Just a quick note today. I was chatting with a work colleague who I guess is of a similar vintage to me, and we were talking about how wonderful things like ice-cream taste when you’re a kid.
We started reminiscing about various food items and brands we remembered growing up, and my colleague casually asked “How old are you?” “61” I replied. “Great, she said, so you’ll remember…” and off we went on another trip down memory lane.
I can’t tell you how relaxing it was to have a normal exchange with someone whose reaction to finding out my age was not to rear back like a startled horse and say “Oh, but you don’t look it”, “Wow I would never have guessed” and similar remarks, as if I’m hiding some deep dark secret.
It’s not even that I look particularly young for my age I don’t think, it’s just that to younger folk, anything over 60 sounds positively ancient and unlikely to be found in plain sight in the workplace!
Ah well. What’s your favourite food memory from childhood?
Since my blog’s first birthday last week I’ve been thinking on and off about Pilgrim’s Moon.
I’ve decided to take a short break.
I need to reconsider and recalibrate what I’m doing online, here and elsewhere. And I need to reconsider and recalibrate what I’m doing offline. Some meditating and contemplating is in order. Along with some active planning.
So look out for me back here when the time seems right – I’ll miss you!
Yesterday, I went to The Making of Harry Potter studio tour in north London. To walk through the Great Hall, board the Knight Bus and drink Butterbeer was wonderful and truly magical.
It made me reflect on several things:
The spark is where it starts. If you’ve ever wondered whether one person can put into motion a stupendous series of events, think about that delayed train journey J K Rowling took in 1990, during which Harry jumped into her imagination. That one imaginative spark has enthralled millions and inspired the creativity of thousands of the people involved in making eight wonderful films. The Harry industry has provided employment for many, many people.
You have to do the work. Jo Rowling had to write the books. She had to go through that labour of writing at the cost of other things in her life. How much easier would it have been to allow that spark to stay in her imagination and never fan Harry’s flame into life?
Detail is important. The props, costumes and film sets are covered in fine detail which is never properly seen in the films. They are works of art in their own right, and they allowed the actors to inhabit their roles more authentically. I suspect it’s the same in our lives: if the details aren’t beautiful and authentic, the bigger stuff goes astray.
Minimalism is especially demanding. One of the designers remarked that it’s easy to make a grand effect with visual trickery. If you’re working on something plain, it needs to have real depth and quality to draw and satisfy the eye. Which made me realise again that simplicity is a gift, not a punishment.
Thank you all for reading and contributing to Pilgrim’s Moon over the past year. I couldn’t have had a more delightful group of readers. It’s been a magical time for me, and I hope you’ll stay with me as we head towards the ‘terrible twos’.
It’s the Equinox. Day and night of equal length. In the North, we’re celebrating Spring, in the South, Autumn.
The planet, and our lives, are always in motion. Sometimes this feels too hectic, sometimes too slow.
How do we find the balance?
There’s an old story about balance and transformation:
An eager disciple wants to know the secret of transforming his life. He hears of a wise old hermit who dwells in a cave high up on the mountainside.
The disciple climbs the mountain. It takes him hours of strenuous effort. Finally he reaches the cave and sees the old woman sitting in meditation, her eyes closed.
After a few more hours, the old woman opens her eyes. The disciple asks tremblingly if he can learn the secret of a transformed life. The hermit takes up a stick and writes one word in the earth in front of her: awareness.
‘Yes’, says the disciple, ‘I know that’s important, but how can I live a more balanced and transformed life? What is the secret?’ The old woman brushes out the word she has written and writes two more in its place: awareness, awareness.
‘But’, says the disciple, ‘how can this be the secret?’ The old woman looks at him and says ‘There are three secrets to transformation: awareness, awareness and awareness.’
The disciple staggers back down the mountain, hot and tired, and on the way he does indeed becomes aware: of his feeling of irritation with that damn hermit!
He begins to bring this awareness into his daily life and becomes increasingly aware of his reactions, his feelings, his thoughts, his actions. And once the habit of awareness is ingrained in him, he is able to be aware also of his love for himself and others, and of his love for the world and the sacred. And then he is able to meet himself and others in full compassion and awareness.
Living a balanced life seems to me a big part of transforming our lives. If we ate ice-cream at every meal or lettuce at every meal, we’d definitely be unbalanced. The same with our actions, our thoughts and our emotions.
And the only way to test our balance is to do the mental equivalent of sticking our arms out: to practice awareness.
It doesn’t need a huge amount of mental space, and it gets to be a habit quite quickly. Just check in with yourself lightly and often. What are you feeling, what are you thinking, what are you about to do or avoid doing? Be especially aware of any feeling of dread of defiance in the pit of your stomach: you know the feeling I mean. Be aware of feelings of heaviness or lightness. Be aware of joy and sorrow. Be aware of attacks of stubbornness and reluctance.
Paralysis by analysis
The trick is not to dive down into your feelings, thoughts and actions and analyse what they might mean until you’re heartily sick of them.
The trick is simply to practice awareness. Everything else, including beautiful balance in your life, will follow.
(Disclaimer: I’m still a student on this path, but this is a very helpful one!)
Which parts of your life deserve illuminating with awareness?