In 2018, wildfires spread and the world heated up. Here’s some thoughts about fire and renewal.
‘The flame consume my dwelling place’(more…)
‘The flame consume my dwelling place’(more…)
At the end of 2017, a shiny new Audi crashed into my little old car while I was stationary at traffic lights. I’m fairly sure the driver was on his phone. My car was a write-off, but after going through the initial frustrations and hassle, I’ve now arrived at ‘Blue Monday’ — typically the most depressing day of the year — with happiness.
I’m sitting in a library in a suburb of Manchester. It’s connected to a sport and leisure centre. There’s a ‘Kids Coding Club’ happening in the corner behind the bookshelves, young minds learning how to speak computer. They’ll create a future that we can’t yet imagine.
My more regular library hangouts are Exeter central library, and the small library in the Royal Society of Arts in London. Three very different libraries. And yet they contain a pulse and a rhythm that is unmistakable and distinct. Different organs operating to keep the same body alive.
This is a piece that was published online with the Elsewhere Journal. I wrote it after I’d been on Dartmoor (in Devon, UK), and was trying to express how it makes me feel, and what it prompts me to do — it’s a feeling I don’t quite encounter anywhere else.
Here’s the original, and I’ve reposted it below:
**First published in The Ecologist, 13th June 2017**
[Images: floor mosaics at London’s National Gallery]
The Pope has just issued a call for a ‘revolution of tenderness’ in a surprise TED Talk. He calls on leaders to “connect [their] power with humility and tenderness”.
He goes on to say: “The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future, is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you”, and themselves as part of an “us”. We all need each other.”
For a world so supposedly interconnected, we seem to be losing the language of tenderness, and of caring. The language of love. Part of the challenge the world faces today is a crisis of caring. We are losing our ability to care — for our neighbour, and so for our world.
I feel uncomfortable saying I am a ‘feminist’, although I agree with the fundamental premise of feminism, which according to the Cambridge English dictionary is “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way.”
Of course they should be. And of course, women in many parts of the world are appallingly still seen and treated like lesser beings. Women’s rights movements need to go full throttle until equality is achieved.
But that definition doesn’t go far enough. It focuses on external equality (which is important and should be a foundation), but it doesn’t touch what’s possible. I am more than a feminist. And I don’t hate men (in fact I know some men who are more supportive of women’s opportunities than some women I know are). So what’s beyond the feminism of external equality and power suits? And who do we need in these emerging global narratives?
Our world is speeding up.
Instant messaging. On-demand TV. Flash sales. Speed-dating. Market ‘crashes’. Productivity apps. Fast food. The acceleration of technology, coupled with our own inbuilt curiosity and bias toward convenience means that it’s easy to be drawn into this whirlwind without even realising.
How do we keep up? Should we keep up? What’s the impact of such fast living on our minds, bodies, relationships, thoughts, ambitions?
We exist in a time of discoveries, solutions and opportunities. But it’s hard to keep up. And the recent surge of engagement with practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga and retreats says that something in our collective existence is trying to slow us down.
Once, I ran the Dublin marathon. It took me five hours, but I was embarrassed about that, so I said to most people that it took four. I didn’t train very hard and it was excruciating (my big toenails fell off). But I loved it.
So I’ll be watching the London marathon runners set off on Sunday, and a little bit of me will be wishing I were there (though with some more serious training under my belt…).
I recently read Richard Askwith’s exhilarating book, Running Free, and it reminded me how I love running. I’m not really sure whether it’s the idea of running I love (the fitness, the solitary strength, the time to think, the low cost, the opportunity to run through nature), or whether it’s the actual experience of running I like. Probably both. Either way, I run.