Wednesday 21 December 2011

A starry night leads to New Year Resolutions

Cogito Ergo Sum - I think therefore I am?

I came home late the other night beneath a wonderful, clear and star-bright night.  I stood there and had a sudden sense of seeing it all anew. It was immensely spiritual but it was also cold, so shrugging off the thought, I made my way to bed.  About two hours later I awoke to ideas, swirling, like that universe of stars.  Trying to sort these sparks of ideas, in the silent dark, it was as though, if I could just focus, I might organise my world, life and purpose and make sense of it all - at last!   But how?   I had to get these separate little light bulbs of sense down on paper.  I thought of a writer friend who, above all, would understand and be able to help me make sense of it.  At least I dare write it down for him and he would reply.

So, I got out of bed went downstairs and switched on the computer.  It was 3.42am.  As it was warming up I wrote a page of notes.  All were perfectly clear and sequenced as they had appeared earlier.  They seemed logical and reasoned, if unlinked and it was good to have them, ready to be assembled into the sense I was hoping for.  Then, rather than write an email to just one friend, I resolved to write to the people who had responded to something I had said, or done in 2011, as a kind of thank you for noticing.  This would double as my end of year e-card to the inner circle of what I call my soul mates - kindred spirits - those who seem to understand. 

I began writing up the notes…and it flowed.  The piece was about the spark of life….like those stars….mirroring the shine in some peoples’ eyes…. and this being the life force of the positive thinkers….. I mused on the universe within.  The Higgs Boson and God Particle were going to be in there somewhere… as was our imminent grandchild inside his, or her, universe of mother, soon to be born into ours.  I wrote about the essence of life being in us all but only for some of the time and that it can just die out… in depression, recession and times of strife…. and then how some manage to keep it alight…even in demanding circumstances and others let it die so easily.  I rallied at, "Keeping it alight is so crucial!"  and went on about. "Why soul mates are critical because they keep the chain of our hopes connected."  Then I wrote about the cynical others.... those who just moan, make claims, or protest and expect life and good things to appear, getting angry and aggressive when they don’t...the drainers of enthusiasm, the breakers of hope and then back to those that DO things and make things happen…. or just quietly get on with life, uncomplaining… the salt of the earth,  workers, thinkers, philanthropists… the common good folk!.  Then I banged on about how we must harness those who add energy by pulling them together…yes interdependence cropped up too and then….and then…..just when the action element was about to emerge as a crescendo…just when the point of it all seemed to be coming together... the ideas sort of petered out…bugger!

It was now 5.23am ….. I looked back at the four “tight” paragraphs I had written, re-read them and saw that it was drivel, pure sentimental drivel.   I was embarrassed about the derivative approach,  references to, “Yes we can!”and the  “Good Samaritan”, “The Boy in the Emperor’s Clothes became the Good Samaritan”.  I despaired at the wasted effort -  It was a rant – a broadcast with no end.  My great thoughts of the night had become a poor thought for the day.  Maybe dawn was making me the very cynic I had berated.  The beautiful night construction had fallen apart at the touch of the very light I had been eulogising.  I reviewed the draft for anything worth preserving……I found nothing, so I deleted it and went to bed……

I sent no emails that morning.

One slim idea survives today, two days later, as I think back, in an effort to justify why I try to write.  I have to salvage something.  And yes, there was a notion that had figured when I looked up at the sky that night.  Suddenly it had seemed, I was looking down at the sky, as though I had turned round, having journeyed past some kind of light-year marker…a spacial milestone.  I had always thought of looking up at the sky, as though hurtling towards what is to come…at the prow of the Earthship journeying, outwards into space.... boldly going even.  But that night it was as if I was seeing down, below and into the past, where we have been.  This awareness was of travelling on the earth away from, not towards anything.  The vertigo was palpable but not unpleasant - looking down and backwards at what had gone before…at our huge past

Earth from Mars

Thinking about my wasted effort and stumbling towards the essence of life reminded me, of all those occasions when I have had similar powerful experiences - many at night.  Do you have these moments of tantalising insight too?  I must describe one. 

It is a comedy sketch the writer friend, the one I was going to email, and I wrote at Drama College in 1968.  It comprised Two Clowns and their struggling to explain the meaning of life.  They were dressed in long, old overcoats and had a kind of simplistic stupidity that allowed them to see things, or so they thought.  

Clown 1 - Lookalike

They had created a sculpture called, “In-canned essence” of life and had written poems and a song to explain it.  They had even invented a new religion based on the worship of leaves.  One was loud, sure, bombastic and evangelical, the other was reticent, calm and less sure.  (Guess which one I was).  I remember standing at the front of the stage, at one point, declaring, “I am the way, the truth and the leaf… “ And then being “surprised” at dried peas appearing in my mouth and how they popped out during my soliloquies bouncing, tapping across the stage.  This clown was passionate about his new thinking - the humour was in his pathetic surety.  The clowns talked of “dis-tree-buting” leaflets and the “Holly Trini-tree” - all in great solemnity.   We had never heard an audience cry with laughter so much before and never since.  I look back at that and see, for the first time, the beginnings of my Leafman – the fool who stumbles on a kind of truth  (see story on a separate page in this BLOG)  Here was my first idiot facing the crowd.  

So, was this, the same inklings, the beginnings of an imagined wisdom in our heads all those years ago?  My nightmare is that I have just been recycling those old ideas over and over again... and at length.  An awful reflection.  So why carry on baying at the moon?  Because it is there and the universe is all around.

What is point? There has to be a turn to action.  Well, I'd love to become a recluse and go to a monk’s cell somewhere… a cool stone room with just a bed, table, chair, candle, pencil and paper and muse on the jumble of thoughts in muy jotted notes, poems and this BLOG... for as long as it would really get it clear and written down! 

I'd  be a Henry Thoreau, writing, thinking to make sense of it all.  I must go to my shed in the woods! I should write up that script, create a philosophy based on the Pedagogical Oath or finish "The Tower" even.  realised that there was time now, before New Year, to ponder this and the resolutions I could make…I never seem to make resolutions properly.  So, what might they be? 

I could try and concentrate, even more, on my soul mates and not try to touch everyone and anyone, any more.   So, one temptation is to junk this BLOG, the website, all the other technical crap..... the twitter, the smartphone and even the word processor and emails that toss up thoughts into the ether.  Only then could I concentrate on DOING things, making things happen at home, at work and for pleasure…So, what will I do - I must surely resolve to do more and ponder, or worry about big issues less.  A new workshop project maybe?  A children's book?

John's workshop

And what about work? Getting the iABACUS project to completion with my new work soul-mate? Yes!  More local work? Yes!  What will I do for pleasure?  More gallivanting definitely!  

And one resolution I have already decided is to get even fitter and climb more mountains. So, this week, I've signed up for a proper, real, strenuous trek in Nepal next November with my climbing soul mate - ice axe and crampons will soon be on order.  That's about DOING not thinking!

Well, that’s my starter of a list of resolutions for 2012 - rebalanced to action rather than thinking about thinking. 

How will you use the energy from the spark, or embers, in your incandescence?  Our college motto was, Gogito Ergo Sum (I think therefore I am).  We used to joke, "Cogito cogito ergo, cogito cogito sum!  (I think I think therefore I think I am!)  After this recent sleepless night.. does anyone out there, soulmate or not,  know the Latin for,  "I think., I think in order that I will be"

Who shattered the glass?