Archive for September, 2014


Look closely at this photo. The white object which you can see is a concrete post. The tree has grown around it.

The tree is about the height of a five or six storey building so I’m guessing it is many, many years old. Slowly, imperceptibly, it must have first encountered, then grown around the post.

Isn’t that amazing? A brilliant example of adaptation!

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John O’Donohue used to talk about “invisible nearnesses” –

He said “…the mountains, particularly in Connemara, are huge dark mountains. There’s a lot of moisture and a lot of rain and a lot of mist. And some mornings you’d get up, and the fog would’ve come half way down the mountain, rendering the top of the mountain invisible. You’re in the presence of the mountain, and half the mountain has vanished. It’s there, but not visible to the eye. And I often think that it’s a wonderful image of the imagination, that image. In other words, that there are around every life a series of huge nearnesses, a whole invisible world that we can’t see with the eye but that is absolutely crucial to who we are. And I think that the imagination is the faculty that brings you in touch with these presences that are around your life. That’s where I think the divine, and the soul, and the magic of the world between us all, the world of betweenness – that’s where they all reside. And that’s where the imagination loves to dig its furrow and to disclose these hidden, oblique kind of presences.

Every morning for the last few years, when I’ve been at home, in Stirling, I’ve looked out at a mountain – Ben Ledi, but sometimes it’s not there.

rainbow no mountain

Recently, it wasn’t just invisible, the way John O’Donohue describes it, but there was a rainbow there instead! I immediately remembered his idea of “invisible nearnesses”, so I browsed around and found the original text I remembered from his film, “Anam Cara”.

Now I read that again, I’m struck by another of his points – “the world of betweenness” – and how that is exactly what Iain McGilchrist talks about when he describes the right hemisphere of the brain’s approach to the world.

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In the A to Z of Becoming, Part 2, K is for kiss.

In some countries it is common cultural practice to greet friends with a kiss on each cheek. Whether the kiss starts on the left or the right cheek, and how many kisses are given seems to vary!

I don’t think anyone kisses the back of a woman’s hand and says “enchant√©” any more (except in Period dramas), but other common light kisses are the affectionate placing of a kiss on someone’s forehead.

Light kisses, kisses on the cheeks, a kiss on the forehead, or deep, passionate full-mouthed kisses……they all have their place, and in their own special ways, they enhance our quality of life.

Why not take this opportunity to ask yourself about the place of kisses in your life……and whether or not you are giving enough of them?

One of my most favourite movies of all time is an Italian film called Cinema Paradiso. At the very end there is a scene where the main protagonist watches a special viewing of all the scenes the local priest cut out of the movies shown in the town as part of his regular practice of censorship. Here’s that scene…..both the music and the scene itself are uplifting, moving and, just, well, quite wonderful.

Even if these are the only kisses in your life this week, this week will be a GOOD one!

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Water swirling round corner

One of the most beautiful and mesmerising sights in the world is, I think, flowing water. This photo captures a flow of water around a post at the beginning of a weir. Flow is a very important concept to me.

Giles Deleuze‘s radical philosophy emphasised difference and change to the extent that he called on us to change our priorities from the old Greek ones which still dominate our reductionist science.

He emphasised difference instead of identity. Championing uniqueness, and the special-ness of the present moment, over categorisation, essences and identity. I am a one off, not one of a kind.

He emphasised change over objects. His philosophy is a philosophy of becoming.

As it says, in the byline to this blog……becoming not being.

These ideas have been with us for centuries. In the West, it was Heraclitus who said you can’t step in the same river twice. In the East, Taoism emphasises the Way, and Japanese culture, for example, reveres the transient (as we see magnificently in the annual cherry blossom celebrations)

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Reflecting above, plunging over

Constant reflection.

Some people talk about mindfulness, others about awareness, yet others about living consciously. Whatever term you use, the practice of reflecting on what is happening now enhances Life.

“Now”, is, however elusive. It’s that moment that disappears over the edge from the future into the past, just as you look at it.

This image stimulates these thoughts in me……how a life can be lived by being aware, reflecting as it happens.

Becoming not being.

Heroes not zombies.

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We have two fundamental and opposite approaches to the world – noticing similarities and noticing differences.

When we notice similarities we generalise and classify. When this is used as the basis of mass marketing and consumption we end up with an awful lot of sameness – each High Street (or mall) has the same shops, the big chains squeeze out the local family businesses. In town after town in France I see abandoned “charcuteries”, “boulangeries” and so on. A Main Street in my home town of Stirling is lined with empty shops.

When we notice difference we see uniqueness and diversity. Nature thrives on diversity and abhors monocultures. These gourds in a market are stunningly beautiful for both of those reasons – their individuality and their diversity.

I read recently that one of the big supermarket chains in France has started promoting ‘misshapen fruit and vegetables’ along with leaflets encouraging shoppers to buy the ‘funny looking’ foods, they are selling them at 30% less! Woo hoo! There is hope!


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Tree heart

How do we use the word, the image, the idea of heart?

Heart felt, broken hearted, heart sore, big hearted, warm hearted, hearty……

It’s about deep, significant, loving feeling.

We also talk about getting to the heart of the matter, by which we mean the nub, the core, the important essence.

A heart-focused life……a good aim, you think?

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Swan reflecting

Sometimes I think it’s good to have an image to focus on for a short meditation. I especially like the kind of image which is initially beautiful and engaging, but which then draws me in to see more and more, the closer I look.

Try this one.

I see the swan. I see his reflection. I see his shadow on his reflection.

Multiple layers. Multiple perspectives.


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Corn appearing

I’m always fascinated by seeds, fruits and nuts.

Look at this corn I saw in a field the other day. It is literally bursting with potential!

What does the future hold for these little kernels? Are they going to be eaten? If so, by whom, or by what? Are they going to be “processed” for their oil? Will they be planted out or find their own way to soil and grow into corn plants themselves? If they are planted out, will they make it to fully mature plants?

So much uncertainty!

Too much uncertainty is hard to bear, but the reality of all living creatures is that the future EMERGES out of the present. We can’t predict it, so what do we do?

  1. Focus on living today
  2. Get in touch with the immense potential which lies within each of us
  3. Imagine. Practice our creativity….let it run free
  4. Live consciously….mindfully….with awareness
  5. Slow down, and savour each moment as we live it
  6. Be amazed by the wonder of today
  7. Practice flexibility and resilience (to be better able to respond to the unpredictable future when it becomes the surprising present)
  8. Fully own and share our uniqueness
  9. ……………………………………………………..(add your ideas here)

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Diving for silver?

In the A to Z of Becoming, part 2, J is for Jump!

I bet you wish that life just flowed like a free flowing river, continuous, unbroken and mostly calm.

But the universe isn’t like that. Change is continuous but it occurs in jumps.

At the subatomic level this is described by quantum physics – the quantum is the jump.

At the evolutionary level we see it as a series of leaps, not a smooth transition.

If you’ve ever watched a small child develop you’ll know they do it in leaps. One day they can’t stand by themselves. Then they can. One day they can’t walk. Then they can. One day they can’t say any words. Then they can. Some changes stutter a bit, so toilet training might not be so complete from one to the next, but soon it is.

Our lives are like that. To embrace change, we have to leap. We can do our best to plan, to try to see ahead, but, ultimately we can’t see the future and we have to decide. We have to jump. It’s often scary. It’s sometimes way to scary to make the jump, but that will never be the end of it, we will soon find we’re asked again to jump.

So, are you ready to embrace the way the universe works, and jump?

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