Sunday, 21 October 2012

Adventures And Not Fears

The Maze Of Adventure

I remember the days I spent with my grandmother with fond memories. Every summer, when the school broke up for the holidays, I headed off to live with my gran. It was not because my mother wanted rid of me, my younger brother stayed at home, I just chose to be with her.

So, immediately the school broke up, I packed my little suitcase and my mother took me to the railway station.  In those days there was always a guard on the train, somebody who made sure everything was safe. My mother would alert him to my being on the train alone. The journey lasted about an hour.  I then had to make my way to the bus station and get the bus out to the part of the city where my gran lived. I then walked from the bus to her house and knew she would be out at the end of the close (the passageway that led to each house and the stairs to the houses above in the tenement. A pre- written card was put in the post box to let my mother know I had arrived.  A real adventure for a young lad of six.

One of the things I liked best about being with my gran was her sense of adventure. She encouraged me to do things I would never have been allowed to do at home.

I overcame so many fears during those holidays. Some nights we visited my grans friends home. She lived at the top of  a tenement block, five flights of stairs up. We played dominoes together, then at about nine o’clock, a treat. I was sent to the shop to buy bags of chips, (deep fried potatoes). Trouble was, this meant coming back up all those stairs in the dark. I used to whistle tunes loud as I hurried up to the top. My gran used to laugh. “There is nothing there at night that was not there during the day,” she said.

My fear of the dark grew less and less. I was thinking about this as I walked home last night after meeting and having an ale with my son. He offered to drive me home, it being dark. I decided to walk. I walked the miles through the forest in total darkness. I run this path often during the day so I knew it well. How different it was in the still of the night, when I could see little and only heard the noise of a bat or an owl. It was a peace that is so different from any other. I would never have had this pleasure had it not been for my gran who taught me not to be afraid of things unknown.

We often put off doing things, prevaricate because of inner fears. We will do it when we have done other things; and we have a large list of those. So often we are missing the wonder of moments unknown. We need to grasp the moment as an adventure.

So, stop waiting… Until your car or home is paid off.

Until you get a new car or home.

Until your kids leave the house.

Until you go back to school.

Until you finish school.

Until you lose 10 lbs.

Until you gain 10 lbs.

Until you get married.

Until you get a divorce.

Until you have kids.

Until you retire.

Until summer.

Until spring.

Until winter.

Until fall.

Until you die.

There is no better time than right now to have that adventure.

This blog is linked to my other. And the painting above is about the content of this blog.The Maze Of Adventure

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Warrior and The Cat

How often I am asked the same questions that will be asked of almost everybody who produces artwork. I am sure all who read this know exactly what I mean.

“How do you manage to do that?” usually with the added comment, “I wish I had such talent.” I always feel so humbled when this is said to me, because I know the truth, I have no more talent than those who ask the question.

Then there is the question, “How long did it take you to do that?” This question I always find almost impossible to answer. Impossible because I am aware if I only talk about the time I take to put paint onto a canvas it may well trivialise the finished product. But the time the painting has been developing in the inner reaches of the mind are almost impossible to calculate.

Then there is the question that always comes, when the finished product is an abstract. “Where do you get the ideas to paint those?”

The answer to that question is best answered with the little tale of the warrior and the cat.

The great warrior was a marvellous swordsman. One night he came home, he saw a rat near his bed. The rat looked at him ferociously.

He took his sword and tried to kill the rat, but all he managed to do was keep missing it and eventually broke his sword. This is no ordinary rat, he thought.

He spoke to his wife. She looked at him and said, “You fool, you can never kill a rat with a sword bring in the cat.” The cat was a highly trained and famous rat-catching cat.

Try as hard as she could the cat failed to catch the rat. The warrior said, “This is too much.” He then visited the king who had the best reputation for catching rats. A highly skilled cat. The king’s cat also failed to catch the rat.

The king’s cat said, “What you need is just a plain ordinary cat, not famous cats.”

The warrior asked, “What can an ordinary cat do that you cannot do?”

The king’s cat said, “Just try. I know this; she does not know a thing. She sleeps all day but she is very mysterious. She knows nothing about the art of rat catching, the technique, or the philosophy. She is just a plain cat, but other cats are very afraid of her.”

The warrior was not hopeful, but the cat was brought.

She came, and without any skill, caught the rat and brought it out. All the cats gathered together and asked her, “What art?”

I am a cat and a cat is supposed to catch a rat. That is what I do.

This blog is linked to my other. Structured Thinking (Or As Close As I Can Get)

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Things Are Not Always As They Seem.

The Categorical Imperative

Much of our news broadcasts and newsprint is taken up at present with one story. A well known DJ who was famous not only for the TV shows he presented but also for the seemingly good works he did. He raised millions for charity and offered his personal service in many ways. He was knighted, which put him up there among the “elite” of society.

It now turns out that all the while he was also using his fame to abuse young girls.

I want to say no more about that here, because that is not the purpose of my blog. I speak of it merely as a reminder that not all things are always as they seem. In truth so often if something seems to good to be true, you can be sure it is just that.

This reminds me of the tale of the two travelling angels. One evening they stopped at the home of a wealthy family. The family treated them rudely and refused to let them stay in the guest room, instead they had to sleep  in a cold basement.

As they made their beds on the hard cold floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.

When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “things are not always as they seem.”

The next night the two came to rest in the home of a poor family, who treated them with the greatest of respect. After sharing what little food they had the angels were allowed to sleep in their bed, where they had a comfortable night.”Ehen we stayed in the basement I noticed there was loads of gold hidden in that holein the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share, I sealed the hole so he would never find it.”

The next morning they found the couple in tears. Their only cow lay dead in the field.

As the two journeyed on it became obvious the younger one was angry. Eventually she said, “Why did you let that happen?” “The first man had everything , and yet you still helped him. The second family had little but were willing to share, and you let their cow die.”

“Things are not always as they seem,” said the older. When we stayed in the basement I noticed there was loads of gold hidden in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share, I sealed the hole so he would never find it.”

“Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I persuaded her to take the cow instead.

Things are not always as they seem.

This blog is linked to my other. The categorical Imperative.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

What You really Have.

Structured Thinking ( Or As Close As I Can Get)

On more than one occasion in the last two weeks or so people have commented on my being quieter than I am normally. Please do not think I am a loud person, but I can be very much a part of a conversation even though I have this difficult voice of mine. In the opinion of many friends I have been a man of few words.

I suppose I am still feeling the effects of an afternoon I spent during my last venture in the mountains. It was just another afternoon. I had gone running as usual in the morning and now I was heading out for an afternoon walk. What made this walk different was my finding a Buddhist Monastery I had not expected to find, not even knowing of its existence.

There it was just off the road. It was called, “Paradise,” a name that seemed so appropriate, but not a name given by the Buddhists. This place had been a retreat for coal miners and families before becoming what it was now. It was they who had named it. 

The Buddhist had though, built a magnificent temple in the grounds. I entered, having taken off my boots and sat in the calm and peace. I just sat and thought, realising how much I had missed just such moments. Before I was aware I had been there for over two hours.

One of things I thought of that afternoon was the tale of the wise woman.

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. 

"I've been thinking," he said. "I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone."

Sometimes it's not the wealth you have but what's inside you that others need.

This blog is linked to my other. Structured Thinking