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… with great love

The world feels particularly alarmed at the moment.  The U.S are afeared at what their election will bring given that one candidate is a proven loose cannon  and the other a proven liar.  Last week a woman who I knew for a short while as a colleague was savagely and barbarically shot, kicked and stabbed to death whilst going about her work as a Member of the British Parliament, serving constituents who had elected her for her talent and energy and goodness and days before that a twisted maniac massacred 49 innocents just being themselves in a Gay nightclub in Orlando.  Today my country of birth opted by a slender margin to exit the European Union and exercise it’s right to navigate the world in splendid isolation.   All of these things are quite shocking to digest.  I need not and will not comment – my opinions are of no interest to those taking the time to read my words but I do have something that I hope might strike a different and more harmonious chord.

I am currently in France having been whisked here by a circuitous route to delay my guessing the destination by HB² (my husband) so that we could spend our wedding anniversary in the place we were married three years ago.  Today I am sitting at my table in the place I call home.  My world is rosy.  I am fortunate.  This week along with the delightful, other things have happened in my personal life that could certainly anger me, engender hatred and lead me to feel that the best thing is to curl up in my cave and live my life as a strange old hermit (complete with splendid false beard).  But being the cussed optimist that I work at being, I know that I am better placed and better off endeavouring to find value in the way things are trying to effect other lives as decently as I can.  Last week, the extremely lovely  @Turtleway whose beauteous blog you will find here graced me by beginning to read every post I have ever written.  This is either brave or foolhardy but in any case  remarkably flattering.  She asked me in response to a post I wrote about Oradour sur Glâne in France, which was the object of a genocide in the dying days of WWII how we can avoid hating when we come across atrocities.  Which we do almost daily with modern news transfer being as rapid as it is and Social Media rampantly passing on the attrocious and the marvellous in an entirely unfiltered manner.  I thought for some days before I replied and then I said this:

‘The first thing I must say is that I understand hatred. But it was my youngest daughter, then aged about 10 years old who asked me to stop using the word ‘hate’ because, she said,  we should never actually hate anyone or anything.  By definition it is a cankerous emotion. She is now 21 and her views have inevitably become a little less pure but she remains true to the essence of what she said. For my part, I feel that hating and being angry are well and good but that they don’t resolve anything, they do not bring back the dead, they do not comfort the bereaved and they do not heal the wounded. In fact they probably feed the perpetrators. And I refuse to grace wicked, evil people with anything that might make them feel anything other than the odious bile that they have become. So I try instead to count my own good fortune and to understand what I can do to help. I am a highly emotional person by nature and tend to ricochet between highs and lows without warning. My own balance is maintained by seeking out the good in every situation and by attempting to not fuel the fire with a whirlwind of anger but rather to damp it with the dew of decency. Different people use different mechanisms. I must stress that I am not perfect. I feel anger and rage and bitterness and fury and sometimes I let those feelings begin to tarnish my insides. But I try to remain mindful and conscious and to take a beat and if necessary many many beats whilst I get to a mechanism that can quash the negatives and allow the positive energy to release so that I can be of some use. This is not forgiveness, this is not excusing this is simply trying not to become dissolved by fury and outrage but rather to evolve by maintaining a stance of dignity and warmth of spirit.

The world we live in is full of hatred.  Today Social Media is positively crackling with rancor and bitterness or exultation and self-congratulation depending on which side you take at the result of the self-proclaimed ‘Brexit’ vote.  It turns into yet another reason for people to sling mud.  I choose not to.  I urge others to join me.  I hope one day you will.  And to paraphrase John Lennon, the greatest of pacifists, the most gifted of men, diabolically slain so many years ago by a twisted soul, maybe, just maybe one day the world will live as one.’

Here are two little beetles simply working together, spreading their beetle love and working as partners to further beetlekind.  This ties in nicely to the photo challenge this week of which  here you can find lots and lots of far more admirable examples  And yes, using a picture of beetles when referencing a Beatle is entirely deliberate.

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PS:  The quote comes from Mother Teresa of Calcutta – ‘None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.’

In my mind I am free

I consider myself to be pretty fortunate.  It’s not that I have led a seamless life.  It’s not that they had a canteen of silver spoons at the ready to shove into my gaping, greedy mouth at birth, it’s certainly not that life has dealt me no challenges.  Not at all.  I’ve lived a life.  On occasions a seat of my pants-on-fire scorching my behind sort of life.  But the thing is this.  I embrace the challenges, I smile at the misfortunes because they make me the person I am now and they led me to where I am now and in the great scheme of things I am pretty damned prosperous …. which is not to say monetarily rich.  I do not measure wealth and success in pecuniary increments.  So although I may not do it immediately, I do always search for whatever the mechanism is that works to put whatever the adversity may be in a positive place and I do always get there in the end.

Around two months ago I went back to France for a quick visit to make sure my plants weren’t expired in my flat and my car hadn’t entirely given up the mechanical ghost.  From there I flew to England to make less necessary checks on my ludicrously independent and gloriously enduring mother.  And my daughters (the three out of four who live there) came and visited.  One daughter (one more than I might expect) said it was a shame I wasn’t staying longer.  I explained that I had an important follow-up appointment with my physician after my oncologist had delivered her verdicts.  This left the said daughter entirely unmoved (we lived my cancer a few years ago which is hard on children of any age and  it’s easier for them to button their ears to any talk of the on-going care I have, easier to imagine I am now immune.  I am, after all,  their indestructible mummy).  So I mentioned an appointment with a bloke the same afternoon.  This had the said girl-child herding me tout de suite to the airport to ensure I did not miss this incredible, enviable and  priviliged opportunity.

So who was it that so impressed a 20-something?  Who could it possibly be?  Royalty?  No.  Hollywood A-lister?  Nope.  Rock legend?  Nah.  I cogetated this and I realised that there are only a tiny handful of people who could possibly engender such a response from pretty much anyone.  A response that is mid-way between hugely impressed and achingly envious.  The Pope might be one.  The Queen of England another.  The third and in this case the actual is Stephen Hawking.

I am seldom lost for words.  This is a trait.  A personality thing.  I’m articulate and gregarious when the need arises.  I write words down  too and from time to time I believe they are almost coherent.  But this day.  April 19th 2016.  In Cambridge Massachusetts I was humbled to the point of speechless.  I had no concept of what to expect.  The preparation that goes into getting this man into a room however big or small is immense.  The deference with which he is treated I would mostly sneer at since essentially the circus is just that, an act put on for an audience who need to believe that this person is not of the same world as the rest of us.  But in this case it is entirely justified.  That he gave a talk that I mainly understood even though it was to an assemblage peppered with the greats of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Harvard University; that he is brave enough to sit before any gathering, withered in his chair and at the effect of software to speak the words he has written for the occasion and the pregnant pauses in delivery that are inherent in the system; that he has such a self-depracating sense of humour.  All of this I had not imagined even though I imagine I have quite a fertile imagination.  I simply had not gone there.  Which is the point.  This is a man whose life should have been at it’s end at 21 years of age.  He says everything else has been a bonus.  And he has taken that bonus and run with it.  I felt the withered insignificant teeny tiny little squib in the room.  This was like listening to God (I have my own mish-mash belief system that does not allow for a single deity and which I need not share since it is merely mine).  I came out of that room entirely changed.  A better person.  Purer.  Which is the other point … the title of this weeks photo challenge is Pure.  And this man, with his failings, with his warts, with his reliance on science to keep him going is about as pure a mind as I have ever encountered.

The picture I have selected to illustrate this fact is taken at altitude above San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.  HB² (my husband to the uninitiated) built a tiny observatory there some years ago simply because he could.  I love this.  Just do it.  Because you can.  That is the Hawking way.  You can if you will.   Stephen Hawking may not have visited this observatory but he will surely know that you need the purest atmosphere to observe the stars.  To find the answers he seeks.  The answers we all silenty crave.  The observatory is in the picture but you may not be able to see it.  A man like Hawking sees what we cannot see, makes sense of what we cannot make sense of, delivers it to the world in a form that from Nobel Prize Winners to young children everyone can have a piece of.  And that, if I may is pure genius.

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And of course PS: Hawking is responsible for the quote in the title ‘Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free’ (‘How to Build a Time Machine’, 2010)… and that freedom is purety incarnate, surely and defines what I feel makes ME fortunate.

You can find all the other, laudible entries to the challenge ‘PURE’ right here