I had a seasonal image pop in to my mind the other day, and it turned itself into a short story. I thought I’d share it here…
The people were looking around for the next distraction from their routines. On the breeze, they caught the scent of the Creature, and followed.
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:
Earlier this year, I’d been thinking about how my sunflowers made me feel. I wrote about it and entered it into the Green Alphabet Writing Prize (a competition organised by the Flipside Festival, in conjunction with Friends of the Earth), and I found out I’d been longlisted! The idea was to take a letter of the alphabet, and write a poem or short piece of prose on an environmental theme. I chose ‘E’ for ‘Encounter’. Here it is:
[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.
Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel prize for Literature underlines one of the things I’ve always appreciated about him — his poetry, and the way he uses metaphor and rhythm and beauty to tap into personal and universal experience. Earlier today, I was struck by one of his lyrics whilst listening to Shelter from the Storm. It was a lyric I’d never properly noticed before —
I’ve been elected onto the RSA Fellowship!
The RSA is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and being in the Fellowship basically means I get to use the letters FRSA after my name 😉
More importantly, it means I am part of a network that enriches society through ideas and action. I hugely align with the platform and ideas that the RSA cultivates, which all work to release human potential:
“Our mission is to create the conditions for the enlightened thinking and collaborative action needed to address today’s most pressing social challenges.
We serve this mission by acting as a global hub, by enabling millions of people to access the most creative ideas, by nurturing networks of innovators, and through researching, testing and sharing practical interventions.”
I’m thrilled to be a part of the RSA network, and I can’t wait to get stuck in…
I highly recommend this book if you need to invite more space to think and just BE in the world. Author Graham Turner travels to India, Ireland, Egypt and elsewhere to spend time with people who regularly and deeply use the power of silence in their life, including contemplative Christians, Desert Fathers, writers, mountaineers, actors, Quakers and psychiatrists.
This book gave me clarity on how I could amplify the silent spaces in my life (running, bouldering, prayer, thinking) and make them into more powerful, alchemic and refreshing focus points. Enjoy!
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.