Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ironic dust gatherings

A late evening post as I drink tea and wonder how we reached midnight already. I have been tutoring and mentoring today. Teaching about gender roles and stereotypes; what does it mean to be a man/woman in a wider social cultural and historical context, etc... Since it is apparently half term my students can see me during the day and it seems to work well. Then I met some of my students for mentoring sessions this afternoon after making the journey down the A59 happily occupying my space in time where all that is required of me is to keep alive and alert, drive on the left hand side of the road, keep within 60mph and sing to the tune of the shuffled spotify playlist. This drive sounds wonderful; blissful in fact. Probably because it really is, once I befriend the fact that I commute it is really my saving grace some days. My car is my breathing space where even my phone must be unattended to. 

I have reached the point where I get clients or students who don't show up or who cancel and of course I worry or at least I hope that they are OK. And of course I will always seek to rearrange their session. But lately (and I don't know if I am 'allowed' to feel this way) but I have almost been thankful for the inevitable late cancellations or no shows - they have been a small window in time for me to catch up on things that would otherwise be left until now (midnight is not always my most productive time). The things that I cannot do whilst I drive. 

As I walked back to my car yesterday I realised that I could not recall the last time I took my car to be washed, and as the rain poured down from the heavens I was ashamed to discover that I have become of of those people who thanks goodness for the rain because it cleans the car. Because the rain cleans the car... Goodness. And yet despite the rain the dust on my car has somehow remained. And as it is autumn and the leaves and twigs are gathering on the ground, the interior of my car seems to be a magnet for such autumnal debris and since cleaning the outside of my car is a challenge and task that only Mother Nature can attend to, cleaning and hoovering the inside is a new concept altogether. There is a small forest gathering in the foot space of my dear Clio. This is a somewhat hilarious concept for most who know me to embrace pristine homes and cars; my car is less than clean but you know what? It is fine and I am fine with that.

I have spent some time drinking wine or eating dinner or generally in the company of some very good human souls lately. It has reminded me that there is much more to life. So I have accumulated dust on the paintwork of my car. So what? It simply means that my life is too full of what matters to stop and waste time sitting in the car wash whilst I pay an extortionate price to have it washed only 24 hours later for it to revert back to its dust-gathering ways. I have realised whilst writing this that there is something ironic about the dust on my car. Dust usually gathers when something remains static; when something remains still and untouched for a long period of time. But life is anything but static and motionless. Life is full-speed and the universe is constantly turning so that nothing stays the same. Let us not gather dust, but also allow what settles to settle. 

Time to rest! 

Buenos noches 

Monday, 27 October 2014

'to alter the time of the clock'

It is very almost the end of October. This weekend just gone saw many things but we also saw the clocks go back; not that I changed any of them myself (although I realise as I type this that my wrist watch needs to be adjusted!!!). The wonders of modern-day technology now means that I simply have to look at the time on my computer screen or car or phone and voila; instantaneous. I accept it as it is. No more waking up in the morning wondering whether it is indeed 8am or 9am. Did my phone change automatically? Must I change it myself? is it ACTUALLY 9am? Did I sleep in this much? Must I suddenly pay real attention and question the time that is presented to me!? Must I then be accountable and responsible for adjusting this authoritative number that appears on my wrist or phone screen that I check religiously and that dictates most of my daily routine? What is the REAL time? Well all those thoughts didn't happen for me. My trust was placed in Apple and I knew that I had indeed slept until around 8.30am - it was actually 8.30am and I wondered about this 'time' business.

George Vernon Hudson proposed that we change the clocks to preserve the 'working hours' that we have; i.e. to make the most of daylight.

'To alter the time of the clock at the equinoxes so as to bring the working-hours of the day within the period of daylight, and by utilising the early morning, so reduce the excessive use of artificial light which at present prevails.'

As a human being who loves nothing more than chasing the sunsets/sunrises, and believes that the sunlight makes a real difference to our mental and emotional wellbeing, i.e. I believe that for many of us, living in darkness can be a real challenge and there is something about the natural sunlight that enhances our mood and also allows us to live in a more appreciative way that is more connected to our environment and other people. But this is for another post... My writing here is more about the questions my sister raised and also questions I carry around myself too.

'What does time mean? Do we ever know what the time really is anyway?'

Well of course the clocks change twice a year for very valid historical and indeed philosophical reasons, but the essence of this question is something that I always carry with me. I have experienced different cultures that have different attitudes towards time; and indeed different generations and their attitudes towards time. Even different sub-cultures within our lives that are divided by job roles or family roles or age categories. Life experiences shape who we are but they also shape our ideas and relationship with the concept of time. We turn our clocks backwards or forward, most of us without giving it a second thought. Perhaps, ironically, we are too focused on a time in the past or future to look and listen to what we are doing in the present.

The point is, is that we do this - we adjust our clocks and have whatever thoughts we have because this is just what we do. There are too many things that we do just 'because' - too many things that we do without paying attention to our thinking because we are too preoccupied trying to do it 'in time'. Ironically time seems to run out before we have even really allowed ourselves the time we had readily available to us. Physically and literally time is time; 60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours... These are all units of time that we can contextualize and understand. Sitting in a philosophy talk recently I realised that my scientific thinking rationalized and debated with much of the philosophical debating such as 'why is time as it is? Why do we think it is as it is...' so this is not what I wonder. I realise that after years of psychology I was actually somewhat disappointed to find myself cognitively and scientifically reasoning with the discussion.

Back to my point -  emotionally and mentally how much of our time do we dedicate to allowing ourselves to fully exist in the moment we are so well versed at denying or rushing through? What I have seen, perhaps more recently so, is that when something is approaching an end we have a tendency to want to hold onto it for longer; to enrich what we have left, to make the most of it, to appreciate it more, to take from it something real and meaningful. To look at the nuances of what we have rather than to touch the surface and no more.

It is Monday morning and time means that I must now go to work... I hope the hours of this day are not just surface hours. I hope they are hours that are more than surface-deep.

Happy Monday :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Mulled wine, sunsets, and being an agent of change

In the spirit of keeping my blog posts going and taking 'time out' for myself (it is the weekend and I believe this is permitted. Side-note - I actually advocate time out any day of the week at any time, if that is what the body/mind/soul requires... But this being acknowledged, I do not always practice what I preach).

Anyway, I have decided to write another post. I have no inspirational book or quote - probably due to the lack of free time I have had to indulge in the finer pleasures of life. But I do have something I have been reminded of over the past week or so. This is that simply the act of letting things be can be the most infuriating and testing process, yet the most liberating and empowering at the same time. If I choose to let things be rather than surrender to letting things be because I have no choice, it is a much more invigorating and validating process. It is always a balance; how much do we actively push for change and how much can we sit back and enjoy (sometimes endure) the ride? Afterall, isn't life constantly in motion and thus, the world does not stop turning just because we choose to close our eyes and stop momentum for a short while. It will carry on turning, it will continue in motion; we just decide when and how we give it a little direction and which view we choose.

A balance, as always. It seems I have given it more direction than usual lately. New placements, suddenly presentations and talks to give, acknowledging that in certain roles I am 'expected' to know a great deal, yet it can feel that I really don't know very much at all... new responsibilities and new connections with people who may or may not become key parts of my life. I thought mid-way through my course and my training that things might feel the most settled than ever before. I was very wrong! But I am coming to realise that it is me that decides for things to be unsettled - it is me that doesn't want to settle. I enjoy the change - perhaps for now though, things could settle just for a while whilst I gather my breath and enjoy the view.

I shall wrap up with a picture I took this evening. Red sky at night... or something like that! We went walking and took mulled wine and watched the sun set. It was quite a way to spend a Sunday evening

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Early October and the concept of change

Early October and I am sat in a corner of a coffee shop. Of course this is standard blogging opportunity - I'm responding to emails and sat with my work, writing up the findings of some research for a report, and feeling that life is taking a new direction lately.

I had a placement interview yesterday and one of the questions I was asked was 'how do you respond to change?'. My response took me by surprise because my unfiltered response flew out of my mouth before I managed to contain it.. I said 'oh I love change!' But why is this response a surprise? Am I expected to state my reservations and reluctance to change? Is it expected that my resistance should outweigh my motivation to engage with life? I then paused before I elaborated on my somewhat enthusiastic words! And I thought that change is a concept that we either take in our stride or we fall victim to circumstance - the latter is never an idea I am comfortable with accepting, although the socialist or post-modern argument inside the small corner of my brain might dispute this. Probably to little effect! We are only a victim if we allow ourselves to be, and we can only move forward if we allow life to change. It is not about what we like or don't like, it is about what we choose to allow. Taking forward with us what we need and trusting that the rest will fall into place feels like a cryptic message, but strangely I am trusting in it nonetheless.

I am always surprised by the direction in which life moves... Equally the trust that others seem to place in us; In our capabilities and our decisions. Perhaps it is just the way it is, but it also reminds me that trusting in ourselves is a powerful thing. The rest usually follows then...

I shall now get back to my task at hand but somehow my coffee shop corner didn't feel quite as it should without posting a quick blog too. Life has indeed been in full speed but it has also meant that my writing here has taken a back-seat for a while...