Archive for the ‘from the reading room’ Category

This is one of my all time favourite photos. I took it while having breakfast at a little cabin at the top of the hill on the edge of Biarritz. I realise that the concrete fence is not bonny! But that doesn’t take anything away from the picture for me. The rich, deep hues of blue in the sea, sky and even distant mountain are just gorgeous and I like the fluffy summer style of clouds floating by.

Hey, you might be saying, you’re going on about the fence, the sea, the sky, the mountain, even the clouds, but isn’t this a photo of a coffee cup?

Well, yes. You could say that. But, then you know my tendency to explore the contexts, the connections and the environment….how I am drawn to the “whole”. But, yes, it is a photo of an expresso, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Even though these short coffees in Europe are called “expressos” they don’t necessarily imply a brief, speedy period of time. I noticed that when I first stopped for a coffee in Italy that the cafe had tall tables and no chairs. That was a surprise. Maybe that’s when I thought that an “expresso” wasn’t just fast to make, it was fast to drink. But that was a misunderstanding. When I went for breakfast with a group of Italian friends, they stood around the tables chatting, drinking their coffees, eating pastries or biscuits, and there was absolutely no sense of urgency or hurry.

Coffee time is a pause.

It’s often an in-between time….between waking up and engaging with the tasks of the day, for example. When I worked in Glasgow, I lived in Stirling, and traveled in the train for about an hour each way each day. I’d stop and enjoy a coffee once I arrived in Glasgow and before I caught my second train to the hospital, and, often, I’d stop and enjoy another one on the return journey. Those were times of pausing. Of stepping off the busy flow and slowing down to reflect, to read, to ponder. Coffee times were also times of sharing, of enjoying the company and chat. Not all coffee times are social times, but many of them are, and that’s important.

There’s a term in buddhism – “bardo” – it means a space. For example, there is a bardo between each in breath and each out breath, and another between each out breath and each in breath. There is even a bardo between each thought, but good luck catching any of those! I think a pause is a kind of bardo. A life bardo, breaking up a busy day, and helping us to re-centre, to re-focus, to re-connect and to re-store.

I was reading in an article in “Philosophie” magazine this morning. It was about rituals and one philosopher described his coffee ritual. He said he wakes up, drags his heavy feet and thick head through to the kitchen, pops a “dosette” into the coffee machine, presses the on button, and listens to the familiar sounds of the machine. That first coffee begins to re-connect his disconnected brain cells, but it also makes him cough. He has a second coffee, which settles his cough, then, the third coffee, he says, is “for pleasure”. Then he is ready to get on with the rest of the day. Wow! I think if I started every day with THREE expressos I’d FLY through the day!!

We all have our own rituals, our own habits, our own routines. This little coffee cup resting on the fence reminds me of that. It’s good to pause now and again, and in that bardo to take stock, to reflect, and to become aware of rituals, habits and routines. What are they, and what part do they play in my life?

How about you?

What comes to mind when you think of a pause, a bardo or a ritual?

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One of the cognac distilleries in the town of Cognac is in the old chateau. When you take a tour of the place you walk into this incredible room. What do you think this room would be used for?

Bet you didn’t say “for keeping prisoners in”. But that’s exactly what it was used for. Centuries ago it was very common practice to capture opposing army soldiers….especially knights, princes or kings….and hold them while you negotiated a ransom.

I’ve just finished reading a history of the “Black Prince”, Edward, who fought many campaigns for the English in Aquitaine, which in those days was controlled by England, not France. In many of the stories you read about knights or princes getting captured and the ransom money being used to fund more battles.

The proof that this grand room was used to hold some such prisoners is on the walls.

They are covered with carvings and scratchings such as these. And, yes, as you’d expect some are simple rows of lines, where someone has been marking off the days.

But look at this one….this is my favourite

This one has always got me wondering, what would I scratch on the wall of a prison like this, while I was awaiting my freedom?

So, how about you? What do you think you’d scratch onto the wall for people to see three hundred years later?

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When I noticed this stone on the beach I was entranced. It looks like a whole small world. Look at the layers of minerals, their colours, their extent and shape. Look at the top of the stone with several species of lichen and/or seaweeds living there.

It makes me think of illustrations I saw when I was a child. Colour drawings of the Earth with a segment removed to show you the multiple layers all the way down to the core.

It also makes me think of the concept of the ecosystem, or even a biosphere….a complex of elements, some living, some non-living (which reminds me….I came across a quotation yesterday which said the opposite of “life” is not “death”, it’s “non-living”……must look that up!)

The idea of networks of connections and relationships between minerals, uni-cellular and multi-cellular organisms, air, water and sunlight co-creating the reality we live in…..I just love that.

It makes me think of the idea of viewing whatever we are looking at from different scales, because everything which exists, exists in nested layers of everything else……remember the old funny story about the teaching that the world floats on the back of a turtle? How the enquirer asked “And what does the turtle sit on?” The answer “Another turtle”. To which the enquirer asks “What does THAT turtle sit on?” The answer “Another turtle”. After a few minutes of this exchange continuing along the exact same question and response, the teacher finally responds to one of the “What does THAT turtle sit on?” with “It’s turtles all the way down, son. It’s turtles all the way down.”

On a more serious note, I found Lynn Margulis’s theory of “endo-symbiosis” hugely convincing. Briefly, she claimed that all multi-cellular organisms (that includes you and me) are made up an incredibly complex co-operating network of single cells, and that inside each of our cells are individual elements, like mitochondria, for example, which, way back in history were single celled creatures in their own right. She hypothesised that the evolutionary path of development was driven by collaboration and co-operation, with single celled organisms combining to live together at new levels. In other words all the different elements of a single cell came from smaller single “celled” creatures merging. Maybe that idea was a bit too challenging for some people, but it’s pretty undeniable that multi-cellular organisms like humans can actually be understood as whole worlds of vastly networked individual cells. It’s reckoned that only a tenth of the cells of your body are genetically “you”, the other ninety percent being bacteria and other unicellular organisms. Pretty mind boggling isn’t it? But it seems to be true all the same.

This idea of scale…..a long time ago I created a “human spectrometer” to help me discuss a patient’s issues with them at different levels of scale. Here it is

I’d start in the middle with the “person” because that’s where we met, person to person. Then I could move left zooming in on smaller and smaller parts of the person to consider the problems and their effects….perhaps in the “nervous system”, or the “digestive system”, then further “in” to disturbances in particular organs, “the heart”, or the “liver”, then further in yet to consider the role of cells, like white blood cells, or the cells of a specific organ, or, at an even smaller level the circulating levels of individual molecules, like hormones, antibodies, chemical messengers and so on.

I’d then return to the “person” and start moving right to consider the person within their significant relationships, within their family, within society, considering cultural, economic and work issues, or, finally within the “world”, by which I meant the environment.

I didn’t usually work through this whole thing methodically, step by step, but used it as an illustration to consider everything from pathology, to pathogenesis, to the impacts from and on the vast networks of life in which an individual lived.

I created a post about it back in 2007, so patients could explore the idea a bit more in their own homes.

It’s only now, many years later, after reading Iain McGilchrist’s “The Master and His Emissary“, that the left hemisphere zooms in to consider the parts, while the right zooms out to consider the connections, the relationships, the whole! Funny, how the universe works!

This notion of nested scales was also explored by Arthur Koestler who coined the term “holon” to describe the idea of multi-level hierarchies. You can read a bit more about that here.

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Life is tangled.

Every one of us is a multitude. Check out Bob Dylan’s new release “I contain multitudes” for a very recent expression of this idea. In fact, as he sings it, maybe we are multitudes, plural.

The Scottish psychologist, Miller Mair, coined the term “community of selves” back in the 1970s. It remains a powerful metaphor for the complexity of an individual personality. That idea made a lot of sense to me, and helped me to understand not only my patients but also myself. We all have that experience of at very least tapping into different strands of our lives when we act within our different roles – parent, child, friend, neighbour, employee, professional, artist, consumer etc etc. We know all those roles are just a part of who we are but it can be very hard to untangle them, to see how they inter-connect.

The French philosopher, Deleuze, wrote about “multiplicities” as a way of understanding the complex universe, and described any particular instance as a “singularity of multiplicities”. I liked that idea the moment I read it. I happened upon his writings at the same time that I was exploring the new “complexity science”, and in particular the concept of the “complex adaptive system“, which fundamentally changed how I saw our lives and our world.

I once spoke to a “Chef de Service” at a Parisian Homeopathic Hospital and he described to me that he saw each patient as like a diamond, with multiple facets shining, each one different, but together all part of the same individual. He saw his therapeutic strategy as being based on addressing several of the most prominent of a patient’s “facets”. A rather poetic way to think of the same underlying issue.

What is the underlying issue?

Life is messy.

On the “inside” and the “outside”. I put those words in quote marks because I’m pretty sure that frequently there is no clear boundary between the two. I think wherever we look we can find multiple threads to follow. We can identify particular paths, storylines, themes, chains of cause and effect, which run through a lifetime.

And, here’s the important point, brought back to the front of my mind by this photo today, all those paths, storylines, threads or whatever, are entangled. They are connected. They are inextricably interconnected, astonishingly woven together to create a unique, beautiful tapestry of a single life.

I’m not a fan of labelling a patient with several different concurrent diagnoses then sending them off to separate specialists to have each disease treated as if it exists in isolation. In Medicine this is referred to as “silo-ing“, a strange word which means separating out someone’s problems into separate baskets, boxes, or “silos”, then treating each one separately. Most of the evidence used in “Evidence Based Medicine” comes from trials where patients have been selected on the basis that they have only the single disease which is under study, and that they are receiving only the single drug which is being trialled. But the real world isn’t much like that. Much more common is the finding that an individual patient will have several different diagnoses active at the same time and that they will already be on a cocktail of drugs. Medicine is more messy than some people would have you believe.

So what? Is this a counsel of despair? Am I saying life is too complex and entangled to make any sense of it? No. Absolutely not.

What I find is that this complex entangled life is beautiful. That it manifests in the most unique, most varied, most astonishing individual narratives you could imagine.

What I find is that when you look for the connections between the parts, you get insights and understanding which you’d miss if you kept your attention only on single parts.

What I find is that it’s best to use your whole brain, not just half of it, as Iain McGilchrist, author of “The Master and His Emissary“, would say. It’s not enough to separate out the threads and elements and study them. You have to weave them back together to see the contexts, the contingencies and the connections. In other words, you need both your left hemisphere ability to see the threads, and your right hemisphere ability to weave them together into a whole.

What I find is that when you look at life this way, then you encounter the “émerveillement du quotidien” – that you find yourself wondering and marvelling every single day. You find diversity and uniqueness. You find infinite trails of connections. You find that curiosity is constantly stimulated and never ends. You find that you are humbled by how little you actually know. You find that you doubt predictions and develop a distaste for judging people.

You find that Life is astonishingly, endlessly, fascinating.

What a delight!

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In several parts of France, usually along a river bank, you might find “bouquinistes”….second hand, and antiquarian booksellers, each with a wooden box, or a number of wooden boxes, which contain their books for sale. They close these up and lock them when they aren’t there, and open them up for browsing and sales while, usually, they sit nearby on a camp chair, or in small clusters with other bouquinistes, until somebody appears to want to buy something.

The most famous are in Paris, and the Seine has even been described as “the only river in the world which runs between two bookshelves”. The Parisian ones are the first ones I saw but these photos of mine are from another town, in the West of France. The term applies a lot more widely than just to the ones with the boxes along the river banks, however. You’ll often see a “bouquiniste” advertised and usually it’s a second hand, and/or antiquarian bookseller’s shop in a town centre.

I think their highly visible presence says something about French culture though. Books remain hugely popular in France. So are magazines and graphic novels. In fact, pretty much every town has a “Maison de la Presse” or something similar with a huge range of weekly and monthly magazines covering an incredible range of subjects, from hobbies, politics, design and art, to science, philosophy, history and geography. I just love those shops. There is something special for me about the way French magazines are produced. The graphic art, use of photography, diagrams and images are just superb. And there are plenty to choose from if you want to learn about something. I delight in the fact that so many aren’t “dumbed down” but assume readers with some intelligence and education.

I know there’s an ongoing debate about the subject of e-books. Some people love them, others hate them. I’m in neither camp but I certainly have my issues with e-books – number one being that they tend to be tied to specific “platforms” and you can neither give them away nor sell them second hand once you’ve read them. I don’t like that the only model for most e-books is rental, not ownership. However, I do read a fair number of non-fiction books as e-books. I love being able to highlight passages with my finger then use the references later when I am writing. In fact, that’s probably my favourite feature. I very rarely read fiction as an e-book, but I’m not really sure why!

Well, you know me, my favourite phrase is “and not or”. That’s exactly my position with books. I have LOADS of hardback and paperback books. I buy new, and I buy second hand. But I have also read a lot of “Kindle” books, and enjoy listening to audiobooks using “Audible” (especially when cutting the grass, or travelling in my car).

I retired from the NHS in Scotland where I’d lived and worked my whole life up until I was 60, then I sold up and emigrated to here, Nouvelle Aquitaine, in South West France. One of the many reasons I had for moving here was language and reading. I wanted to live part of my life in another language, and French was the one I was at least a bit familiar with. But I was also attracted to the French cultural tradition of books and learning. In fact, I often find I learn something in a French article which refers to a writer, thinker, scientist or whoever who is English speaking, Italian, Spanish, German or African (to name a few!). I then go exploring, perhaps reading further works by that author in their native English, or translated into English. However, I frequently seem to be able to find French translations of non-English speaking authors who have never been translated into English.

Books, magazines, and newspapers, in a second language have opened doors for me, widened and deepened my knowledge and understanding in ways I don’t think would have happened if I’d spent my whole life in a single-language culture.

How about you?

Do you read and/or speak more than one language? What’s been your experience of that? Have you found that it opens up whole vistas of knowledge and thought? Have you found that it’s brought you experiences you think would have been impossible if you’d remained with only your Mother Tongue?

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I have a shelf in my bookcase where I collect some of the books which have made the biggest impact on my thinking and understanding. On that shelf sits a first edition of Iain McGilchrist’s “The Master and His Emissary”. If you’ve been reading these posts for a while you’re bound to have come across my references to his description of how our two cerebral hemispheres engage with the world in different ways.

When I came across this old photo from Marseilles the other day I immediately thought of the “left brain” view of the world. The left cerebral hemisphere is utterly brilliant at focusing in on whatever we are considering. It helps us to see the trees in the wood. It picks out elements, features, characteristics or parts. Then it helps us to analyse, label and categorise whatever it is that can be recognised.

It needs to have a narrow focus to be able to do that. It zooms in. It hones our attention. It separates and abstracts by blanking out the connections, the contexts and the environment.

This long corridor of arches looks very much like that kind of focused attention to me.

But there’s more. At the end of this passageway what do we see? It’s kind of hard to make out, isn’t it? What you are looking at here is an installation of irregular, angled mirrors. So you aren’t seeing a complete picture. Rather you are seeing a number of disconnected views or parts.

Our left brain is pretty good at doing that too. Its preference is for the parts, not their connections.

How the brain is supposed to work is that the after the left side does this focusing, separating, labelling and categorising, it’s supposed to pass this information back to the right side to have it contextualised. In other words, after seeing and recognising the pieces, the left passes over to the right to recreate the whole picture, to help us to understand whatever it is we’ve “grasped” by seeing how it connects to everything else.

Iain McGilchrist’s thesis is that this natural flow has become rather disrupted. The left brain has a tendency to hang on to what it grasps, and to convince us that whatever it has analysed is “correct”. Over the centuries we’ve evolved a complex society and civilisation which has encouraged us to prioritise the left brain over the right.

That’s a big mistake. That’s only using half a brain. To rectify this we have to learn how to use the whole brain again, and to practice doing that as often as we can. That’s going to involve deliberately returning again and again to the right brain functions – seeing the connections, discovering the particular, appreciating the whole, and weaving together the multiple threads to enjoy the entire tapestry of the world.

I don’t know about you, but that excites me!

I love that this idea is not about abandoning our left brain functions but re-integrating them into the right brain ones. How satisfying!

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The light filtered through the paper caught my eye.

It’s soft and pleasing. It drew me to it. Then when I looked more carefully I saw the matrix of stalks criss-crossing behind the paper, and that changed my perception of it again. Then I noticed the woven circular frame. From first glance, to detailed inspection, I find this utterly beautiful.

I was thinking about it today as I contemplated it again and I remembered a book I read decades ago – The Lens of Perception, by Hal Bennett. I must say I don’t remember the details of the book all these years on, but the central metaphor did stick with me. The author proposed that we don’t see the world directly. We see it through a series of lenses, or filters, each of which is coloured by certain values and beliefs. It was quite an imaginative way of exploring how culture and social conditioning profoundly influences our perception and experience of the world.

Using a different metaphor, in these days of social media we read about “echo chambers” where we only read the messages and information put out by people who closely share our pre-existing beliefs and our prejudices. As the world divides into separate echo chambers people lose the ability to communicate with each other. Differing views are described as, at best, dissent, and, at worst, as betrayal. This is a powerful way of enforcing conformity. Divide and rule. Hardly a new idea is it?

However, it isn’t easy to see what filters or lenses we are using. Well, it seems easier to see which ones other people are using than our own ones anyway. (And what was that old Bible teaching about taking the plank out of your own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else’s?)

It’s not impossible though, and I suspect there are at least two very different ways to do it. One is to take the time to reflect on our pre-occupations. Have you ever done the “Morning pages” exercise promoted by Julia Cameron? Quite simply it is writing continuously without stopping until you’ve filled three A4 pages. It’s a stream of consciousness form of writing. You do it every morning for thirty days. Whenever I have done it I don’t read what I’ve written until the end of the thirty days. Each time it’s been a revelation. I find themes, phrases, and issues recurring over and over again. I find preoccupations I either didn’t know I had, or which I, at very least, didn’t know I held so strongly.

There are other ways to explore your values and beliefs but they all involve a conscious effort to describe them.

The other major way is to “phone a friend” as they say in the famous game show.

Robert Burns, my national poet, said –

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.”

A wish to be able to see ourselves as others see us.

Well, there’s only one way to do that – other people.

This is where it gets tricky. Because to do this you need a friend or colleague who you trust. You need someone who won’t judge you. There’s no point jumping into somebody else’s echo chamber and challenging everyone there to find out what they think about your views! I suspect you know the answer to that before you even begin.

No, I think you have to start by sharing at a very personal level. But the trouble with that is, those others who you trust are likely to be seeing the world through the same filters and lenses as you do in the first place. I know they say “opposites attract” but I’ve always found that applies more to magnets than it does to people. However, there is no substitute for dialogue when it comes to clarifying what beliefs, values and world views you hold most dear.

Can we promote dialogue? Surely we can.

How do we escape the echo chambers, but criticise and challenge our views safely? I don’t know any way to do that which doesn’t involve non-judgemental engagement. It’s the key that opens the door.

Is there a non-judgement lens or filter?

What would the world look like when viewed it through that one?


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When I noticed this tree in the forest I thought it had a long deep groove running the whole length of its trunk. It was as if it folded in on itself. But then I looked more closely and I saw that a better explanation was that there were two trees growing together. You could trace two distinct trunks all the way up, each spreading its own branches high above the forest floor.

I was even more taken with this when I saw it as two entwined, two organisms, two life forms, living, surviving and growing together. It reminded me of the myths of the soul….that each of us is in search of the other half….each of us longing for our soul mate.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is one tree which has partially divided itself…..partially, but not completely, so that now it appears as almost two trees instead of one. But does it really matter? Do I care whether these are two trees living intimately together, or one tree manifesting two clearly visible aspects of itself?

The first idea stimulates my thoughts about how important relationships are. It makes me think about how I can’t fully understand anyone, or any thing, in exclusion from its relationships. We are all embedded in vast networks of other people, other creatures, plants, micro-organisms, elements and molecules. We all come into being through a process of emergence within those networks. We all survive and thrive only because of those relationships and networks.

The second idea stimulate my thoughts about our multiple selves. I’ve never been able to understand anyone, including myself, by reducing them to a single, solitary self. Miller Mair’s “Community of Self” really impressed me. It struck me as true. I know a distinct self as a doctor, which is quite different from, yet completely connected to, my self as a parent for example.

A homeopathic doctor in Paris once told me he saw every patient as like a diamond, with different facets glinting in the sunlight. Each facet represented an aspect of that person. That impressed me too.

Then, much later, I read the works of the French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, and his focus on “a multiplicity of singularities” seemed to me to be saying the same thing, just in a different language.

We are all multiple.

We are all a complex of multiple, distinct, unique “singularities” – both within ourselves, and within our world.

We are all One.

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Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvellous error! –

that a spring was breaking

out in my heart.

I said: Along which secret aqueduct,

Oh water, are you coming to me,

water of a new life

that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvellous error! –

that I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

were making white combs

and sweet honey

from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvellous error! –

that a fiery sun was giving

light inside my heart.

It was fiery because I felt

warmth as from a hearth,

and sun because it gave light

and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,

I dreamt – marvellous error! –

that is was God I had

here inside my heart.


Last Night As I Was Sleeping, is a poem by Antonio Machado (this translation from the original Spanish is by the poet, Robert Bly). I’ve decided to return to an exploration of poetry during this strange time in our world, and have started by reading “Ten poems to change your life”, by Roger Housden. The first poem in the book is The Journey, by Mary Oliver, and the second one is this one by Antonio Machado.

Roger Housden, who says, of Antonio Machado, “He lived a plain and simple existence, much of it as a country schoolteacher. What mattered to him was the deep current that joins the human soul to the world. What mattered above all to him was to be awake to that deeper life.”

I love the images in this poem, starting with the spring of fresh water breaking out in the heart. “The origin of the spring is not in your own heart; its waters are carried there by some secret aqueduct from a source beyond all your knowing”.

Then in the next verse he talks of making sweet honey from our old failures. What a nice variation on the “when life gives you lemons make lemonade”!

The next image is of the sun shining in his heart. Roger Housden says “Machado becomes the source of his own warmth and light”.

In the final stanza where Machado dreams of God in his heart, Housden says “He dares to leap over metaphor altogether and say directly what he has been inferring all along: you are own source, drink from your own well, live by your own undying light……..the light of the world that streams through your life….”

I found that as I read it various of my own photos came to my mind so I thought I’d collect them together here with the poem. What I really love about this poem is that idea of the flow of Life pouring through the depths of our being and found by looking at what we have in our heart.

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One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began


One day I was walking in a forest and I came across this signpost. Clearly, this was the way to go….

I followed the path strewn with blood red petals, but I didn’t know where it would take me.

Mary Oliver, in The Journey, the beginning of which I quoted above, continued her journey…

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

I turned a corner, and there before me I saw…..

…red petals cascading down a slope, and rising high up into the canopy of the trees. Maybe this is what I came to see? But I carried on….

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do –

determined to save

the only life that you could save.


Eventually, I found this….

…the heart of the wood.

So, this is how it is, isn’t it?

We don’t need a “goal”, or an “outcome”. We don’t need to “get” or “consume” anything in particular.

What we need to do, is find our heart.

This is as good a time as any to listen, and find out if you can hear what your heart is telling you.

We have access to more than one kind of intelligence. Not just the rational intelligence of the analytic left cerebral hemisphere in the brain, but the emotional intelligence of the heart.

You think that’s fanciful? Or just a nice metaphor?

I don’t think so.

It turns out we have a network of neurones, yes, neurones, the specialist kind of cell you find in a human brain, around the heart. There is a neural network around the heart. Apparently, the nerve connections between the brain and the heart are not just about the brain regulating the heart, they are two way. Our heart informs our brain.

And emotions? Those deep, intense embodied rivers of information and activity which course through the depths of our very being…..are they something supplementary? Are they something inferior in some way to our thoughts?

I don’t think so.

Our emotions are the organising, adaptive strategies which have evolved to enable us to survive and to thrive.

As the fox said to the Little Prince – “what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

Here’s Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey, in full –

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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