Tag Archives: musings

It’s a Fine Line between Politeness and Progress

I am English so naturally I struggle with this fine line.

The problem I have is that, when erring on the side of politeness, there is always a little voice in my head shouting, “Hypocrite! You’re a bloody hypocrite! Don’t let them go away with that view unchallenged – whilst you’ll put yourself in a vulnerable position, how can you live with yourself knowing that person is going to loudly perpetuate that complete tosh to anyone who’ll listen???”

I’d really rather not get into debates with everyone I encounter… but then I find the most narrow-minded to be the ones who incite discussion on controversial subjects. As if to assert themselves from the start and strong-arm me into automatic concurrence.

I think it could be argued that they are spoiling for a fight.

Etiquette vs Education

Yesterday an older gentleman came round to tune the piano. Firstly, he denigrated digital keyboards as a replacement for instrumental pianos which, I must admit, I could wholeheartedly agree with… after all, digital has it’s place but is no replacement! But he “hates” it.

Then he spied my bottles on the side table… and began to harp on about how he doesn’t drink and that drink is terrible stuff and so on, and that he “hates” people who drink. Again, can’t massively argue with the negatives of the demon drink although I see no need to nobble someone in their own home. I can’t drink anyway so he was barking up the wrong tree… it’s there for my “terrible” friends!

Next it was smoking. Again, completely agree but decided at this point to say, “Actually i enjoy the occasional cigarette…”, to which he began harping on about how he hates” smokers and that he knew some old lady who had smoked like a chimney and how she was a bad person for that… and, “…she died! Ha!!” WTF??? I should have kept quiet but felt imposed upon in my own home by that point, which is just unreasonable. This conversation had only started after he had finished the job for goodness sake and my precious time was being wasted on ranting and it wasn’t constructive.

Next he mentioned a call he had to make to tune a piano, back in the 70’s. He had arrived to a group of people all smoking “that weed”. “It’s really bad that stuff – if you smoke it once it damages your brain for the rest of your life.” “You’re never the same again.” “It’s evil dangerous stuff people who smoke it are weird and bad.” “I’ve met them, there’s something wrong with them!” “It’s illegal too isn’t it?” “I hate people who do that.”

Now I have to admit that I am a defender of the medicinal properties of said weed.  I am all too aware of the issues – mainly restricted to teenage boys and folk with pre-existing conditions – but far more frequently, I have seen too many adult people benefit immeasurably to be able to accept alcohol as fine and cannabis as not. I’m yet to see anyone tangibly physiologically benefit from drinking alcohol. Relaxation and loss of inhibition don’t count.

But

I couldn’t bring myself to educate this man. However hard the little voice in my head tried, my mouth would not commit to the noose in that way. I find that the narrow minds of the loudly judgemental ignorant are what poison and destroy sense, free social discourse and progress. I mean, the guy had just told me in no uncertain terms that he hated me on 3 counts!

I find myself often in this dilemma: Educate or Assimilate?

You see this gentleman is completely entitled to his opinion and to voice it… I just feel that he should be in hand of actual facts and evidence before he makes his judgement and goes out proclaiming aggressively to anyone within earshot. I also think “hate” is a very strong word.

Progress, in my opinion, is not related to the obvious – building big shiny things, converting every daily task to technology, searching the universe… no, I believe progress only continues where folk are prepared to question daily what they have believed all their lives. We need to always question ourselves and everything around us… double check it makes sense and we’re not just regurgitating false information provided by another biased and fallible human.

He continued on, as I walked him to his car, “They are letting them in left right and centre, they are taking all the jobs they aren’t learning the language”…. If I’m honest, racism makes me mental and I didn’t want him to stay the length of time it would have taken to debate that subject and so distracted him with a bird sighting!

You would have thought that admiring native fauna would have softened him, but his finale, and I jest you not, was the following;

“Well and of course those nature shows, they really shouldn’t show any of those bits that are unpleasant. I think they should censor when animals kill other animals or when something dies, I hate it. We shouldn’t have to see that, it’s horrible and it’s not right. Not right at all.”

Goodness, we really do have a long way to go with rational thinking.

I must confess that with his final flourish he had induced a burning inferno within me that would not have allowed a rational response had I indulged it. I know I shouldn’t get so angry and frustrated but my first response (of 5 billion that were queuing up in my head) would have been – “So you’re a vegetarian then are you??????” (I know he wasn’t because he’d mentioned meat earlier.) Followed swiftly by, “Do you have any inkling of how fortunate you are to be able to hate so loudly, liberally and ignorantly???”

The problem is that all my responses become swathed in a mire of, “You bloody moron. How can a person live on this planet for over 60 years and come out with such utter drivel? Forget nature programmes, it’s folk like you who should be bloody censored – you’re a danger to a rational and reasonable society, a threat to the environment and a blockade in the way of progress!!”

Instead of course, I smiled through gritted teeth as I waved him off to spread his very assured lunacy-fuelled hatred elsewhere, where folk might actually listen and take it as fact. Scary.

When he’d left, I genuinely couldn’t get my head round what he’d said. I may seem just as judgemental but it’s been a while since I’ve met anyone so entirely closed-minded, shallow and quite so vehement with no provocation. There’s some really serious sh$* going on around the world at the moment and this guy felt he should take up an hour of my life spouting crap that doesn’t even make the scale. He left me feeling frustrated and flabbergasted, guilty and doom-laden. How can he have visited such a wide variety of homes, schools, venues and locations over the course of his entire working career and not realise that people are people, you can’t pigeon-hole them or condemn and if they’re not hurting you and yours then really what’s the problem? Where’s all this hate coming from?

Ignorance breeds Fear. Fear breeds Contempt. Contempt creates Division. Division becomes Factional. Factions just Fight.

I avoided the fight but I feel like a coward. Not only did I judge a book by it’s cover – nice old gentleman, lifelong local piano tuner, moderate and polite – I had also allowed him off my turf to perpetuate his unchallenged, ignorant dogma. The media is rife with tales of horrendous evil Muslims and BNP idiots inciting racial hatred but I would like to mention the insidious, irrational, fear-induced inciting of racial hatred that goes on in all sorts of unassuming places and can even seep into your own home if you’re not careful, leaving a bad taste and staining the view for a while.

It’s a good thing really that he came across as such a throwback – I guess the fewer and further between these dogmatic and hate-fuelled individuals become… the better for us all.

I dread his return in 6 months but I suppose I could be out… or fully prepared with a Power Point presentation and an hour to spare!

evil bug

evil bug (Photo credit: acidpix)

The Mastery of the Universe

Perseid meteor shower in Austin Texas.

Perseid meteor shower in Austin Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I lay in bed on Saturday night happy and exhausted…. then something caught my eye. I knew there was a meteor shower predicted for Sunday night/Monday morn but the visual spectacular that greeted me on Saturday was soo good that it felt like the astronomers had purposefully misled the wider public so they could enjoy it all to themselves or somesuchthing! The streaks were huge and long and bright bright bright. I must have seen a dozen in half an hour!! I had the optimum location too…. lying on my back in my bed, watching the show. These weren’t the little zip zip type shooting stars, no we’re talking huge, long fireworks…. I was a little surprised I couldn’t hear a whoosh! There was a ‘Star Wars battle’ style to the whole show.

I love how spectacles of this kind bring out the imagination, superstition and awestruck child in me. For a few minutes it is easy to understand how all the beliefs in the world could have arisen. During that time I feel as if I can connect with ancestors and gain a fraction of understanding. To have encountered visions such as these with no scientific understanding or prior warning? That surely would have induced a feeling of insignificance, fear…and wonder, in humans far beyond that when facing a dangerous wild animal or other earthly surprise. Part of me wants to maintain the night skies in a similar vein to Father Christmas for my future children, if I’m lucky enough to have any. “I don’t know what it is darling… what do you think?” I don’t want to just plunge into scientific explanations.

I believe wholeheartedly in education. I also believe wholeheartedly in ignorant wonder.

Learning everything from books and teachers is efficient and important but learning from experience is joy.

I truly hope the generation of kids growing up in front of screens are able to foster an imagination and enjoy mystery and surprise. I hope the world is still full of wonder for them even if they are able to access seemingly everything in that world from their bedrooms. Imagination is what removes the ties that bind, the rules that govern and the facts that restrict. For a few hours I indulged in ignorant wonder… then the next day it was all written down in the news: Science science complicated words statistics blah blah

No wonder none of my friends seemed to give a toss. I tried to enthuse them! They weren’t intrigued or delighted at the prospect because some drivelling expert had removed all the wonder. No disrespect but it’s all in the delivery.

My headline would have read: Rare and mind-blowing experience available tonight: Strange and wonderful light display in the sky…. set in the most stunning and infinite HD backdrop ever witnessed! Stop everything and view the majestic freebie!

The whole world should have been on it’s back looking heavenwards. Floored by the enormity. Except of course most folk were either tucked up in bed, zombified in front of the tv or computer, or inebriated and incapable.

Well, I saw it. It was mind-expanding, surprising, inspiring and highly memorable. It was also impossible to capture on a phone or digicam or anything else. No, you had to use your own eyes and just enjoy it… well apart from the techno-supremes of the star-gazing community… but it is never the same reproduced, never the same at all.

No amount of technology will offer the depth or breadth of definition that human eyes can offer after 20 minutes or so in the dark looking skywards. I don’t care what anyone says.

I feel refreshed, reinvigorated, rejuvenated, inspired and humbled… and as if my world has expanded once more. I feel that frisson of ‘there’s bigger things in life than war, politics, corruption and dictatorship… more powerful than financial markets and latest tech… more awe-inspiring than million pound artworks and purpose-built mansions…’ Thank Goodness!!! We live in a global village, yes, but we are arrogant not to remember that it is one microscopic hamlet in the infinite sprawling metropolis of galaxies.

The universe has cleaned my palate for life… and put me in my place

Truly, the most wonderful things in life are (or should be – Monsanto) free to us all.

My only little niggle is that I met a lad recently who has never seen the stars. What a magnificent opportunity that would have been…

Savouring Now

I’ve found myself zoning right in to the tiny things just now. The pollination around the garden, the birds raising their young… sunrise… sunset… ant colonies and spiderlings. The organic wildflower meadows leading down to the river, the barn owl floating by at dusk while the bats flit about overhead.

I’m missing writing but have been taken over by a period of unintended deep meditation. It could be the heat, the pleasure of watching my garden grow after all the hard work or just my way of coping with the palpable changes going on for us as a species.

Within these hedges I am unencumbered.

Guilt is a powerful subverter and I have been wrestling with the guilt of not following the news, keeping up my opinions on global affairs and generally being downhearted about the state of the world… not being superbusy 24/7, not being sociable summer stylee, as well as the perennial guilt attached to not living how everyone else does and expects… of course.

I earn enough to cover what I need and, most of what I personally need… is free. I don’t feel my lifestyle is particularly selfish – I contribute to my local community and loan to farmers in developing countries, I provide a natural habitat for local flora and fauna and put up with creatures I’d really rather not for the greater good of humanity! I can’t summon any guilt for not being a rabid consumer or being in a perpetual state of, “What next? Where next? What do I want now?”

I am content.

This is a good thing. A wonderful feeling. A much sought-after state of mind.

I have realised that I finally do live somewhere that I don’t feel the need to get away from… I am now living a lifestyle I don’t need a holiday from. The restrictions that come with Lyme have actually given me freedom.

This split second in my life is to be savoured

life_moves_pretty_fast

Unexpected Guests

Nowadays most people are accompanied by everyone they have ever known, at all times.

Folk carry around their entire lives 24/7.

Visitors bring with them not only themselves and their own personal stress but also, upon their phone and uninvited, their; work, family, friends, colleagues, enemies, social networks, hobbies, media, diet, exercise regime, shopping, entire music collection, entire film collection and all the photos they have ever taken. Am I alone in thinking this is too much? Bizarre even?

What happened to popping round for a cuppa and a chat? What happened to turning up with a bottle for a fun evening? What happened to completing a sentence without being bloody interrupted???

I love an impromptu visitor, an unplanned gathering, an unexpected night out. I really don’t love the fact that in order to enjoy social interaction nowadays, I have to take on a person’s entire world every time I want to spend time with that individual.

Quality one to one interaction is rare now, I miss it and yearn for it. I love the endless possibilities and facilitation that technology brings but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to interacting with a room full of people each plugged into a world full of people.

In that, now common, scenario, I find my train of thought obliterated into splinter cells of thoughtlets. I sometimes feel as if I am no longer either coming or going, but rather scrabbling around blindly for the important morsels in amongst the onslaught of information and tirade of drivel.

I may seem old fashioned, even archaic, but the thoughts, ideas, observations, plans and dreams that come from your head and your heart are so much more interesting, intriguing and fulfilling than trite regurgitated.

I’d really love it, if occasionally, folk visited alone and undistracted. That’s all.