Thursday, 26 March 2015

Eliot in Terminal 3

"Fare forward, travellers, not escaping from the past
Into different lives, or into any future;
You are not the same people who left that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus, 
While the narrowing rails slide together behind you"

or as you make your way to the boarding gate through the time-zone hammered crowd in the transfer terminal....

I wonder what Thomas Stearns would have made of terminal 3 Changi Airport, and the subsequent voluntary reimprisonment in a huge aluminium tube as the planet turns beneath you whilst you doze fitfully an impossible six miles above the ground.

Same difference, I guess. We are not the same people as those who left LHR, or who will arrive at wherever we're going. However desirable the travel may seem, for whatever good reason it's undertaken, it's not an answer, or a question. We can't create the future by hurtling towards it at 600 miles per hour.

"Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers."

Monday, 23 March 2015

Living in the Present

So I could bang on about living in the present moment,  or I could let a poet say it so much better, for us.

You Reading This Be Ready

Starting from here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you are right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life - 

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

                                                     William Stafford


Monday, 16 March 2015

Being Mortal, as we are...

This book is truly remarkable. It should help any of us to approach end-of-life matters in a better-informed, more constructive way. And although some of it is not easy reading - he really wants us to look ahead and consider our declining years, instead of whistling in the dark and pretending we're immortal - it is a life-enhancing book. Atul Gawande gave this year's Reith Lectures, "The Future of Medicine,"on BBC Radio 4, still available on iPlayer of course, under "Reith Lectures."

Time to roll out the big words - brilliant, humane, compassionate, hugely knowledgeable and give him a try.

How to Hail a Taxi in Beijing

You take your mother along - she's got longer arms.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Unity and Brent Geese at the seaside

I recently travelled from the Irish sea coast to the shores of the Solent to visit a close family member who is very ill - though he is doing fine at the moment.

Naturally, I suppose, there are moments on such an occasion when thoughts and emotions swirl somewhat, so I took a little stroll on a very busy prom - lots of people walking, cycling, jogging, driving, parking.

  A large formation of Brent Geese flew very low overhead, honking gently as they adjusted their position. They ignored joggers, cyclists, parked cars etc, and settled on  a large patch of grass.

People round these parts are obviously used to this; no-one took much notice, except some kids who did that wonderful "brave new world" bit they do when they see something for the very first time.

It felt very good to be so close to so many completely wild and untroubled creatures, part of the same busy Sunday morning as all the keepfit citizens.

Then I wandered down to the shoreline to see what the waves had to say - or rather, what would happen when I let my mind stay with the sunshine and the water.

The general feeling was: it fits. All of it. Including my sadness.

Comic relief was provided by a few sanderlings, hurrying neurotically around the line of the incoming waves.

All this on the edge of a big connurbation. Goes to show that you have to take it as it comes when it comes wherever it comes.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Water Says Piss Off NRW

I can appreciate that Natural Resources Wales/Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru officers are sincere in their efforts to creat conditions that help to diversify species. Many varieties of Homo Sapiens are species with a deep longing for the untroubled, empty wild.

Newborough beach is a wonder, as are the sand-dunes and the littoral landscape just behind them. A couple of years ago "they" (?Forestry Commission?) decided to enlarge and make more urban-looking the already perfectly adequate car park, and they also allowed one or two refreshmant vans/kiosks to trade. So the area has already become significantly less wild and peaceful. It seems to be harder to let a place be itself than to prettify it and make it less distinctive.

Now NRW have decided to bulldoze huge amounts of sand around, disfiguring the landscape and wrecking the peace and quiet that remained. These works are no doubt temporary, and will heal, sort of. Hopefully, rare species will thrive.

It's an interesting dynamic. NRW presumably wants to drive up the number of species in order to justify its funding - and because it believes in diversification.

Old gits like me would like Newborough Warren and beach to revert to a place of untroubled peace and beauty - somewhere I can listen to What the Water Says. There are a lot of threats to species around Newborough (car parks, noise, careless visitors) that may be as significant as the shape of the dunes - I wouldn't know. 

Places like Newborough belong to the people who value them for what they are, not as a basis for environmental experiements.

As far as I'm concerned, and I'm sorry for threatened species, I fear the water might be saying "piss off out of it, NRW."

Very selfish. Species tend to be, if they are to survive and flourish, and people, if they are to flourish and be less murderous towards each other,  need untroubled environments, peace, quiet, the sound of the waves....

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Threnody: live a capella singing for funerals in North Wales.

If you go to this website on iPlayer:

you can hear a short clip of our natural voice choir, as featured on BBC Radio 3 on St David's Day. It's the bit lower down the page, "clip." It's live for another three weeks or so, I think.

We sing at funerals around North Wales. We're interested in helping to make good funerals, we're not interested in arguments about beliefs, so we've sung for atheists, Christians, agnostics, don'tknows, and for all I know or care, Rosicrucians, Buddhists and Pagans. We don't charge a fee, we do ask for some help with travel expenses. Here we are, ready to sing into action (sorry...) at Colwyn Bay crem:

We sing songs, chants, hymns - anything we think may help at a funeral. Old faves such as "Abide With Me;" songs about the power of friendship at a difficult time; songs about grief, hope, songs of peace; "Lean On Me;"songs in English, Welsh, and sometimes other languages too. We are prepared to singalonganorgan, though we prefer the pure sound of unaccompanied a capella singing - it reaches deeper into people. If you think we can help with a funeral somewhere not too far from Bangor, do get in touch.

There's hundreds of natural voice  community choirs around the country; we really want there to be a Threnody in every town. Why not approach your community choir and see if any of them would like to serve grieving people with their voices? Do get in touch if you think we can offer any help or advice in getting established.

Especially if you are a funeral celebrant, because then you can tell families about it when you meet them. That's what I do. Families don't always want us, of course - default mode is three CD tracks - which is fine. People must have what they want.

But harmony singing - well, that's something else....

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Welcome to What The Water Says

Greetings. Maybe I know you, maybe I don’t, but you are welcome.

My very close friend Gloriamundi has decided to pass the baton to me; she’s done her bit. (Actually, the baton in her case is probably going to be a bottle of Cote du Rhône..)

Gloria’s ramblings will be left in the aether for any passers-by, and she has kindly agreed to let me edit and re-blog anything she has written.

So what sort of stuff will emerge here?
Funerals (I’m a funeral celebrant) but also, and more frequently, thoughts that emerge from meditating, thoughts about meditating; observations about the natural world and our relationship to it. Music bits and pieces. Stuff from books that I’ve found useful/helpful. 

Maybe family and friends stuff - I'd like them to keep half an eye on this.

Reports back from one human moving into his seventies about mortality, contentment, angst – who knows?

You are very welcome here, and your comments will always be welcome provided they aren’t troll-like. In fact, please do comment, it will sustain my motivation.

What the water says? If I sit by a stream and let my mind stay with the stream and its sounds; if I bring my mind back to the stream when it starts fussing about a sore leg or what’s for tea; if I let my hearing stay with the stream, rather than straining to listen to it – then the water will say much to me, I find. And as for the sea….

"the unplumbed, salt, estranging sea..."

more of that, and lots of other things, anon.