Archive for September, 2014

One kelpie

The kelpies

A fairly recent development just off the Stirling/Edinburgh motorway is the installation of these “kelpies”. I visited them at the weekend for the first time. They’ve been installed in a newly created park area which has lots of common space for roller-blading, cycling, walking, feeding ducks at the duck pond, a children’s adventure playground and so on, but everyone comes to walk around, and be amazed by, the kelpies themselves. I visited on a Sunday which is probably a more busy day but there were hundreds and hundreds of people there.

Kelpies are part of the myths of Scotland – I suspect most people aren’t that particularly familiar with them, but I wonder how many go home and read a bit about them. Wikipedia is a good starting point (but it does strangely include paintings which depict kelpies as naked females, when, in folklore in Scotland, the kelpie was invariably male)

I loved that so many people were walking, sharing time with family or friends, and gaining such sheer pleasure from this open air art. What a fabulous combination of art, community and healthy activity. Made me wonder if we don’t pay enough attention to the way art in particular can be a central focus of influence on our quality of life.



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In the A to Z of Becoming, second part, M is for ‘make’.
I like the verb ‘make’ because its essence is creativity. To make something is to create something. But it’s broader than that somehow because it includes the wider sense of taking an action, of ‘making something happen’.


Harp strings

Maybe you could make some music this week? Play an instrument, sing a song…..I’ve recently purchased a new guitar (I got my last guitar when I was 13, and haven’t played it for almost 40 years) – and I can’t tell you just how much FUN it is to rediscover the chords, the notes, the ways of creating a rhythm.

Maybe you are good with your hands and you could make something in the sense of building or constructing something.

Maybe you could make a change – decide what you’d like to do differently and actually start doing it.

Maybe you could make a meal, or at least a cup of tea…..

Maybe you could make a difference in someone’s life with a simple gesture, or an act of kindness……..go on, make someone’s day!

The joy of making lies in doing it consciously, doing it with both intention and awareness. That’s what makes all the difference.


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Sometimes I think change is like crossing a bridge. You know where you are, you have an idea where you’d like to be, and you see the bridge you have to cross to get there…..

Bridge of Shadows

But then when I saw this bridge I realised that change is often more complex than that. There are several stepping stones you have to negotiate before you even get to the bridge!

Stepping stones to the bridge

Doesn’t your life feel like that sometimes?

How many steps do you have to take before you even get to the bridge?

And once you get to that bridge…….what lies over the other side? You can’t see it yet, can you, but you’ve at least decided you’re going to go and explore it.

Well, this is exactly where I am. I’m in the process of moving to live in another country. I can see the bridge, but I’m still negotiating the stepping stones! Exciting, huh?

Just as an aside, the other interesting thing which struck me about this particular scene is that the river which the stepping stones and bridge are designed to help you cross doesn’t actually seem to be there at the moment – its grass instead of water. A lot of rivers are like that, sometimes flowing full and fast, and sometime trickling along a path (usually a stony path, but in this case a green one!) So maybe in certain circumstances you don’t need all these stepping stones and bridges, you just walk straight across…..

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2000 years ago, Seneca wrote about the shortness of life, but how modern his advice sounds. This particular passage actually made me laugh out loud…..

you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.

So my white hair and wrinkles don’t speak of my life, just the time I’ve been around here on Planet Earth! How often do we have that experience that life is not so much a journey, more a “long tossing about”!

Sticking with the journey idea, I also really love this thought –

Just as travelers are beguiled by conversation or reading or some profound meditation, and find they have arrived at their destination before they knew they were approaching it; so it is with this unceasing and extremely fast-moving journey of life, which waking or sleeping we make at the same pace — the preoccupied become aware of it only when it is over.

A core value underpinning this whole blog is choosing to live, choosing to be aware of our constant becoming, choosing to be aware of the “émerveillement du quotidien” – the wonder and amazement of the every day.


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Water over the weir

If you use a fast shutter speed on your camera you can make the water flowing over a weir look like it has momentarily become solid. The water in this photo almost looks like icicles. It’s beautiful and it catches our attention but it misrepresents reality.

Movies are made of millions of single images like this. We run them past our vision so fast that we think we are seeing a moving image. But we aren’t. We’re seeing a series of still images, one frame after another.

Philosophers including Bergson and Deleuze have pointed out that reality is not like this. It’s not made up of discrete moments all stitched together. Instead reality flows…….continuously and unceasingly. Isolating a single moment is wonderful but it can trap us into thinking that life is made of single moments.

To begin to experience life differently, begin to notice the flow, and be aware of when you are isolating a moment in that flow.

Becoming not being.

Life flows.

It’s not like the movies.

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This hollyhock is just gorgeous.

As I gaze at it I think one flower is looking back and one is looking forwards……it’s a Janus-like flower!

Then I see all the emerging buds entwining the main stalk…..and I think, isn’t that like Life? Don’t we create our personal narratives here in the present, building them out of the past, and with our hopes and expectations of the future? Don’t we need good memory, good imagination and a focus on the present in order to flourish?

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If you look carefully two people in close conversation often end up mirroring each other’s body movements and positions. I’ve always found it fascinating and usually it means they are very much in tune with each other.

But these two trees expands that idea for me – see how they seem to have developed similar features at exactly the same places in their trunks……strange, huh? Guess they are in tune with each other!

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