As this Yuletide comes towards its climax, I have begun to think about summation. Themes that have emerged. Any conclusions reached. I know that this year feels different from the last. On a personal level and on a global level too.
Many of you have purchased the print version of last years Yule (B)log that I have been flogging around town (copies of said dead horse still available from a variety of outlets). Re-reading those entries, I notice a preoccupation with the notion of Community. An exploration of what Community means to me and a recognition of the various communities to which I belong and which define me. Alongside that notion is a growing fascination with the idea of Transformation. Identifying how and why a person is capable of Transformation. Of growing to become something other than they are at present. It seems that, this time last year, I was somewhere approaching a point of Transformation and looking to find a strong sense of Community to support and guide me through it. But, essentially, it was written from a place of relative safety and security. We had been living in our house longer than anywhere we had lived before. I had come to terms with my Parkinson’s, my medication was stable. Yes, there were ups and downs, but generally life was okay.
In contrast, this year’s Yule blog seems to have swung between extremes. From Light to Dark and back again. There seems to have been a lot of movement between states. A lot of time spent in the border territories. Waiting. Faffing. Unwilling to commit. Unable to decide where to be.
Which is not entirely surprising when I consider what has been going on for us as a family this year. We have put our house up for sale, Jo has started her own business, Sam is getting ready to leave home. My Parkinson’s, as always, hovers ominously in the background. Life is in the process of changing big time. We are now aware that we are in that process of change. Somewhere in the early stages. And we have no idea how it is all going to resolve. It feels like we are riding a roller-coaster blind-folded.
Similarly, on the World stage, it feels like we are at the beginning of a time of great change. At the moment, there seems to be a lot of Darkness across the World. A lot of war, hatred, intolerance, greed and selfishness. And, as if in response to this, the UK has been enveloped in cloud for weeks now. A perpetual dullness. Miserable weather in tune with miserable times.
But, there have been moments of Light too. Moments when Humanity has demonstrated its vast potential for kindness, love, selflessness and sacrifice. Most of these moments of Light have been generated, not by our leaders (who seem, for the most part, to be at a loss as to how to respond to the challenges we face) but by ordinary people responding in the present moment to the horrors they see before them and simply doing the right thing.
It seems to me that the old certainties are crumbling all around us. The convictions upon which we have built our modern world are turning out to be clouds that drift and fade away. Our foundations have no substance and the entire edifice is tottering.
We cannot have continual growth.
We cannot continue to mine the World’s resources indefinitely.
We do not have dominion over the Earth.
We are not special. Not different from all other forms of Life.
We cannot be separate from Nature.
Having more stuff will not make us happier.
Working harder will not make you richer.
Doing as you are told will not keep you safe.
Our leaders do not have our best interests at heart.
Competition does not make you stronger.
That car will not get you the girl.
That burger does not taste like it looks in the advert.
We cannot expect our leaders to save us.
Our leaders have been telling us the wrong stories. We have to find new ways to live. Build better foundations. We have to tell new stories. This is not a new problem. At key moments throughout its history, Mankind has, again and again, had to rewrite the stories it lives by. I think that we are now at one of those moments. Since the Enlightenment period of the 18th Century, the West has been obsessed by two key notions: individualism and reason. We have put the Individual and Reason on twin pedestals and bought into the conviction that, together, they can give us all we need. Which has resulted in all sorts of problems. Not that Reason and the rights of the Individual are bad. It’s just that Feelings and the rights of the Group have their part to play too. We should not neglect them.
As we write and tell new stories, we will do well to remember to include Heart as well as Head. We as well as I. Try to find a better balance.
This morning, Jo and I took Hollydog for a walk together. It has been a while since we have been able to do so. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. The first for a long time. It was good to be out. We walked round Windmill Hill, across the road, through the gate, up the field to the stile with the muddy puddle beyond, down the track alongside the hedge, to the junction with the track to Homer. Views to Ironbridge Gorge and the Wrekin.
Turn left up the hill and on to Wenlock Edge. We talked about our love of mountains. The need we share for high places, views, vistas. About how we had enjoyed last night’s party. The conversations we had had. About how we fail as a society to provide our children with the tools and opportunities they need to find out who they are.
At the T junction, we head off right, down the slippery path, through the woods towards Homer. After negotiating the treacherous mud slopes, we emerge from the woods on to an open field. I love this panorama. To the right, the Wrekin. To the left, the Lawley, Long Mynd, Caer Caradoc.
As we turn towards the Wrekin, a rainbow appears. Light meeting Water creating Magic. A gift. I think there is hope for us yet.