Archive for the ‘from the dark room’ Category
I took this photo a few weeks back and the image keeps popping back into my head.
It’s amazing for a number of reasons. First of all it looks as if the rock has been virtually split in two by a single blow. But not in the more usual way. If a rock is split in two the cut is usually narrow, as if done by a knife, but look how wide this cut is! It’s almost as if its been done by some giant axe. Secondly, I’m pretty sure this wound in the rock has been inflicted by water, and isn’t that in itself, incredible?
That water has the power to cleave a rock.
Well, we know it does. But look again. Where is the water? It is rushing, powerfully, past, right NEXT TO the rock!
So, what happened here? Did the water split this rock apart then veer aside to thunder down to the side of it? And how long did this take to happen? A moment? A year? An aeon?
Before I go, one more thing keeps me coming back to this image. It’s a kind of symmetry. There’s an echo, a shadow, a fractal, or something here. The flowing water and the wounded rock……
Life’s like this. In so many ways.
Ok, so it was a really rainy day in Glasgow, but raindrops on petals are SO beautiful
From my consulting room window yesterday
In Goethe’s Theory of Colour he says that the primal phenomenon of colour is the lightening of dark to give violet and blue and the darkening of light to give yellow and red.
What happened here?
What storm, or trauma, almost broke this tree apart? But didn’t…….
How did it manage to keep itself together and set off in a new direction?
And what happened here?
How did this particular shape develop?
OK, here’s something I did yesterday and it resulted in such a GREAT day I thought I’d share the idea and see if you, too, might like to try it.
Here’s the challenge -
Travel no more than 30 minutes from where you live to somewhere you have never been before, walk around, explore, take some photos, or make some notes, then come home and reflect on it.
You can travel any way you like – walking, cycling, driving a car, public transport. Doesn’t matter if you live in a city, a town or in the country. The key to this is to explore somewhere NEW.
Here’s my personal story from yesterday. I was born and brought up in Stirling, went off to study and work as a doctor in other places for about half my life, then came back to live in Stirling again. So I’ve lived in this town for about half my life. Yesterday we decided to take a trip and do something we’d never done before. April first turned out to be the first day of the season for the ferry boat to cross the Lake of Menteith to Inchmahome Island and that was somewhere we’d never been. The Lake of Menteith is a 3o minute car drive from my house so off we went. Here’s some of what we saw -
The ferry -
The priory -
Men fishing -
We also witnessed the spectacle of swans taking off, flying and landing, and seeing (and hearing!) some nesting Canada Geese (having totally by chance watched Fly Away Home yesterday on TV – strange universe we live in….how do those things happen?)
How many times yesterday did I say “How come we’ve lived in Stirling half our lives and we’ve never been HERE before?” ? Lost count.
So, here’s the idea. Find somewhere within the half hour radius of where you live, somewhere you’ve never been before, and go explore. If you like, come back here and tell me about it – create a flickr set, write a post on your blog, tweet about it, or post it on your Facebook page.
Because Life is brand new every day, and if you deliberately set out to explore this new day, you’ll experience the thrill of that directly.
See what it does for you to see life as wanting to surprise you, to share novelty with you, to fully engage you in this present moment. See how it feels to share what you experience.
1st April, first day of the ferry across to Inchmahome Island on the Lake of Menteith…….
And we saw lovely swans…..here’s one landing….
and here’s one skimming the surface of the lake…
and here’s one taking off…
Have you ever heard a swan landing or taking off?
What an amazing noise!
Have you ever just stood and watched them flying onto and off the surface of the water? You’ll be amazed they can actually do it. For birds which look so supremely elegant as the sail across water, their landings and take-offs are really something to behold. You wouldn’t predict it.
By the way, take a better look at that swan cruising over the surface of the lake. Click through if necessary to see the image in its large size and look at the sun shining through its further away wing, highlighting every single feather.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
You couldn’t make it up.
Posted in creativity, from the consulting room, from the dark room, from the living room, life, narrative, perception, personal growth, philosophy, photography, science on March 25, 2013 | 2 Comments »
It’s common for us to experience loss, break down, destruction and disintegration.
In the middle of it, it can become hard to see the wood for the trees, and it can feel like this falling apart is not just inevitable but permanent.
As the leaves fall from the trees in the autumn, the bare branches of the winter woodland give the appearance of life being over for those trees.
Human beings know they don’t live forever, and although some have a belief in reincarnation, or lives of different forms from this life, nobody expects they are not going to experience loss, degeneration and death.
If the course of Life could be summarised as destruction and decline, then what kind of Life would that be? Is that really what we believe? That the direction of Life, the direction of the Universe even, is towards destruction and disintegration? Having begun with a Big Bang, are we heading for the final whimper (as T S Eliot wrote?)
But look again at the photo above. What do you see? Death and destruction? Loss and endings? Life and growth? Change and diversity?
The old mechanical, materialist view of the world teaches the idea that we try hard to resist destruction. “Entropy” is the term used to describe the inevitable run down of a system. But this view is more relevant to machines (which are “closed” systems), than it is to Nature (which is full of interconnected “open” systems).
Prigogine coined the term “dissipative structures” to better describe the reality of Nature and living organisms. He found that complex adaptive systems used dissipation to renew themselves, and in this renewal they grew, developed and adapted to changes in their environment. Indeed, Varela and others coined the term “autopoiesis” (self-making capacity) to describe the essential characteristic of a living system.
All living systems, ourselves included, are continuously breaking down existing structures and elements in order to create ourselves anew – in order to not just adapt, but to flourish. Not a single cell in our bodies lives as long as we live. In fact cells live between a few days and few months on average. It’s not the material, or the “stuff” of which we are made which makes us who we are. In that sense, we are much more like a river than we are like a machine.
I find this idea thrilling. Partly because I work every day with people who are experiencing loss and breakdown, people whose lives are falling apart. When a loved one dies, when your relationship or your job ends, when disease appears suddenly, or slowly in your life, it can all become quite overwhelming and it can be hard to see how any good can come of this experience. But here’s the key point, such continual change, such cycles of breaking down and destruction are not just inevitable but they are a necessary part of growth and renewal. These special times are times of renewal.
Spring time (not quite managing to appear yet here in the UK) is a good time to reflect on this. I’ve mentioned before how the Japanese celebrate transience through the cherry blossom festivals.
Renewal occurs through adaptation. As our lives change, if we take the time to become more aware, and we learn not to cling to current forms, we can see that in the midst of dissipation we discover the vast potential for creativity and growth. Just think of the universe story for a moment. Is it one of era after era of decline and destruction? No. It’s one of ever increasing diversity and complexity. It’s a story of cycles of joining together, breaking apart and forming new connections. It’s a story reflected in every single living being. Here’s the miraculous truth. The universe is not a closed machine heading day by day towards destruction. It’s a vast interconnected web of open systems producing the most elaborate, most complex and most amazing phenomena day after day after day.
We are a pattern-spotting, and pattern-creating species. This is a brilliant quality to possess. It allows us to make sense of very complex systems, to engage with Life and phenomena holistically and to see (or create) the meaning behind our daily perceptions and experiences.
Margaret Wheatley, in her Leadership and the New Science, says
Wholeness is revealed only as shapes, not facts. Systems reveal themselves as patterns, not as isolated incidents or data points.
Further, she says,
It is the nature of life to organise into patterns
What patterns do you see today?
What patterns touch you, capture your attention, or help you make sense of things?
Every consultation I do, I sit with a patient and we have a conversation. It’s best if I do most of the listening, and stimulate the odd reflection when I begin to discern patterns. At the simplest of levels I was taught diagnosis at Medical School. I still think we make the best diagnoses by quickly spotting the patterns – the connections and inter-connections between the elements of a story, the symptoms expressed, the signs and changes manifested, and recognising the pattern which holds this all together.
At the deepest level there are a multiple of patterns in every person’s life, each interacting and interweaving to create ever more beautiful and amazing spiralling narratives. This is how we get to know each other. This is how we get to know ourselves.
Let’s make some new patterns together……how about it?