into the right direction.

Our pets know what it is. They don’t even need human language to show us joy in the now and pure experience of whatever the moment is holding. Pets might be tame, but they stay free in a way we deeply envy. You’ve probably met someone who lives through their pet’s experience of the world. We know that freedom is not the same as being wild, but here’s a delicious scent of the juicy potential we used to have.

We know what it is not. We know somehow that these wage-slave lives where people worry about a 3 percent rise in interest rates, or how will they pay for getting any kind of sick that their insurance doesn’t cover aren’t it. Spending a year planning how to use a few weeks off to have a ‘decent break’ isn’t freedom, especially when no-one else does the work while you’re away. Triple jeopardy points if you paid for that ‘break’ on credit. That doesn’t feel like freedom.  We know that it isn’t really having two aisles of soft drink options in the supermarket or having more than 67 brands of cars to select from but somehow that’s what we agreed to accept somewhere along the line and now it is set in stone.

Well, that little girl reminds us that it is not set in stone. That many of the social conditions that we accept and treat as invincible are actually as fragile as a house made out of straw. There are a number of ways that if we huff and puff we could see them fall in. Do you remember how the global economy had a hiccup a few years back over some little ‘misunderstanding’? That was a good example of how things that we’re used to being bullied around by can actually turn out to be rotten or even simply a façade. We get to make a choice about how we participate in our society. We are actually in charge of how we participate.

We are actually in charge of how we participate.

We are actually in charge.

Those companies, those governments, those councils, banks and credit card companies, they all work for us. They’ve forgotten that and most importantly so have we, Everything can be different. They are not invincible. They are not the only way or the single answer. The wind blows the whole way around the earth. The wind blows into every home, every village, it blows across our faces and it whispers ideas into our ears. Welcome the wind and welcome the hope back into your heart. We are all in this together. Take a moment now and feel this, you have something in your hands that we’ve all been told not to notice, to ignore it, to treat it as a bother. It is a tiller. Feel it now. Can you feel that vibration in it? That is the wind of change, the zephyr of self-determination and if you want, the rudder it is connected to that you control, can set you on a new course. Where will you go? Ask some new questions.

That’s what I heard when she suggested we “follow the wind” and I can’t thank her enough.

Image credit: Woodcut of Zephyrus from Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493